You have left us no choice. There will have to be bloodshed.
We will destroy and rid the world of your tyrannical institutions.
Long live social revolution. Down with tyranny.
The Anarchist Fighters Attorney General Palmer, described in the Washington Post as "shaken but uncowed," promised to redouble his efforts and entrench his resolve. He warned all Reds on U. S. soil to consider themselves on notice. "This will be a summer of discontent," Palmer promised, "but not for this country. Only her enemies."
Danny and Nora's wedding reception was held on the rooftop of Danny's rooming house. The cops who attended were of low rank. Most were acting members of the BSC. Some brought their wives, others their girlfriends. Danny introduced Luther to them as "the man who saved my life." That seemed good enough for most of them, though Luther noted a few who seemed disinclined to leave their wallets or their women out of sight as long as Luther was in proximity to either.
But it was a fine time. One of the tenants, a young Italian man, played violin until Luther expected his arm to fall off, and later in the evening he was joined by a cop with an accordion. There were heaps of food and wine and whiskey and buckets of Pickwick Ale on ice. The white folk danced and laughed and toasted and toasted until they were toasting the sky above and the earth below as both grew blue with the night.
Near midnight, Danny found him sitting along the parapet and sat beside him, drunk and smiling. "The bride's in a bit of a snit that you haven't asked for a dance."
"A black man dancing with a white woman on a roof. Yeah. I'll bet."
"Bet nothing," Danny said, a bit of a slur in the words. "Nora asked me herself. You want to make the bride sad on her wedding day, you go right ahead."
Luther looked at him. "There's lines, Danny. Lines you don't cross even here."
"Fuck lines," Danny said.
"Easy for you to say," Luther said. "So easy."
"Fine, fi ne."
They looked at each other for some time.
Eventually, Danny said, "What?"
"You're asking a lot," Luther said.
Danny pulled out a pack of Murads, offered one to Luther. Luther took it and Danny lit it, then lit his own. Danny blew out a slow plume of blue smoke. "I hear the majority of the executive office positions of the NAACP are filled by white women."
Luther had no idea where he was going with this. "There's some truth to that, yeah, but Dr. Du Bois, he's looking to change that. Change comes slow."
"Uh-huh," Danny said. He took a swig from the whiskey bottle at his feet and handed it to Luther. "You think I'm like them white women?"
Luther noticed one of Danny's cop friends watching him raise the bottle to his lips, the guy making note which whiskey he wouldn't be drinking the rest of the night.
"Do you, Luther? You think I'm trying to prove something? Show what a free-minded white man I am?"
"I don't know what you're doing." Luther handed the bottle back.
Danny took another swig. "Ain't doing shit, except trying to get my friend to dance with my wife on her wedding day because she asked me to."
"Danny." Luther could feel the liquor riding in him, itching. "Things is."
"Things is?" Danny cocked an eyebrow.
Luther nodded. "As they've always been. And they don't change just because you want them to."
Nora crossed the roof toward them, a little tipsy herself judging by the sway of her, a champagne glass held loosely in one hand, cigarette in the other.
Before Luther could speak, Danny said, "He don't want to dance."
Nora turned her lower lip down at that. She wore a pearl-colored gown of satin messaline and silver tinsel. The drop skirt was wrinkled and the whole outfit a hair on the sloppy side now, but she still had those eyes, and that face made Luther think of peace, think of home.
"I think I'll cry." Her eyes were gay and shiny with alcohol. "Boo hoo."
Luther chuckled. He noticed a lot of people looking at them, just as he'd feared.
He took Nora's hand with a roll of his eyes and she tugged him to his feet and the violinist and the accordionist began to play, and she led him out to the center of the roof under the half moon and her hand was warm in his. His other hand found the small of her back and he could feel the heat coming off the skin there and off her jaw and the pulse of her throat. She smelled of alcohol and jasmine and that undeniable whiteness he'd noticed the first time he'd ever put his arms around her, as if her flesh had never been touched by dew. A papery smell, starchy.
"It's an odd world, is it not?" she said.
Her brogue was thicker with the alcohol. "I'm sorry you lost your job."
"I'm not. I got another one."
He nodded. "Stockyards. Start day after next."
Luther raised his arm and she swirled under it and then turned back into his chest.
"You are the truest friend I've ever had." She spun again, as light as summer.
Luther laughed. "You're drunk, girl."
"I am," she said gleefully. "But you're still family, Luther. To me."
She nodded at Danny. "To him, too. Are we your family yet, Luther?"
Luther looked into her face and the rest of the roof evaporated. What a strange woman. Strange man. Strange world.
"Sure, sister," he said. "Sure."
The day of his eldest son's wedding, Thomas came to work to fi nd Agent Rayme Finch waiting for him in the anteroom outside the desk sergeant's counter.
"Come to register a complaint, have we?"
Finch stood, straw boater in hand. "If I may have a word."
Thomas ushered him through the squad room and back to his office. He removed his coat and hat and hung them on the tree by the fi le cabinets and asked Finch if he wanted coffee.
Thomas pressed the intercom button. "Stan, two coffees, please." He looked over at Finch. "Welcome back. Staying long?"
Finch gave that a noncommittal twitch of the shoulders.
Thomas removed his scarf and placed it on the tree over his coat and then moved last night's stack of incident reports from his ink blotter to the left side of his desk. Stan Beck brought the coffee and left. Thomas handed a cup across the desk to Finch.
"Cream or sugar?"
"Neither." Finch took the cup with a nod.
Thomas added cream to his own cup. "What brings you by?"