"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Henry Slough Chapter II


The Pima twins were too much for the DiMarcos, too much for the North End, and far too much for Dina.; but for some, very fortuitous reason, were so different from Dina that she didn’t have to worry about association, the common and usual sibling differentiation – getting dropped off at school separately, wearing different clothes, having different friends.  The twins, although having grown up in the same family, exposed to the same gross grandfather, fuck-all adoptive father, and loving, wacky mother, were different.  Not just a little different – glee club instead of varsity football;  Latin Honors instead of Math Club – but a lot different. 

ot only did they look different from the Italians, but went way-out Indian.  They scalped themselves, sculpting not a Mohawk, which would have at least been acceptable a la Taxi Driver, but crazy Maori hair tattoos – stylized bear claws and wolf fangs, rough tufts of hair whorled up the sides and backs of their heads. It might have been possibly acceptable if they had gone completely Indian with buckskins and talismans; but they went weirdo Chinese gang shit, ancient Lao Tse sayings with black Roxbury rapper gangsta notions.

They were everything but white.  Dina’s father had hoped that Dina would turn out Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard white, not Harvard, but maybe UMass or Tufts; and instead she barely moved the hands on the clock, getting her degree from Bay State Community College, not worth the paper it was written on and graduating in debt. She was less white than the twins, but still white.

Her father gave up on the twins even before they got into high school. Nothing worked on them.  They paid as little attention to him as to the crippled neighbor.  The priests at St. Ann’s agreed (in private) that they were candidates for exorcism, and even Dina’s mother – loving, sweet, accepting Margaret DiMarco, had to admit that she had gotten more than she had bargained for.  Even before the euphoria of epiphany had passed; before the personal Savior had departed through the transom and out the skylight; before the childlike benignity had gone from their cute, rotund faces, she realized that God had given her more than she signed up for.

Margaret and Andy DiMarco were not exactly delighted when they learned of their daughter’s love interest.  Despite Bay State and Fabric Man in Taunton, they still clung – as all parents do – to the hopes that their daughter would marry above her station.  Instead, they got a carpenter from Minnesota who was was nice enough.  Polite, respectful, deferent.  Nothing like Dead Beat Doug who ended up in the State system or Fucked Up Fred. No Prince Charming, but no Mick who would beat her in a stupid Irish drunk, neither.

“So, how’s carpentry, Henry”, asked Dina’s father one night at dinner.

“Well, even the Kennedys got to live in a house”, he answered.  He knew that the Kennedys were like royalty in Boston, but hadn’t figured out yet that Buddy Cianci, Mayor of Providence was more of a hero to the North End than any Kennedy.  Cianci robbed the city blind, shoved his fist up the asshole of any WASP cornholer within 100 miles, and was voted in 5 times – once when he was in fuckin’ jail, for Christ’s sake.

“Henry, you like Italian food?”, said Dina’s mother.

All Henry knew about Italian food was Ronzoni and Chef Boyardee, disgusting TV dinners and gluey, gloppy ravioli.  “My mother cooked American”, he said, noticing the wince on the DiMarcos, except for the Pima twins who were licking their plates like a moose on a salt lick and sticking their fingers into the ziti.

“Isn’t that nice”, said Dina’s mother.  I guess the Midwest is more American than Boston.  We’ve got everyone here, don’t we, Andy?”

The Pima twins were now heaping seconds and thirds of ziti onto their plates.  Even their fat fingers, like miniature forks on a Cat, couldn’t scoop enough pasta for their appetites. 

Dina’s father looked around the table.  His wacko born-again wife.  His savage fat redskins; his beloved daughter who at 30 would never make more than Section Manager at Fabric Man; and now Henry Slough – Sluff, Slugh, Slow, whatever. 

“Henry and I are going to spend Thanksgiving in Prairieville”, said Dina.

“Where?”, said Andy.

“Prairieville”, said Dina.  You know. Southern Minnesota, where Henry’s parents live”.

“I didn’t know there was a southern Minnesota”, commented her father.  Then, before he could finish chewing the ziti, “Hey, how ‘bout you takin’ the twins with you?”

Her mother glowered.  Dina reddened and picked up her fork.  Henry smiled stupidly.  The twins kept shoveling in the ziti.  “Yeah, a change of pace would do them good”.

Henry, moderate, middle-of-the-road, complaisant, and eager to please, said “Sure.  Great idea.  I can’t wait for Mom and Pop to meet everyone”.

“Super”, said Mr. DiMarco. “Consider it done”.  The twins looked up from the ziti, their hands and mouths smeared with tomato sauce.  Dina, cake-hole gaping and eyes stunned and wide, stared at her father.  Margaret smiled.  At last.  A relief, a respite, a glorious sun-filled, Hawaiian vacation from the Pimas.  Henry showed nothing.  He was already thinking about the flights via Sioux City.

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