1925

The next morning he woke up feeling better than he deserved. Her warm body lay against his back, her red hair flowing all across the pillow. In Chicago he visited the whorehouses from time to time. Then because they laughed at his poetry, he would feel like a fool and decide to stop. But loneliness and drink always drove him back. He loved red hair it had influenced his choice last night. Her name was Rose. Getting out of bed as quietly as he could he pulled on his clothes and started to the door.

"Aren't you going to say goodbye, Charlie?"

"Sure, I was just going down to get some coffee. Want some?"

"Yes, and a sugar donut," she said sitting up. She was naked.

The coffee shop was run down with dirty white vinyl booths.

E"What?" said an older heavily made up waitress.

"Two coffees and a donut."

Your father dies, so you go buy a whore. He laughed. Good ole American tradition. Then glancing down he saw the headline of the paper lying on the counter. Chicago Herald Bombed; Four Dead. For a second it didn't register then he felt a stab of horror grabbed the paper and read the article. There were no names given.

He ran out leaving the coffee on the counter.

Edward nodded.

"I need a phone, " he said bursting in on Rose.

"Are you kidding? Who has a phone? Mr. Rockefeller I guess."

Back on the street he bought a paper from a newsboy and jumped on the trolley back to his brother's house.

No one was home. He sat down at the desk in the den and picked up the phone. He had trouble dialing and got several wrong numbers before he got through.

A woman answered "Chicago Herald."

"Can you put me through to Dan Connelly in the city room?" he asked. There was a long pause then, "Just a moment."

"City Room, Garrity speaking"

"Jim, this Charlie Ryan, is Dan there."

"Christ, haven't you heard. Dan died last night in the hospital. Jesus, it was awful."

"Oh God," said Charles. He held onto the desk. "I'm in Cincinnati, just saw the paper. What happened?"

"Someone threw a bomb in the front of the building, killed the doorman and two women right off and Dan was back by the cigar stand. He bled to death on the way to the hospital. The paper is going to press. You coming back?"

"Yeah, I guess so. See you soon."

Charles kept holding the phone at his ear. He heard the separate ticks of the clock on the wall. Finally he hung up and went into the kitchen, opened the Icebox, then closed it. He splashed water on his face and looked for a towel. "Charlie, what's wrong?" Molly had come in the back door. She stood with her coat half off. She was wearing a sweater and a long skirt. He held out his arms toward her. He was trembling. He began to sob, gulping in air.

She went to him and took him in her arms. The heat in her body surprised him. "Tell me. What is it?" she said gently.

He buried his face on her shoulder and felt his body yielding. He moved his head up her neck and found her mouth. She let him kiss her. She soothed him with soft words; she stroked his face. Their eyes met. She took his hand and brought it to her breast. She slowed him and guided him into the laundry room.

They lay in the laundry room. Quiet now. He stroked her hair. It felt just as he had always imagined it would. He could feel her warm breath on his neck.

"A friend of mine was killed." She turned in his arms. "It could have been me, " he said.

"But, you're here, " she breathed.

Molly looked up at him and he felt the heat returning to his groin. He put his mouth down on her nipple. She took his head and brought his face up to hers

"Your brother will be home soon."

He felt a stab of guilt. "I love you, Molly," he said.

"I know you do. You must leave." She pulled her blouse across her breasts.

"You've known all along and you never let on."

"Charlie, you must go. We'll find a time and I'll tell you how it has to be with us."