National coverage of the two days of rioting entered the arena of myth. Several newspapers wrote of machine guns turned on innocent crowds, of a death toll estimated in the hundreds, property damage in the millions. The actual dead numbered nine and the property damage slightly less than one million dollars, but the public would hear none of it. The strikers were Bolsheviks, and the strike had unleashed civil war in Boston.
When Danny left the hospital in mid-October, he still dragged his left foot and had trouble lifting anything heavier than a teacup with his left hand. His speech, however, was fully restored. He would have left the hospital two weeks earlier, but one of his wounds had developed sepsis. He'd gone into shock, and for the second time that month a priest had delivered last rites.
After the stories that defamed him in the papers, Nora had been forced to leave their building on Salem Street and had moved their few belongings to a rooming house in the West End. It was there they returned when Danny was released from the hospital. She had chosen the West End because Danny's rehabilitation would be taking place at Mass General, and the walk from there to the apartment took a matter of minutes. Danny climbed the stairs to the second floor, and he and Nora entered the dingy room with one gray window that looked out on an alley.
"It's all we could afford," Nora said.
"It's fi ne."
"I tried to get the grime off the outside of the window, but no matter how hard I scrubbed, it just--"
He put his good arm around her. "It's fine, honey. We won't be here long."
One night in November, he lay in bed with his wife after they'd managed to make love for the first time since he'd been injured. "I'll never be able to get a job here."
He looked at her.
She smiled and rolled her eyes. She slapped his chest lightly. "That's what you get, boy, for sleeping with a terrorist."
He chuckled. It felt good to be able to joke about something so bleak.
His family had visited the hospital twice while he was still in a coma. His father had come once after the stroke to tell him they would always love him, of course, but could never again admit him to their home. Danny had nodded and shook his father's hand and waited until he was five minutes gone before he wept.
"There's nothing to keep us here after my rehabilitation," he said. "No."
"Are you interested in an adventure?"
She slid her arm over his chest. "I'm interested in anything."
Tessa had miscarried the day before her death. Or so the coroner told Danny. Danny would never know if the coroner lied to save him the guilt, but he chose to believe him because the alternative, he feared, could be the thing that finally broke him.
When he'd met Tessa, she'd been in labor. When he came across her again in May, she'd been pretending to be pregnant. And now, at her death, pregnant again. It was as if she'd had an overpowering need to remake her rage as flesh and blood, to be certain it would live on and pass down through the generations. This need (and Tessa, as a whole) was something he would never understand.
Sometimes, he woke from a sleep with the cold echo of her laughter ringing in his ears.
Apackage from Luther arrived. There was two thousand dollars in it--two years' salary--and a formal portrait of Luther, Lila, and Desmond sitting before a fireplace. They were dressed in the latest fashions; Luther even wore a coat with tails over his winged collar.
"She's beautiful," Nora said. "And that child, good Lord." Luther's note was brief:
Dear Danny and Nora, I am home now. I am happy. I hope this is enough. If you need more wire immediately and I will send it.
Your friend, Luther Danny opened the packet of bills and showed it to Nora.
"Sweet Jesus!" She let out a noise that was half laughing-half weeping. "Where did he get it?"
"I have some idea," Danny said.
"You don't want to know," he said. "Believe me."
On the tenth of January, in a light snow, Thomas Coughlin left his station house. The new recruits were coming along faster than expected. They were mostly smart. And eager. The State Guard still patrolled the streets, but the units had begun to demobilize. Within the month, they'd be gone, and the restored Boston Police Department would rise in their place.
Thomas walked up the street toward home. At the corner, under a streetlamp, his son leaned against the pole.
"Believe the Sox traded Ruth?" Danny said.
Thomas shrugged. "I was never a fan of the game."
"To New York," Danny said.
"Your youngest brother is, of course, distraught over it. I haven't seen him this beside himself since . . ."
His father didn't have to finish the thought. It pierced Danny just the same.
His father tipped his hand from side to side. "He has good days and bad. He's learning to read by his fingers. There's a school in Back Bay that teaches it. If the bitterness doesn't overwhelm him, he could be all right." "Does it overwhelm you?"
"Nothing overwhelms me, Aiden." His father's breath was white in the cold. "I'm a man."
Danny said nothing.
His father said, "Well, then, you look back to trim. So I guess I'll be going."
"We're leaving the city, Dad."
"You're . . . ?"
Danny nodded. "Leaving the state actually. Heading west." His father looked stunned. "This is your home."
Danny shook his head. "Not anymore."
Maybe his father had thought that Danny would reside in exile but close by. That way Thomas Coughlin could live with the illusion that his family was still intact. But once Danny left, a hole would open that not even Thomas could have prepared for.
"You're all packed then, I take it."
"Yeah. We're going to head to New York for a few days before Vol-stead kicks in. We never had a proper honeymoon."
His father nodded. He kept his head lowered, the snow falling in his hair.
Danny started to walk past him and his father grabbed his arm. "Write me."
"Will you write back?"
"No. But I'd like to know--"
"Then I won't write."
His father's face stiffened and he gave him a curt nod and dropped his arm.
Danny walked up the street, the snow thickening, the footprints his father had left already obscured.
He turned, could barely see the man in all the white swirling between them. The flakes caked his eyelashes and he blinked them away.