Devil's Garden

July 31, 1917

Anaconda, Montana

He’d shadowed Frank Little for weeks, from El Paso to Butte to Bisbee, and for days now along the wooden sidewalks of the old mining town, built at

the base of bleak hills where dusty workers made their way up a crooked path to the foundry and deep down into the earth. They’d started work on the furnace then, and half of the brick phallus rose from the city, towering above the buildings and hills, and would soon smelt the copper they’d sell for twenty-six cents a pound to make pots and newspaper presses.

The town smelled of acrid metal and burnt meat.

Anaconda was open all night. There were saloons and whorehouses and one good hotel and dozens of bad ones, rooming houses where Sam had taken a bed. In the off-hours, when Little would wobble up the staircase and get an hour or two of sleep, Sam would lay on the narrow bed and read the Butte newspapers about a possible war with Germany and a ragged copy of Dangerous Ground, a novel about a Pinkerton he’d had since he was a boy.

It used to be an adventure. Now it was just a reminder.

He’d asked for the room two doors down from Little, where he’d loosened a plank by the stairs so he’d hear a squeak when the union leader went on his rounds. Sam had heard most of the speeches before, Little talking mainly about the country only having two classes, one exploiting the other, and how International Workers of the World wanted to make the fat cats pay for strong backs.

Little said he’d once been arrested for reading the Declaration of Independence on a street corner.

He talked about that mining disaster in Butte in June and how the boys in Anaconda worked under even worse conditions. He called the furnace chimney another ivory tower where the wealthy burned up the common man.

The Pinkerton’s client was supposed to be kept under wraps, but Sam knew it was the Hearst outfit, which owned a piece of pretty much every mine in the country. He was told to tail Little, make notes on the speeches, type out a neat report, and send it back to Baltimore. It was a basic assignment that didn’t need much thought.

The food wasn’t bad. Now and then he could sneak a whiskey at the bars. And two nights ago he’d found a fine, full redheaded whore named Sally who worked overtime off the clock.

Sam heard a creak, put down the copy of Dangerous Ground, noting the Pinkerton standing on the hill shining a beacon of light down on a hooved red devil leading a virtuous woman away, and he followed Little down the stairs through the narrow lobby and out onto Main Street. There were horses and wagons and an automobile or two, the gas lamps burning all the way past the Montana Hotel, down to City Hall and to the dead end of mountain and mine.

Little was up on some wooden crates, talking again, waving his hands wildly to men in overalls and women holding up hand-painted signs. The women looked determined; the men looked scared.

The light was just going down in Anaconda, the shadows on the hills showing purple and black with bright yellow patches. As Sam jotted down some of what Little said, really just repeating a speech he’d heard two weeks ago in Bisbee about those miners shipped off to die in boxcars, he felt a soft hand on his shoulder and turned to see a man dressed in a three-piece black suit holding a gold timepiece in his hand.

“Has a