He looked across the table at Danny and pointed his fork at his chest. "Hear what happened yesterday while you were out in the harbor doing the Lord's work?"
Danny shook his head carefully. He'd spent the morning sleeping off the drunk he'd earned elbow to elbow with Steve Coyle the night before. Nora brought out the last of the dishes, green beans with garlic that steamed as she placed it on the table.
"They struck," Eddie McKenna said.
Danny was confused. "Who?"
"The Sox and the Cubs," Connor said. "We were there, me and Joe."
"Send them all to fight the Kaiser, I say," Eddie McKenna said. "A bunch of slackers and Bolsheviks."
Connor chuckled. "You believe it, Dan? People went bughouse."
Danny smiled, trying to picture it. "You're not having me on?"
"Oh, it happened," Joe said, all excited now. "They were mad at the own ers and they wouldn't come out to play and people started throwing stuff and screaming."
"So then," Connor said, "they had to send Honey Fitz out there to calm the crowd. Now the mayor's at the game, okay? The governor, too."
"Calvin Coolidge." His father shook his head, as he did every time the governor's name came up. "A Republican from Vermont running the Democratic Commonwealth of Massachusetts." He sighed. "Lord save us."
"So, they're at the game," Connor said, "but Peters, he might be mayor, but no one cares. They've got Curley in the stands and Honey Fitz, two ex-mayors who are a hell of a lot more popular, so they send Honey out with a megaphone and he stops the riot before it can really get going. Still, people throwing things, tearing up the bleachers, you name it. Then the players come out to play, but, boy, no one was cheering."
Eddie McKenna patted his large belly and breathed through his nose. "Well, now, I hope these Bolshies will be stripped of their Series medals. Just the fact that they give them 'medals' for playing a game is enough to turn the stomach. And I say, Fine. Baseball's dead anyway. Bunch of slackers without the guts to fight for their country. And Ruth the worst of them. You hear he wants to hit now, Dan? Read it in this morning's paper--doesn't want to pitch anymore, says he's going to sit out if they don't pay him more and keep him off the mound at the same time. You believe that?"
"Ah, this world." His father took a sip of Bordeaux.
"Well," Danny said, looking around the table, "what was their beef?"
"Their complaint? They didn't strike for nothing."
Joe said, "They said the owners changed the agreement?" Danny watched him cock his eyes back into his head, trying to remember the specifics. Joe was a fanatic for the sport and the most trustworthy source at the table on all matters baseball. "And they cut them out of money they'd promised and every other team had gotten in other Series. So they struck." He shrugged, as if to say it all made perfect sense to him, and then he cut into his turkey.
"I agree with Eddie," his father said. "Baseball's dead. It'll never come back."
"Yes, it will," Joe said desperately. "Yes, it will."
"This country," his father said, with one of the many smiles in his collection, this time the wry one. "Everyone thinks it's okay to hire on for work but then sit down when that work turns out to be hard."
He and Connor took their coffee and cigarettes out on the back porch and Joe followed them. He climbed the tree in the backyard because he knew he wasn't supposed to and knew his brothers wouldn't call this to his attention.
Connor and Danny looked so little alike people thought they were kidding when they said they were brothers. Where Danny was tall and dark-haired and broad-shouldered, Connor was fair-haired and trim and compact, like their father. Danny had gotten the old man's blue eyes, though, and his sly sense of humor, where Connor's brown eyes and disposition--a coiled affability that disguised an obstinate heart--came entirely from their mother.
"Dad said you went out on a warship yesterday?"
Danny nodded. "That I did."
"Sick soldiers, I heard."
Danny sighed. "This house leaks like Hudson tires."
"Well, I do work for the DA."
Danny chuckled. "Juiced-in, eh, Con'?"
Connor frowned. "How bad were they? The soldiers."
Danny looked down at his cigarette and rolled it between his thumb and forefinger. "Pretty bad."
"What is it?"
"Honestly? Don't know. Could be influenza, pneumonia, or something no one's ever heard of." Danny shrugged. "Hopefully, it sticks to soldiers."
Connor leaned against the railing. "They say it'll be over soon." "The war?" Danny nodded. "Yeah."
For a moment, Connor looked uncomfortable. A rising star in the DA's offi ce, he'd also been a vocal advocate of American entrance into the war. Yet somehow he managed to miss the draft, and both brothers knew who was usually responsible for "somehows" in their family.
Joe said, "Hey down there," and they looked up to see that he'd managed to reach the second-highest branch.
"You crack your head," Connor said, "Ma will shoot you."
"Not going to crack my head," Joe said, "and Ma doesn't have a gun."
"She'll use Dad's."
Joe stayed where he was, as if giving it some thought.
"How's Nora?" Danny asked, trying to keep his voice loose.
Connor waved his cigarette at the night. "Ask her yourself. She's a strange bird. She acts all proper around Ma and Dad, you know? But she ever go Bolsheviki on you?"
"Bolsheviki?" Danny smiled. "Ah, no."
"You should hear her, Dan, talking about the rights of the workers and women's suffrage and the poor immigrant children in the factories and blah, blah, blah. The old man'd keel over if he heard her sometimes. I'll tell you that's going to change, though."
"Yeah?" Danny chuckled at the idea of Nora changing, Nora so stubborn she'd die of thirst if you ordered her to drink. "How's that going to happen?"
Connor turned his head, the smile in his eyes. "You didn't hear?" "I work eighty hours a week. Apparently I missed some gossip." "I'm going to marry her."
Danny's mouth went dry. He cleared his throat. "You asked her?" "Not yet. I've talked to Dad about it, though."
"Talked to Dad, but not to her."
Connor shrugged and gave him another wide grin. "What's the shock, brother? She's beautiful, we go to shows and the flickers together, she learned to cook from Ma. We have a great time. She'll make a great wife."