He let her go. He let her go. He'd told his father after he'd beaten Quentin Finn that he was ready to grow up now. And that was the truth. He was tired of bucking against the way things were. Curtis had taught him the futility of that in a single afternoon. The world was built and maintained by men like his father and his cronies, and Danny looked out the window at the streets of the North End and decided it was, most times, a good world. It seemed to work in spite of itself. Let other men fight the small and bitter battles against the hardness of it. He was done. Nora, with her lies and sordid history, was just another foolish child's fantasy. She would go off and lie to some other man, and maybe it would be a rich man and she'd live out her lies until they faded and were replaced by a matron's respectability.
Danny would find a woman without a past. A woman fit to be seen in public with him. It was a good world. He would be worthy of it. A grown-up, a citizen.
His fingers searched his pocket for the button, but it wasn't there. For a moment, he was seized with a panic so severe it seemed to demand physical action of him. He straightened in his chair and set his feet, as if preparing to lunge. Then he recalled seeing the button this morning amid some change scattered atop his dresser. So it was there. Safe. He sat back and sipped his coffee, though it had gone cold.
On April 29, in the Baltimore distribution annex of the U. S. Post Office, a postal inspector noticed fluid leaking from a brown cardboard package addressed to Judge Wilfred Enniston of the Fifth District U. S. Appellate Court. When closer inspection of the package revealed that the fluid had burned a hole in the corner of the box, the inspector notified Baltimore police, who dispatched their bomb squad and contacted the Justice Department.
By the end of the evening, authorities discovered thirty-four bombs. They were in packages addressed to Attorney General Mitchell Palmer, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, John Rockefeller, and thirty- one others. All thirty-four targets worked in either industry or in government agencies whose policies affected immigration standards.
On the same evening in Boston, Louis Fraina and the Lettish Workingman's Society applied for a parade permit to march from the Dudley Square Opera House to Franklin Park in recognition of May Day.
The application for a permit was denied.
RED SUMMER chapter twenty-six May Day, Luther had breakfast at Solomon's Diner before he went to work at the Coughlins'. He left at five-thirty and got as far as Columbus Square before Lieutenant McKenna's black Hudson detached itself from a curb across the street and did a slow U-turn in front of him. He didn't feel surprised. He didn't feel alarmed. He didn't feel much of anything really.
Luther had read the Standard at the Solomon's counter, his eyes immediately drawn to the headline--"Reds Plot May Day Assassinations." He ate his eggs and read about the thirty-four bombs discovered in the U. S. mail. The list of targets was posted in full on the second page of the paper, and Luther, no fan of white judges or white bureaucrats, still felt ice chips flow through his blood. This was followed by a jolt of patriotic fury, the likes of which he'd never suspected could live in his soul for a country that had never treated his people with any welcome or justice. And yet he pictured these Reds, most of them aliens with accents as thick as their mustaches, willing to do violence and wreckage to his country, and he wanted to join any mob that was going to smash them through the teeth, wanted to say to someone, anyone: Just give me a rifl e.
According to the paper, the Reds were planning a day of national revolt, and the thirty-four bombs that had been intercepted suggested a hundred more that could be out there primed to explode. In the past week, leaflets had been pasted to lamp poles across the city, all of which bore the same words:
Go ahead. Deport us. You senile fossils ruling the United States will see red! The storm is within and very soon will leap and crash and annihilate you in blood and fire.
We will dynamite you!
In yesterday's Traveler, even before news of the thirty- four bombs leaked out, an article had listed some of the recent, infl ammatory comments of American subversives, including Jack Reed's call for "the overthrow of capitalism and the establishment of socialism through a proletarian dictatorship" and Emma Goldman's anticonscription speech last year, in which she'd urged all workers to "Follow Rus sia's lead."
Follow Rus sia's lead? Luther thought: You love Rus sia so much, fucking move there. And take your bombs and your onion-soup breath with you. For a few, strangely joyous hours, Luther didn't feel like a colored man, didn't even feel there was such a thing as color, only one thing above all others: He was an American.
That changed, of course, as soon as he saw McKenna. The large man stepped out of his Hudson and smiled. He held up a copy of the Standard and said, "You seen it?"
"I seen it," Luther said.
"We're about to have a very serious day ahead of us, Luther." He slapped the newspaper off Luther's chest a couple of times. "Where's my mailing list?"
"My people ain't Reds," Luther said.
"Oh, they're your people now, uh?"
Shit, Luther wanted to say, they always were.
"You build my vault?" McKenna said, almost singing the words. "Working on it."
McKenna nodded. "You wouldn't be lying now?"
Luther shook his head.
"Where's my fucking list?"
"It's in a safe."
McKenna said, "All I asked of you is that you get me one simple list. Why has that been so diffi cult?"
Luther shrugged. "I don't know how to bust a safe."
McKenna nodded, as if that were perfectly reasonable. "You'll bring it to me after your shift at the Coughlins'. Outside Costello's. It's on the waterfront. Six o'clock."
Luther said, "I don't know how I'm going to do that. I can't bust a safe."
In reality, there was no safe. Mrs. Giddreaux kept the mailing list in her desk drawer. Unlocked.
McKenna tapped the paper lightly off his thigh, as if giving it some thought. "You need to be inspired, I see. That's okay, Luther. All creative men need a muse."
Luther had no idea what he was on about now, but he didn't like his tone--airy, confi dent.
McKenna draped his arm across Luther's shoulder. "Congratulations."
That lit a happy fire in McKenna's face. "Your nuptials. I understand you were married last fall in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to a woman named Lila Waters, late of Columbus, Ohio. A grand institution, marriage."
Luther said nothing, though he was sure the hate showed in his eyes. First the Deacon, now Lieutenant Eddie McKenna of the BPD--it seemed no matter where he went the Lord saw fit to place demons in his path.