Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Chapter 13

The next day was his first day back to school and he was a little overwhelmed by the smiles, cheers and slaps on the back.  Students and teachers alike approached him to shake his hand and welcome him back.  His locker was covered with cards and letters that people had taped to it, wishing him well, offering congratulations and included several marriage proposals with S.W.A.K.s, which were unsigned. Much to Amadeo's relief things returned to normal very quickly and life went on as usual.

After school Johnny Rossi picked Amadeo up and drove him to the top of the driveway leading to the Di Marco house.  "I was called in to work tonight or I'd stop in with you.  When you're done just call home and Gabe or Carmie can come get you if mom is tied up."

"Dad, honestly I can..."

"What did I tell you yesterday?" his father asked with arched brows.

Amadeo looked at his father, an innocent and slightly blank expression on his face.  "Yesterday?  Yesterday.  What is this thing called yesterday?  Who are you?  Who am I?  Where am I?"

"You're lucky you're sitting down right now, monello," his father smiled at him.  He hooked his son's neck with a hand and pulled him over to plant a kiss on the top of the boy's head.  "Get going, I'll see you in the morning."

Amadeo hugged his father and got out the car.  Johnny Rossi watched as his son walked down the hill and turned the corner before pulling away from the curb.



Amadeo didn't get the chance to knock on the door before Angelo's mother opened it with a wide, welcoming smile.  "Ragazzo dolce, thank you for coming today.  Can I get you something to drink?  Are you hungry?"  
(Sweet boy)

Before he had a chance to answer, Angelo walked into the kitchen, looking tired but with a shy smile on his face.  "Hi 'Deo, sorry about yesterday, I was a little... upset I guess?" he said quietly, looking up at Amadeo from beneath the fringe of his bangs.

"Don't worry about it, Angelo.  It's all good," Amadeo smiled back.

"Angelo, give Amadeo the five cent tour of the house while I get you boys a little snack?"

Angelo looked at his mother with a smirk, "It's gonna be a really short tour, mamma, so I'll only charge him two cents, ok?"

Mrs. Di Marco made a grab at the stove where a crockery pot containing a collection of wooden spoons sat.

"Run!"  Angelo laughed as he grabbed Amadeo's hand and pulled him into the room to the left of the stove.  He glanced back over his shoulder as though expecting his mother to really pursue them into the room and grinned at 'Deo.

"OK, the grand tour...  This is our living room."

It was a very small room, the outside wall was almost completely taken up by large windows that overlooked the lowest garden and also gave a fantastic view of the city below.  'Deo's eyes went wide and he moved aside a stack of books before he knelt on the couch that sat beneath them and leaned closer to the windows to get a better view.  "Angelo, this is amazing!  You can see practically the entire city from here!"

"You gotta see it at night when it's all lit up.  It's like... a Christmas tree, or... the sky reflected in water, with all the stars shining," he said lovingly.  

"It's so different from New York... I mean, New York was always lit up but... this is softer... ethereal?  And it's so quiet.  It took me forever to get used to the sounds of crickets and birds instead of horns blaring?"

Amadeo turned around and took in his surroundings.  The couch was flanked by end tables which contained more stacks of books, and beside those, very comfortable looking arm chairs in each corner.  More books were stacked on the floor beside the chairs.  Another chair sat near the wall to the left, with it's twin on the right beside another door.  The wall across from the windows sported a television set with some of the largest rabbit ears Amadeo had ever seen.  There was hardly an inch of wall, which was covered with photographs, visible behind the television and Amadeo made a note to himself to ask Angelo about them later.  

"We're down in a kind of valley so it's harder to get reception down here, but we manage to get a few channels?"  Angelo explained. 

In the corner beside the television was a waist high wooden cabinet with two sets of doors in the front.  Beside that were two wooden boxes stacked atop each other that seemed to be full of old papers.  Amadeo asked about them.

Angelo smiled.  "Of all the things Uncle Pat left us, this is my favorite," he said as he lifted the top and opened one of the upper doors.  The top contained a turntable and Angelo took out a thin bent rod.  He put that aside and opened one of the lower doors which contained stacks of something that Amadeo initially mistook for more papers, but which were actually old records still in their protective sheaths.  Angelo removed one of the records and put it on the turntable, slotted the winding key into the appropriate hole and cranked it up, then he carefully placed the needle on the record.

'Five foot two, eyes of blue
But oh what those five foot could do
Has anybody seen my gal?

Angelo leaned in toward Amadeo and whispered confidentially, "This is what dad sings to mom when he's in the dog house with her over something. Always makes her smile. Like, when we first got here the place was a shambles and he'd been here for a couple of months so she figured it would be pretty much straightened out by the time we got here, right?" Angelo laughed and shook his head as he removed the record from the turntable and carefully replaced it in it's paper sheath and back into the cabinet.

"When did you move in?"  

"Well, we got the notice that Uncle Pat died in February, and his attorney contacted us to let us know we'd been left the farm in March?  Then dad had to arrange for time off so that he and mom could come out and take a look at the place, thinking they were going to sell it off, but once they saw it neither of them wanted to go back to New York."  Angelo sighed, a resigned look on his face.

"So anyway, we had to pack everything up and sell or throw away whatever we couldn't take with us... that took a couple of months?  Dad's company was really cool about it though, and rather than accept notice they gave him the job of scouting out good places to open a Georgia branch.  Electronics are a big thing now and having a distribution center out here would cut down on the cost of shipping and double their output, so dad stayed out here to get started on that.  Matty, Iggy and Luke, my oldest brothers, helped us straighten things out in New York and the rest of us finally made it out here at the end of June."

"So anyway," Angelo said, getting back to business, "In here is my room?"  He led Amadeo into an even smaller room and gestured grandly.

Amadeo looked speculatively at his friend.  He loved the other boy's accent; a combination of Italy and New York, but with an inflection he'd never heard before.  He found that while he liked it, he had to admit he didn't always understand it. He shrugged it off for the time being, planning to ask Angelo about it at another time. 

The wall behind the door to the left had a smaller window but still offered a striking view of the city below.  Shelves of books covered the wall from floor to ceiling, an easy chair and lamp stood in the corner. Next to that, taking up most of the wall, was Angelo's bed, neatly made, beneath another small window.  To the right of that was what could only be a closet and on the wall to the right of the door stood a dresser.

Amadeo was drawn to the shelves of books. "Amazing!  You have your own library in here!"

"Some of those are left over from my brothers, some are mom and dad's that they didn't want anymore, but they're really good so I asked them not to throw them away."

Amadeo tilted his head to read some of the titles.  "This is cool!" he said admiringly.

"You can pick them up and look at them if you like.  It'll be a lot easier on your neck, anyway."

Amadeo grinned and thanked him, carefully picking up random books to read their titles and the date they were published.  Some of them were first editions from the thirties and looked brand new.  Amadeo raised his eyebrows, impressed.  

His eye was drawn to a beautifully lacquered wooden box, stained dark brown, which he guessed was about eight by twelve by three and held closed with a sturdy but attractive hasp and lock.  He picked it up to admire it, tilting it side to side slightly which made the finish seem to shimmer.   

Angelo took it from his hands quickly.  Amadeo apologized for touching it, concerned that he'd done something wrong.  Angelo smiled but it was forced.  "It's nothing, sorry, just... stuff.  Private stuff, you know?  Stuff that I got in New York before we came here.  It's just personal stuff, pictures and things?"  Angelo glanced around the room and finally shoved the box under his dresser.

"Do you miss New York?" Amadeo asked.

"I miss my friends?  Matty and Iggy and their wives and kids stayed there so I miss them.  My brother Luke is in Massacusetts.  He graduated college and got a job and an apartment so that he could stay close to his fianc√©e."  He leaned in toward Amadeo and whispered confidentially, "Woman is pure evil.  Pure!  And that's probably all that's pure about her.  She's all sweetness and smiles when Luke is around right?  But as soon as he's out of the room I swear I expect her to sprout fangs and claws, disembowel me and offer me up in her next Satanic ritual," he shuddered.

Amadeo smiled.  "She's not really that bad is she?"

"Do skunks stink?  OK, case in point.  Mom likes everyone, she's rarely met someone she didn't like, but sometimes she'll just get this sense about people?  She said as soon as she met Rosalia that there was something wrong.  Maybe it was the too red lips, or the phony, too wide smile, the little girl voice she uses when anyone else is in the room, or the two inch long red nails. Mom says she doesn't see how anyone can do an honest day's work with nails that long.  Dad calls her Betty Boop's evil twin, minus the soul, but Luke just doesn't see it. Everyone is hoping he'll wake up from whatever spell she has him under before he actually marries her."

Before Amadeo could pursue that line of conversation Angelo's mother called to them from the kitchen to come and eat.  It was then that they noticed the enticing aromas coming from the kitchen.

The table was covered with food that looked wonderful and smelled even better.  Plates of roast beef and barbeque pork sandwiches sat next to bowls of potato salad and coleslaw.  A green salad with black olives and marinated artichokes stood next to a basket filled with warm rolls fresh from the oven and a little crock of what looked like fresh butter.  Stampeding footsteps could be heard behind the closed door to the right of the refrigerator.  The owners of said feet exploded through the door, which hit the wall with a loud bang, seconds later.

"Ma! That smells like heaven!" said Giani.

"Nah," argued Paul, "Breakfast smelled like heaven.  This smells like paradise!"

"Which means dinner is going to be sheer nirvana." Giani said with a dreamy expression.

Mrs. Di Marco held up her hands to stop their momentum.  "Johnny!  Paulie!  You're in the house, not on a racetrack!  Now go back, walk down those stairs like human beings and enter the kitchen like gentlemen.  And this time close the door gently behind you," she ordered, clicking her fingers and pointing toward the door with a stern expression.

"Awwww mom!"  Paul complained.

"Uno, due..."said their mother.

Paul and Johnny swiftly, but without running, left the way they'd come in, closing the door gently behind them, walked back up the stairs and then deliberately walked back down.  

They carefully opened the door and stood there, entreating each other to go through first.

"After you, sir," said Paul, politely.

"Oh, no, dear brother, after you."

"I insist! After all you are my elder and I should show you the proper respect, so you should really go in first," replied Paul, bowing his head deferentially.

"Ah, but as your elder it's my job to protect you from anything that could hurt you, so just in case a ghoul or a dragon comes up out of the cellar, I should be behind you to fend it off."

"Oh, but I couldn't allow you to sacrifice yourself like that!  I'm younger, more tender and juicy, no offense, and while he was sucking out my gizzards and picking his teeth with my femur that would give you plenty of time to escape, lock the door and save everyone else."

Mrs. Di Marco solved the problem by striding over to her sons.  She pulled Johnny in first and delivered a smack to his backside then set him aside.  Then she pulled Paul in and gave him a dose of the same.  Judging from the giggles and the grins on the boy's faces the smacks hadn't hurt in the slightest.

"Door," she ordered.

Paul gently closed the door.

"Seats," she said firmly.

The boys covered their backsides, scurried to their seats and sat quickly, ducking their heads, trying unsuccessfully to hide their smiles.

"Eat," their mother commanded, shaking a finger at her boys, "Or I'll get the spoon."

"Oh no!  Not the spoon!  Not the spoon!  Anything but the spoon!  We'll be good!" the boys chorused, cowering back in their chairs with looks of terror on their faces which were would have been convincing except for the wide smiles on their faces.

Amadeo sat quietly in his seat, biting the insides of his cheeks to keep himself from laughing.

"Hmmph," said Mrs. Di Marco satisfied that she'd made her point.  With a final meaningful look at her sons she turned toward the little alcove off the kitchen that contained the sink and began washing the dishes.  As she washed she began to sing softly.

'A heart that's true, there are such things
A dream for two, there are such things
Someone to whisper "Darling you're my guiding star,"
Not caring what you own but just what you are.'

'A peaceful sky, there are such things
A rainbow high where heaven sings,'

'So have a little faith and trust in what tomorrow brings
You'll reach a star because there are such things,

So have a little faith and trust in what tomorrow brings
You'll reach a star because there are such things.'

Amadeo hadn't realized he'd been holding his breath until she finished and he began to applaud.

Her sons got up, each gave their mother, blue eyes sparkling and blushing a pretty pink, a sound kiss and a hug before returning to their seats to eat their lunch.  

Afterward the boys cleared the table, wrapped the left overs, washed the dishes and utensils and swept the floor which didn't seem to need it but they figured it couldn't hurt.  They peeked into the living room where Mrs. Di Marco sat on the couch, eyes closed, listening to a record.

"Hey guys, mom told me to give 'Deo the tour, mind if I show him the upstairs?"

"I dunno what your gonna show 'im," Paul said matter of factly.  He looked at Amadeo and explained, "The upstairs was a separate apartment.  A couple lived up there and helped take care of the gardens and animals, so it's set up pretty much the same as the downstairs?"

"Where are they now?"  Amadeo asked curiously.

"Uncle Pat bought out their shares and they moved.  They stayed here long enough to take care of the farm until dad and everyone else settled in.  Since the rooms are so small dad suggested that me and Johnny take the upstairs, and like I said, it's exactly the same up there as down here, 'cept the furniture is a little different."

"And you can walk around without tripping on a stack of books," Johnny added with a smirk.

"If you read more books perhaps you wouldn't be so fatuous." Angelo replied with what could only be described as an uppity expression.

"Who you callin' fat!?  I'm in perfect condition!"  Johnny argued.

Amadeo casually covered his mouth with his hand.  He was pretty sure that laughing at one of his hosts would be considered bad manners.

"Ragazzi, fermarsi mentre sei in vantaggio."  Mrs. Di Marco's tone was calm but her words were sufficient to get her boys to back down.
(Boys, stop while you're ahead.)

Johnny gave his little brother a grim look.  Angelo merely raised his eyebrows and smirked in a way that clearly said 'What are you going to do about it?'

"Come on, Johnny, let's go upstairs and watch TV or something," said Paul, giving his youngest brother a disapproving look before turning his older brother toward the door they'd originally come through.

After the two boys disappeared Angelo grinned. "Let's keep going, the best is yet to come."

Amadeo wondered what was going to happen to Angelo after he left but gamely followed his friend.

"This door just past the table is the bathroom," he said, opening the door, revealing a positively claustrophobic room.  To the right was a toilet, above which was a wooden cabinet.  The entire length of wall directly across from them was taken up by a large, old fashioned claw foot cast iron tub with hot and cold knobs above separate spigots, and a small wire basket hooked over the rim which held a bar of soap.  Above the tub was a small window, supposedly for ventilation.

"There's a towel rack on the back side of the door?  And there's a mirror and another little rack on the wall behind the door with shampoo and stuff, but you have to get inside and close the door to see them and we both won't fit." Angelo grinned at Amadeo's look of dismay.  "And you can either run the tub to wash your hands or go into the kitchen and use that, but you'll either scald your hands or freeze them off waiting for the water to get to a comfortable temp, so I'd suggest using the kitchen sink."

He closed the door which scraped slightly against the edge of the tub and gestured to the door directly to the left.  "That's mom and dad's room.  Strictly off limits without permission otherwise I'd show it to you."

"This door," he said, opening the door which his brothers had come from, "goes either into the cellar,  I'll show that to you later," he said, pointing to a door on the immediate left, "Or you could go upstairs if you needed the guys for something..." he continued, gesturing toward the stairs.

"What's this door?" Amadeo asked, pointing to a door beyond and to the right of the stairs.

"That is actually a door that leads into my closet?"  Angelo said with a laugh.  "I have no idea why anyone would build a door that leads into a closet, but anyway, it's locked. And this door leads to the back porch," he said, opening the door and leading Amadeo out onto an enclosed porch which was about as large as his bedroom had been.  "Which leads to a back garden where we grow strawberries and blueberries."

He led Amadeo carefully through the patch of strawberries toward the stand of blueberry bushes.  Instead of stopping there he kept going, through a growth of rhubarb which tapered off little by little, giving way to overgrown foliage.  Eventually Amadeo could hear the sound of running water.  Angelo knelt down and scooped something up in his hand.  He showed it to Amadeo.  "Spring water.  Taste it," he encouraged as he gulped his own handful as though he hadn't seen water in weeks.

'Deo knelt beside his friend, scooped up a handful of the water and tasted it. It was incredibly cold and fresh.  He'd never had water that tasted that good. His mother always kept a jug of water chilled in the refrigerator but the taste of the spring water was indescribable.   He scooped up another handful and drank it greedily.  "This is marvelous."

"From what Uncle Pat told us, they used to fill buckets from here and carry them to the house before they had plumbing installed.  The water doesn't always run fast so sometimes it would take a long time to fill one bucket.  And further in? There are maple trees so they could tap them and make syrup?  Unfortunately dad says he has no idea how to make maple syrup so that's just one of those things we'll have to buy or trade as the crops ripen."

"So, what do you want to see next?"  Angelo asked.

"Well, I was wondering... how do you get to the upper garden?  I haven't seen any steps."

Angelo led Amadeo back to the house.  Leaning against the back wall was a sturdy, homemade wooden ladder, painted green.  He picked it up, leaned it against the stone wall and climbed as agile as a monkey.  Amadeo followed a little more slowly, having a little trouble transferring himself from the top of the ladder to the stone wall at the top.

They stood on the spot for several moments, just taking in the terrain.  Amadeo and his father had seen the fruit trees but they hadn't seen the plants that were growing closer to the wall.

"What's all this?" 'Deo asked.

"Tarragon, oregano, basil, thyme, mint, shallots..." Angelo said, pointing toward each patch of greenery as he named them.  "There were parsnips, turnips, beets and rutabagas, but no one would eat them, no matter how mom prepared them, so she gave up?  I mean, honestly, if my mother can't make it taste good then it just can't be done?" he said.  Amadeo noticed that there was no braggadocio in Angelo's voice.  He was simply, in his opinion, stating the obvious.  

"Hey... Angelo," Amadeo began hesitantly, "I'd like to ask you something... if you don't mind."

Angelo shrugged and smiled.  "Ask away."

"Well... first, are you aware that you frequently answer a question with a question?"

"I do?" asked Angelo, surprised.  Then he laughed.  "Yeah, I guess I do. Actually, Mr. Price noticed it last November, every time he hears me do it he points it out after class. He actually kept a tally sheet one day to show me how many times I did it," he laughed.  "I've been trying to be more careful about that, but I'm not usually aware of it until someone points it out?"

Amadeo smiled. "That's the other thing I wanted to ask you about," he said.

Angelo cocked his head inquisitively.

"I was curious about the way you speak..."

Angelo laughed. "Spit it out, Dae.  Do I lisp or something?"

Actually, you have a voice I could listen to all day, Amadeo thought.

Instead he said, "It's your speech pattern that caught my attention."

Angelo smiled uncertainly, "You lost me."

"It's just that you sometimes phrase a statement as a question."

Angelo shook his head slightly and looked uncomprehendingly at Amadeo.

"Well like just now, when you were talking about the parsnips and stuff, you said no one would eat them no matter how your mother made them, and you said, '...so she gave up?'" he said, stressing the inflection at the end.  "And then you said if your mother couldn't make something taste good, '...it just can't be done?'  I noticed that your brothers do it too, but not as often as you do."

Angelo looked thoughtful as he recalled the conversation. He raised his eyebrows and then shrugged.  "I dunno," he replied, slightly surprised.  "I never noticed it? It's just how we talk."  Then he realized what he'd said and blushed, “I'm sorry if it annoys you." he said stiffly, turning away slightly and focusing his gaze on the plants at his feet.

Amadeo heard the edge in Angelo's voice and knew that he'd upset his friend. He took a step closer to the unhappy boy and bent to look into his eyes.  "It doesn't annoy me at all, Angelo," he said with a smile  "I really like it. It's... charming."

Angelo looked directly into Amadeo's eyes when he said that, and he could have sworn he felt a jolt of electricity shoot through him as their eyes met.  Amadeo's smile widened slightly and there was a sparkle in his eyes that made Angelo's breath catch.  "There's much about you that I find charming," Amadeo said more quietly, unsure of how a statement like that would be taken.

Angelo looked up at Amadeo, a shy smile on his face.  

When their eyes met, 'Deo could swear he felt a little jolt of electricity run through him.  He resisted the urge to brush the hair away from Angelo's eyes and to touch his cheek. 

After several moments, Angelo seemed to shake himself awake.  "Come on, let's go back down and I'll introduce you the chickens and the hogs.  Watch out for Brunhilda though, she's a mean one," Angelo said as he climbed back down the ladder.

"Brunhilda?  Is that one of the chickens or one of the hogs?"  Amadeo asked, following him down.

"The mother of all chickens.  She was one of the first chickens to crawl up out of the primordial ooze and she's been alive since then producing generation after generation of vicious, flesh ripping, carnivorous fowl?  God help anyone who tries to take her eggs."

"She can't be that bad," Amadeo replied, amused, unconsciously echoing his sentiment about Angelo's possible future sister in law, Rosalia.

"Let's put it this way.  She makes a pterodactyl look like a parakeet."  Angelo said.

"Ummm, well, I don't know much about chickens but... if she's that dangerous..."

"She probably weighs about ten pounds now.  Pop says the plan is old Hilda is going to be mom's birthday dinner come June, we just have to put up with her 'til then cuz she lays more and bigger eggs than the others every day," Angelo grinned.  "The way he figures she'll be so plump by then that there'll even be enough left to make a nice chicken pot pie and soup to last a week.  Come on, 'Let the games begin.'"

They walked down the stairs next to the barn and turned left.  He opened the door to the screened in portion of the coop and closed it securely after he and Amadeo entered.  "They usually go back to their nests when it gets too hot out here," he explained. "We already gathered the eggs this morning but, who knows, maybe one of them popped out a few more since then."  Angelo laughed as he picked up a large window screen and unlatched the door in front of them.

Amadeo gave his friend a quizzical look.

"You'll see," was all Angelo said.

It was dark as pitch inside the barn, but then Amadeo's eyes adjusted and he saw glints of yellow-orange in the darkness as the light from outside reached the chickens and illuminated their eyes like tiny lanterns.  Angelo adjusted the screen in front of him and then flipped the switch which turned on the overhead light.  Several chickens mumbled their complaints at the intrusion and hid their heads beneath their wings.

"Get ready," Angelo said in a low voice.

Amadeo didn't get the chance to brace himself for the attack before a screeching bundle of feathers seemingly came out of nowhere, orange eyes glaring, wings extended to their full width, claws spread.  He was amazed when the chicken literally launched itself from ground level toward Angelo's head.  If the other boy hadn't had the screen in front of him, Amadeo had no doubt that those claws would have done some damage to Angelo's face.  

"Uncle Pat's friends warned dad about Hilda and told him about the screen, and he told us.  Makes things a lot easier," Angelo explained.

Angelo used the screen like a snow plow and pushed her ahead of him to make his way toward her nest.  There were six new eggs.  "Pick those up, would you? I didn't really think there'd be more so I didn't bring the basket." 

Amadeo pulled out the hem of his t shirt and made a temporary pouch, placing the eggs carefully into it.  Brunhilda, for her part, continued the onslaught, clucking and screeching, beating her wings against the screen.

"Is she insane or something?" Amadeo joked.  "Are the eggs safe to eat?" 

"Well, none of us has gone nuts since we started eating them so I guess they're ok.  The vet says she's just one of those super protective critters you run into sometimes... thinks she's a mountain lion instead of a chicken?"

"And you do this every morning?  How do you manage to fend her off and gather the eggs?" raising his voice to be heard over the chicken's clamor.

"Sometimes two of us'll come out here and do it?  Sometimes only one of us can do it cuz the others are doing other chores, so you hold the screen with one hand, put the basket down, push a hen off her nest and pick up the eggs with the other hand.  Except for old Hilda they're mostly pretty docile." he replied, using the screen like a tennis racket, causing the mad hen to fly backward about a foot.  The chicken stopped her attack and seemed to stumble a few steps before regaining her footing and standing quietly.

"Angelo," chided Amadeo, shocked, "Don't hurt her!  Whatever else she is, she's just a dumb animal and you're ten times bigger and stronger than she is!"

Angelo at first looked surprised that his friend would speak to him like that. Then he hung his head, looking embarrassed and ashamed.

Amadeo would have said more except they were interrupted by Johnny's irate voice coming from the door.  "What the heck are you doing!?  Mamma says get out of the barn and stop tormenting that stupid thing or you're in for it!  It's bad enough listening to that racket every morning, we don't need to hear it in the middle of the day?"

"We were just leaving," Amadeo replied, looking firmly at Angelo, who blushed.

"Well, I don't know how you got her to be quiet but keep the screen ready, Ange, and get out of here?" Johnny said as he left.

"'Deo?" Angelo said meekly, "I'm really sorry about doing that.  You won't tell, will you?"

Amadeo looked hard at Angelo, trying to see if his regret was real or just an act. Satisfied with what he saw he replied, quietly, "No, I won't tell, but hear me," he continued, looking directly into Angelo's large, dark eyes, "if I ever see you do anything like that again I'll take care of you."

Angelo licked his lips nervously.  "You... you can't punish me.  You... you're not my father."

"No, I'm not your father, I'm your friend, which is the only reason I won't tell, but bad behaviour has consequences.  If it didn't then everyone would go around doing whatever they wanted regardless of who or what they hurt or damaged and then nobody would be safe."

A movement caught their attention from the corners of their eyes and they turned in time to see Brunhilda spread her wings and shake herself.  The two boys, screen at the ready, left the barn, turned the light off and closed the door.  Mrs. Di Marco was pleased to see the extra six eggs and no mention was made of Angelo's actions in the barn.

Amadeo stayed for dinner, which he had to agree was definitely Nirvana but still secretly thought that his mother's was better.  After he helped with the cleanup, they played board games and then caught an episode of Bonanza on television before he called for a ride home.  

Johnny insisted on walking Amadeo to the car by himself, where he shook the younger boy's hand again.  "I want to thank you, 'Deo.  Remember when I said you were probably the best thing that could ever happen to Angelo?  Well I think you're the best thing that could have happened to the whole family.  Mom?  She only sings when she's happy, you know?  'Deo, she hasn't sung for over a month.  Thank you."

He opened the car door, allowing a stunned Amadeo to slide into the seat before gently closing the door behind him and watching as the car backed down the driveway and disappeared into the gloom.



That night Angelo lay in bed, thinking about what Amadeo had said.  Surely 'Deo wouldn't actually punish him.  Would he?  And it wasn't like Amadeo had any right to punish him.  Angelo could always say no, right?  But would he tell dad then?  After all, he was only sixteen like Angelo, and really, how bad could it be if he did give him a smack or two?  It couldn't possibly be worse than his brothers who swatted him all the time.  It never actually hurt, whereas if his father got a hold of him... well, that was a whole different matter.  If Amadeo told dad then there was no question as to what he'd do.

He mulled the question over in his mind for a while longer and then listened closely to the house sounds.  Everyone was asleep.  He held his alarm clock up to the window so that the moonlight could illuminate the face.  Eleven twenty five.

Angelo got up quietly, slid into his jeans and shirt, picked up his sneakers and tucked them under his arm.  He opened his closet, pulled a skeleton key out of his pocket and quietly unlocked the door that lead to the hallway, closing it gently behind him.  Then he slipped out the back porch, being careful not to let the screen door slam behind him.  He ran to the end of the driveway where he sat down long enough to put his sneakers on, before running up the hill and disappearing into the darkness.


AN
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Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue/ Has Anybody Seen My Gal - The California Ramblers, 1925

There Are Such Things, Gene Austin, 1942

No copyright infringement intended




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