"Gods don't think they can become men."
Danny turned and met the man's eyes, said nothing.
"If you remain adamant on AFL affiliation, every hope you ever held for a better lot will be ground into dust."
Danny looked back at Nora and Luther again. "Do I have your word that if I sell my men on withdrawal from the AFL, the city will grant us our due?"
"You have my word and the mayor's and the governor's."
"It's your word I care about." Danny held out his hand. "I'll sell it to my men."
Storrow shook his hand, then held it firm. "Smile, young Coughlin-- we're going to save this city, you and I."
"Wouldn't that be nice?"
Danny sold it to them. In Fay Hall, at nine the next morning. After the vote, which was a shaky 406 to 377, Sid Polk asked, "What if they shaft us again?"
"How do you know?"
"I don't," Danny said. "But at this point, I don't see any logic to it." "What if this was never about logic?" someone called.
Danny held up his hands because no answer occurred to him.
Calvin Coolidge, Andrew Peters, and James Storrow made the drive to Commissioner Curtis's house in Nahant late Sunday afternoon.
They met the commissioner out on his back deck which overlooked the Atlantic under a sallow sky.
Several things were clear to Storrow within moments of their assemblage. The first was that Coolidge had no respect for Peters and Peters hated him for it. Every time Peters opened his mouth to make a point, Coolidge cut him off.
The second thing, and the more worrisome, was that time had done nothing to remove from Edwin Upton Curtis the air of self-loathing and misanthropy that lived in him so fully it colored his flesh like a virus.
Peters said, "Commissioner Curtis, we have--"
"--come, " Coolidge said, "to inform you that Mr. Storrow may have found a resolution to our crisis."
Peters said, "And that--"
"--if you were to hear our reasoning, I'm sure you would conclude we have all reached an acceptable compromise." Coolidge sat back in his deck chair.
"Mr. Storrow," Curtis said, "how have you been faring since last we met?"
"Well, Edwin. Yourself?"
Curtis said to Coolidge, "Mr. Storrow and I last met at a fabulous fete thrown by Lady Dewar in Louisburg Square. A legendary night, that, wouldn't you say, James?"
Storrow couldn't recall the night for the life of him. Lady Dewar had been dead more than a de cade. As socialites went, she'd been presentable, but hardly elite. "Yes, Edwin, it was a memorable occasion."
"I was mayor then, of course," Curtis said to Peters.
"And a fine one you were, Commissioner." Peters looked over at Coolidge as if surprised the governor had let him finish a thought.
It was the wrong thought, though. A dark squall passed through Curtis's small eyes, taking the blithe compliment Peters had delivered and twisting it into an insult. By calling him "Commissioner," the current mayor had reminded him of what he no longer was.
Dear Lord, Storrow thought, this city could burn to its bricks because of narcissism and a meaningless faux pas.
Curtis stared at him. "Do you think the men have a grievance, James?"
Storrow took his time searching for his pipe. He used three matches to get it lit in the ocean breeze and then crossed his legs. "I think they do, Edwin, yes, but let's be clear that you inherited those grievances from the previous administration. No one believes that you are the cause of those grievances or that you have done anything but attempt to deal with them honorably."
Curtis nodded. "I offered them a raise. They turned it down flat." Because it was sixteen years too late, Storrow thought.
"I initiated several committees to study their work conditions." Cherry-picked with toadies, Storrow thought.
"It's an issue of respect now. Respect for the office. Respect for this country."
"Only if you make it thus, Edwin." Storrow uncrossed his legs and leaned forward. "The men respect you, Commissioner. They do. And they respect this Commonwealth. I believe my report will bear that out."
"Your report," Curtis said. "What about my report? When do I share my voice?"
Good God, it was like fighting over toys in a nursery.
"Commissioner Curtis," the governor said, "we all understand your position. You should no more be beholden to the brazen demands of workingmen than--"
"Beholden?" Curtis said. "I am no such thing, sir. I am extorted. That is what this is, pure and simple. Extortion."
"Be that as it may," Peters said, "we think that the best course--"
"--is to forgo personal feelings at this time," Coolidge said.
"This is not personal." Curtis craned his head forward and screwed his face into a mask of victimization. "This is public. This is principle. This is Seattle, gentlemen. And St. Petersburg. And Liverpool. If we let them win here, then we truly will be Russianized. The principles that Jefferson and Franklin and Washington stood for will--"
"Edwin, please." Storrow couldn't help himself. "I may have brokered a settlement that will allow us to regain our footing, both locally and nationally."
Edwin Curtis clapped his hands together. "Well, I for one, would love to hear it."
"The mayor and the city council have found the funds to raise the level of the men's pay to a fair scale for 1919 and beyond. It's fair, Edwin, not a gross capitulation, I assure you. We've further designated monies to address and improve the working conditions in the precinct houses. It's a tight budget we're working with and some other public workers will not receive departmental funding they'd been counting on, but we tried to minimize the overall damage. The greater good will be served."
Curtis nodded, his lips white. "You think so."
"I do, Edwin." Storrow kept his voice soft, warm.
"These men affi liated with a national union against my express orders, in open contempt of the rules and regulations of this police department. That affiliation is an affront to this country."
Storrow recalled the wonderful spring of his freshman year at Harvard when he'd joined the boxing team and experienced a purity of violence unlike any he could have ever imagined if he wasn't pummeling and being pummeled every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. His parents found out eventually and that put an end to his pugilism, but, oh, how he would have loved to lace up the gloves right now and pound Curtis's nose down to the rocks of itself.