Chapter 32 continues

The story so far: Union heavy hitters arrive by train.

 

One of the company guards put his gun down and lunged toward Tresca. He punched him in the stomach and kneed him in the groin. Tresca fell to his knees and his face contorted in agony. He did not fight back and his three friends did nothing but watch. When Tresca got back up, the company guard pulled his hands behind his back and tied them together with a rope.

“You are an even smaller man,” Sam Scarlett said to the deputy. “Willing to do someone else’s dirty work. For what? Certainly not the respect of the other men in this town, men who are willing to sacrifice for something worth more than themselves. Do you know what the real men of this town think of a man like you when you cross them on the street?”

“Shut up, Scarlett,” Sheriff Turner said.

Scarlett ignored him and kept addressing the company guard. “Nothing. They don’t think of you at all. You are that inconsequential.”

“Shoot him, sheriff,” the guard said. He was still restraining Tresca. “Can’t you just shoot the son-of-a-bitch?”

“Go ahead,” Scarlett said. “You think the men in this town are angry now? Imagine what they’ll do if you kill me here, with no cause, in front of all these witnesses.” He gestured toward Milo and his friends. “Imagine what they’d do to you. To your family. Got any kids? A wife?”

Silence.

Scarlett continued. “We are the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World. We represent the working man and woman, and we strive for what is fair and just, something you folks don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about, I suspect.” Scarlett gestured, with his chin, toward Mr. Stone. “Contrary to what you may have heard, we do not condone or advocate the use of violence when other means are available. We tell our members to avoid violence whenever possible. In fact, that’s what we’re here to do tonight. But I gotta feeling we might not get to that meeting. I suspect you got different plans for us.”

“Got that right,” Mr. Augustine Stone cried. “Get them to the jail.”

Scarlett turned to Milo. “Have Paul Schmidt send a lawyer to the jail and money for bail. I’m afraid we will miss the meeting. Report what you have seen. It will infuriate your men further. Tell them to meet without us and we will join them as soon as we can.”

Milo exchanged words with his friends, who nodded. They jumped in Maki’s buggy and took off toward the Finnish Socialist Hall.

Milo picked up the basket of food, which had remained untouched. “I have been thinking, sir,” he said to Sheriff Turner, “since I got myself some dinner, I’ll accompany you folks to the jail.” He picked up the basket Benjamin had left. “So as to witness the goings-on. The men will deliver your message at the meeting, Mr. Tresca.” The union organizers were roughly escorted to the city jail, where the sheriff put the men, all together, in a cell that smelled like urine. Once inside, Milo passed venison jerky through the steel bars, which they eagerly accepted. Then Milo leaned against the corner of the jail and stood watch.

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 33 begins.