Mom packed my suitcase and I went to Tommy's. It was only when we were playing knee football in his living room, me as the Giants, Tommy as the Brooks, that it occurred to me that my mother might not have told Tommy's mother about my punishment. After our knees were so hot we couldn't play anymore—I scored five touchdowns, Tommy three—we turned on the radio. Tommy's mother even walked through the living room once: She didn't say anything. We ate dinner, listened to the radio some more and stayed up half the night talking about all the girls we hated.
Saturday it rained. We played cards and football and listened to the radio. I forgot all about Nanna.
Sunday morning was cold and the fog had cleared. We went to church. Mom and Dad were there and so we all sat together. I was sure when Mom took me aside after Mass that she was going to tell me not to worry, that it was O.K. for me to listen to the game (my father often forgot the punishments he'd imposed, though my mother never did). Instead, she said all the relatives would be coming over that afternoon and that she wanted me to be there, too. She said it would make her happy if I were. I said I didn't think I could. She said, "Please," and I said, "Please." Then Dad came over and said I'd have to be there.
I ate breakfast at Tommy s, and he spoke of nothing but the game. He said the Brooks were going to maraud the Giants, that Merlyn (the Magician) Condit and Ace Parker would wipe Tuffy Lee-mans all over the field. I allowed as how Tuffy would not only score touchdown after touchdown, but that he'd cleat the Magician in the face as well. We bet 10� on the game, a whole week's allowance for me. The doorbell rang. It was Uncle Dan. His Stutz was outside. His girl friend, the one my father didn't want me to know was living with him, was in the front seat. I told Tommy the Dodgers stunk and went out to the car.
I'd forgotten that Uncle Dan was a Dodger fan, too. He took up where Tommy had left off. We drove around for a while. The car was warm. Uncle Dan and his girl friend said they'd rather be at the game, too. She offered me a cigarette. I refused. Uncle Dan said my family wanted me to be at the wake because my father thought it was time I learned about death and how it was just another part of life, like going to the bathroom. That kind of thing always made me like Uncle Dan. He was much younger than my father, and my father said he was a Communist. But whenever he said that, my mother would say he wasn't, that Communists rode in subways, not Stutzes, and that Communists didn't like sports.
Uncle Roy met me at the door. He pinned black crepe around my arm. "Go up and say goodby to your Nanna, son," he said from deep in his throat.
"Yes, sir," I said. I took a deep breath and walked into the parlor and up to the coffin. Nanna looked like she was asleep, the way Uncle Dan had said she would. I knelt down. Mom knelt beside me and put her arm around my shoulder. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" she said, and then she bit her bottom lip like she was about to cry. "Let's say a prayer," said Mom. I prayed that Nanna would go to heaven. Nanna never moved, although once I thought I saw her cheek twitch the way it used to. My father laughed in the hall, but it seemed a thousand miles away. The room was very hot.
I woke up in my own bed. Uncle Dan and his girl friend sat by the window, smoking cigarettes.
"You O.K.?" asked Dan.
"What happened?" I asked.