"Ah, the language!"
"--made sense in my life, Dad. Ever. 'Cept her."
His father's face drained of color.
Danny said, "Hand me my shoes, would you, Con'?"
Connor shook his head. "Get 'em yourself, Dan." He held out his hands, a gesture of such helpless pain and betrayal that it pierced Danny.
Connor shook his head. "No."
"Fuck listening. You'd do this? To me? You'd--"
Connor dropped his hands and his eyes filled. He shook his head at Danny again. He shook his head at the whole ward. He turned on his heel and walked out the door.
Danny found his shoes in the silence and placed them on the floor.
"You're going to break your brother's heart? Your mother's?" his father said. "Mine?"
Danny looked at him as he pushed his feet into his shoes. "It's not about you, Dad. I can't live my life for you."
"Oh." His father placed his hand over his heart. "Well, I wouldn't want to begrudge you your earthly pleasures, boy, Lord knows." Danny smiled.
His father didn't. "So you've taken your stand against the family. You're an individual, Aiden. Your own man. Does it feel good?" Danny said nothing.
His father stood and placed his captain's hat on his head. He straightened it at the sides. "This great romantic notion your generation has about it going its own way? Do you think you're the fi rst?"
"No. Don't think I'll be the last, either."
"Probably not," his father said. "What you will be is alone." "Then I'll be alone."
His father pursed his lips and nodded. "Good-bye, Aiden." "Good-bye, sir."
Danny held out his hand, but his father ignored it.
Danny shrugged and dropped the hand. He reached behind him and found the papers Luther had given him last night. He tossed them at his father and hit him in the chest. His father caught them and looked down at them.
"The list McKenna wanted from the NAACP."
His father's eyes widened for a moment. "Why would I want it?" "Then give it back."
Thomas allowed himself a small smile and placed the papers under his arm.
"It was always about the mailing lists, wasn't it?" Danny said. His father said nothing.
"You'll sell them," Danny said. "To companies, I'm assuming?"
His father met his eyes. "A man has a right to know the character of the men working for him."
"So he can fire them before they unionize?" Danny nodded at the idea. "You sold out your own."
"I'll bet my life that not a name on any of the lists is Irish." "I wasn't talking about the Irish," Danny said.
His father looked up at the ceiling, as if he saw cobwebs there that needed tending. He pursed his lips, then looked at his son, a slight quiver in his chin. He said nothing.
"Who got you the list of the Letts once I was out?"
"As luck would have it," his father's voice was barely a whisper, "we took care of that yesterday in the raid."
Danny nodded. "Ah."
"Anything else, son?"
Danny said, "Matter of fact, yeah. Luther saved my life." "So I should give him a raise?"
"No," Danny said. "Call off your dog."
"I don't know anything about that."
"Call him off just the same. He saved my life, Dad."
His father turned to the old man in the bed. He touched his cast and winked at the man when he opened his eyes. "Ah, you'll be fit as a fiddle, as God is my judge."
"Indeed." Thomas gave the guy a hearty smile. His eyes swept past Danny and the windows behind him. He nodded once and then walked out the same door as Connor.
Danny found his coat on a hook against the wall and put it on. "That your pops?" the old man said.
"I'd stay clear of him for a while."
Danny said, "Looks like I don't have much choice."
"Oh, he'll be back. His kind always comes back. Sure as time," the old man said. "Always wins, too."
Danny finished buttoning his coat. "Ain't nothing to win anymore," he said.
"That ain't the way he sees it." The old man gave him a sad smile. He closed his eyes. "Which is why he'll keep winning. Yes, sir."
After he left the hospital, he visited four more before he found the one where they'd taken Nathan Bishop. Bishop, like Danny, had declined to stay, though Nathan had slipped two armed policemen to do it.
The doctor who'd worked on him before his escape looked at Danny's tattered uniform, its black splotches of blood, and said, "If you've come for your second licks, they should have told you--"
"He's gone. I know."
"Lost an ear," the doctor said.
"Heard that, too. How about his eye?"
"I don't know. He left before I could hazard an informed diagnosis."
The doctor glanced at his watch and slipped it back into his pocket. "I've got patients."
"Where'd he go?"
A sigh. "Far from this city, I suspect. I already told this to the two officers who were supposed to be guarding him. After he climbed out the bathroom window, he could have gone anywhere, but from the time I spent with him, I gathered he saw no point sacrifi cing five or six years of his life to a Boston prison."
The doctor's hands were in his pocket when he turned without another word and walked away.
Danny left the hospital. He was still in a fair amount of pain and made slow progress up Huntington Avenue toward the trolley stop.
He found Nora that night, when she returned to her rooming house from work. He stood with his back against her stoop, not because sitting down was too painful but because getting back up again was. She walked up the street in dusk yellowed by weak street-lamps and every time her face passed from dark into gauzy light, he took a breath.
Then she saw him. "Holy Mary Mother of God, what happened to you?"
"Which part?" A thick bandage jutted off his forehead, and both eyes were black.
"All of you." She appraised him with something that might have been humor, might have been horror.
"You didn't hear?" He cocked his head, noticing she didn't look too good herself, her face drawn and sagging at the same time, her eyes too wide and empty.
"I heard there was a fight between policemen and the Bolsheviks, but I . . ." She stopped in front of him and raised her hand, as if to touch his swollen eye, but she paused and her hand hung in the air. She took a step back.