Antonio’s daughter was always the misfit. Squinting, nail biting, and a fixating stare. Dark eyes, the kind that didn’t fit the decor. In junior high, all she’d wanted were knees that didn’t show when she walked, calves that met each other when she stood, and a nose that looked like it belonged to her head. High school was horrid; those must have Ali McGraw hats had made her look like a bowling ball on a stick, and she would never know, until all the vicarious Y-Co dances and even the senior prom had burbled their wake, that her brain was bigger than her face.
But most everything else, she knew. She knew that God had made the heavens and the Earth, that Jesus had died and risen on the third day, and that everybody who went to the Gospel Hall on Sunday and got saved was going to Heaven. She knew who her mother was, and her grandparents, and her two brothers, and all her cousins and aunts and uncles. She knew her father had met her mother on a train and married her, twice. And, above all else, she knew that she was Daddy’s girl.
The drunkard, who could bed her like no other and love even more deeply, was the one. He would appear on the cusp of the sixth decade of her miserable life, right when she was sure that wringing out the rest of it as anything but a spayed hound shape shifting into a human that used to be female just in time to leave the house for groceries was beyond any hope. And, he would tell her. In the midst of a brew-infused gourmet meal of sirloin and cremed spinach, between entree and foreplay, he would bring her the news.
Antonio hadn’t merely been a butcher. He’d been the Man. He’d run the whole city.
Even the cigar store owner, the biggest bookie in the tri-state, had answered to him.
Just what being that Man had meant in her lifetime only the movies could say. Something about broad shouldered henchmen with pea brains, envelopes stuffed with cash, sudden gunfire, and blood, and lone cars bursting into flames by the side of the road.
This was like finding out that UFOs circled the house while you slept. That flies were aliens readying their ranks to magnify for attack. Or, that Jesus was just the son of a Moroccan trapeze artist, marketed to the known world by some disaffected Turk with a hookah and a scribe. No wonder the idea of selling their house after Antonio’s death had left her dry. The Spanish peanuts in their tiny cardboard cannister he’d always hand her through the window of his DeSoto when she was 5, the salt stinging her tender, nailbitten fingers, were mold in her memory now. There was simply no such thing as reality. Now, she was sure.
Yes, now. Now, only Rufus Wainwright could sing “Nuthin’s Gonna Change My World.” The one thing she couldn’t have known at the time was the only truth which remained. Antonio’s daughter could never go home, ever again.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 7/6/17 All rights those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Be a good person. Yeah, whatever that is.