"Yeah?" She ran her tongue across his abdomen. She took the cigarette from his hand and took a puff before handing it back to him.

"No idea," he said. "Until Denton tipped me just before the fi rst ballot. But, shit, I won an office I didn't even know I was running for. It was crazy."

She slid back on top of him and he loved the weight of her there. "So you're honored but not proud?"

"I'm scared," he said.

She laughed and took his cigarette again. "Aiden, Aiden," she whispered, "you're not afraid of anything."

"Sure, I am. I'm afraid all the time. Afraid of you."

She placed the cigarette back in his mouth. "Afraid of me now, are you?"

"Terrified." He ran a hand along the side of her face and through her hair. "Scared I'll let you down."

She kissed his hand. "You'll never let me down."

"That's what the men think, too."

"So what is it you're afraid of again?"

"That you're all wrong."

On August 11, with warm rain sluicing against the window in his offi ce, Commissioner Edwin Upton Curtis composed an amendment to the rules and regulations of the Boston Police Department. That amendment to Rule 35, Section 19, read in part:

No member of the force shall belong to any organi zation, club or body composed of present and past members of the force which is affiliated with or part of any organi zation, club or body outside of the department.

Commissioner Curtis, upon finishing what would become commonly known as Rule 35, turned to Herbert Parker and showed him the draft.

Parker read it and wished that it could be harsher. But these were upside- down days in the country. Even unions, those Bolsheviki sworn enemies of free trade, had to be coddled. For a time. For a time.

"Sign it, Edwin."

Curtis had been hoping for a bit more effusive reaction, but he signed it anyway and then sighed at the condensation on his windows.

"I hate rain."

"Summer rain's the worst, Edwin, yes."

An hour later, Curtis released the newly signed amendment to the press.

Thomas and the seventeen other captains met in the anteroom outside Superintendent Crowley's office in Pemberton Square. They stood in a loose circle and brushed the beads of water off their coats and hats. They coughed and complained about their drivers and the traffic and the miserable weather.

Thomas found himself standing beside Don Eastman, who ran Division 3 on Beacon Hill. Eastman concentrated on straightening his damp shirt cuffs and spoke in a low voice. "I hear they'll be running an ad in the papers."

"Don't believe every rumor you hear."

"For replacements, Thomas. A standing militia of armed volunteers."

"As I said, rumors."

"Rumors or no, Thomas, if the men strike, we'll see fecal gravity at work like never before. Ain't a man in this room who won't be covered in shit."

"If he ain't been run out of town on rails," Bernard King, the captain of Division 14, said, stubbing out his cigarette on the marble floor.

"Everyone keep calm," Thomas said quietly.

The door to Crowley's office opened and the big man himself walked out and gave only a desultory wave to let them know they should follow him down the hall.

They did so, some men still sniffling from the rain, and Crowley turned into a conference room at the end of the hall and the phalanx of captains followed suit and took seats at the long table in the center. There were no coffee urns or pots of tea on the sideboards, no slices of cake or trays of sweets, none of the amenities they'd become accustomed to as their due at meetings such as these. In fact, there were no waiters or junior staff of any kind in the room. Just Superintendent Michael Crowley and his eighteen captains. Not even a secretary to record the minutes.

Crowley stood with the great window behind him, steamed over from the rain and humidity. The shapes of tall buildings rose indistinct and tremulous behind him, as if they might vanish. Crowley had cut short his annual vacation to Hyannis, and his face was ruddy with the sun, which made his teeth seem all the whiter when he spoke.

"Rule Thirty-five, which was just added to the department code, outlaws affiliation with any national union. That means that all fourteen hundred men who joined the AF of L could be terminated." He pinched the skin between his eyes and the bridge of his nose and held up a hand to staunch their questions. "Three years ago, we switched from nightsticks to the pocket billies. Most of those nightsticks, however, are still in the possession of the officers for dress occasions. All precinct captains will confiscate those nightsticks starting today. We expect all of them in our possession by week's end."

Jesus, Thomas thought. They're preparing to arm the militia.

"In each of the eighteen precincts, an AFL sign-up sheet was distributed. You are to identify the officer who was in charge of collecting those signatures." Crowley turned his back to them and looked at the window, now opaque with moisture. "The commissioner will be sending me a list at day's end of patrolmen I'm to personally interview in regards to dereliction of duty. I'm told there could be as many as twenty names on that list."

He turned back and placed his hands on his chair. A large man with a soft face that could not hide the exhaustion that bulged from under his eyes, it was said of Michael Crowley that he was a patrolman mistakenly readorned in upper brass finery. A cop's cop who'd come up through the ranks and knew the names not only of every man in all eighteen precincts but also the names of the janitors who emptied the wastebaskets and mopped the floors. As a young sergeant, he'd broken the Trunk Murder Case, a front-pager if ever one existed, and the publicity that followed sent him shooting--quite helplessly, it was noted--to the top ranks of the department. Even Thomas, cynical as he could be about the motives of the human animal, fully acknowledged that Michael Crowley loved his men and none more so than the least of them.

His eyes found theirs. "I'm the first to acknowledge that the men have legitimate grievances. But a moving object cannot pass through a wall of greater mass and density. It cannot. And, as of this point, Commissioner Curtis is that wall. If they continue to lay down gauntlets, we will pass a point of no return."

"With all due respect, Michael," Don Eastman said, "what would you expect us to do about it?"

"Talk to them," Crowley said. "To your men. Eye to eye. Convince them that not even pyrrhic victory awaits if they put the commissioner in a position he finds untenable. This is not about Boston any longer."

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