She considered him with her large, dark eyes. It was a careful look he'd grown used to. Tessa never did anything carelessly. She approached each day as if it required study before she'd form an opinion of it.
"You are right." She tapped her ash against the parapet. "You are a much more . . . abbondante country than Italia. You have these big--whoosh--cities. You have more automobiles in one block than all of Palermo. But you are a very young country, Officer Danny. You are like the child who believes he is smarter than his father or his uncles who came before."
Danny shrugged. He caught Tessa looking at him, as calm and cautious as always. He bounced his knee off hers and looked out at the night.
One night in Fay Hall, he sat in back before the start of another union meeting and realized he had all the information his father, Eddie McKenna, and the Old Men could possibly expect from him. He knew that Mark Denton, as leader of the BSC, was just what they feared--smart, calm, fearless, and prudent. He knew that the most trusted men under him--Emmett Strack, Kevin McRae, Don Slatterly, and Stephen Kearns --were cut from the same cloth. And he knew who the deadwood and the empty shirts were as well, those who would be most easily compromised, easily swayed, easily bribed.
At that moment, as Mark Denton once again strode across the stage to the dais to start the meeting, Danny realized that he'd known all he needed to know since the first meeting he'd attended. That was seven meetings ago.
All he had left to do was to sit down with McKenna or his father and give them his impressions, the few notes he'd taken, and a concise list of the leadership of the Boston Social Club. After that, he'd be halfway to his gold shield. Hell, maybe more than halfway. A fi ngertip's reach away.
So why was he still here?
That was the question of the month.
Mark Denton said, "Gents," and his voice was softer than normal, almost hushed. "Gents, if I could have your attention."
There was something to the hush of his voice that reached every man in the room. The room grew quiet in blocks of four or five rows until the silence reached the back. Mark Denton nodded his thanks. He gave them a weak smile and blinked several times.
"As many of you know," Denton said, "I was schooled on this job by John Temple of the Oh- Nine Station House. He used to say if he could make a copper out of me there'd be no reason left not to hire dames."
Chuckles rippled through the room as Denton lowered his head for a moment.
"Officer John Temple passed this afternoon from complications connected to the grippe. He was fifty-one years old."
Anyone wearing a hat removed it. A thousand men lowered their heads in the smoky hall. Denton spoke again: "If we could also give the same respect to Officer Marvin Tarleton of the One-Five, who died last night of the same cause."
"Marvin's dead?" someone called. "He was getting better."
Denton shook his head. "His heart quit last night at eleven o'clock." He leaned into the dais. "The preliminary ruling from the department is that the families of neither man receive death benefits because the city has already ruled on similar claims--"
Boos and jeers and overturned chairs temporarily drowned him out. "--because," he shouted, "because, because--"
Several men were pulled back down into their seats. Others closed their mouths.
"--because," Mark Denton said, "the city says the men did not die in the line."
"How'd they get the fucking flu, then?" Bob Reming shouted. "Their dogs?"
Denton said, "The city would say yes. Their dogs. They're dogs. The city believes they could have contracted the grippe on any number of occasions unrelated to the job. Thus? They did not die in the line. That's all we need to know. That's what we have to accept."
He stepped back from the dais as a chair went airborne. Within seconds, the fi rst fi stfight broke out. Then the second. A third started in front of Danny and he stood back from it as shouts filled the hall, as the building shook from anger and despair.
"Are you angry?" Mark Denton shouted.
Danny watched Kevin McRae wade into the mob and break up one of the fights by pulling both men off their feet by their hair.
"Are you angry?" Denton shouted again. "Go ahead--fucking hit one another."
The room began to quiet. Half the men turned back toward the stage.
"That's what they want you to do," Denton called. "Beat yourselves to a pulp. Go ahead. The mayor? The governor? The city council? They laugh at you."
The last of the men stopped fighting. They sat.
"Are you angry enough to do something?" Mark Denton asked. No one spoke.
"Are you?" Denton shouted.
"Yes!" a thousand men shouted back.
"We're a union, men. That means we come together as one body with one purpose and we take it to them where they live. And we demand our rights as men. Any of you want to sit this out? Then fucking sit. The rest of you--show me what we are."
They rose as one--a thousand men, some with blood on their faces, some with tears of rage bubbling in their eyes. And Danny rose, too, a Judas no longer.
He met his father as his father was leaving the Oh- Six in South Boston. "I'm out."
His father paused on the station house steps. "You're out of what?" "The union-rat job, the radicals, the whole thing."
His father came down the stairs and stepped in close. "Those radicals could make you a captain by forty, son."
"You don't care?" His father gave him a withered smile. "You turn this chance down, you'll not get another shot at that gold shield for five years. If ever."
Fear at that prospect filled Danny's chest, but he jammed his hands deeper in his pockets and shook his head. "I won't rat on my own men."
"They're subversives, Aiden. Subversives within our own department."
"They're cops, Dad. And by the way, what kind of father are you to send me into that kinda job? You couldn't find someone else?"
His father's face grew gray. "It's the price of the ticket."
"For the train that never runs out of track." He rubbed his forehead with the heel of his hand. "Your grandchildren would have ridden it." Danny waved it off. "I'm going home, Dad."
"Your home's here, Aiden."
Danny looked up at the white limestone building with its Grecian columns. He shook his head. "Your home is."
That night he went to Tessa's door. He knocked softly, looking up and down the hall, but she didn't answer. So he turned and walked toward his room, feeling like a kid carrying stolen food under his coat. Just as he reached his door, he heard hers unlatch.