That was the name Lila'd given him, one Luther remembered half agreeing on back before he'd run afoul of the Deacon. Desmond Laurence, after Lila's grandfather, a man who'd taught her the Bible while she sat on his knee, probably gave her that steel in her spine, too, for all Luther knew, because it had to have come from somewhere.
A good firm name. Luther'd taken to loving it over the summer months, loving it in a way that brought tears to his eyes. He'd brought Desmond into the world and Desmond would do fine things someday.
If Luther could get back to him. To her. To them.
If a man was lucky, he was moving toward something his whole life. He was building a life, working for a white man, yes, but working for his wife, for his children, for his dream that their life would be better because he'd been part of it. That, Luther finally understood, was what he'd failed to remember in Tulsa and what his father had never known at all. Men were supposed to do for those they loved. Simple as that. Clean and pure as that.
Luther had gotten so sucked up, so turned around by the simple need to move--anywhere, anytime, anyhow--that he'd forgotten that the motion had to be put in service of a purpose.
Now he knew. Now he knew.
And he couldn't do a damn thing about it. Even if he took care of McKenna (one hell of an if ), he still couldn't move toward his family because Smoke was waiting. And he couldn't convince Lila to move toward him (he'd tried several times since Christmas) because she felt Greenwood was home and also suspected--quite understandably--that if she did pick up and move, Smoke would send someone to follow.
Going to come out of my skin, Luther thought for the fi ftieth time that day, right fucking out.
He picked the paper up off the bench and stood. Across Washington Street, in front of Kresge's Five & Dime, two men watched him. They wore pale hats and seersucker suits, and they were both small and scared-looking and they might have been comical--stock clerks dressed up to look respectable--if it weren't for the wide brown holsters they wore over their hips, the pistol butts exposed to the world. Stock clerks with guns. Other stores had hired private detectives, and the banks were demanding U. S. marshals, but the smaller businesses had to make do by training their everyday employees in the handling of weaponry. More volatile than that volunteer police force, in a way, because Luther assumed--or hoped anyway--that the volunteer coppers would at least receive a bit more training, be afforded a bit more leadership. These hired help, though--these clerks and bag boys and sons and sons-in-law of jewelers and furriers and bakers and livery operators--you saw them all over the city now, and they were scared. Terrified. Jumpy. And armed.
Luther couldn't help himself--he saw them eyeing him, so he walked toward them, crossing the street even though that hadn't been his original intention, giving his steps just a bit of saunter, a dash of colored man's edge to it, throwing the glint of a smile into his eyes. The two little men exchanged looks, and one of them wiped his hand off the side of his pants just below his pistol.
"Nice day, isn't it?" Luther reached the sidewalk.
Neither of the men said a word.
"Big blue sky," Luther said. "First clean air in about a week? Ya'll should enjoy it."
The pair remained silent and Luther tipped his hat to them and continued on up the sidewalk. It had been a foolish act, particularly since he'd just been thinking about Desmond, about Lila, about be--
coming a more responsible man. But something about white men with guns, he was sure, would always bring out the devil in him.
And judging by the mood in the city, there was about to be a whole lot more of them. He passed his third Emergency Relief tent of the day, saw some nurses inside setting up tables and wheeling beds around. Earlier that afternoon, he'd walked through the West End and up through Scollay Square, and just about every third block, it seemed, he stumbled upon ambulances grouped together, waiting for what was starting to feel like the unavoidable. He looked down at the Herald in his hand, at the front-page editorial they'd run above the fold:
Seldom has the feeling in this community been more tense than it is today over the conditions in the police department. We are at a turning of the ways. We shall take a long step toward "Russianizing" ourselves, or toward submitting to soviet rule if we, by any pretext, admit an agency of the law to become the servant of a special interest.
Poor Danny, Luther thought. Poor honest, outmatched son of a bitch.
James Jackson Storrow was the wealthiest man in Boston. When he'd become president of General Motors, he'd reorganized it from top to bottom without costing a single worker his job or a sole stock--holder his confidence. He founded the Boston Chamber of Commerce and had chaired the Cost of Living Commission in the days leading up to the Great War. During that conflict of waste and despair, he'd been appointed federal fuel administrator by Woodrow Wilson and had seen to it that New England homes never wanted for coal or oil, sometimes using his own personal credit to ensure the shipments left their depots on time.
He'd heard others say he was a man who wore his power lightly, but the truth was, he'd never believed that power, in any shape or form, was anything more than the intemperate protrusion of the egomaniacal heart. Since all egomaniacs were insecure to their frightened cores, they thus wielded "power" barbarically so the world would not fi nd them out.
Terrible days, these, between the "powerful" and the "powerless," the whole absurd battle opening up a new front here in this city, the city he loved more than any other, and this front possibly the worst anywhere since October of '17.
Storrow received Mayor Peters in the billiards room of his Louisburg Square home, noting as the mayor entered that he was well tanned. This confirmed for Storrow the suspicion he'd long held that Peters was a frivolous man, one ill-suited to his job in normal circumstances, but in the current climate, egregiously so.
An affable chap, of course, as so many frivolous men were, crossing to Storrow with a bright, eager smile and a spring in his step.
"Mr. Storrow, so kind of you to see me."
"The honor is mine, Mr. Mayor."
The mayor's handshake was unexpectedly firm, and Storrow noted a clarity in the man's blue eyes that made him wonder if there was more to him than he'd initially assumed. Surprise me, Mr. Mayor, surprise me.
"You know why I've come," Peters said.
"I presume to discuss the situation with the police."
"Exactly so, sir."
Storrow led the mayor to two cherry leather armchairs. Between them sat a table with two decanters and two glasses. One decanter held brandy. The other, water. He waved his hand at the decanters as a way of offering them to the mayor.