Mack got up almost happily and crossed quickly to the door. And a smile of joy illuminated the faces of Hughie and Jones. “What girls you got in mind?” Mack asked softly.
“Ain’t this a whore house? Cab driver said they was one down here.”
“You made a mistake, Mister.” Mack’s voice was gay.
“Well, what’s them dames in there?”
They joined battle then. They were the crew of a San Pedro tuna boat, good hard happy fight-wise men. With the first rush they burst through to the party. Dora’s girls had each one slipped off a shoe and held it by the toe. As the fight raged by they would clip a man on the head with the spike heel. Dora leaped for the kitchen and came roaring out with a meat grinder. Even Doc was happy. He flailed about with the Chalmers 1916 piston and connecting rod.
It was a good fight. Hazel tripped and got kicked in the face twice before he could get to his feet again. The Franklin stove went over with a crash. Driven to a corner the newcomers defended themselves with heavy books from the bookcases. But gradually they were driven back. The two front windows were broken out. Suddenly Alfred, who had heard the trouble from across the street, attacked from the rear with his favorite weapon, an indoor ball bat. The fight raged down the stepsand into the street and across the lot. The front door was hanging limply from one hinge again. Doc’s shirt was torn off and his slight strong shoulder dripped blood from a scratch. The enemy was driven half-way up the lot when sirens sounded.
Doc’s birthday party had barely time to get inside the laboratory and wedge the broken door closed and turn out the lights before the police car cruised up. The cops didn’t find anything. But the party was sitting in the dark giggling happily and drinking wine. The shift changed at the Bear Flag. The fresh contingent raged in full of hell. And then the party really got going. The cops came back, looked in, clicked their tongues and joined it.
Mack and the boys used the squad car to go to Jimmy Brucia’s for more wine and Jimmy came back with them. You could hear the roar of the party from end to end of Cannery Row. The party had all the best qualities of a riot and a night on the barricades. The crew from the San Pedro tuna boat crept humbly back and joined the party. They were embraced and admired. A woman five blocks away called the police to complain about the noise and couldn’t get anyone. The cops reported their own car stolen and found it later on the beach. Doc sitting cross-legged on the table smiled and tapped his fingers gently on his knee. Mack and Phyllis Mae were doing Indian wrestling on the floor. And the cool bay wind blew in through the broken windows.
It was then that someone lighted the twenty-five-foot string of firecrackers.