The collective scream that exploded in Fay Hall pushed Danny's spine into the center of his chest and flooded his brain with white light.
Mark Denton snatched the stack of ballots from his hands and tossed them high above his head and they hung in the air and then began to float downward as Mark lifted him off his feet and kissed his cheek and hugged him so hard his bones howled.
"We did it!" Tears streamed down Mark's face. "We fucking did it!"
Danny looked out through the floating ballots at the men toppling their chairs and hugging and howling and crying and he grabbed the top of Mark's head and sank his fingers into his hair and shook it, howling along with the rest of them.
Once Mark let him down, they were rushed. The men poured onto the stage and some slipped on the ballots and one grabbed the charter from McCarthy's hand and went running back and forth across the stage with it. Danny was tackled and then lifted and then passed across a sea of hands, bouncing and laughing and helpless, and a thought occurred to him before he could suppress it:
What if we're wrong?
After the meeting, Steve Coyle found Danny on the street. Even in his euphoria--he'd been unanimously voted vice president of Boston Police Union 16807 less than an hour ago--he felt an all-toofamiliar irritation at Steve's presence. The guy was never sober anymore, and he had this way of looking into your eyes nonstop, as if searching your body for his old life.
"She's back," he said to Danny.
"Tessa. In the North End." He pulled his flask from a tattered coat pocket. He had trouble getting the stopper out. He had to squint and take a deep breath to get a grip.
"You eaten today?" Danny asked.
"You hear me?" Steve said. "Tessa's back in the North End." "I heard. Your source told you?"
Danny put his hand on his old friend's shoulder. "Let me buy you a meal. Some soup."
"I don't need fucking soup. She's come back to her old haunts because of the strike."
"We're not striking. We just joined the AF of L."
Steve went on like he hadn't heard. "They're all coming back. Every subversive on the Eastern Seaboard is raising stakes and coming here. When we strike--"
"--they think it's going to be a free-for-all. St. Petersburg. They're going to stir the pot and--"
"So where is she?" Danny said, trying to keep his annoyance at bay. "Exactly?"
"My source won't say."
"Won't say? Or won't say for free?"
"For free, yeah."
"How much does he want this time? Your source?"
Steve looked at the sidewalk. "Twenty."
"Just a week's pay this time, huh?"
Steve cocked his head. "You know, if you don't want to fi nd her, Coughlin, that's fi ne."
Danny shrugged. "I got other things on my mind right now, Steve. You understand."
Steve nodded several times.
"Big man," he said and walked up the street.
The next morning, upon hearing word of the BSC's unanimous decision to join the American Federation of Labor, Edwin Upton Curtis issued an emergency order canceling all vacations for division commanders, captains, lieutenants, and sergeants.
He summoned Superintendent Crowley to his office and let him stand at attention before his desk for half a minute before he turned from his window to look at him.
"I'm told they elected officers to the new union last night." Crowley nodded. "As I understand it, yes, sir."
"I'll need their names."
"Yes, sir. I'll get those immediately."
"And the men who distributed the sign-up sheets in each of the precincts."
Curtis raised his eyebrows, always an effective tool when he'd been Mayor Curtis in the long-ago. "The men, as I understand it, were given sign- up sheets last week to see how many would be interested in accepting an AFL charter. Correct?"
"I want the names of the men who brought those sign-up sheets into the station houses."
"That may take a little longer, sir."
"Then it takes longer. Dismissed."
Crowley snap-turned on his heel and headed for the door. "Superintendent Crowley."
"Yes, sir." Crowley turned back to him.
"You have no sympathies in this area, I trust."
Crowley's eyes fixed on a spot a few feet above Edwin Upton Curtis's head. "None, sir."
"Look me in the eyes if you please, sir."
Crowley met his eyes.
"How many abstentions?"
"In last night's vote, man."
"I believe none, sir."
Curtis nodded. "How many 'nay' votes?"
"I believe none, sir."
Edwin Upton Curtis felt a constricting in his chest, the old angina perhaps, and a great sadness filled him. It never had to come to this. Never. He'd been a friend to these men. He'd offered them a fair raise. He'd appointed committees to study their grievances. But they wanted more. They always wanted more. Children at a birthday party, unimpressed with their gifts.
None. Not a single nay vote.
Spare the rod, spoil the child. Bolsheviks.
"That'll be all, Superintendent."
Nora rolled off Danny in a heap, let loose a loud groan, and pressed her forehead into the pillow, as if she were trying to burrow through it.
Danny ran his palm down her back. "Good, uh?"
She growled a laugh into the pillow and then turned her chin to face him. "Can I say fuck in your presence?"
"I think you just did."
"You're not offended?"
"Offended? Let me smoke a cigarette and I'm ready to go again. Look at you. God."
"You're just . . ." He ran his hand from her heel, up the back of her calf, over her ass and across her back again. "Fucking gorgeous." "Now you said fuck."
"I always say fuck." He kissed her shoulder, then the back of her ear.
"Why did you want to say fuck, by the way? Or, in your case, fook." She sank her teeth into his neck. "I wanted to say I've never fucked a vice president before."
"You've limited yourself to treasur ers?"
She slapped his chest. "Aren't you proud of yourself, boy?"
He sat up and took his pack of Murads from the nightstand and lit one. "Honestly?"
"I'm . . . honored," he said. "When they called my name out on the ballot--I mean, honey, I had no idea it was going to be there."