Curtis allowed himself a pinched smile as Mark stood as well. Danny and Mark donned their topcoats and Curtis leaned back in his chair.

"The days of this department being run, sub rosa, by men like Edward McKenna and your father are over. The days the department capitulates to the demands of Bolsheviki are long gone as well. Patrolman Denton, stand at attention if you please, sir."

Mark turned his shoulders and placed his hands behind his back.

"You are reassigned to Precinct Fifteen in Charlestown. You are to report there immediately. That means this afternoon, Patrolman, and begin your duties on the split shift from noon to midnight."

Mark knew exactly what that meant: There'd be no way to hold meetings at Fay Hall if he was locked down in Charlestown from twelve to twelve.

"Officer Coughlin, at attention. You are reassigned as well." "To, sir?"

"A special detail. You're familiar with those as a matter of record." "Yes, sir."

The commissioner leaned back in his chair and ran his hand over his belly. "You're on strike detail until further notice. Anytime the workingman walks out on the good men who deem to pay him, you will be there to ensure that no violence takes place. You'll be loaned out on an as-needed basis to police departments across the state. Until further notice, Officer Coughlin, you're a strike breaker."

Curtis placed his elbows on the desk and peered at Danny, waiting for a reaction.

"As you say, sir," Danny said.

"Welcome to the new Boston Police Department," Curtis said. "You're dismissed, gentlemen."

Walking out of the office, Danny was in such a state of shock that he assumed nothing else could add to it, but then he saw the men waiting their turn in the anteroom:

Trescott, recording secretary for the BSC.

McRae, treasurer.

Slatterly, vice president.

Fenton, press secretary.

It was McRae who stood and said, "What the hell's going on? I got a call half an hour ago telling me to report to Pemberton immediately. Dan? Mark?"

Mark looked shell-shocked. He placed a hand on McRae's arm. "It's a bloodbath," he whispered.

Outside, on the stairs, they lit cigarettes and tried to regain their composure. "They can't do this," Mark said.

"They just did."

"Temporary," Mark said. "Temporary. I'll call our lawyer, Clarence Rowley. He'll scream bloody murder. He'll get an injunction."

"What injunction?" Danny said. "He didn't suspend us, Mark. He just reassigned us. It's within his power. There's nothing to sue over." "When the press hears, they'll . . ." His voice drifted off and he took a drag off his cigarette.

"Maybe," Danny said. "If it's a slow news day."

"Jesus," Mark said softly. "Jesus."

Danny stared out at the empty streets and then up at the empty sky. Such a beautiful day, crisp and windless and clear. chapter twenty-two Danny, his father, and Eddie McKenna met in the study before Christmas dinner. Eddie wouldn't be staying; he had his own family to join at home on Telegraph Hill a few blocks away.

He took a long gulp from his brandy snifter. "Tom, the man's on a crusade. And he thinks we're the infidels. He sent an order to my offi ce last night that I'm to retrain all my men on crowd control and riot procedure. He wants them requalified for mounted duty as well. And now he's going after the social club?"

Thomas Coughlin came to him with the brandy decanter and refilled his glass. "We'll ride it out, Eddie. We've ridden out worse."

Eddie nodded, bolstered by the pat of Thomas Coughlin's hand on his back.

Thomas said to Danny, "Your man, Denton, he's contacting the BSC lawyer?"

Danny said, "Rowley, yeah."

Thomas sat back against the desk and rubbed his palm over the back of his head and frowned, a sign he was thinking furiously. "He played it smart. If he'd suspended you, that's one thing, but reassignment--while it may look bad--is a card he can play very well if you buck back against him. And lest we forget--he's got you on that terrorist you shacked up with."

Danny refilled his own drink, noticing the last one had gone down rather quickly. "And how's he know about that? I thought it was suppressed."

His father's eyes widened. "It didn't come from me, if that's what you're implying. You, Eddie?"

Eddie said, "You had some kind of dustup, I heard, with some Justice agents a few weeks back. On Salem Street? Pulled some girl out of a car?"

Danny nodded. "It's how I found Federico Ficara."

McKenna shrugged. "Justice leaks like a freshly failed virgin, Dan. Always has."

"Fuck." Danny slapped the side of a leather chair.

"As far as Commissioner Curtis sees it right now," Thomas said, "it's vendetta hour. Payback, gentlemen. For every time he took it up the behind from Lomasney and the ward bosses when he was mayor. For every lowly position he was farmed out to across the Commonwealth since 1897. For all the dinners he wasn't invited to, all the parties he found out about after the fact. For every time his missus looked embarrassed to be seen with him. He is a Brahmin, gents, through and through. And until a week ago, he was a Brahmin in disgrace." His father swirled the brandy in his glass and reached into the ashtray for his cigar. "That would give any man an unfortunate sense of the epic when it came to settling his accounts."

"So what do we do, Thomas?"

"You bide your time. Keep your head down."

"Same advice I gave the boy just last week." Eddie smiled at Danny.

"I'm serious. You, Eddie, you will have to swallow a lot of pride in the coming months. I'm a captain--he can call me on the carpet for a few things but my ship is tight and my precinct has seen a six percent drop in violent crime since I took over. That's here," he said and pointed at the floor, "at the Twelfth, historically the most crime-ridden nonwop district in the city. He can't do much to me unless I give him ammunition, and I will be resolute in my refusal to do so. But you're a lieutenant and you don't keep open books. He's going to put the screws to you, boy, something hard. Twist them tight, he will."

"So . . . ?"

"So, if he wants you warming up the horses and keeping your men standing at parade rest until the return of the Christ, you hop to. And you," he said to Danny, "you steer clear of the BSC."

"No." Danny drained his drink and stood to refill it.

"Did you just hear what I--"

"I'll do his strikebreaking for him and I won't complain. I'll polish my buttons and shine my shoes, but I'm not turning tail on the BSC." "He'll crucify you then."

Source: www.StudyNovels.com