Billy Coogan, a clueless flunky if ever there was one, waved a hand at that. "Ah, Michael, it 'tis, sure. This will all blow over."

Crowley gave him a bitter smile. "I'm afraid you're wrong, Billy. The police in London and Liverpool were said to take cues from our unrest. Liverpool burned, or did you not hear? It took warships of the English fleet--warships, Billy--to quell the mob. We've reports that in Jersey City and D. C., negotiations are afoot with the AFL. And right here--in Brockton, in Springfield and New Bedford, Lawrence and Worcester--the police departments wait to see what we will do. So, with all due respect as well, Billy, it's far more than a Boston problem. The whole sodding world is watching." He slumped in his chair. "There have been over two thousand labor strikes in this country so far this year, gentlemen. Put your heads into that number--that's ten a day. Would you like to know how many of those turned out well for the men who struck?"

No one answered.

Crowley nodded at their silence and kneaded his forehead with his fingers. "Talk to your men, gentlemen. Stop this train before the brakes have burned off. Stop it before nobody can stop it and we're all trapped inside."

In Washington, Rayme Finch and John Hoover met for breakfast at The White Palace Cafe on the corner of Ninth and D, not far from Pennsylvania Avenue. They met there once a week unless Finch was out of town on Bureau business, and as long as they'd been doing so, Hoover always found something wrong with the food or the drink and sent it back. This time it was his tea. Not steeped enough for his liking. When the waitress returned with a fresh pot, he made her wait while he poured it into his cup, stirred in just enough milk to muddy the waters, and then took a small sip.

"Acceptable." Hoover flicked the back of his hand at her and she gave him a look of hate and walked away.

Finch was pretty sure Hoover was a fag. Drank with one pinky extended, finicky and fussy in general, lived with his mother--all the signs. Of course with Hoover, you could never be sure. If Finch had discovered he fucked ponies in the mouth while painting himself in blackface and singing spirituals, he wouldn't have been surprised. Nothing surprised Finch anymore. In his time with the Bureau, he'd learned one thing about men above all others: we were all sick. Sick in our heads. Sick in our hearts. Sick to our souls.

"Boston," Hoover said and stirred his tea.

"What about it, John?"

"The police have learned nothing from Montreal, from Liverpool." "Apparently not. You really think they'll strike?"

"They're predominantly Hibernian," Hoover said with a delicate shrug, "a race that never let prudence or reason cloud its judgment. Time and again, throughout history, the Irish have boasted their way into apocalypse. I find no cause to think they'll do any different in Boston."

Finch sipped his coffee. "Nice opportunity for Galleani to stir the pot, if they do."

Hoover nodded. "Galleani and every other dime-store subversive in the area. Not to mention the garden variety criminal element will have a field day."

"Should we involve ourselves?"

Hoover stared at him with those keen, depthless eyes. "To what end? This could be worse than Seattle. Worse than anything this country's seen thus far. And if the public is forced to question whether this nation can police itself at local and state levels, who will they turn to?"

Finch allowed himself a smile. Say what you would about John, that sleek ugly mind of his was gorgeous. If he didn't step on the wrong toes during his rise, there'd be no stopping him.

"The federal government," Finch said.

Hoover nodded. "They're tarring the road for us, Mr. Finch. All we have to do is wait for it to dry and then drive straight up it." chapter thirty-four Danny was on the phone in the squad room, talking to Dipsy Figgis of the One-Two about getting extra chairs for tonight's meeting, when Kevin McRae wandered in, a piece of paper in his hand, a dazed look on his face, the kind a man got when he saw something he'd never expected, a long- dead relative, perhaps, or a kangaroo in his basement.

"Kev'?"

Kevin looked over at Danny as if he were trying to place him. "What's wrong?" Danny said.

McRae crossed to him, extending his hand, the paper between his fingers. "I've been suspended, Dan." His eyes widened and he ran the piece of paper over his head, as if it were a towel. "Fucking suspended. You believe that? Curtis says we all have to attend a trial on charges of dereliction."

"All?" Danny said. "How many men were suspended?"

"Nineteen, I heard. Nineteen." He looked at Danny with the face of a child lost at Saturday market. "What the fuck am I going to do?" He waved the piece of paper at the squad room and his voice grew soft, almost a whisper. "This was my life."

All the chief officers of the nascent AFL-Boston Police Union were suspended except for Danny. All the men who'd distributed and collected sign-up sheets for the AFL charter were suspended as well. Except for Danny.

He called his father. "Why not me?"

"What do you think?"

"I don't know. That's why I'm calling you, Dad."

He heard the rattle of ice cubes in a glass as his father sighed and then took a drink. "I've been after you your whole life to take up chess."

"You were after me my whole life to take up piano, too."

"That was your mother. I just enforced the idea. Chess, however, Aiden, that would have helped about now." Another sigh. "Far more than your ability to play a rag. What do the men think?"

"About?"

"About why you were given an exemption? They're all about to stand before Curtis for dismissal, and you, the vice president of your union, you're free as a lark. If you were in their shoes, what would you suspect?"

Danny, standing at the phone Mrs. DiMassi kept on a table in the foyer, wished he had his own drink as he heard his father pour a refill and add a few cubes to his glass.

"If I were in their shoes? I'd think I still had my job because I was your son."

"Which is exactly what Curtis wants them to think."

Danny placed the side of his head to the wall and closed his eyes, heard his father fire up a cigar and suck and puff, suck and puff, until he got it going.

"So that's the play," Danny said. "Dissension in the ranks. Divide and conquer."

His father barked a laugh. "No, boy, that's not the play. That's the opening act. Aiden, you silly, silly child. I do love you, but apparently I didn't raise you proper. How do you think the press is going to respond when they discover that only one of the elected union offi cials wasn't suspended? First, they'll report that it's proof the commissioner is a reasonable man and the city is obviously impartial and that the nineteen suspended men must have done something because the vice president himself wasn't suspended."

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