Chapter 39 Continues
The story so far: Milo is mortally wounded.
The other men who had been shot were not injured critically, although one of the victims could not walk. Andre stayed with him. Carlo Tresca ran back to Milo. “I sent for the doctor,” he said.
“Dr. Foley?” Katka asked.
“He won’t come. He’s on contract for the Oliver Mining Company. I sent Paul to find Dr. Hall. She’ll come.”
“Priest ...” Milo said again.
“Don’t worry. John went to get him. Our Lady of Peace is one block away.” She continued to pray and hold his wound with her hand while the men looked on.
“Here’s the father, now” Tresca said.
The priest was running. Clumsily, nervously, his robe flapping awkwardly about his fat body. Johan Koski was running too, directly behind the priest. His hand was on the priest’s back, as if pushing him forward. When they arrived, the priest bent over, wheezing asthmatically.
“Say the words,” Johan Koski said. “This man was shot in cold blood. Give him the last words.”
“Last rites,” Katka corrected. The priest began to shake. “Soon, please, father.”
“Father, forgive me ...” Milo said.
“No,” the priest said. His voice was quiet as a child’s and more timid.
It was then that Katka saw it. The gun. Johan Koski had not placed his hand on the priest’s back. He had placed a gun on it. The priest had been forced here, against his will.
“Father, please. We haven’t much time,” Katka begged.
“I’d like to help, but the company ... our main benefactor. They said if I helped the strikers ...” His voice evaporated. “I lose ... everything.”
“You are a man of God!” Tresca yelled. “He is a Catholic. Give this poor man the last rites!”
The priest said nothing.
“Shoot him,” Tresca said.
“No.” The voice came from Milo.
“You sure, Milo?” Johan asked. “I ain’t Catholic.”
“Neither is he,” Katka said, gesturing to the priest. “Get out of here. And run, like the coward you are.”
The priest ran. Milo coughed up more blood. “Sing.”
“Sing? I’ll sing anything, Milo. What shall I sing?”
“Sing about promise.”
Katka began to sing, in English. “My country ‘tis of thee … sweet land of liberty …” The men joined in, softly.
By the time the song was over, Paul arrived with Dr. Hall. She pronounced Milo dead.
Tomorrow: Chapter 40 begins.