towering smokestacks.

Around a quarter till eleven, close to shift change, cars and several buses bearing nonstrikers began to make their way down Broadway to the turnoff; Ness stood out in the street a block and a half away, watching the activity, as the rumble of strikers' discontent rose into a roar, shouts and curses hurled like bricks at the vehicles.

But no literal bricks, Curry noted.

And the vehicles, though moving like a child through wet sand, did make it through the clogged intersection. The protesters made their point, but did not completely block passage.

Relief etched a thin smile on Ness's lips; and Curry traded Chamberlin a raised eyebrow for a shrug. Perhaps this was as ugly as it would get tonight. Perhaps the worst was over. Eight in the hospital was bad enough, but it was hardly ten dead and one hundred hospitalized, the aftermath of that recent afternoon in a field in South Chicago.

Then the steam whistle blew for shift change, as loud and piercing as Gabriel's horn, and just as unsettling, only it wasn't heralding good news: When it let up, there was a momentary silence followed by angry shouts, followed just as quickly by overlapping screams of pain, of fear.

A lot of them.

Ness jumped behind the wheel of the sedan and Chamberlin and Curry hopped in, all three men squeezing in front like Oakies in a pickup truck.

Chamberlin grinned nervously at Ness as they approached the intersection where panic had turned the gathered strikers into a mob, and said, 'Are you still convinced announcing ourselves with your goddamned license plate is a swell idea?'

A brick bounced off the windshield, spiderwebbing the glass.

'Wonder what Capone did with his car,' Ness said with a remote smile, the sedan crawling steadily through the human blockade, an ever-changing array of angry faces passing before them through the webbed glass.

'Capone?' Curry asked, surprised he could get the word out from around the heart stuck in his throat.

'Bulletproof glass an inch thick,' Ness said, hunkering over the wheel. 'Armor-plated Cadillac. Don't think the city would spring for the thirty grand, though.'

The road cut sharply to the right, across the front of the looming mill, the landscape opening onto a virtual battlefield. Night near the well-lighted, smoky plant was like a murky day. At first it looked like strikers were fighting each other; cops were circulating, as best they could, attempting to break up fist fights, pulling people off of each other. The bluecoats were not, Curry was relieved to see (at least judging by what he could see), taking part in the melee. Bricks were flying, billy clubs slashing, fists punching, even gun butts swinging, but cops weren't doing it. Two mounted officers were so boxed in by the throng, it was all the men could do to keep their wildly neighing horses from rearing up, let alone exercise any sort of crowd control.

Shouts and screams, anger and pain, the hysterical whinnying of the horses, combined into one chaotic din. Shrill cries floated across the battlefield, bansheelike; standing up along the bluff were spectators, many of them women hugging children, the women's auxiliary of the strikers, silhouetted there, lined up along the high horizon like Indians at Little Big Horn. Only these were not warriors, waiting to swoop down, but horrified witnesses, wailing, shrieking, helpless.

Bricks and billy clubs and the heels of fists and feet smashed into the sedan as it pushed through, rocking the vehicle. Ness stopped the car, put his hand on the door latch, and Chamberlin, next to him, said, 'You're not going out there?'

'That's why I came,' he said. 'Albert, you come with me, do your best to stay with me, anyway. Bob, you radio for reinforcements… and ambulances.'

'Oh-kay,' Chamberlin said as Ness climbed out on one running board and Curry the other.

Ness looked over the top of the car at Curry and, having to shout to be heard over the pandemonium, pointing, called, 'See that sound truck?'

And above the bobbing heads of the brawlers, right up near the front gate and the chain-link fence that was swaying as combatants fought up against it, was a green panel truck with a large sound horn atop it. Strikers often used these, Curry knew, to boom instructions out to picketers, to challenge nonstrikers and scabs as they entered a plant; but now it was strangely silent, the car swaying like the fence, getting bumped into, a buoy in a sea of fighting.

Through the jostle of panicking, angry strikers, Ness moved like a shark, Curry in his wake. Blows were swung their way, fists and billy clubs, too, but the two detectives bobbed, weaved, ducked, and when necessary deflected them with raised forearms. Curry took a billy club blow across his arm that hurt like hell, but nothing broke. Occasionally a man seemed to recognize Ness, and backed off-not afraid of him, just stunned to see him here. It took several minutes to run this gauntlet, but then they were there, up against the sound truck. Ness, his hat lost in the journey, stopped a club-wielding cop who looked confused, not knowing who-or whether-to hit.

'What the hell happened here, officer?' Ness yelled.

'When the shift changed,' the cop yelled back, 'guys streamed out of the plant with clubs and saps and you name it. I seen some guns, too…'

Ness nodded, eyes hard, teeth clenched. He said, 'Get back to it, officer… keep trying to break this thing up!'

The officer nodded, eyes wide with frustration and fear, and dove back into the fray.

On the driver's side of the sound truck, parked near the fence, Ness found that the vehicle was empty, either abandoned or separated from its operators. It was locked. Ness withdrew his revolver and smashed the window with the butt once, webbing it; twice, shattering it; reached in, unlocked the door, opening it. Standing on the running board, he leaned over, switched on the amplifier on the dash, turned the switch to HIGH, and pulled the hand mike on its coiled rubber cord, finding it had plenty of length.

Ness handed the mike to Curry and said, 'Give this to me when I get up there.'

'Up where?'

Ness didn't answer.

Curry watched, dumbfounded, as the safety director climbed atop the slightly rounded roof of the panel truck, the. 38 long-barreled revolver in one hand. Once up there, he reached down to Curry and filled his other hand with the mike on the long coiled cord.

Then Eliot Ness, standing atop the sound truck, noticed by no one as yet except the tribe of women observing from the bluff, fired the revolver into the air, once. Twice. Three times. Four times.

Smoke and flame accompanied the gunfire as Ness pointed the weapon straight in the air, like another smokestack.

And everyone froze, in mid-punch, mid-billy-club swing, mid-whatever. They froze in the midst of the heat of the summer night and of battle and saw Ness standing there with his gun in his hand and an expression that would've turned Medusa to stone.

Slowly, he lowered the gun. He had their attention. He raised the microphone to his mouth, thumb clicking it on; a whine of feedback briefly cut the air. And then, as startling as the gunshots, Ness's soft voice, amplified many times, made metallic by the sound-truck system, filled the night.

'That's what you've been waiting for, isn't it?' Ness said. The soft, husky voice conveyed a world of bitterness. 'Gunfire? Isn't that what you all want?'

Haunted faces stared back at him; not a word was spoken in response.

'Ten dead at the Memorial Day Massacre in Chicago. One hundred sent to the hospital. Last month, at Massillon, two strikers machine-gunned, dead where they fell.'

The Massillon, Ohio, strike was yet another against Republic Steel.

'Is that what you all want?' Ness said. Voice loud and tinny. A comma of dark hair swinging across his forehead, he seemed an unmustached, benign Hitler. 'To die? To bleed? For a cause? Well, not in my town you don't.'

He put the gun away and he withdrew a piece of paper from his pocket. Now the crowd began to make noise, but softly, mumbling, rumbling.

'The mayor has at my request issued a proclamation, a directive,' Ness said into the mike. 'I'm not going to read it to you. I'm going to spare you the 'whereases' and 'therefores.' But the gist is this: starting immediately, I'm establishing a peace zone of five hundred yards around this plant. Pickets who come any closer than five hundred yards will be arrested.'

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