Zeke pulled his fifteen-year-old sort of red, sort of yellow, a lot rust Chevy in front of 118 Walnut Ave. The only space left was in front of a fire hydrant. He took before someone else pulled into it. Nonna lived on the first floor of a three-floor home. Mickey opened his door, whacking it against the hydrant.
“Sorry, Zeke. The hydrant was in my way,” said Mickey.
Zeke got out of the Chevy. He climbed on the trunk of car in front on his Chevy and jumped down onto the sidewalk. He looked at the ding and said, “It’s nothing. It matches the other dents.”
“You’re the best friend, Zeke,” said Mickey. His breath carrying an overpowering smell of beer and garlic.
Zeke winced. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a roll of Life Savers, took two Life Savers and handed the roll to Mickey. Mickey took six Life Savers and handed the roll to Zeke.
Zeke said, “You can have it.”
“Thanks, Zeke,” said Mickey unwrapping the remaining Life Savers and putting them into his mouth.
The boys walked up the short sidewalk to the steps. They climbed the four steps to the landing. Zeke opened the door, walked down a short hall with a single light bulb hanging from a cord, past the stairs leading to the second and third floors, and knocked on the door. He stood in front of the door.
A voice from the inside, “Who’s a there?”
“It’s me, Nonna, Zeke.”
“Zeke who? How do I know you aint a crook or a rapist?”
“Come on Nonna, I’m Zeke Junior, but I don’t like to use the word junior.”
“You should a said so at the first. You got anybody with you? I can tell there’s somebody out there besides you.”
“It’s me, Mickey,” said Mickey.
“Mickey who? You could be Mickey the Mouse for all I know,” said Nonna.
“It’s Mickey Palitroni, Nonna. Can we come in, we need advice,” said Zeke.
“I never liked Pauli Palitroni. You can’t trust him. He’s dead now because I put a curse on him. I think the rest of them are okay. I let you boys in,” said Nonna.
Mickey whispered to Zeke, “Uncle Pauli died when he was 98. The curse musta worked because he told everybody he was going to live until he was 110. It goes to show you, you never know.”
The oak door swung open, in the doorway stood a five-foot two-inch woman, wearing the same mid-calf length black dress mourning her husband Rocco who died twenty years earlier. Her hair, mostly gray was streaked with the black hair of her youth. It was pulled tight into a bun on top of her head. A simple silver chain with a crucifix hung around her neck. She was holding a butcher knife in one hand and a wooden crucifix in the other hand.
Zeke paused in the doorway for a moment. Mickey stayed two steps behind Zeke. Nonna took off her glasses to get a better look at the two friends. She lowered her knife and said, “Don’t harvest grass you don’t recognize.”
Mickey took a step toward Zeke and whispered in his ear, “What is she talking about?”
Zeke kept looking at Nonna and spoke out of the side of his mouth, “Who knows? Ever since Nonno died, she said his spirit possessed her and he speaks through her.”
Nonna said, “What chu waiting for? Come on in. I make some coffee and give you boys a biscotti. We talk like old times. Come here and give me a hug.”
Nonna put her arms out wide. She still had hold of the knife and the crucifix. Zeke embraced her and they kissed each other on the both cheeks. Zeke stepped aside, and Mickey took his place in the greeting ritual.
Nonna stepped back, “You breath stinks like a hell. I got to give you something for that. You never get a woman smelling like that.”
Nonna led Zeke and Mickey to the kitchen table. She went about her business putting coffee on. She walked into a small pantry and brought out an unopened package of Biscotti and put four of them on a plate. She brought the plate to the table. Mickey reached for one. Nonna whacked his hand with her hand, “What chu doing? You Palitroni’s got no class. You wait for the coffee. When we all sit down, you can talk to me and tell you good advice.”
What will be Nonna’s advice? Will Zeke and Mickey listen to her?