Walter met Luther when he exited the streetcar at the top of Market Street in Brighton. Walter was a small man with huge white muttonchop sideburns to compensate, Luther guessed, for all the hair he'd lost up top. He had a chest like an apple barrel and short wishbone legs and as he led Luther down Market Street, his thick arms swung in concert with his hips. "Mr. Giddreaux said you were from the Midwest?"
"So you seen this before, then."
Luther said, "Worked the yards in Cincinnati."
"Well, I don't know what Cincinnati's like, but Brighton's a whole stock town. Pretty much everything you see along Market here, that's cattle business."
He pointed out the Cattlemen's Hotel at the corner of Market and Washington and the rival Stockyard Arms across the street and gestured in the direction of packing companies and canneries and three butchers and the various rooming houses and flophouses for workers and salesmen.
"You get used to the stench," he said. "Me, I don't even smell it no more."
Luther had stopped noticing it in Cincinnati, but now it was hard to recall how he'd accomplished that. The smokestacks emptied black spirals into the sky and the sky huffed it back down again and the oily air smelled of blood and fat and charred meat. Of chemicals and manure and hay and mud. Market Street flattened as it crossed Faneuil Street and it was here that the stockyards began, stretching for blocks on either side of the street with the train tracks cutting through their centers. The smell of manure grew worse, rising in a thick tide, and high fences with Cyclone wire up top sprouted out of the ground and the world was suddenly filled with dust and the sound of whistles and the neighing, mooing, and bleating of livestock. Walter Grange unlocked a wooden gate and led Luther through and the ground below grew dark and muddy.
"Lot of people got their interests tied up in the yards," Walter said. "You got small ranchers and big cattle outfits. You got order buyers and dealer buyers and commission agents and loan officers. You got railroad reps and telegraph operators and market analysts and ropers and handlers and teamsters to transport the livestock once it's been sold. You got packers ready to buy in the morning and walk those cows right back out the yard and up to the slaughterhouses, have 'em sold for steaks by noon tomorrow. You got people work for the market news services and you got gatemen and yardmen and pen men and weigh-masters and more commission firms than you can shake a fist at. And we ain't even talking about the unskilled labor yet." He cocked one eyebrow at Luther. "That'd be you."
Luther looked around. Cincinnati all over again, but he must have forgotten a lot of Cincinnati, blocked it out. The yards were enormous. Miles of muddy aisles cut between wooden pens filled with snorting animals. Cows, hogs, sheep, lambs. Men ran every which way, some in the rubber boots and dungarees of yard workers, but others in suits and bow ties and straw boaters and still others in checked shirts and cowboy hats. Cowboy hats in Boston! He passed a scale the height of his house in Columbus, practically the width of it, too, and watched a man lead a dazed-looking heifer up there and hold up his hand to a man standing beside the scale with a pencil poised over a piece of paper. "Doing a whole draft, George."
"My apologies, Lionel. You go ahead."
The man led another cow and then a third and still another up onto that scale, and Luther wondered just how much weight that scale could take, if it could weigh a ship and the people on it.
He'd fallen back of Walter and hurried to catch up as the man took a right turn down a path between yet more pens, and when Luther reached him, Walter said, "The key man takes responsibility for all the livestock comes off the trains on his shift. That's me. I lead them to their catch pens and we keep 'em there, feed 'em, clean up after 'em until they get sold, and then a man shows up with a bill of sale and we release them to him."
He stopped at the next corner and handed Luther a shovel. Luther gave it a bitter smile. "Yeah, I remember this."
"Then I can save me some breath. We in charge of pens nineteen through fifty-seven. Got that?"
"Every time I empty one, you clean it and restock it with hay and water. End of the day, three times a week, you go there"--he pointed-- "and you clean that, too."
Luther followed his finger and saw the squat brown building at the west end of the yard. You didn't have to know what it was to sense its mean purpose. Nothing that squat and unadorned and functional- looking could ever put a smile on anyone's face.
"The killing floor," Luther said.
"You got a problem with that, son?"
Luther shook his head. "It's a job."
Walter Grange agreed with a sigh and a pat on the back. "It's a job."
Two days after Danny and Nora's wedding, Connor met with Attorney General Palmer at his home in Washington, D. C. The windows were boarded up, the front rooms had been obliterated, their ceilings caved in; the staircase just past the entrance hall was shorn in half, with the bottom half indistinguishable from the rest of the rubble and the top half dangling above the entranceway. D. C. police and federal agents had set up a command post in what had once been the parlor, and they moved freely through the house as Mitchell Palmer's valet led Connor to the office in the rear.
Three men waited for him there. The eldest and fleshiest of them he recognized instantly as Mitchell Palmer. He was round without being quite portly and his lips were the thickest part of him; they sprouted from his face like a rose. He shook Connor's hand, thanked him for coming, and introduced him to a thin BI agent named Rayme Finch and a dark- eyed, dark-haired Justice Department lawyer named John Hoover.
Connor had to step over some books in order to take his seat. The explosion had shaken them from their shelves, and the built-in bookcases sported great cracks. Plaster and paint had fallen from the ceiling, and the window behind Mitchell Palmer bore two small fi ssures in the panes.
Palmer caught his eye. "You see what they can do, these radicals." "Yes, sir."
"But I won't give them the satisfaction of moving out, I assure you."
"Very brave of you, sir."
Palmer swiveled his chair slightly from side to side as Hoover and Finch took theirs on either side of him.
"Mr. Coughlin, are you happy with the direction in which our country is heading?"
Connor pictured Danny and his whore dancing on their wedding day, sleeping in their soiled bed. "No, sir."
"And why is that?"
"We seem to be giving away the keys to it."