"Is that your sticking point, Edwin? The AFL affiliation?" Curtis threw up his hands. "Of course it is!"
"And if, let us say, the men agreed to withdraw from that affi liation?"
Curtis narrowed his eyes. "Have they?"
"If they did, Edwin," Storrow said slowly, "what then?"
"I would take it under advisement," Curtis said.
"Advisement of what?" Peters said.
Storrow shot him a glare he hoped was sharp enough and Peters dropped his eyes.
"Advisement, Mr. Mayor, of the larger picture." Curtis's eyes had moved inward, something Storrow had seen often in financial negotiations-- self-pity disguised as inner counsel.
"Edwin," he said, "the men will withdraw from the American Federation of Labor. They'll concede. The question is: Will you?"
The ocean breeze found the awning over the doorway and the fl aps of the tarp snapped against themselves.
"The nineteen men should be disciplined but not punished," Governor Coolidge said. "Prudence, Commissioner, is all we ask." "Common sense," Peters said.
Soft waves broke against the rocks.
Storrow found Curtis staring at him, as if awaiting his final plea. He stood and extended his hand to the little man. Curtis gave the hand a damp shake of his fi ngers.
"You have my every confidence," Storrow said.
Curtis gave him a grim smile. "That's heartening, James. I'll take it under advisement, rest assured."
Later that afternoon, in an incident that would have proven a profound embarrassment to the Boston Police Department if it had been reported to the press, a police detail arrived at the new headquarters of the NAACP on Shawmut Avenue. Lieutenant Eddie McKenna, armed with a search warrant, dug up the floor in the kitchen and the yard behind the headquarters.
As guests who'd come to attend the ribbon- cutting ceremony stood around him, he found nothing.
Not even a toolbox.
The Storrow Report was released to the papers that night.
Monday morning, portions of it were published, and the editorial pages of all four major dailies proclaimed James J. Storrow the savior of the city. Crews arrived to break down the emergency hospital tents that had been erected across the city, and the extra ambulance drivers were sent home. The presidents of Jordan Marsh and Filene's ordered employee-firearm training to cease and all company-provided weapons were confiscated. Divisions of the State Guard and platoons of the United States Cavalry, which had been mustering in Concord, found their alert status downgraded from red to blue.
At three-thirty that afternoon, the Boston City Council passed a resolution to name either a building or a public thoroughfare after James J. Storrow.
At four, Mayor Andrew Peters left his office at City Hall to find a crowd awaiting him. The throng cheered.
At five-forty-five, policemen of all eighteen precincts met for evening roll call. It was then that the duty sergeant of each precinct house informed the men that Commissioner Curtis had ordered the immediate termination of the nineteen men he'd suspended the previous week.
In Fay Hall, at eleven in the evening, the members of the Boston Police Department Union voted to reaffirm their affiliation with the American Federation of Labor.
At eleven-oh-five, they voted to strike. It was agreed that this action would occur at tomorrow evening's roll call, a Tuesday, when fourteen hundred policemen would walk off the job.
The vote was unanimous. chapter thirty-five In his empty kitchen, Eddie McKenna poured two fi ngers of Power's Irish whiskey into a glass of warm milk and drank it as he ate the plate of chicken and mashed potatoes Mary Pat had left on the stove. The kitchen ticked with its own quiet, and the only light came from a small gas lamp over the table behind him. Eddie ate at the sink, as he always did when he was alone. Mary Pat was out at a meeting of the Watch and Ward Society, also known as the New England Society for the Suppression of Vice. Eddie, who barely believed in naming dogs, would never understand naming an organi zation, not once, but twice. Ah well, now that Edward Junior was at Rutgers and Beth was off to the convent, at least it kept Mary Pat out of his hair, and the thought of all those frigid biddies klatching together to rail against the sots and the suffragettes brought a smile to his face in the dark kitchen on Telegraph Hill.
He finished his meal. He placed the plate in the sink and the empty glass beside it. He got the bottle of Irish and poured himself a tumblerful and carried the tumbler and the bottle up the stairs with him. A fine night weatherwise. Good for the roof and a few hours' thinking because, with the exception of the weather, everything had turned to right shit, it had. He half hoped the Bolshevik policemen's union would strike, if only so it would keep this afternoon's debacle at the NAACP off the front page. Good Lord how that nigger had set him up. Luther Laurence, Luther Laurence, Luther Laurence. The name ran through his head like mockery defined and contempt distilled.
Oh, Luther. You'll have fair cause to rue the day you ever left your Momma's tired, old cunny. I swear that to you, boy.
Out on the roof, the stars hung fuzzy above him, as if they'd been sketched by an unsure hand. Wisps of cloud slid past wisps of smoke from the Cotton Waste Factory. From here he could see the lights of the American Sugar Refining Company, a four-block monstrosity that gave continuous birth to sticky pollutants and rodents you could saddle, and the Fort Point Channel smelled of oil, yet he couldn't escape the pleasure it gave him to stand up here and survey the neighborhood he and Tommy Coughlin had first worked as pups in their newfound homeland. They'd met on the boat over, two stowaways who'd been pinched on opposite ends of the ship the second day out and been forced into slave labor in the galley. At night, chained together to the legs of a sink the size of a horse trough, they'd traded stories of the Old Sod. Tommy had left behind a drunken father and a sickly twin brother in a tenant- farmer's hut in Southern Cork. Eddie had left behind nothing but an orphanage in Sligo. Never knew his da, and his ma had passed from the fever when he was eight. So there they were, two crafty lads, scarcely in their teens, but full of piss, sure, full of ambition.
Tommy, with his dazzling, Cheshire grin and twinkling eyes, turned out to be a bit more ambitious than Eddie. While Eddie had, without question, made a fine living in his adopted homeland, Thomas Coughlin had thrived. Perfect family, perfect life, a lifetime of graft piled so high in his office safe it would make Croesus blush. A man who wore his power like a white suit on a coal black night.
The division of power hadn't been so apparent at the outset. When they'd joined the force, gone through the academy, walked their fi rst beats, nothing had particularly distinguished one young man from the other. But somewhere after their first few years on the force, Tommy had revealed a stealthy intellect while Eddie himself had continued with his combination of cajolery and threat, his body growing wider every year while Perfect Tommy stayed lean and canny. An exam taker suddenly, a riser, a velvet glove.