Mrs. DiMassi shook her head.
"Landlady," Danny said.
"Ah," the doctor said. "She have family?"
"A father," Danny said. "He's still being located."
"I can't let anyone but immediate family in to see her. I hope you understand."
Danny kept his voice light. "Serious, Doctor?"
The doctor's eyes remained weary. "We're trying, Offi cer." Danny nodded.
"If you hadn't carried her here, though?" the doctor said. "The world would, without question, be a hundred ten pounds lighter. Choose to look at it that way."
The doctor gave Mrs. DiMassi a courtly nod and rose from his haunches.
"Dr. . . . ," Danny said.
"Rosen," the doctor said.
"Dr. Rosen," Danny said, "how long are we going to be wearing masks, you think?"
Dr. Rosen took a long look around the waiting room. "Until it stops."
"And it isn't stopping?"
"It's barely started," the doctor said and left them there.
Tessa's father, Federico Abruzze, found Danny that night on the roof of their building. After the hospital, Mrs. DiMassi had berated and harangued all her tenants into moving their mattresses up onto the roof not long after the sun went down. And so they assembled four stories above the North End under the stars and the thick smoke from the Portland Meat Factory and the sticky wafts from the USIA molasses tank.
Mrs. DiMassi brought her best friend, Denise Ruddy-Cugini, from Prince Street. She also brought her niece, Arabella and Arabella's husband, Adam, a bricklayer recently arrived from Palermo sans passport. They were joined by Claudio and Sophia Mosca and their three children, the oldest only five and Sophia already showing with the fourth. Shortly after their arrival, Lou and Patricia Imbriano dragged their mattresses up the fire escape and were followed by the newlyweds, Joseph and Concetta Limone, and finally, Steve Coyle.
Danny, Claudio, Adam, and Steve Coyle played craps on the black tar, their backs against the parapet, and Claudio's homemade wine went down easier with every roll. Danny could hear coughing and fever-shouts from the streets and buildings, but he could also hear mothers calling their children home and the squeak of laundry being drawn across the lines between the tenements and a man's sharp, sudden laughter and an organ grinder in one of the alleys, his instrument slightly out of tune in the warm night air.
No one on the roof was sick yet. No one coughed or felt flushed or nauseated. No one suffered from what were rumored to be the telltale early signs of infection--headache or pains in the legs--even though most of the men were exhausted from twelve-hour workdays and weren't sure their bodies would notice the difference. Joe Limone, a baker's assistant, worked fi fteen-hour days and scoffed at the lazy twelve-hour men, and Concetta Limone, in an apparent effort to keep up with her husband, reported for work at Patriot Wool at five in the morning and left at six-thirty in the evening. Their first night on the rooftop was like the nights during the Feasts of the Saints, when Hanover Street was laureled in lights and flowers and the priests led parades up the street and the air smelled of incense and red sauce. Claudio had made a kite for his son, Bernardo Thomas, and the boy stood with the other children in the center of the roof and the yellow kite looked like a fin against the dark blue sky.
Danny recognized Federico as soon as he stepped out on the roof. He'd passed him on the stairs once when his arms were fi lled with boxes--a courtly old man dressed in tan linen. His hair and thin mustache were white and clipped tight to his skin and he carried a walking stick the way landed gentry did, not as an aid, but as a totem. He removed his fedora as he spoke to Mrs. DiMassi and then looked over at Danny sitting against the parapet with the other men. Danny rose as Federico Abruzze crossed to him.
"Mr. Coughlin?" he said with a small bow and perfect English. "Mr. Abruzze," Danny said and stuck out his hand. "How's your daughter?"
Federico shook the hand with both of his and gave Danny a curt nod. "She is fine. Thank you very much for asking."
"And your grandson?"
"He is strong," Federico said. "May I speak with you?"
Danny stepped over the dice and loose change and he and Federico walked to the eastern edge of the roof. Federico removed a white handkerchief from his pocket and placed it on the parapet. He said, "Please, sit."
Danny took a seat on the handkerchief, feeling the waterfront at his back and the wine in his blood.
"A pretty night," Federico said. "Even with so much coughing." "Yes."
"So many stars."
Danny looked up at the bright splay of them. He looked back at Federico Abruzze, getting the impression of tribal leader from the man. A small-town country mayor, perhaps, a dispenser of wisdom in the town piazza on summer nights.
Federico said, "You are well known around the neighborhood." Danny said, "Really?"
He nodded. "They say you are an Irish policeman who holds no prejudice against the Italians. They say you grew up here and even after a bomb exploded in your station house, even after you've worked these streets and seen the worst of our people, you treat everyone as a brother. And now you have saved my daughter's life and the life of my grandson. I thank you, sir."
Danny said, "You're welcome."
Federico placed a cigarette to his lips and snapped a match off his thumbnail to light it, staring at Danny through the flame. In the flare of light, he looked younger suddenly, his face smooth, and Danny guessed him to be in his late fifties, ten years younger than he looked from a distance.
He waved his cigarette at the night. "I never leave a debt unpaid." "You don't owe a debt to me," Danny said.
"But I do, sir," he said. "I do." His voice was softly musical. "But the cost of immigrating to this country has left me of modest means. Would you, at the very least, sir, allow my daughter and I to cook for you some night?" He placed a hand to Danny's shoulder. "Once she is well enough, of course."
Danny looked into the man's smile and wondered about Tessa's missing husband. Was he dead? Had there ever been one? From what Danny understood of Italian customs, he couldn't imagine a man of Federico's stature and upbringing allowing an unwed, pregnant daughter to remain in his sight, let alone his home. And now it seemed the man was trying to engineer a courtship between Danny and Tessa.
"I'd be honored, sir."
"Then it's done." Federico leaned back. "And the honor is all mine. I will leave word once Tessa is well."