"Walk off that booze. Good idea," he said. "Know anyone by the name of Finn by the bye?" Eddie's face was blithe, open.
Danny kept his the same way. "In Brighton?"
Eddie frowned. "I said I was going to Brighton on a coon hunt. 'Finn' sound like a colored name to you?"
" 'Tis indeed. Know any?"
"Just wondering," Eddie said. "You're sure?"
"Just what I said, Eddie." Danny turned up his collar against the wind. "Nope."
Eddie nodded and reached for the car door.
"What he do?" Danny said.
"This Finn you're looking for," Danny said. "What'd he do?" Eddie stared into his face for a long time. "Good night, Dan." " 'Night, Eddie."
Eddie's car drove up Beacon Street and Danny thought of going back in and calling Nora from the phone booth in the hotel lobby. Let her know that McKenna could be sniffing around her life. But then he pictured her with Connor--holding his hand, kissing him, maybe sitting on his lap when no one else was in the house to see--and he decided there were a lot of Finns in the world. And half of them were either in Ireland or Boston. McKenna could have been talking about any one of them. Any at all. chapter sixteen The first thing Luther had to do at the building on Shawmut Avenue was make it weather-tight. That meant starting with the roof. A slate beauty, she was, fallen on ill fortune and neglect. He worked his way across her spine one fine cold morning when the air smelled of mill smoke and the sky was clean and blade-blue. He collected shards of slate the firemen's axes had sent to the gutters and added them to those he'd retrieved from the floor below. He ripped sodden or scorched wood from their lathes and hammered fresh planks of oak in their places and covered it all with the slate he'd salvaged. When he ran out of that he used the slate Mrs. Giddreaux had somehow managed to procure from a company in Cleveland. He started on a Saturday at first light and finished up late of that Sunday afternoon. Sitting on the ridgeline of the roof, slick with sweat in the cold, he wiped his brow and gazed up at the clean sky. He turned his head and looked at the city spread out around him. He smelled the coming dusk in the air, though his eyes could see no evidence of it yet. As smells went, though, few were fi ner.
Luther's weekday schedule was such that by the time the Coughlins sat for dinner, Luther, who'd set the table and helped Nora prepare the food, had already left. But on Sundays, dinners were all-day affairs, ones that occasionally reminded Luther of the ones at Aunt Marta and Uncle James's on Standpipe Hill. Something about recent church attendance and Sunday finery brought out an inclination for pronouncements, he noticed, in white folk as well as black.
Serving drinks in the captain's study, he sometimes got the feeling they were pronouncing for him. He'd catch sidelong glances from one of the captain's associates as he pontificated about eugenics or proven intellectual disparities in the races or some similar bullshit only the truly indolent had time to discuss.
The one who spoke the least but had the most fire in his eyes was the one Avery Wallace had warned him about, the captain's right-hand man, Lieutenant Eddie McKenna. A fat man, given to breathing heavily through nostrils clogged with hair, he had a smile as bright as the full moon on a river, and one of those loud, jolly natures Luther believed could never be trusted. Men like that always hid the part of themselves that wasn't smiling and hid it so deep it got all the hungrier, like a bear just come out of hibernation, lumbering out of that cave with a scent in its nose so focused it couldn't ever be reasoned with.
Of all the men who joined the captain in the study on those Sundays--and the roster changed from week to week--it was McKenna who paid Luther the most attention. At first glance, it seemed welcome enough. He always thanked Luther when Luther brought him either a drink or a refill, whereas most of the men simply acted as if his servitude was their due and rarely acknowledged him at all. Upon entering the study, McKenna usually asked after Luther's health, his week, how he was adapting to the cold weather. "You ever need an extra coat, son, you let us know. We usually have a few spares down at the station house. Can't promise they'll smell too fine, though." He clapped Luther on the back.
He seemed to assume Luther was from the South and Luther saw no reason to dissuade him from the impression until it came up one late afternoon at Sunday dinner.
"Kentucky?" McKenna said.
At first Luther didn't realize he was being addressed. He stood by the sideboard, filling a small bowl with sugar cubes.
"Louisville, I'm guessing. Am I right?" McKenna gazed openly at him as he placed a slice of pork in his mouth.
"Where I hail from, sir?"
McKenna's eyes glimmered. "That's the question, son."
The captain took a sip of wine. "The lieutenant prides himself on his grasp of accents, he does."
Danny said, "Can't lose his own, though, uh?"
Connor and Joe laughed. McKenna wagged his fork at Danny. "A wiseacre since diapers, this one." He turned his head. "So which is it, Luther?"
Before Luther could answer, Captain Coughlin raised a hand to him. "Make him guess, Mr. Laurence."
"I did guess, Tom."
"You guessed wrong."
"Ah." Eddie McKenna dabbed his lips with his napkin. "So, not Louisville?"
Luther shook his head. "No, sir."
Luther shook his head again, felt the whole family looking at him.
McKenna leaned back, one hand caressing his belly. "Well, let's see. You don't have a deep enough drawl for Mis'sipi, tha's fo' sho'. And Gawgia is right out. Too deep for Virginia, though, and too fast, I think, for Alabama."
"I'm guessing Bermuda," Danny said.
Luther caught his eye and smiled. Of all the Coughlins, he had the least experience with Danny, but Avery had been right--you felt no lying in the man.
"Cuba," Luther said to Danny.
"Too far south," Danny said.
They both chuckled.
The gamesmanship left McKenna's eyes. His flesh pinkened. "Ah, a bit a sport the lads are having now." He smiled at Ellen Coughlin down the other end of the table. "A bit of sport," he repeated and cut into his roast pork.
"So what's the guess, Eddie?" Captain Coughlin speared a potato slice.
Eddie McKenna looked up. "I'll have to give Mr. Laurence a bit more thought before I hazard any more idle conjecture on that point."