Danny searched his face for the joke.

"You're this close," McKenna said. "Bishop asked for your writing. You gave it to him. Now he's asked you to dinner. Fraina, I bet you all the gold in Ireland, will be there."

"We don't know that for--"

"We do," McKenna said. "We can infer it. And if all the stars align and Fraina takes you up to the offi ces of Revolutionary Age?"

"What? You want me to just say, 'Hey, while we're all chummy, mind giving me the mailing list of your entire organi zation?' Something like that?"

"Steal it," McKenna said.

"What?"

"If you get inside the offices, fucking steal it, lad."

Danny stood, his balance still a little off, one of his ears still plugged up. "What is so all-important about these lists?"

"They're a way to keep tabs."

"Tabs."

McKenna nodded.

"You're so full of shit you could fill a barn." Danny walked down the steps. "And I'm not going to be anywhere near the offi ces. We're meeting in a restaurant."

McKenna smiled. "All right, all right. Special Squads will give you some insurance, make sure these Bolshies don't even think of looking at you funny for a couple of days. Will that make you happy?"

"What kind of insurance?"

"You know Hamilton from my squad, yes?"

Danny nodded. Jerry Hamilton. Jersey Jerry. A goon; all that separated him from a prison cell was a badge.

"I know Hamilton."

"Good. Keep your eyes peeled tonight and be on the ready." "For what?"

"You'll know it when it happens, believe you me." McKenna stood and slapped at the white dust on his pants. It had been falling steadily since the explosion. "Now go and clean yourself up. You've got tracks of blood running down your neck. You've got this dust all over you, you do. Covering your hair, your face. Look like one of them Bushmen I've seen in the picture books." chapter eighteen When Danny arrived at the restaurant, he found the door locked and the windows shuttered. "It's closed on Sundays." Nathan Bishop stepped out of a darkened doorway into the weak yellow light cast by the nearest street-lamp. "My mistake."

Danny looked up and down the empty street. "Where's Comrade Fraina?"

"At the other place."

"What other place?"

Nathan frowned. "The other place we're going."

"Oh."

"Because this place was closed."

"Right."

"Have you always suffered Mongoloidism, or did you just come down with it?"

"Always."

Nathan held out his hand. "Car's across the street."

Danny saw it now--an Olds Model M, Pyotr Glaviach behind the wheel looking straight ahead. He turned the key, and the rumble of the heavy engine echoed up the street.

Nathan, walking toward the car, looked back over his shoulder. "You coming?"

Danny hoped McKenna's men were somewhere he couldn't see, watching, not boozing it up in a bar around the corner until they decided to stroll on over to the restaurant and make whatever move they had planned. He could picture it --Jersey Jerry and some other thug with a tin shield, both of them standing outside the darkened restaurant, one of them looking at the address he'd written on his own hand, then shaking his head with a five-year-old's befuddlement.

Danny stepped off the curb and walked toward the car.

They drove a few blocks and then turned onto Harrison as a light rain fell. Pyotr Glaviach turned on his wipers. Like the rest of the car, they were heavy things, and the back-and-forth slap of them found Danny's chest.

"Quiet tonight," Nathan said.

Danny looked out at Harrison Avenue, its empty sidewalks. "Yeah. Well, it's Sunday."

"I was talking about you."

The restaurant was called Oktober, the name appearing solely on the door in red lettering so small that Danny had passed it several times over the last couple of months without ever knowing it was there. Three tables inside, and only one of them was set. Nathan led Danny to it.

Pyotr threw the lock on the front door and then took a seat by it, his large hands lying in his lap like sleeping dogs.

Louis Fraina stood at the tiny bar, speaking rapidly on the phone in Rus sian. He nodded a lot and scribbled furiously in a notepad as the barmaid, a heavyset woman in her sixties, brought Nathan and Danny a bottle of vodka and a basket of brown bread. Nathan poured them each a drink and then raised his in toast. Danny did the same.

"Cheers," Nathan said.

"What? No Russian?"

"Good Lord, no. You know what Rus sians call Westerners who can speak Rus sian?"

Danny shook his head.

"Spies." Nathan poured them a refill and seemed to read Danny's thoughts. "You know why Louis is an exception?"

"Why?"

"Because he's Louis. Try the bread. It's good."

From the bar, an explosion of Rus sian, followed by a surprisingly hearty laugh, and then Louis Fraina hung up the phone. He came to the table and poured himself a drink.

"Good evening, gentlemen. Glad you could make it."

"Evening, Comrade," Danny said.

"The writer." Louis Fraina held out his hand.

Danny shook it. Fraina's grip was firm but not to the point of trying to prove anything. "Pleased to meet you, Comrade."

Fraina sat and poured himself another vodka. "Let's dispense with the 'Comrade' for now. I've read your work, so I don't doubt your ideological commitment."

"Okay."

Fraina smiled. This close, he gave off a warmth that wasn't even hinted at in his speeches or the few times Danny had seen him holding court at the back of the Sowbelly. "Western Pennsylvania, yes?"

"Yes," Danny said.

"What brought you all the way to Boston?" He tore a piece of dark bread from the loaf and popped it in his mouth.

"I had an uncle who lived here. By the time I arrived, he was long gone. I'm not sure where."

"Was he a revolutionary?"

Danny shook his head. "He was a cobbler."

"So he could run from the fight in good shoes."

Danny tipped his head to that and smiled.

Fraina leaned back in his chair and waved at the barmaid. She nodded and disappeared into the back.

"Let's eat," Fraina said. "We'll talk revolution after dessert."

They ate a salad in vinegar and oil that Fraina called svejie ovoshy. That was followed by draniki, a potato dish, and zharkoye, a meal of beef and still more potatoes. Danny'd had no idea what to expect, but it was quite good, far better than the gruel served nightly in the Sowbelly would have led him to believe. Still, throughout dinner, he had trouble concentrating. Some of it was due to the ringing in his ears. He only heard half of what was said and dealt with the other half by smiling or shaking his head where it seemed appropriate. But it wasn't the hearing loss, ultimately, that pulled his interest away from the table. It was the feeling, all too familiar lately, that his job was the wrong fi t for his heart.

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