"You won't get fired."
Another tiny shrug. "And if you're wrong? How would we eat?" "This will be over soon."
She shook her head.
"It will. Once the city realizes we had no choice and that--"
She turned to him. "The city will hate you, Danny." She swept her arm at the streets below. "They'll never forgive you for this."
"So we were wrong?" A well of isolation sprang up inside him, as desolate and hopeless as any he'd ever known.
"No," she said. "No." She came to him and the touch of her hands on his cheeks felt like salvation. "No, no, no." She shook his face until he met her eyes. "You weren't wrong. You did the only thing you could. It's just . . ." She looked off the roof again.
"They made it so that the only choice you had left was the one sure to doom you." She kissed him; he tasted the salt of her tears. "I love you. I believe in what you did."
"But you think we're doomed."
Her hands trailed off his face and fell to her sides. "I think . . ." Her face cooled as he watched her, something he was learning about her, her need to treat crisis with detachment. She raised her eyes and they were no longer moist. "I think you might be out of a job." She gave him a sad, tight smile. "So I can't be losing mine, can I now?"
He walked her to work. Around them, gray ash and the endless crunch of glass. Scraps of bloodied clothing, splattered pies on the cobblestone amid chunks of brick and charred wood. Blackened storefronts. Overturned carts and overturned cars, all burnt. Two halves of one skirt in the gutter, wet and covered in soot.
It didn't get any worse once they left the North End, it just got more repetitive and, by the time they reached Scollay Square, larger in scope and scale. He tried to pull Nora to him, but she preferred to walk alone. Every now and then she would glance the side of her hand off his and gave him a look of intimate sorrow, and once she leaned into his shoulder as they climbed Bowdoin Street, but she never spoke.
Neither did he.
There was nothing to say.
After he dropped her at work, he walked back to the North End and joined the picket line outside the Oh-One station house. Throughout the late morning and early afternoon, they walked back and forth along Hanover Street. Some passersby greeted them with calls of support and others with shouts of "for shame," but the majority said nothing. They passed along the edge of the sidewalk with downturned eyes or stared through Danny and the other men as if they were ghosts.
Scabs arrived throughout the day. Danny had given the order that they were to be allowed entrance as long as they crossed along the outer edges of the picket line and not through it. Outside of one tense chest-bumping incident and a few catcalls, the scabs passed into the Oh-One station house without ado.
Up and down Hanover came the sound of hammers as men replaced windows with wood planks while others swept up the glass and rescued from the debris any goods the mob had overlooked. A cobbler Danny knew, Giuseppe Balari, stood for a long time staring into the wreckage of his shop. He'd stacked wood against his shop door and laid out his tools, but at the moment when he could have begun covering his storefront, he placed the hammer down on the sidewalk and just stood there, hands out by his side, palms up. He stood that way for ten minutes.
When he turned, Danny didn't manage to drop his eyes in time and Giuseppe's found his. He stared across the street at Danny and mouthed one word: Why?
Danny shook his head, a helpless gesture, and turned his face forward as he made another circuit in front of the station house. When he looked again, Giuseppe had placed a wood plank to the window frame and begun hammering.
Midday, several city tow trucks cleared the streets, the husks rattling and clanking over the cobblestones, the tow drivers repeatedly having to stop to retrieve pieces that had fallen off. Not long after, a Packard Single Six pulled to the curb by the picket line and Ralph Raphelson stuck his head out the back window. "A minute, Offi cer?"
Danny turned his sign upside down and leaned it against a lamp pole. He climbed into the backseat with Raphelson. Raphelson gave him an awkward smile and said nothing. Danny looked out the window at the men walking in circles, at the wood storefronts up and down Hanover.
Raphelson said, "The vote on a sympathy strike has been delayed." Danny's first reaction was a chilled numbness. "Delayed?" Raphelson nodded.
"For how long?"
Raphelson looked out his window. "Difficult to ascertain. We've had a hard time reaching several of the delegates."
"You can't vote without them?"
He shook his head. "All delegates must be present. That's sacrosanct."
"How long before everyone's rounded up?"
"Hard to tell."
Danny turned on the seat. "How long?"
"Could be later today. Could be tomorrow."
The numbness left Danny, replaced by an adrenal spike of fear. "But no later."
Raphelson said nothing.
"Ralph," Danny said. "Ralph."
Raphelson turned his head, looked at him.
"No later than tomorrow," Danny said. "Right?"
"I can't guarantee anything."
Danny sat back in his seat. "Oh, my God," he whispered. "Oh, my God."
In Luther's room, he and Isaiah packed the laundry Mrs. Grouse had brought up to them. Isaiah, a veteran traveler, showed Luther how to roll his clothing instead of folding it, and they placed it in Luther's suitcase.
"It'll give you a lot more room," he said, "and you're less apt to suffer wrinkles. But you have to roll it tight now. Like this."
Luther watched Isaiah, then brought the legs of a pair of trousers together and started rolling them from the cuffs.
"A little tighter."
Luther unrolled the trousers and made the first curl twice as tight and clenched his hands as he continued the roll.
"You're getting it now."
Luther cinched the fabric hard between his fingers. "She going to be okay?"
"It'll pass, I'm sure." Isaiah lay a shirt on the bed and buttoned it up. He folded it and smoothed the creases and rolled it up. When he was done, he turned and placed it in the suitcase and smoothed his palm across it one last time. "It'll pass."
When they came down the stairs, they left the suitcase at the bottom and found Yvette in the parlor. She looked up from the afternoon edition of The Examiner, and her eyes were bright.
"They may send the State Guard to the trouble spots."