"What isn't these days?" Luther said.
She gave that a small smile. "You've a point."
On the el, Luther felt his legs stiffen involuntarily when they crossed the trestle that had been hit during the molasses flood. It had long since been repaired and reinforced, but he doubted he'd ever feel safe crossing it.
What a year! If he lived a dozen lives, would he ever see another twelve months like these? He'd come to Boston for safety, but the thought of it now made him suppress a laugh--from Eddie McKenna to the May Day riots to the whole police force walking off the job, Boston had to be the least safe city he'd ever come across in his life. The Athens of America, my ass. Way these crazy Yankees had been acting since Luther arrived, he'd change the name to the Asylum of America.
He caught Nora smiling at him from the white section of the car and he tipped his hat to her and she gave him a mock salute in return. What a find she was. If Danny didn't find a way to fuck it up, he'd grow old a very happy man with this woman by his side. Not that Danny seemed intent on fucking it up, just that he was a man after all, and no one knew better than Luther himself how completely a man could step on his own dick when what he thought he wanted contradicted what he knew he needed.
The el car rolled through a shell of a city, a ghost town of ash and glass pebbles. No one on the streets but the State Guard. All that rage of the last two days gone corked up and bottled. Machine guns could have that effect, Luther didn't doubt it, but he wondered if there were more to it than just the show of power. Maybe in the end the need to postpone the truth--we are the mob--was stronger than the ecstasy of giving in to it. Maybe everyone just woke up this morning ashamed, tired, unable to face another pointless night. Maybe they looked at those machine guns and a sigh of relief left their hearts. Daddy was home now. They no longer had to fear he'd left them alone, left them for good.
They got off the el at Roxbury Crossing and walked toward Fay Hall.
Nora said, "How are the Giddreauxs taking your departure?"
Luther shrugged. "They understand. I think Yvette had taken a bit more of a shine to me than she'd counted on, so it's hard, but they understand."
"You're leaving today?"
"Tomorrow," Luther said.
"Yes, ma'am. Ya'll should think of coming for a visit."
"I'll mention it to himself. I don't know what we're going to do, Luther. I surely don't."
Luther looked over at her, at the minute quiver in her chin. "You don't think they'll get their jobs back?"
"I don't know. I don't know."
At Fay Hall, they held a vote on whether to remain with the Amer-ican Federation of Labor. The result was in favor, 1388 to 14. They held a second vote on whether to continue the strike. This was a bit more contentious. Men called out from the floor, asking Danny if the Central Labor Union would make right on their promise of a sympathy strike. Another cop mentioned he'd heard the firemen were waffl ing. They were pissed about all the false alarms during the riots, and the BFD had made a great show of advertising for volunteers to replace them. The turnout had been twice as large as expected.
Danny had left two messages with Ralph Raphelson's offi ce, asking him to come to Fay Hall, but he hadn't heard back yet. He took the podium. "The Central Labor Union is still trying to pull together all their delegates. As soon as they do, they'll vote. I've had no indication that they'll vote any other way but than how they told us they expect to. Look, they're killing us in the press. I understand. The riots hurt us."
"They're killing us from the pulpits, too," Francis Leonard shouted. "You should hear what they're saying about us in morning mass."
Danny held up a hand. "I've heard, I've heard. But we can still win the day. We just have to hold together, stay strong in our resolve. The governor and the mayor still fear a sympathy strike, and we still have the power of the AFL behind us. We can still win."
Danny wasn't sure how much of his own words he believed, but he felt a sudden glow of hope when he noticed Nora and Luther enter the back of the hall. Nora gave him a wave and a bright smile and he smiled back.
Then as they moved to their right, Ralph Raphelson stepped into the space they'd vacated. He removed his hat and his eyes met Danny's.
He shook his head.
Danny felt as if he'd been hit in the spine with a pipe and stabbed in the stomach with an ice- cold knife.
Raphelson put his hat back on and turned to go, but Danny wasn't letting him off the hook, not now, not tonight.
"Gentlemen, please give a warm hand to Ralph Raphelson of the Boston Central Labor Union!"
Raphelson turned with a grimace on his face as the men turned, saw him, and broke into applause.
"Ralph," Danny called with a wave of his arm, "come on up here and tell the men what the BCLU has planned."
Raphelson came down the aisle with a sick smile plastered to his face and a stiff gait. He climbed the steps to the stage and shook Danny's hand and whispered, "I'll get you for this, Coughlin."
"Yeah?" Danny gripped his hand tight, squeezing the bones, and smiled big. "I fucking hope you choke to death."
He dropped the hand and walked to the back of the stage as Raphelson took the podium and Mark sidled up to Danny.
"He selling us out?"
"He already sold us."
"It gets worse," Mark said.
Danny turned, saw that Mark's eyes were damp, the pockets beneath them dark.
"Jesus, how could it get worse?"
"This is a telegram Samuel Gompers sent to Governor Coolidge this morning. Coolidge released it to the press. Just read the circled part."
Danny's eyes scanned the page until he found the sentence circled in pencil:
While it is our belief that the Boston Police were poorly served and their rights as workingmen denied by both yourself and Police Commissioner Curtis, it has always been the position of the American Federation of Labor to discourage all government employees from striking.
The men were booing Raphelson now, most on their feet. Several chairs toppled.
Danny dropped the copy of the telegram to the floor of the stage. "We're done."
"There's still hope, Dan."
"For what?" Danny looked at him. "The American Federation of Labor and the Central Labor Union both just sold us down the river on the same day. Fucking hope?"
"We could still get our jobs back."
Several men rushed the stage and Ralph Raphelson took a half dozen steps backward.
"They'll never give us our jobs back," Danny said. "Never."