Lila lifted a shirt off the pile. "Oh, you gonna help, uh?" "You give me a couple of those clothespins, I will."
She passed a handful of them to him and he hoisted Desmond onto his hip and helped his wife hang laundry. The moist air hummed with cicadas. The sky was low and flat and bright. Luther chuckled.
"What you laughing at?" Lila asked.
"Everything," he said.
Danny's first night in the hospital, he spent nine hours on the oper ating table. The knife in his leg had nicked the femoral artery.
The bullet in his chest had hit bone, and some of the bone chips had sprayed his right lung. The bullet in his left hand had entered through the palm and the fi ngers were, for the time being anyway, useless. He'd had less than two pints of blood in his body by the time they got him out of the ambulance.
He woke from a coma on the sixth day and was awake half an hour when he felt the left side of his brain catch fire. He lost the vision in his left eye and tried to tell the doctor something was happening to him, something odd, like maybe his hair was on fire, and his body began to shake. It was quite beyond his control, this violent shaking.
He vomited. The orderlies held him down and shoved something leather into his mouth, and the bandages on his chest tore and blood leaked from him all over again. By this time, the fi re had raged all the way across his skull. He vomited again, and they pulled the leather out of his mouth and rolled him onto his side before he choked.
When he woke a few days later, he couldn't speak properly and the whole left side of his body was numb.
"You've had a stroke," the doctor said.
"I'm twenty- seven years old," Danny said, though it came out, "I'b wenty-vesen airs awl."
The doctor nodded, as if he'd spoken clearly. "Most twenty- seven- year-olds don't get stabbed and then shot three times for good measure. If you were much older, I doubt you would have survived. In truth, I don't know how you did."
"She's outside. Do you really want her to see you in your current state?" "She I mife."
The doctor nodded.
When he left the room, Danny heard the words as they had left his mouth. He could form them in his head right now--she's my wife--but what had come out--she I mife--was hideous, humiliating. Tears left his eyes, hot ones of fear and shame, and he wiped at them with his right hand, his good hand.
Nora entered the room. She looked so pale, so frightened. She sat in the chair by his bed and took his right hand in hers and lifted it to her face, pressed her cheek to his palm.
"I love you."
Danny gritted his teeth, concentrated through a pounding headache, concentrated, willing the words to leave his tongue correctly. "Love you."
Not bad. Love ooh, really. But close enough.
"The doctor said you'll have trouble speaking for a while. You may have trouble walking, yeah? But you're young and fierce- strong, and I'll be with you. I'll be with you. 'Twill all be fi ne, Danny."
She's trying so hard not to cry, he thought.
"Love ooh," he said again.
She laughed. A wet laugh. She wiped her eyes. She lowered her head to his shoulder. He could feel the warmth of her against his face.
If there was a positive outcome to Danny's injuries, it was that he didn't see a newspaper for three weeks. If he had, he would have learned that the day after the shoot-out in the alley, Commissioner Curtis proclaimed all positions of the striking police officers to be officially vacant. Governor Coolidge supported him. President Wilson weighed in to call the actions of the policemen who left their posts "a crime against civilization."
Ads seeking the new police force contained within them new standards and rate of pay, all in keeping with the strikers' original demands. Base salary would now start at fourteen hundred dollars a year. Uniforms, badges, and service revolvers would be provided free of charge. Within two weeks of the riots, city cleanup crews, licensed plumbers, electricians, and carpenters began arriving at each of the station houses to clean and remodel them until they met safety and sanitation codes at a state level.
Governor Coolidge composed a telegram to Samuel Gompers of the AFL. Before he sent the telegram to Gompers, he released it to the press where it was published on the front page of every daily the following morning. The telegram was also released to the wire services and would run in over seventy newspapers across the country in the following two days. Governor Coolidge proclaimed the following: "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime."
Within a week, those words had turned Governor Coolidge into a national hero and some suggested he should consider a run for the presidency the following year.
Andrew Peters faded from public view. His ineffectuality was deemed, if not quite criminal, then certainly unconscionable. His failure to call out the State Guard on the first night of the strike represented an unforgivable dereliction of his duties, and popular opinion held that it was only the quick thinking and steely resolve of Governor Coolidge and the unfairly maligned Commissioner Curtis that had saved the city from itself.
While the rest of the active police force found their jobs in jeopardy, Steve Coyle was given a full policeman's funeral. Commissioner Curtis singled out former Patrolman Stephen Coyle as an exemplar of the "old guard" policeman, the one who put duty before all else. Curtis repeatedly failed to note that Coyle had been released from the employ of the BPD almost a full year before. He further promised to form a committee to look into posthumously reinstating Coyle's medical benefits for any immediate family he happened to have.
In the first days after the death of Tessa Ficara, the papers trumpeted the irony of a striking police officer who, in less than a year, had brought about the demise of two of the most wanted terrorists in the land as well as a third, Bartolomeo Stellina, the man Luther had killed with the brick, who was reputed to be a devoted Galleanist. Even though the strikers were now viewed with the enmity once reserved for the Germans (to whom they were often compared), accounts of Offi cer Coughlin's heroics turned public sympathy back toward the strikers. Maybe, it was felt, if they returned to their jobs right away, some of them, at least those with distinguished records akin to Offi cer Coughlin's, could be reinstated.
The next day, however, the Post reported that Officer Coughlin might have had a prior acquaintanceship with the Ficaras, and the evening Transcript, citing unnamed sources in the Bureau of Investigation, reported that Officer Coughlin and the Ficaras had once lived on the same floor of the same building in the North End. The next morning, the Globe ran a story citing several tenants in the building who described the relationship between Officer Coughlin and the Ficaras as quite social, so social in fact that his relationship with Tessa Ficara may have crossed into unseemly areas; there was even some question as to whether he had paid for her favors. With that question in mind, his prior shooting of her husband suddenly looked as if it could have been colored by more than a sense of duty. Public opinion turned wholly against Officer Coughlin, the dirty cop, and all of his striking "comrades." Any talk of the strikers ever returning to work ended.