"Dee-fi ne avar-iss," she said once.
Those nights, Danny would return to his rooms feeling both the betrayer and the betrayed, and he'd sit by his window and read from the stacks provided by Eddie McKenna until late into the evening.
He went to another BSC meeting and still another, and little about the men's situation or prospects had changed. The mayor still refused to meet with them, while Samuel Gompers and the American Federation of Labor seemed to be having second thoughts about granting a charter.
"Keep the faith," he heard Mark Denton say to a flatfoot one night. "Rome wasn't built in a day."
"But it was built," the guy said.
Then one night, when he returned after two solid days of duty, he found Mrs. DiMassi dragging Tessa and Federico's rug down the stairs. Danny tried to help her, but the old woman shrugged him off and dropped the rug into the foyer and let loose a loud sigh before looking at him.
"She's gone," the old woman said, and Danny saw that she knew what he and Tessa had been up to and it colored how she would look at him as long as he lived here. "They go without a word. Owe me rent, too. You look for her, you will not fi nd her, I think. Women of her village are known for their black hearts. Yes? Witches, some think. Tessa have black heart. Baby die, make it blacker. You," she said as she pushed past him to her own apartment, "you probably make it blacker still."
She opened her door and looked back at him. "They waiting for you."
"The men in your room," she said and entered her apartment.
He unsnapped the leather guard on his holster as he walked up the stairs, half of him still thinking of Tessa, of how it might not be too late to find her if the trail wasn't too cold. He thought she owed him an explanation. He was convinced there was one.
At the top of the stairs, he heard his father's voice coming from his apartment and snapped the guard back on his holster. Instead of going toward the voice, though, he went to Tessa and Federico's apartment. He found the door ajar. He pushed it open. The rug was gone, but otherwise the parlor looked the same. Yet as he walked around it, he saw that all the photographs had been removed. In the bedroom, the closets were empty and the bed was stripped. The top of the dresser where Tessa had kept her powders and perfumes was bare. The hat tree in the corner sprouted empty pegs. He walked back into the parlor and felt a cold drop of sweat roll behind his ear and then down the back of his neck: they'd left behind the Silvertone.
The top was open and he went to it, smelling it suddenly. Someone had poured acid onto the turntable, and the velvet inlay had been eaten down to nothing. He opened the cabinet to find all of Federico's beloved record discs smashed into shards. His first instinct was that they must have been murdered; the old man would have never left this behind or allowed anyone to vandalize it so obscenely.
Then he noticed the note. It was glued to the right cabinet door. The handwriting was Federico's, identical to that on the note he'd left inviting Danny to dinner that first night; Danny suddenly felt nauseated.
Policeman, Is this wood still a tree? Federico "Aiden," his father said from the doorway. "Good to see you, boy." Danny looked over at him. "What the hell?"
His father stepped into the apartment. "The other tenants say he seemed like such a sweet old man. Your opinion of him as well, I assume?"
Danny shrugged. He felt numb.
"Well, he isn't sweet and he isn't old. What's the note he left you all about?"
"Private joke," Danny said.
His father frowned. "Nothing about this is private, boy." "Why don't you tell me what's going on?"
His father smiled. "Elucidation awaits in your room."
Danny followed him down the hall to find two men waiting in his apartment. They wore bow ties and heavy rust- colored suits with dark pinstripes. Their hair was plastered to their skulls by petroleum jelly and parted down the middle. Their shoes were a flat brown and polished. Justice Department. They couldn't have been more obvious if they'd worn their badges pinned to their foreheads.
The taller of the two looked over at him. The shorter one sat on the edge of Danny's coffee table.
"Officer Coughlin?" the tall man said.
"I asked first," the tall man said.
"I don't care," Danny said. "I live here."
Danny's father folded his arms and leaned against the window, content to watch the show.
The tall man looked over his shoulder at the other man and then back at Danny. "My name's Finch. Rayme Finch. Rayme. No 'ond.' Just Rayme. You can call me Agent Finch." He had the look of an athlete, loose-limbed and strong of bone.
Danny lit a cigarette and leaned against the doorjamb. "You got a badge?"
"I already showed it to your father."
Danny shrugged. "Didn't show it to me."
As Finch reached into his back pocket, Danny caught the little man on the coffee table watching him with the kind of delicate contempt he'd normally associate with bishops or showgirls. He was a few years younger than Danny, maybe twenty-three at the most, and a good ten years younger than Agent Finch, but the pockets beneath his bulging eyes were pendulous and darkly pooled like those of a man twice his age. He crossed his legs and picked at something on his knee.
Finch produced his badge and a federal ID card stamped with the seal of the United States government: Bureau of Investigation.
Danny took a quick glance at it. "You're BI?"
"Try saying it without a smirk."
Danny jerked his thumb at the other guy. "And who's this exactly?"
Finch opened his mouth but the other man wiped his hand with a handkerchief before extending the hand to Danny. "John Hoover, Mr. Coughlin," the man said, and Danny's hand came away with sweat from the handshake. "I work with the antiradical department at Justice. You don't cotton to radicals, do you, Mr. Coughlin?"
"There're no Germans in the building. Isn't that what Justice handles?" He looked back at Finch. "And the BI is all about bankruptcy fraud. Yeah?"
The doughy lump on the coffee table looked at Danny like he wanted to bite the tip of his nose. "Our purview has expanded a bit since the war started, Offi cer Coughlin."
Danny nodded. "Well, good luck." He stepped over the threshold. "Mind getting the fuck out of my apartment?"
"We also deal with draft dodgers," Agent Finch said, "agitators, seditionists, people who would make war on the United States."