The captain reached behind him again and came back with a white envelope that he tapped against his thigh. "And Helen Grady, she's working out as a house woman, she is?"
"Oh, yes, sir."
"No doubts to her competency or her work ethic?"
"Absolutely none, sir."
Helen was as cold and distant to Luther as the day she'd arrived five months ago, but that woman could work, boy.
"I'm glad to hear that." The captain handed Luther the envelope. "Because she'll be doing the job of two now."
Luther opened the envelope and saw the small sheaf of money inside.
"There's two weeks' severance in there, Luther. We closed Mama Hennigan's a week ago for code violations. The only person you know in Scollay Square is one who used to be in my employ. It explains the food that's gone missing from my pantry these past few months, a theft that Helen Grady began to report to me weeks ago." He considered Luther over his scotch glass as he drained it. "Stealing food from my home, Luther? You're aware I'd be well within my rights to shoot you where you sit?"
Luther didn't respond to that. He reached over and placed his glass on the edge of the desk. He stood. He held out his hand. The captain considered it for a moment, then placed his cigar in the ashtray and shook the hand.
"Good-bye, Luther," he said pleasantly.
"Good-bye, Captain, sir."
When he returned to the house on St. Botolph, it was empty. A note waited on the kitchen table. Luther, Out doing the good work (we hope). This came for you. A plate in the icebox.
Isaiah Underneath the note was a tall yellow envelope with his name scrawled on it in his wife's hand. Given what had just happened the last time he opened an envelope, he took a moment before reaching for it. Then he said, "Ah, fuck it," finding it strangely guilt-inducing to cuss in Yvette's kitchen.
He opened it carefully and pulled out two pieces of cardboard that were pressed together and tied off with string. There was a note folded underneath the string and Luther read it and his hands trembled as he placed it on the table and undid the knot to remove the top piece of cardboard and look at what lay underneath.
He sat there a long time. At some point he wept even though he'd never, not in his whole life, known this kind of joy.
Off Scollay Square, he went down the alley that ran alongside Nora's building and let himself in the green door at the back, which was only locked about 25 percent of the time, this night not being one of them. He stepped quickly to her door and knocked and heard the last sound he would have expected on the other side: giggling.
He heard whispers and "Sssh, sssh," and he knocked again.
"Who is it?"
"Luther," he said and cleared his throat.
The door opened, and Danny stood there, his dark hair falling in tangles over his forehead, one suspender undone, the first three buttons of his undershirt open. Nora stood behind him, touching her hair and then smoothing her dress, and her cheeks were flushed.
Danny had a wide grin on his face, and Luther didn't have to guess what he'd interrupted.
"I'll come back," he said.
"What? No, no." Danny looked back to make sure Nora was suffi - ciently covered and then he opened the door wide. "Come on in."
Luther stepped into the tiny room, feeling foolish suddenly. He couldn't explain what he was doing here, why he'd just gotten up from the kitchen table in the South End and hurried all the way over here, the large envelope under his arm.
Nora came toward him, her arm extended, her feet bare. She had the flush of interrupted sex on her face, but a deeper fl ush as well, one of openness and love.
"Thank you," she said, taking his hand and then leaning in and placing her cheek to his. "Thank you for saving him. Thank you for saving me."
And in that moment he felt like he was home for the first time since he'd left it.
Danny said, "Drink?"
"Sure, sure," Luther said.
Danny went to the tiny table where Luther had left the fruit just yesterday. There was a bottle there now and four cheap glasses. He poured all three of them a glass of whiskey and then handed Luther his.
"We just fell in love," Danny said and raised his glass.
"Yeah?" Luther chuckled. "Finally figured it out, uh?"
"We've been in love," Nora said to Danny. "We finally faced it." "Well," Luther said, "ain't that a pip?"
Nora laughed and Danny's smile broadened. They raised their glasses and drank.
"What you got under your arm there?" Danny said.
"Oh, oh, this, yeah." Luther placed his drink down on the tiny table and opened the envelope. Just pulling out the cardboard, his hands trembled again. He held the cardboard in his hands and offered it to Nora. "I can't explain why I came here. Why I wanted you to see it. I just . . ." He shrugged.
Nora reached out and squeezed his arm. "It's all right."
"It seemed important to show someone. To show you."
Danny placed his drink down and came over beside Nora. She lifted off the top piece of cardboard, and their eyes widened. Nora slid her arm under Danny's and placed her cheek to his arm.
"He's beautiful," Danny said softly.
Luther nodded. "That's my son," he said while his face fi lled with warm blood. "That's my baby boy." chapter twenty-nine Steve Coyle was drunk but freshly bathed when, as a licensed justice of the peace, he officiated over the marriage of Danny Coughlin and Nora O'Shea on June 3, 1919.
The night before, a bomb had exploded outside the home of Attorney General Palmer in Washington, D. C. The detonation came as a surprise to the bomber, who'd still been several yards short of Palmer's front door. Though his head was eventually recovered from a rooftop four blocks away, the man's legs and arms were never found. Attempts to identify him using only his head met with failure. The explosion destroyed the facade of Palmer's building and shattered the windows that faced the street. His living room, sitting room, foyer, and dining room were obliterated. Palmer had been in the kitchen at the back of the house, and he was discovered under the rubble, remarkably unscathed, by the assistant secretary of the navy, Franklin Roo se velt, who lived across the street. While the bomber's charred head wasn't suffi - cient to identify him, it was clear he'd been an anarchist by the pamphlets he'd been carrying, which fl oated over R Street in the moments after the attack and soon adhered themselves to the streets and buildings of a three-block area. Under the heading "Plain Words," the message was nearly identical to those plastered to street poles in Boston seven weeks before: