Chapter 37 continues

The story so far: Anton and Lily, and Paul and Katka vow to “stand strong.”

 

Paul whispered something in Katka’s ear. They stood and walked from the table. Away from the candlelight, Paul pulled her toward him and kissed her. “This is bad, Kat. Fearsome, bad. All around us, the world, it is falling to pieces as I have seen in so many places, so many times. Mr. Stone, he is rotten to the core. And the sheriff. I think he is capable of unspeakable things. And these men coming. Worse, I tell you. Bad, bad, bad.”

“Oh, Paul,” Kat said.

“Shh … let me finish. There are hurtful things everywhere. Injustice. Hunger. Pain. I have seen this for years. But I see these things more clearly because you are in my life. I look at the world and I am inspired in ways I never was before. I want to fix the world so you, when you open your eyes, you will see the world you deserve.

“At the same time — now this is the fanciful part — I see things less clearly because you are in my life. Some days, all I can think of is how, on hot days, your hair curls up in these little damp ringlets around your neck. Or how soft the skin is on the inside of your wrist. In spite of all the bad and everything that might happen tomorrow, that probably will happen, the world is grand. It is hopeful and somehow good. I am full of contradictions and I do not care.”

He kissed her. They barely noticed the mosquitoes.

“I love you,” Katka said. “When you arrived on my doorstep, I knew my life had changed forever. I would have followed you anywhere.”

“I won’t let anything happen to you.”

“The worst thing that could happen to me would be for something to happen to you,” Katka said. She fingered the scar on his cheek. “Be careful. You and danger seem to find each other even on the calmest of nights.”

“The mark you have left on me, Katka, is deeper than any scar. I will be careful for you.”

“But now you must go?”

He nodded. She looked toward the house and saw Lily and the baby. Lily was holding the candle, waiting for Katka to walk back to the house with her. “My chaperone awaits.”

Paul left with Anton to warn others about the “deputies” who would be arriving soon. At each stop, they assured the men to whom they spoke that the Wobblies would come up with a plan by the following afternoon, after their meeting.

But it was too late. As Paul kissed Katka, the first trainload of criminals was unloading at Mesabi station. The men were ordered to walk straight to the boarding houses where they were being lodged. Most, however, got lost along the way and ended up at Vince Torelli’s boarding house.

As the men entered the tavern, Leppe, Brina and the other sporting girls knew immediately that their lives had just turned from grim to worse. Brina walked straight toward Vince, who was pouring a whiskey into a glass behind the bar. “You best call the law, Vince. I ain’t never seen a sort looking this unwholesome before. Call the law, or I’m out. Maria, too.”

Vince laughed. “Call the law? Got news for you, doll face. The law hath arrived. And you ain’t going nowhere but where I tell you to go.” He handed her the vodka he had just poured. “I suggest you drink up. Gonna be a long night.”

 

Tomorrow: Chapter 38 begins.