“Any of the tower guards fully in your debt?”
“The one right above us,” Maso said. “The other two are faithful to the money.”
“Could your guard contact guards inside, get them to flank Lawson’s crew, raid them right now?”
Maso shook his head. “If just one guard is close to Lawson, then word will get to the cons below and they’ll storm up here.”
“Well, shit.” Joe exhaled a long slow breath and looked around. “Let’s just do it the dirty way.”
While Maso talked to the tower guard, Joe walked back down the wall to the trapdoor. If he was going to die, this was probably the moment. He couldn’t shake the suspicion that every step he took was about to be interrupted by a bullet drilling through his brain or cracking through his spine.
He looked back down the way he’d come. Maso had left the pathway, so there was nothing to see but the gathering dark and the watchtowers. No stars, no moon, just the stone dark.
He opened the trapdoor and called down. “He’s done.”
“You hurt?” Basil Chigis called up.
“No. Gonna need clean clothes, though.”
Someone chuckled in the darkness.
“So, come on down.”
“Come on up. We got to get his body out of here.”
“The signal is your right hand, index and middle fingers raised and held together. You got anyone missing one of those digits, don’t send him up.”
He rolled away from the doorway before anyone could argue.
After about a minute, he heard the first of them climb up. The man’s hand extended out of the hole, two fingers raised as Joe had instructed. The tower light arced past the hand and then swung back over again. Joe said, “All clear.”
It was Pokaski, the roaster of his family, who stuck his head carefully up and looked around.
“Hurry,” Joe said. “And get the others up here. It’ll take two more to drag him. He’s deadweight and my ribs are busted up.”
Pokaski smiled. “I thought you said you weren’t hurt.”
“Not mortally,” Joe said. “Come on.”
Pokaski leaned back into the hole. “Two more guys.”
Basil Chigis followed Pokaski and then a small guy with a harelip came after him. Joe recalled someone pointing him out at chow once—Eldon Douglas—but couldn’t remember his crime.
“Where’s the body?” Basil Chigis asked.
The light hit Basil Chigis just before the bullet entered the back of his head and exited the center of his face, taking his nose with it. As his final act on earth, Pokaski blinked. Then a door opened in his throat and the door flapped as a wash of red poured through it and Pokaski fell on his back, and his legs thrashed. Eldon Douglas leapt for the opening to the staircase, but the tower guard’s third bullet collapsed his skull the way a sledgehammer would. He fell to the right of the door and lay there, missing the top of his head.
Joe looked into the light, the three dead men splattered all over him. Down below men shouted and ran off. He wished he could join them. It had been a naive plan. He could feel the gun sights on his chest as the light blinded him. The bullets would be the violent offspring his father had warned him about; not only was he about to meet his Maker, but he also was about to meet his children. The only consolation he could offer himself was that it would be a quick death. Fifteen minutes from now he’d be sharing a pint with his father and Uncle Eddie.
The light snapped off.
Something soft hit him in the face and then fell to his shoulder. He blinked into the darkness—a small towel.
“Wipe your face,” Maso said. “It’s a mess.”
When he finished, his eyes had adjusted enough to be able to make out Maso standing a few feet away, smoking one of his French cigarettes.
“You think I was going to kill you?”
“Crossed my mind.”
Maso shook his head. “I’m a low-rent wop from Endicott Street. I go to a fancy joint, I still don’t know what fork to use. So I might not have class or education, but I never double-cross. I come right at you. Just like you came at me.”
Joe nodded, looked at the three corpses at his feet. “What about these guys? I’d say we double-crossed them pretty good.”
“Fuck them,” Maso said. “They had it coming.” Stepping over Pokaski’s corpse, he crossed to Joe. “You’ll be getting out of here sooner than you think. You ready to make some money when you do?”
“Your duty will always be to the Pescatore Family first and yourself second. Can you abide that?”
Joe looked into the old man’s eyes and was certain that they’d make a lot of money together and that he could never trust him.
“I can abide that.”
Maso extended his hand. “Okay, then.”
Joe wiped the blood off his hand and shook Maso’s. “Okay.”
“Mr. Pescatore,” someone called from below.
“Coming.” Maso walked to the trapdoor and Joe followed. “Come, Joseph.”
“Call me Joe. Only my father called me Joseph.”
“Fair enough.” As he descended the spiral staircase in the dark, Maso said, “Funny thing about fathers and sons—you can go forth and build an empire. Become king. Emperor of the United States. God. But you’ll always do it in his shadow. And you can’t escape it.”
Joe followed him down the dark staircase. “Don’t much want to.”
After a morning funeral at Gate of Heaven in South Boston, Thomas Coughlin was laid to rest at Cedar Grove Cemetery in Dorchester. Joe was not allowed to attend the funeral but read about it in a copy of the Traveler that one of the guards on Maso’s payroll brought to him that evening.
Two former mayors, Honey Fitz and Andrew Peters, attended, as well as the current one, James Michael Curley. So did two ex-governors, five former district attorneys, and two attorney generals.
The cops came from all over—city cops and state police, retired and active, from as far south as Delaware and as far north as Bangor, Maine. Every rank, every specialty. In the photo accompanying the article, the Neponset River snaked along the far edge of the cemetery, but Joe could barely see it because the blue hats and blue uniforms consumed the view.
This was power, he thought. This was a legacy.
And in nearly the same breath—So what?