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A “vigorous, tough” novel that “dramatizes so well the awful power of family,” by the New York Times–bestselling author of The Whites and Clockers (The Atlantic Monthly).

Eighteen-year-old Stony De Coco has to make a choice: either join his father in the tightly knit world of New York’s construction unions or take off and find his own path. But Stony’s family is not about to make that choice easy. As he struggles to protect his little brother, Albert, from their dangerously unbalanced mother, and to postpone the difficult adult responsibilities that await him, he finds hope in a job working with children at a hospital—a job that promises not to make anyone happy but Stony.

“For all of its surface violence, blunt language and brute realism,” this story of working-class life in the Bronx ”is a most subtle book. A sharp portrait of coming-of-age, in sorrow and in strength” (The Washington Post Book World).

“Richard Price is the greatest writer of dialogue, living or dead, this country has ever produced.” —Dennis Lehane



Publié par
Date de parution 15 avril 1999
Nombre de visites sur la page 3
EAN13 9780547971124
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0075 €. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.

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Title Page Contents Copyright Dedication Epigraph 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
First Mariner Books edition 1999
Copyright © 1976 by Richard Price All rights reserved
For information about permission to reproduce selec tions from this book, write to trade.permissions@hmhco.comor to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.
The Library oF Congress has cataloged the print edition as Follows: Price, Richard, date. Bloodbrothers / Richard Price, p. cm. "A Mariner Book." ISBN 0-395-97773-8 1. High school graduates—New York (State)—Fiction. 2. Teenagers—New York (State)—Fiction. 3. Family—New York (State)—Fiction. I. Title. PS3566.R544B58 1999 813'.54—dc21 99-15176 CIP
eISBN 978-0-547-97112-4 v2.1117
For John Califano, a true Bloodbrother, in love and friendship, "you knoW hoW We do..." To Sabrina Di Benedetto To Ellen Joseph and Carl Brandt for their enthusias m and encouragement To Cubby To Lord Buckley
who am I I rather think about bein Mighty Mouse and flyin th rough the air an like that. But now... they askin me questions—what I dream about a nd what I think about and what about my mother my father an like that. Man you sta rt thinkin about things like that an it give you the sweats like a junkie... Man—you ask Why should I be me—how I get to be me—w hy am I me here and not someplace else—and you just end up scared like you was walkin down a empty street at night. So scared it running out you ears... TheCool World by Warren Miller
A WARM SOUR CLOUD wafted across to Tommy's side of the bed as his wife rolled over in her sleep. Tommy De Coco lay on his back sm oking a Marlboro and staring at the green metal Venetian blinds. One of the slats was bent and let in some early-morning sunlight. 7:30. "Tommy, don't..." He turned his head. Marie was talking in her sleep again. She lay on her stomach and he stared at the brown and white freckles that made her back and shoulders look like salami. Tommy ditched his cigarette and put his arm behind his head. He absently massaged his dick under the covers. Four blocks away church bells rang. Sunday. Family day. No matter what he did six days a week, on Sundays Tommy De Coco was a family man. And this Sunday he had a big surprise for his family. His hand smelled from that oily shit inside Trojans . His pubic hair was still damp. He debated getting out of bed and taking a shower befo re Marie woke up and got a downwind whiff. Tough titties. What could she do? Y ell? Scream? He'd crack her so goddamn hard she'd shit teeth for a week. Tommy sni ffed his fingers. Fuck it. He rolled out of bed and headed for the shower. Goddamn stuff stinks anyway. Seventeen-year-old Stony De Coco woke up to the his sing of the shower on the other side of the wall. Raising himself slightly he saw that his brother, Albert, was still sleeping, his head obscured from Stony's vision by the chest of drawers between their beds. He pulled a Marlboro from beneath his pillow. Sunday. Shit on toast. Family day. His old man would make everybody get in the goddamn car and he'd drive around the whole goddamn Bronx looking for a G-rated movie. An d Stony couldn't bitch either because his old man had thumbnails as big as clam s hells and if he gave Tommy any bullshit he would get a flick behind the ear that w ould sting like a bastard. Eight-year-old Albert De Coco lay in bed listening to his older brother smoking. He was afraid Stony was going to get lung cancer if he kep t smoking every morning. Albert was nauseated like every time he woke up. The idea of e ating made him even more queasy and he hoped Marie wouldn't force him to eat like l ast Sunday. Then he remembered she threatened to feed him like a baby if he didn't start eating more. A chill settled over his skeletal body. Marie De Coco was dreaming about her mother again. This time Marie was a little girl and her mother was very old and shriveled like she looked before she died and she was caressing Marie's cheeks with fingers of cold b lue wax and crooning to her, "Pretty, baby, pretty, baby, see how pretty, baby," and ran those bloodless fingers down over Marie's eyes and across her lips and Marie shut her eyes and rested her cheek on her mother's marble-smooth palm. Then her mother took h er hand and led her through a long hall. "Come see how pretty, baby, come see how pretty." And Marie saw a mirror
at the end of the hall. "Look how pretty, baby, see ?" She pointed a finger at the mirror. Marie looked to see how pretty she was and screamed —she had no reflection. She awoke with a start, but she couldn't move beyon d that initial jerk. She knew she was awake but every muscle in her face and body was frozen. She couldn't move and she couldn't breathe. She could hear the bells from Immaculate and she could hear the shower in the bathroom. She was paralyzed. She couldn't even open her eyelids and her lungs were collapsing. She tried not to panic. She knew by now she had to concentrate. Relax. She had no breath in her lungs and couldn't open her mouth to scream. Then with a great inner wrenching she bolte d upright in bed. Her lilac nightgown was damp with sweat. Marie was a kid when she first got these attacks. Her father had them also and he told her that if anybod y touched her when she was awake and paralyzed like that she would die of a heart attack. Marie rubbed her nose, grunted and lit a cigarette. When Tommy stepped out of the shower he heard Marie banging around in the kitchen. He cursed. He liked the dinette to himself for a fe w hours Sunday mornings so he could read theNews,have a few smokes, a few cups of coffee, listen to the radio. He dried his blue black hair vigorously, wrapped a purple to wel around his waist and leaned close to the mirror to inspect his new Fu Manchu. In the last year he had grown six different kinds of face hair including muttonchops and a real handlebar, but he liked the Fu Manchu best of all—it extended down each side of his mouth to his jaw in two thick black lines. He had to smile. That chick last night said, "Oooh, look! It's Jack Palance!" Chubby got jealous until she saidhelooked like Jack Palance too. Chubby looked like Jack Shit as far as Tommy was concerned. Jack Palan ce. He touched his high cheekbones, his rocky chin. "Daddy, can I get in?" Albert's voice on the other side of the bathroom door jolted him out of his reverie. "I gotta pee." Tommy opened the door and brushed past his son with out looking at him. "Hey, Thomas Junior!"—Tommy winked at Stony—"pass m e the salt." Stony's fingers were greasy with butter and the shaker slipped onto his father's plate. "I don' wanna eat any more." Albert had three Lucky Charm cereal bits glued with milk on his chin. He had only taken three spoonfuls . "What?" Marie stared at him severely. "Don' wanna e at any more, hah?" She nodded and narrowed her eyes. "Don' wanna eat any more?" Albert stared at his cereal. "Where'd we go yesterday?" she demanded, not lookin g at him. "Doctor Schindler," he answered meekly. "What?" "Doctor Schindler." "I can't hear you." "Doctor Schindler." "I... can't... hear... you!" Albert shut his eyes, lightly opened and closed his hands, his fingertips touching, then springing away from each other. Stony was abou t to jump up and smash his mother in the face when Albert blurted, "D—Doctor Schindler!"
Tommy looked up surprised for a second, then return ed to his eggs. Marie lit a cigarette. Albert looked up at her mascaraed plumpn ess through the snaky haze of smoke. "And what did Doctor Schindler say?" "I weigh too little." "How little?" Albert's eyebrows were raised and his lips shaped words that wouldn't come. His stomach spun viciously. Tommy got up from the table , grabbed theNewsand split for the john. "Where the hell you goin'?" Marie barked. "I gotta take a crap. You mind?" Tommy shot back. S he dismissed him with a disgusted wave of her hand. "Why don't the hell you leave the kid alone!" Tommy shouted, his face turning black. He held the paper in a giant fist. "You know how much he weighs? Do yougivea shit?" she shouted back. They were both standing. Albert started crying. Stony touched his brother's shoulder, made a funny face at his parents and winked at him. Albert rubbed away some tears with the heel of his palm. "Tell your father how much you we igh," she demanded. "Fif—fifty-five." "You're goddamn right." She glowered at them both. "And what am I gonna do with you this summer if you don't gain twenty-five pound s by June?" "Puh—put mum—me in-na hospital." "And what do they do to skinny boys in a hospital?" she pushed. Tommy stormed out of the room and a second later th e bathroom door slammed. Marie forced out two funnels of smoke from nostrils taut and arched with rage. She dropped her cigarette into her coffee and started clearing the table without looking at either of her sons. Stony nodded to Albert to get lost. Albert got up, went to his room and turned on some Sunday morning cartoons. Tommy sat on the toilet lost in thought. He thought about Marie and what a vicious cunt she had turned out to be. He thought about cracking her and then remembered what happened the last time he hit her after she kicked his brother, Chubby, out of the house when he burned her coffee table with a cigarette. He remembered coming back from Banion's that night and seeing her feet sticking ou t of the bathroom into the hallway. At first he thought she was drunk. Then the doctors. T he fucking stomach pump. Her goddamn mother (may her soul rest in hell). How man y times can you say you're sorry? Tommy thought of Albert. He was so skinny that he m ade Tommy think of Mahatma Gandhi in those big diapers and sheets, although he wished Marie would lay off the kid once in a while. Stony. Oh, Stony. A son-and-a-half. Thomas Jr. Fuckin' A. He thought about Stony coming in with the electricians. Tommy could swing him in easy. Maybe they could even work the same job. He imagined brin ging Stony into the electricians' shanty and introducing him to the guys. Stony'd do great. He was strong as a goddamn bull. Yeah. Stony. Chubby. Fuckin' jibone. Tommy la ughed. Jack Palance all right. He remembered the look on Chubby's face last night whe n he was balling that girl. He looked like Yogi Berra in heat. Thatgirlwas a bit all right though.
"How come we gotta wear suits?" Stony protested. "Just do it, awright?" Tommy said. "Sheezus." Stony almost said shit as he took off his dungarees. "All we doin' is goin' a damn movie." "We not goin' a damn movie," Tommy mimicked. "Aw... we goin' visitin'?" Stony groaned. "Just, just do what I say, hah?" Tommy turned from the door and whistled at his wife, who was wearing a hot pink pantsuit. She ignored him, still pissed off from this morning. As she walked by she laid down a cloud of perfume. Tommy loved heavy perfume. Her face was almost furry with rouge and powder. "Hey, Marie." Tommy smiled like a little boy and stood before her with his arms extended palms up. She exhaled heavily through her nostrils, glowered at him and shook her fist in front of his nose. The fight was over. "Where the hell are you taking us?" Marie asked as Tommy turned the car onto the George Washington Bridge. "Keep your draws on." Tommy smiled. Albert sat in b ack chewing on his fingernails and staring at some sailboats. Stony was playing ba sketball in his head, doing weaving, whirling lay-ups in slow motion against a whole team of six-foot-ten spades. Then he started running numbers in his head. Cheri. Under their new agreement they were both free to play. Last week after graduation the Mount rented out Club D'Artagnan for a shit-face and Cheri started coming on to Mott the Bear. Stony went berserk and Butler had to shove him into the john to stop a fight. If she wanted to play, she didn't have to be insulting about it. Mott the Bear, Christ. Tommy. His old man was starting to break his chops about the union. His on ly alternative was college. Stony wasn't in love with the idea of more school, and mo re school wasn't in love with the idea of Stony. The only place he could get into his counselor had to find with a magnifying glass. Purdy Free Normal, Purdy, Louisia na. Hot damn. He didn't have anything against construction work. It was healthy, good bread, but... but... but. Marie. His old lady was coming down hard on Albert these d ays. That scared him. The kid had a constitution like a dandelion. If he wasn't careful he'd get loved to death. A few miles into New Jersey Tommy swung the car into a cemetery driveway and drove up the narrow, steep lane for a quarter of a mile until he came to crosshatched blocks of graves. He stopped the car and took a scrap of paper out of his jacket. Marie turned white. Afternoon sun glinted off the c ellophane strips keeping the lacquered black curls in place by her ears. "Tommy..." She pressed her fingers to her lips. Her eyes were wide. "This ain't funny." Stony sat up and stared in puzzlement at the endles s tombstones. Tommy read directions from the paper and continued driving, ma king sharp rights and lefts for a mile more through the heart and into the outer regions o f the cemetery that were more sparsely populated. He drove with his head out the window reading names on headstones. Marie lit another cigarette. Her hands were shaking so bad she had to use the car lighter instead of a match.