Danny raised an eyebrow at that.
"Oh, because you're bleeding all over yourself, you want sympathy?" Luther stepped back up to Danny, the big man lying back against the streetlamp pole like it was all he had left of friends in this world. "I ain't got that for you. Whatever's wearing you down, shit, throw it off. God don't care. Ain't nobody care. Whatever you need to do to make yourself right, get yourself out of pain? I say you do that thing."
Danny's smile was cracked, his lips half black. "Easy, huh?"
"Ain't nothing easy." Luther shook his head. "Simple, though, yeah."
"I wish it was that--"
"You walked twenty blocks, puking up your own blood, to get to one place and one person. If you need any more truth in your life, white boy, than that?" Luther's laugh was hard and quick. "It ain't showing up on this here earth."
Danny didn't say anything. He looked at Luther through his one good eye and Luther looked back. Then he came off the lamp pole and reached out his arm. Luther stepped under it and they walked the rest of the way to the clinic. chapter twenty-eight Danny stayed in the clinic overnight. He barely remembered Luther leaving. He did remember him putting a sheaf of paper on Danny's bedside table.
"Tried to give that to your uncle. He never showed up for the meet."
"He was pretty busy today."
"Yeah, well, you make sure he gets it? Maybe find a way to get him off me like you said you would once?"
"Sure." Danny held out his hand and Luther shook it, and Danny floated off to a black-and-white world where everyone was covered in bomb debris.
At one point he woke to a colored doctor sitting by his bed. The doctor, a young man with the gentle air and slim fingers of a concert pianist, confirmed that he'd broken seven of his ribs and the others were badly sprained. One of those broken ribs had nicked a blood vessel and they'd had to cut Danny open to repair it. This explained the blood he'd vomited and made it highly likely that Luther had saved his life. They wrapped Danny's torso tightly with adhesive tape and told him he'd suffered a concussion and would piss blood for a few days from all the shots the Rus sians had delivered to his kidneys. Danny thanked the doctor, his words slurring from whatever they'd pumped into his IV, and passed out.
In the morning, he woke to his father and Connor sitting by the bed. His father had one of his hands wrapped in both of his and he smiled softly. "Look who's up."
Con' folded the newspaper and smiled at Danny and shook his head.
"Who did this to you, boy?"
Danny sat up a bit in the bed and his ribs screamed. "How'd you even fi nd me?"
"Colored fella--says he's a doctor here?--he called into headquarters with your badge number, said another colored fella brought you in here all banged to hell. Ah, it's a sight, you in a place like this."
In the bed on the other side of his father lay an old man with his foot hanging in a cast. He looked at the ceiling.
"What happened?" Connor asked.
"Got jumped by a bunch of Letts," Danny said. "That colored fella was Luther. He probably saved my life."
The old man in the next bed scratched his leg at the top of the cast.
"We've got the holding cells filled to the brink with Letts and Commies," his father said. "You go have a look later. Find the men who did it and we'll find ourselves a nice dark lot before we book them."
Danny said, "Water?"
Con' found a pitcher on the windowsill and filled a glass and brought it to him.
His father said, "We don't even have to book them, if you follow my meaning."
"It's not hard, sir, to follow your meaning." Danny drank. "I never saw them."
"They came up on me fast, got my coat over my head, and went to work."
"How could you not see--?"
"I was following Tessa Ficara."
"She's here?" his father said.
"She was last night."
"Jesus, boy, why didn't you call for backup?"
"You guys were throwing a party in Roxbury, remember?" His father ran a hand along his chin. "You lose her?"
"Thanks for the water, Con'." He smiled at his brother.
Connor chuckled. "You're a piece of work, brother. You really are."
"Yeah, I lost her. She turned onto Hammond Street, and the Russians showed up. So what do you want to do, Dad?"
"Well, we'll talk to Finch and the BI. I'll have some badges canvass Hammond and the rest of the area, hope for the best. But I doubt she's still hanging around after last night." His father held up the Morning Standard. "Front-page news, boy."
Danny sat up fully in the bed and his ribs howled some more. He blinked at the pain and looked at the headline: "Police Wage War on Reds."
"Home," his father said. "You can't keep putting her through this. First Salutation. Now this. It's a strain on her heart, it is."
"How about Nora? She know?"
His father cocked his head. "Why would she know anything? We've no contact with her anymore."
"I'd like her to know."
Thomas Coughlin looked at Connor and then back at Danny. "Aiden, you don't say her name. You don't bring her up in my presence."
Danny said, "Can't do that, Dad."
"What?" This from Connor, coming up behind their father. "She lied to us, Dan. She humiliated me. Jesus."
Danny sighed. "She was family for how long?"
"We treated her as family," his father said, "and look how she repaid us. Now it's the end of this subject, Aiden."
Danny shook his head. "For you maybe. Me?" He pulled the sheet off his body. He swung his legs off the side of the bed and hoped neither of them could see the price it cost. Jesus! The pain blew up through his chest. "Con', hand me my pants, would you?"
Con' brought them to him, his face dark and bewildered.
Danny stepped into his pants and then found his shirt hanging over the foot of the bed. He slid into it, one careful arm at a time, and considered his father and brother. "Look, I've played it your way. But I can't anymore. I just can't."
"Can't what?" his father said. "You're talking nonsense." He looked at the old black man with the broken leg as if for a second opinion, but the man's eyes were closed.
Danny shrugged. "Then I'm talking nonsense. You know what I realized yesterday? What I fi nally realized? Ain't a fucking thing made--"