Christian Book Previews Home
Christian Book Previews
Book Jacket

0825424097
Trade Paperback
268 pages
Aug 2005
Kregel Publishing

Fighting for Bread and Roses: A Novel

by Lynn A. Coleman

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

Prologue

 

January 29, 1912

Lawrence, Mass.

 

Anna LoPizzo pushed her way through the surging crowd. Her heart pumped with frustration as she edged toward the center of the gathering. All around her the striking workers shouted slogans and shook their fists. Anna shouldered her way past a gray-haired woman who was screaming in Italian, “Pan é rose! Pan é rose!”

Bread and roses.

        “Get back to work!” A pencil-thin man stepped from the police line, waved his rifle with its gleaming bayonet, and yelled at the strikers.

        Anna drew back. The cold wind bit her nose and cheeks. The mill owners had no right to cut our pay, she reminded herself. And those machines are dangerous. Sylvia Giovanni, her best friend, had already lost a finger. Anna knew it wouldn’t be long before she’d lose one too, if she could not keep her mind focused on the job. They had to strike. But how long could she hold out with no money and no food?

        She noticed Sylvia waving to her. “Anna!”

Anna threaded her way through the crowd toward her friend.

        “Stay close,” Sylvia cautioned, looping her arm around Anna’s. “The militia has stabbed a few of the men already.”

        Anna nodded. The two women stood their ground, shouting with the others and waving their arms to demand better pay and safer working conditions. The restless crowd on the street corner spilled over the curb, inching closer to the line of militia and special police.

        Anna followed Sylvia’s gaze. She was staring at a young, curly blond-haired militiaman standing to their left. Sylvia shivered. “I can’t believe they have knives on the ends of their guns.”

        “It seems terribly unfair,” Anna added above the din of protests, roiling forth in a sea of languages. She waved her hands and shouted in her native tongue, “Pan é rose!”

        She needed the bread, and she wouldn’t mind a rose every now and again. But year after year of twelve-hour days had washed so many dreams down the gutter.

        “Did you eat tonight?” Anna whispered to Sylvia.

        “Bread and molasses.” Sylvia shook her fist in the air. “No pay, no work,” she chanted.

        Anna chimed in with the same chant.

        “What about you?”

        The swell of the crowd pushed them back toward the street. “I had some leftover beans, but my cupboard is nearly empty.”

        “Mine too. We’ll get through. This strike has to be costing the owners a lot of money.”

        The freezing wind cut through Anna’s thin coat. She clutched it tighter, losing her hold on Sylvia. “Yes, but their pockets are deep.”

        Anna stepped toward the street. She needed more space. The sound of a gunshot pierced the air. At the same instant, a hot iron burned in her heart. Gasping for breath, she fell to the ground. The crowd went silent.

        The cold cobblestones under her seemed to soften. She gulped for air.

        People were looking down at her, mouths agape. What were they saying?

        “Anna?” She heard Sylvia scream.

        She opened her mouth for one more breath . . .

 

Chapter one

Lawrence, Mass.

Today

 

Lindsey blinked at the newspaper story displayed on the library monitor. Three lines—only three lines. But in her mind’s eye she could see the incident as if she were watching a television screen. Blood trickled from Anna LoPizzo’s chest . . .

Lindsey’s mind shifted to another time, another city, another book she’d been researching. Fear spiraled down to the pit of her stomach and lodged there. Her hand froze on the control knob of the microfilm machine and cold sweat beaded on her forehead.

        Squeezing her eyes shut, she pushed the memory away. Not now, not here.

        Taking in a deep breath, she let it out slowly and released the knob, forcing herself to concentrate on the here and now. Two years had passed since she had witnessed that murder in New Orleans. One year since . . . Lindsey held back the memory. Before leaving Miami, she and her husband, Marc, had talked about the very real possibility that her research would bring back the recurring nightmares.

        Lindsey turned her attention to the printout of the trial transcripts she’d found on the Internet regarding the Bread and Roses strike. She needed to stay focused.

        “Anna LoPizzo,” she whispered. “Who killed you?”

        “May I help you?” A thin woman in a fitted wool suit interrupted Lindsey’s musing. She hadn’t seen this librarian the other day when she’d asked about microfilm copies of the old newspapers from the time of the strike.

        “I’m researching the Bread and Roses strike of 1912. Do you have any additional resources here?” Lindsey asked.

        “You’ve pulled up the newspapers from the time, I see. Have you looked at some of the books in the resource library?”

        Lindsey smiled. “Planning on that next.”

        The librarian pointed to the waist-high bookshelves in the far left-hand corner of the room. “I work with the reference material. If there’s anything I can help you with, I’ll be glad to. You look familiar. Are you from here?”

        “No, I grew up in Maine.”

        “Sorry. I’m pretty good with faces. I thought maybe you were here for the high school reunion.”

        Lindsey smiled. “Nope. Thank you for the help. I’ll finish up here and head over to the resource stacks.”

        “You’re welcome.” The woman nodded and walked away, straightening a few books and picking up some magazines left on a table.

        Looking at the screen, Lindsey forced her mind back to the brief newspaper account. The sooner she got it done, the sooner she’d be able to return to Marc in Miami. It had taken six months after New Orleans before she and Marc were comfortable with her going anywhere alone. He supported her passion for writing, and with both their sons away at college, traveling was easier.

Anna LoPizzo was the first to die during the textile workers’ strike. Nine strikers claimed that Officer Oscar Benoit had killed her. The police said that one of the strikers shot her. A couple days later, the men who had come up from New York to help organize the mill workers were charged with being accessories to murder.

        Lindsey drummed her fingers on the Formica countertop. There was a story here. She could smell it.

        Thirty minutes and a couple dozen printed pages later, Lindsey worked her way over to the resource section of the library. In the past, researching a novel had always been fun, a source of excitement. Today, she struggled to remain objective.

        She scanned the shelves.

        “Ms. Marc?” Lindsey jumped. The slender librarian stood beside her. A smile creased her friendly face. “I thought it was you.”

        Lindsey cleared her throat. After what happened in New Orleans, her most recent novel, City Streets, had hit the best seller list. And she’d seen the book featured on the display shelves as she entered the library. Of course she’d be recognized. “How can I help you?”

        “Nothing,” the librarian stammered. “I—I came over to see if I could lend you a hand. I didn’t mean to startle you.”

        Lindsey chided herself for being so edgy. “No problem.”

        “I’ve put some books on the Bread and Roses strike in the resource room. Would you like me to let you in?”

        “Yes, thanks.”

        The librarian took a key from her waistband pocket and unlocked the door. “Here ya go. I’ll note the time I let you in on the sign-up sheet, but you’ll need to sign out when you finish.

        “Thank you.”

        Lindsey had used special collections housed in climate-controlled rooms like this one in many small libraries around the country. Here, she found a few books written after the strike, some others about the organizing of the unions, and a few chapters and sections in other books that referred to the Lawrence strike.

        Two hours later, she placed her laptop computer back in her briefcase and carried the books to the reference desk.

        “Were they helpful?” the librarian asked.

        “Yes, thank you.”

        “Please sign here.” The woman pointed to the notebook schedule for the resource room.

Lindsey picked up the pen and signed, using her real name rather than her nom de plume.

“I’m supposed to ask to see your driver’s license, but . . .” Her eyes glanced down at the book.

She noticed the librarian’s questioning look and pulled out her Florida driver’s license. Although the public knew her by her pen name, a combination of her own and her husband’s first names, her real name was Lindsey Taylor.

        “I’m a fan, Ms. Marc.”

        Interesting, she didn’t call me by my real name. Lindsey’s eyes were drawn from the woman toward a male librarian standing on the other side of the room behind another counter.

        “I was wondering if you’ll be coming back again?” the woman whispered. “Possibly tomorrow? I’d love for you to sign my books. Your books . . . I mean, if you’d sign my copies of your books.”

        Lindsey reached over and placed a reassuring hand on the woman’s forearm. “I’d love to. I’ll be back sometime tomorrow.”

        The librarian smiled. “Is there anything I could look up for you between now and then? I’m happy to help. May I research and assemble some book notations referencing the strike?”

        Lindsey liked to do her own research, but considering how poor her concentration was today, she accepted. “I found precious little on John Rami. If you could find something on him, I’d appreciate it.”

        “How do you spell that?” The librarian lifted a yellow pencil and scribbled down Lindsey’s response.

        Lindsey glanced at her watch. Marc was due out of court, and Lindsey wanted to call him before going to an appointment with a local reporter. She hurried out into the nippy spring air, cinching her jacket tighter. Twenty years in South Florida does thin one’s blood.

 

Straightening up from under the hood of a midnight blue Chevy sedan, the auburn-haired man took a deep pull on his cigarette. What can a person do in a library for five hours? He grabbed his cell phone and auto-dialed.

“Hey, man, it’s me. You’ll never guess who I saw in town . . .”

Three minutes later, a middle-aged blonde woman clutching a brown briefcase exited the library, clattering down the concrete steps.

        “I gotta go,” the man said as he watched the woman fumbling for her keys next to a white Toyota. He clicked off the phone and stuck it back on his belt.

Opening the car door, he leaned inside and started the engine. He knew full well it functioned fine, but he smiled for any possible onlookers and exited the driver’s side to close the hood. The woman was pulling out of the parking lot, talking on her cell phone.

Some jobs are just too easy, he thought. Putting the car in drive, he slipped into traffic. The small red indicator light on his tracking device blinked to the right. He could follow five miles behind with this thing. Yup, this job is a piece of cake.

        He flicked his cigarette out the window and checked the rearview mirror.

 

January 30, 1912

Lawrence, Mass.

 

        With unwavering steps, Sylvia walked closer to the spot where Anna had been killed. Grief threatened to swallow her up, but determination coursed through her veins like fire through a furnace. The police had killed Anna, but the mill owners were the root of the problem. The police were just their puppets.

        But why Anna? They probably thought her death would cause us all to run in fear.

        Bile rose in her stomach as she joined the picket line along the sidewalk. She would not work—not today or any day—until the issues with the mill owners were resolved. Anna’s death had to count for something. Sylvia couldn’t give in now.

        “Sylvia?” James Donovan hailed her from across the street.

        Sylvia waved back. His handsome face, with that thick, curly black hair and blue eyes as rich as a summer sky, awakened her. Sylvia shook off her meandering thoughts. This was a time to fight. She had no time for romance—not that an Italian girl could marry an Irish boy anyway.

        “How are you faring?” James asked as he approached, sidestepping three teenage boys who were sauntering down the street as if nothing was happening around them. Sylvia thought one of them looked like John Rami, a young Syrian who worked at the mill.

        She tightened her worn woolen coat against a blast of winter air. “I’ll go hungry a hundred nights before I let these”—she broke off in frustrated emotion—“these animals kill another one of us.”

        “I heard about Anna. ’Tis a shame to be sure.” James placed a caring hand upon her shoulder. “Me prayers are with you.”

        The sound of the militia approaching on horseback drummed down the street.

 “Pan é rose,” Sylvia yelled as the bayonet-toting soldiers came into view.

        “This can’t be good,” James whispered.

        “Killers!” The crowd roared their protests. “Murderers.”

Fists rose in the air. The soldiers marched on. A dark-haired sentry with an angry red face yelled at the boys to get off the street. James wrapped his arm around Sylvia and held her close. Another soldier joined the sentry, jabbing his bayonet at the boys.

        The crowd gasped as young John Rami fell to the street.

“Killers!” a young man in the crowd called out.

        “Dear God in heaven,” Sylvia cried. “What’s happening here?” Tears burned icy trails down her cheeks.