Chris made his way around the restaurant thanking people, kissing second and third cousins he hadn’t seen in years and making small talk, some of it, as with the now dispersed faction from Carmine Street, enjoyable for the honest nostalgia it added to his otherwise confused mix of feelings. Ending up in the courtyard, he saw that Matt had joined Joseph and Rocco. He watched intently for a moment as they chatted under the far right corner of the arbor, the dappled shade cast by the grape vines overhead fluttering across their faces. Matt, his black hair slicked back, his suit hanging loosely on his reed-like body, nearly a head taller than Rocco, was making his usual transparent attempt at the studied casualness of the confident tough guy, a pose that grated on Chris even though he had seen it a dozen times in the last forty-eight hours.
Then he spotted Teresa alone at a table in the far left corner, and walked over to join her.
“So,” he said when he was seated, “have you thought about it?”
“It’s not something I can decide in one night, Chris.”
“Look at him over there,” Chris said. “Who do you think he’s trying to emulate, the junkie or the Mafia thug?”
The night before, Chris had joined Teresa on the funeral home’s wide, wrap-around porch, and, while she smoked, told her of the misgivings he had been having over their son’s recent behavior, much of it centered around his naive conception of the Mafia life and his perceived position within it. Worshiping the wrong heroes was bad enough, Chris had said, but Matt’s arrogance, the superior attitude he struck as the only grandson of the great Anthony DiGiglio, required immediate action, immediate intervention by both parents. His idea was for Matt, who was finishing eighth grade at a public school in North Caldwell, the bedroom community in Jersey where Teresa lived, to attend high school in Manhattan and live with Chris there starting in September.
Teresa had noticed the same behavior in the boy. He was disdainful of his sister, most of his “straight” classmates and even his Mafia-related cousins, children of lesser gods, as it were. But he remained by and large respectful to her, and relatively easy for her to handle, and so she had not drawn the same dire conclusions as Chris had. And, of course, the remedy he was proposing had aroused all of her instincts to, as a mother, keep her son under her wing, and shred anyone who tried to take him from her nest.
“I didn’t ask you to decide,” Chris said. “I asked you to think about it.”
“He’ll never agree.”
“We don’t need his permission.”
“He’s fourteen. He’s not a baby.”
“He’s a baby when you want him to be, and he’s grown up when you want him to be.”
“You want me to give my son up for no reason?”