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Tuesday, November 27

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Tuesday, May 15

  1. page The Pigman edited ... “What’s the matter?” I yelled. He started to double over—his eyes fastened on me—gaping like …
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    “What’s the matter?” I yelled.
    He started to double over—his eyes fastened on me—gaping like a fish out of water. Then he pressed his right hand to his chest and fell to the bottom of the stairs.
    Chapter 11
    I knew it was a heart attack right away. Lorraine almost passed out, but I knew enough to call the police. They got there about ten minutes later with an ambulance from St. Ambrose Hospital, and we almost didn’t have enough time to get the skates off.
    Two attendants came in with an old lady doctor, and we told them how he had been shoveling snow and had been out all day, and they just whisked him away on a stretcher like an old sack of potatoes. He was breathing just fine. Maybe a little fast, but it certainly didn’t look like he was going to die or anything like that.
    “Who are you?” this one snotty cop asked.
    “His children,” I said, and I thought Lorraine was going to collapse with fear. We both knew what her mother would do if she found out.
    I answered all the questions he asked, and when I didn’t know the answers, I made them up.
    “Your father’s age?”
    “Fifty-eight,” I said.
    “Wife?”
    “Deceased.”
    “Place of birth?”
    “Sorrento.”
    “You two kids don’t look Italian.”
    “Our mother was Yugoslavian.”
    I mean those particular cops were so dumb it was pathetic. I felt like I was talking to two grown-up Dennises who had arrested mental growth. It was a big deal over nothing. They wanted to know if we could take care of ourselves, and we assured them we were very mature.
    “Your name?”
    “John Pignati.”
    “You?” The cop pointed at Lorraine.
    “Lorraine… Pignati.”
    They finally left after they had a good look around the place. I mean, the furnishings were enough to make anybody think a pack of wild gypsies lived there, but they were probably anxious to get along on the rounds of the local bars and collect their graft for the week. Lorraine got furious when I told her that and said she hoped I needed help some day and there were no policemen to call. Then she called me stupid and left me standing in the hall. I walked to the edge of the living room and just waited for the lecture I knew was coming.
    “You shouldn’t have gone upstairs with the roller skates on,” she finally said as though in a trance.
    “I didn’t think he would follow me up.”
    “You just never know when to stop.”
    “Oh, shut up!” I snapped at her. “You’re beginning to sound like my Old Lady.”
    She turned her head away, and I was sorry I had yelled at her. “He’s not going to die. It was just a little stroke, that’s all. He was breathing fine when they carried him out.”
    I needed two beers after that, but Lorraine was nervous about staying there. So we found the keys to the house in the kitchen, locked up, and took a walk in the cemetery. We didn’t last long there because it was too cold, and she felt terrible when we walked by a freshly dug grave. There’s nothing worse than a freshly dug grave with snow falling on it.
    The next day we cut school and took the Number 107 bus to St. Ambrose Hospital. We got there a half hour before visiting time, but that gave us time to check on Mr. Pignati and find out that he wasn’t dead. In fact he was so alive he looked better than ever, but I’ve heard that’s the way a lot of people are when they have heart attacks. I mean, that’s supposed to be the real danger period because they feel energetic, but if they exert themselves, they can have another attack and croak. This Transylvanian-looking nun-nurse made us sign our names in a book and gave us a couple of passes so everyone at the hospital would know we had permission to be there and were not a couple of ghouls raiding the morgue. I hate to go to hospitals because you never know when you get in one of the elevators if the guy next to you has the galloping bubonic plague.
    You should have seen Lorraine carrying eleven gladiolas. She looked like a Mongolian peasant hawking flowers in a flea market. We took them from three different graves in the cemetery and couldn’t find a twelfth gladiola anywhere. But who counts a dozen gladiolas when you get them? We still pretended we were John and Lorraine Pignati because only members of the immediate family were allowed to visit.
    “Your son and daughter are here,” this fat, huge nurse said, opening the door to Room 304. And there was the Pigman, propped up on his high pillow with the bed raised. It was a semiprivate room, and I’d better not tell you about the other patient in there that made it semiprivate because he looked like he wasn’t long for this world. They had a guy with some kind of oxygen-tent thing nearby that looked like a malaria net.
    “Hi!” Mr. Pignati said, with a great big grin on his face. You’d have thought he was a guest in a hotel the way he looked, with this breakfast tray right in front of him on a weird-looking bed table.
    “Look at the lovely flowers they brought,” the fat, huge nurse said. “I’ll put them in some water.” She flashed a gigantic smile herself and then beat it.
    “We had to make believe we were your kids,” I explained, and you should have seen him smile.
    “Are you all right?” Lorraine asked.
    “Of course I’m all right.” He laughed. “I’m getting out of here in a few days. There’s nothing wrong with me. The doctor even said so.”
    There was a lot of small talk after that, and Lorraine never took her eyes off the guy in the other bed, who looked like he was 193 years old. Then the fat, huge nurse came back in with the gladiolas in this crummy glass vase that looked like they had just dug it up in the backyard. “Aren’t they pretty?” she said and then beat it again.
    “Is the house all right?” Mr. Pignati asked.
    “We locked it up last night after the cops left,” I said.
    Lorraine fumbled in her pocketbook. “We brought you the keys,” she said, holding them out to him.
    “You keep them,” he said. “Maybe you’ll want to watch some television or have some more chocolate ants.” He laughed as usual.
    “I don’t think so—”
    “Maybe we will,” I said, taking the keys right out of her hand. “We can leave them in the mailbox, in case we don’t cut school tomorrow.”
    “I don’t think we—”
    I flashed Lorraine a dirty look, and she never finished her sentence.
    “You’re looking good,” I commented.
    “I’m sorry if I was any trouble yesterday.”
    “Are you kidding? Lorraine and I thrive on excitement.” And then the three of us giggled.
    “What did you have for breakfast?” Lorraine inquired, which was a little uncalled-for since all you had to do was look at the tray, and you could tell it was the usual rubbery eggs you always get in a hospital.
    “You didn’t eat your toast,” she further observed.
    “Do you think you could stop by and see Bobo for me?”
    “Sure,” I said.
    “Tell him I miss him.”
    Just then the guy in the other bed took a choking fit, and the three of us just looked very uncomfortable until that was over. The fat nurse came running in and did something to him to make him stop. It looked like she strangled him actually.
    “Get him the peanuts in the yellow package—not the red package. He likes the dry-roasted ones better.”
    “Sure.”
    “And half a hot dog. Don’t give him the whole hot dog because he never eats all of it.”
    “How are you all doing?” the nurse said, bounding in and exhibiting her ivories again. “Your father’s a very funny man,” she squealed. “He knows an awful lot of jokes.”
    “We know.”
    Then she started cranking the bed.
    “A very funny man….”
    It was scary the way Mr. Pignati’s head seemed to stick out of that mountain of white sheets and just sink slowly downward.
    “I think you’d better be going now.”
    “We’re going to miss you, Mr. Pignati,” Lorraine said, as though she was giving last rites.
    “Please take care of Bobo until I get out.” He smiled. “And the house. Make yourselves comfortable and use anything that’s there.”
    “Good-bye, Mr. Pignati.”
    By the time we left, I was so glad to see the outside world I thought I had been in prison for seventy-three years. The smell of hospitals always makes me think of death. In fact I think hospitals are exactly what grave-yards are supposed to be like. They ought to bury people in hospitals and let sick people get well in the cemeteries.
    The sun was shining, and the ice was beginning to melt on the street. A big plow came down Forest Avenue, scooping snow right into the front of it and throwing it out the top through this pipe contraption. It looked like a black dragon devouring everything it touched. Pretty soon our bus came along, and then we hiked back up to the house.
    Everything that happened from then on Lorraine blames me for, and maybe she’s right. Things were just fine at first. Lorraine was in her glory because she had a brainstorm about making spaghetti. That would have been a superb idea if I had overlooked the fact that I loathe spaghetti. Mr. Pignati had some sauce left in the refrigerator, and there were three packages of number nine vermicelli, so I decided to let the little homemaker go ahead with it.
    “I miss him,” Lorraine sighed, sprinkling salt into the boiling water.
    “Who?”
    “You know very well who.”
    It was sort of strange without him around. I stayed in the living room and watched television, and when my mentality couldn’t stand that any longer, I went upstairs.
    “John, what are you doing up there?”
    “None of your business.”
    I went into the bedroom and opened the closet with all of Mr. Pignati’s clothes. He didn’t have that much, but I knew even if he were next to me, he wouldn’t mind if I tried on a jacket or two. My own father won’t let me touch his stuff.
    I tried on a shiny blue suit that looked so worn I think Columbus must have sported it over to the New World. The lapels were so big I felt as though I was wearing reverse water wings. There was a full-length mirror on the door, and when I saw myself, I realized I wasn’t plain old John Conlan anymore. I was a famous actor getting ready to go before the cameras to play the role of a distinguished European businessman and lover.
    “The spaghetti’s almost ready!”
    I took one of his ties that looked like a red-and-blue flowered kite and hung it around my neck, and when I found a makeup pencil on the top of the bureau drawer, my transformation was complete—a moustache.
    “Good Lord,” Lorraine gulped. I thought she was going to drop the pot of spaghetti. She had set the dining-room table and pulled down the shades so it was pretty shadowy, and that made me look perfect. In the middle of the table were two religious-looking candles burning away.
    “You look fantastic!” she blurted.
    “You think so?”
    “Watch the sauce on the stove. I want to wash my hands upstairs,” she said, and I caught a bit of a wicked smile on her face.
    The sauce had come to a boil four times, and I had to keep shutting off the heat because the goo was spilling over the edge of the pan.
    “Will you hurry up?”
    “I’m coming.” Lorraine’s voice came from the bedroom—as if I didn’t know what she was doing.
    I finally shut the stove off and went into the living room. I was planning to put the TV on, and I was mad as @#$% because I knew the spaghetti was congealing in the pot. I don’t like spaghetti when it’s normal, let alone congealed.
    “Good evening,” came this sexy voice from the stairs.
    She stood there for a moment, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I knew she had been digging out some old rags of Conchetta’s, but I hadn’t expected this. She was wearing a white dress with two million ruffles and a neckline that was the lowest she’d ever worn… and makeup and high heels and an ostrich feather in her hair. She looked just like one of those unknown actresses you see on the TV summer-replacement programs.
    “You look beautiful!”
    “Do you mean it?”
    I let out a growl and started toward her, imitating Bobo. She squealed with laughter and ran back up the stairs with me right after her.
    “Stop it, John!”
    “I am a handsome European businessman, and you are in love with me!”
    She tried to hold the bedroom door shut, but I forced it, and she ran to the far side so there was only the bed between us.
    “Come to me, my darling!”
    We were both laughing so hard we could hardly speak.
    “One kiss is all I ask!”
    I caught her and threw her on the bed. I could hear the sound of the cameras clicking away on the set.
    “One kiss!”
    “John, stop it now. I’m not kidding.” She started laughing again right in my arms, but I stopped it by putting my lips on hers. It was the first time we had ever kissed. When I moved my lips away from hers, we just looked at each other, and somehow we were not acting anymore.
    “I think we’d better go downstairs,” Lorraine said.
    “All right.”
    “Dinner is served,” she announced, carrying this big plate of congealed spaghetti. We each sat at opposite ends of the table with the candles burning away. I poured us some wine in these long-stemmed glasses, and for a few moments we just sat looking at each other—her with the feather in her hair and me with my moustache.
    “To the Pigman,” I said softly.
    “To the Pigman.”
    She lifted her glass, and she was lovely.

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Monday, May 14

  1. page The Pigman edited ... And always with a big smile so you knew he meant it. That was the Pigman, and I knew I’d kill…
    ...
    And always with a big smile so you knew he meant it.
    That was the Pigman, and I knew I’d kill Norton if he tried to hurt the old man.
    [[image:pixel.quantserve.com/pixel/p-86fesW604oNxA.gifChapter 10
    It got so that every day John and I would go over to the Pigman’s after school and have a glass of wine and conversation. It was routine by the time the Christmas holidays came around, and it was nice to have some place to go besides the cemetery when it was cold out. Masterson’s Tomb is an escapist’s dream in the summer, but it’s a realist’s nightmare in December.
    “Where have you been?”
    “I told you the Latin Club was meeting today—and then I missed the bus coming home.”
    I went right into the bedroom and took off my coat.
    “Did I see you in a car today?” my mother asked, coming to the doorway to watch my reaction. “I was waiting for you to go to the store. When you didn’t come home, I walked down myself, and I saw a girl in a car that looked just like you.” She was holding the large coffee cup and stirring nervously.
    “It wasn’t me.”
    “I didn’t think it was. You know very well what I’d do if I ever caught you in a car.”
    “Yes, Mother.”
    “Be a good girl and iron my uniform, will you? I came home late last night,” she went on, following me into the kitchen, “and the girl down the street was in a car, necking like a slut.”
    “Maybe she’s engaged to that boy.”
    “I don’t care. Just don’t let me catch you in a car if you know what’s good for you. I got some shrimp chop suey from the Chinese restaurant. I saved yours, but get the uniform done first.”
    She always warns me about getting into cars and things like that. When she goes to work on a night shift, she constantly reminds me to lock the doors and windows, and sometimes she calls on the phone if she gets a chance and tells me again. Beware of men is what she’s really saying. They have dirty minds, and they’re only after one thing. Rapists are roaming the earth.
    But now I understand her a little. I think the only man she really hates is my father—even though he’s dead. I don’t think she’ll ever be able to forgive what he did to her. She used to put me through the story at least twice a year—how when she was pregnant with me her doctor called and told her my father had some kind of disease, and she shouldn’t let him touch her until he got rid of it. It turned out that he had a girl friend on the side, and that’s when she filed for a legal separation. Everyone was surprised, because they had been childhood sweethearts, as the expression goes. It must have been awful for her when she found out about him. She never talks about him now—just how awful men are in general. She’s what the psychologists call fixated on the subject.
    There’s one picture of my mother and father in an album, which is how I like to remember them. He’s wearing a football uniform—a handsome young man—with his arm around her. She’s wearing one of those funny raccoon coats. They’re smiling at each other in a grass field somewhere in Stapleton.
    “I got a run in one of the new stockings last night. I didn’t notice it until I washed them this morning.” I could tell from the way she spoke that it was her way of thanking me for giving them to her. “Where did you get the money for them?”
    “I told you.”
    “Tell me again.”
    “I walked to school a few days instead of taking the bus.”
    “You said you skipped lunch.”
    “And I skipped lunch a couple of times.”
    She mulled that over a few seconds, but she had to get to work on time and couldn’t devote her full energies to interrogating. She always makes me tell the same story over a week or so later to see if I slip up on any details.
    “When I give you money for the bus, you ride the bus. It doesn’t look right for a girl to be walking along the streets.”
    “Yes, Mother.”
    “It looks like you’re trying to get picked up.”
    So, all things considered, it was wonderful getting over to Mr. Pignati’s for a little dash of wine every day.
    “Please don’t bring anything,” the Pigman always pleaded. “Just let me know what you want, and I’ll get it for you.”
    I was surprised to see John break down and start buying his own six-packs of beer. I really was. I had been bringing things like potato chips and pretzels all along simply because I felt funny mooching off Mr. Pignati.
    “We want to bring our own stuff from now on.”
    “Whenever we can,” John added quickly.
    So things were really going along fine until one Sunday night in January when there was a snowstorm—and the Pigman had been to the zoo. John and I got over to the house around eight o’clock and were all set to watch a television show when we noticed Mr. Pignati was sad as all get out. I don’t even want to tell you this part, but one of us has to. It’s very depressing; it really is.
    The minute we walked into the house I knew there was something wrong with him. He looked sick. Just worn out and sick, even though he was trying to smile, and you could tell he was feeling low. I told him to stay in his chair and I’d get the refreshments, and he looked rather grateful for my offer.
    “Bobo wouldn’t eat today,” he said, forcing a weak smile. “I offered him a chocolate bar, and he just let it drop outside the cage.”
    I went out to the kitchen and left John and the Pigman watching some kind of TV spectacular, the theme of which was Hurrah for Hollywood. Everybody was in it, so I knew it was going to be a strenuous bore.
    “Bobo’s getting old….” I heard Mr. Pignati say as I served him a glass of wine. John had a can of beer, and I just didn’t feel like anything at that moment.
    “Who?” John asked, not moving his eyes from the TV screen.
    “Bobo….”
    I sat in a creaky wooden chair near the window, and I could feel a terrible draft. Outside, the snow was falling, and it looked very pretty. There were a lot of pine trees, and the snow was sticking to them. It dawned on me then what a strain it must have been on Mr. Pignati to have trudged all the way down to see the baboon. He had even shoveled the walk outside, which I knew was for us. And just at that moment, for no reason at all, I remembered the old lady at Chambers Street saying “Death is coming.”
    “Anybody hungry?” I asked, going out to the kitchen again without waiting for an answer. I came back with some candy on a plate. All I wanted was to cheer everybody up. The TV was certainly doing the best it could, with a blond starlet singing “Hurrah for Hollywood… La-La-La-De-Dum” as two hundred chorus boys lifted her up into the air.
    “Have a piece of candy?” I asked, offering the plate to John. He was so hypnotized by that starlet he simply reached over and grabbed a piece and stuck it in his mouth without looking. Then a comedian finally told a joke we laughed at.
    “John,” I whispered, “I think right now is a good time.” I got up and turned the TV down and waited for John to start. He looked very nervous over what we had decided to tell the Pigman.
    “Mr. Pignati—”
    “Yes?”
    “Mr. Pignati, there’s something Lorraine and I think we should tell you.”
    Mr. Pignati looked very serious and worried.
    “Just tell him, John.”
    “Well, Mr. Pignati,” he started, taking a big puff on his cigarette, “Lorraine and I have something on our consciences that you ought to know about.”
    “Will you just tell him?”
    He took another puff on his cigarette.
    “You’ve been so nice to us that we want to be honest with you—”
    “Yes?” Mr. Pignati said, sitting forward in his chair.
    “You see, Mr. Pignati, we’re not charity workers.”
    He just stared at us.
    “We’re high-school kids,” John added a little nervously. “We’re sorry we lied to you.”
    The Pigman looked so sad, and it didn’t seem like it was just because of our confession. It looked like there was so much more going on in his mind.
    I couldn’t keep from speaking. “It was a game,” I offered, and I felt myself talking on and on, trying to put things on a lighter level. “We didn’t do it to be mean,” I said at last.
    “No,” John spoke up. “Honest.”
    “We just had to be honest with you because we like you more than anyone we know.”
    Finally we had to stop talking and wait for some response from him. He had turned his head away and seemed to be looking out the window. Perhaps John had been right when he said we should’ve forgotten the whole thing—never mentioned it. Maybe there are some lies you should never admit to. I had told him we had to be truthful, and now I was sorry because I think I knew before the Pigman opened his mouth what he would have to tell us in return.
    “She used to keep the house so clean,” Mr. Pignati muttered, lowering his head.
    I squirmed slightly.
    “Who?”
    “Conchetta….”
    John looked at me and I looked at him. It was the first time the Pigman had mentioned her in months.
    “I had them make a cake—”
    “Pardon me, Mr. Pignati,” I said softly, “a cake?”
    “I had them make a cake… the bakery… for our anniversary.” He wiped his eyes with a wrinkled handkerchief he took from one of his pockets. “Something like our wedding cake was, with a girl in white on top… and a boy.”
    I held my breath.
    “She loved me…” he said. He looked so tired.
    “We loved each other. We didn’t need anyone else.
    She did everything for me. We were each other’s life,” he managed to say and then broke into sobs. He tried to cover his eyes and turn his head so we wouldn’t have to see him like that.
    I couldn’t help thinking about my mother and father—that maybe as simple as Mr. Pignati was, he knew something about love and having fun that other people didn’t. I guess Conchetta had known the secret too.
    Mr. Pignati raised his head slowly and looked at us, tears pouring down his face. John pretended not to notice by watching the television, but I knew he really wasn’t. He might have been thinking about his parents too.
    I went over and put my hand on Mr. Pignati’s. There was nothing else I could think of doing. Tell us, I wanted to say to him, tell us if it’ll make you feel better.
    “She’s dead,” he said, wiping his tears with the large white handkerchief.
    There was a pause, and then John turned to the Pigman. “We’re sorry,” he said, in such a gentle way I wanted to kiss him for it. There was no need to say anything more.
    Hurrah for Hollywood was still blasting away, but now there were two thousand chorus boys swinging the blond into the air. I tried to think of something to say.
    “Have another piece of candy, John?”
    Without looking at the Pigman or me, he reached over and took it.
    “What kind of candy is this?”
    “Chocolate-covered ants.”
    You never saw anybody run faster for the kitchen sink in your life, and at last there was a laugh out of Mr. Pignati. I was so relieved he had laughed that I’d have eaten snails and scungilli or anything else. Ants were nothing. Even the Pigman and I tried one of the chocolates, which tasted a little like candy with crispy rice.
    “You louse!” I heard a call from the kitchen as I stuffed another little square of ants into my mouth. They really were rather tasty.
    John took extra long coming back, and I could hear him getting his roller skates out of the closet in the back room where all the pigs were. I knew he’d have to do something to try to top my little ant joke. So when he came flying into the living room on skates, I laughed it up so he’d feel a little better about my slipping him the insects. Then the Pigman wanted to get in on the act. That’s how the three of us were. If one of us did something that was funny, the other two had to come up with something too. Three copycats. It wasn’t exactly that we had to show off so much as that we wanted to entertain each other. We wanted to show equally how much we were thankful for each other’s company.
    Well, the Pigman passed out pencils and paper, so I knew it was going to be one of those games like how to memorize ten items.
    “Number from one to five.” The Pigman started getting a little bit of the old gleam back. “This is going to tell you what kind of a person you are.” He drew a diagram on a piece of paper and laid it in front of us. I thought he had completely flipped.
    “I’m going to tell you a murder story, and your job is just to listen.” When he drew the skull and wrote “ASSASSIN,” John perked up a little.
    “There is a river with a bridge over it, and a WIFE and her HUSBAND live in a house on one side. The WIFE has a LOVER who lives on the other side of the river, and the only way to get from one side of the river to the other is to walk across the bridge or to ask the BOATMAN to take you.
    “One day the HUSBAND tells his WIFE that he has to be gone all night to handle some business in a faraway town. The WIFE pleads with him to take her with him because she knows if he doesn’t she will be unfaithful to him. The HUSBAND absolutely refuses to take her because she will only be in the way of his important business.
    “So the HUSBAND goes alone. When he is gone, the WIFE goes over the bridge and stays with her LOVER. The night passes, and dawn is almost up when the WIFE leaves because she must get back to her own house before her HUSBAND gets home. She starts to cross the bridge but sees an ASSASSIN waiting for her on the other side, and she knows if she tries to cross, he will murder her. In terror, she runs up the side of the river and asks the BOATMAN to take her across the river, but he wants fifty cents. She has no money, so he refuses to take her.
    “The wife runs back to the LOVER’s house and explains to him what her predicament is and asks him for fifty cents to pay the BOATMAN. The LOVER refuses, telling her it’s her own fault for getting into the situation.
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    As dawn comes up the WIFE is nearly out of her mind and decides to dash across the bridge. When she comes face to face with the ASSASSIN, he takes out a large knife and stabs her until she is dead.”
    “So what?” John asked.
    “Now I want you to write down on the paper I gave you the names of the characters in the order in which you think they were most responsible for the WIFE’s death. Just list WIFE, HUSBAND, LOVER, ASSASSIN, and BOATMAN in the order you think they are most guilty.”
    Mr. Pignati had to explain the whole story over to me again because it was too complicated to get the first time, but I ended up listing the guilty in this order: 1. BOATMAN, 2. HUSBAND, 3. WIFE, 4. LOVER, 5. ASSASSIN.
    John listed them in this order: 1. BOATMAN, 2. LOVER, 3. ASSASSIN, 4. WIFE, 5. HUSBAND.
    “So what?” John repeated.
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    Mr. Pignati started laughing when he looked at our lists. “You both picked the BOATMAN as the one who is most guilty in the death of the woman. Each of the characters is a symbol for something, and you have betrayed what is most important to you in life.”
    Then he wrote down what the different characters represented.
    “Because you picked the BOATMAN as being most guilty, that means you’re both most interested in MAGIC,” he said.
    “I’m glad I picked the boatman,” I said, blushing a little. The order in which John liked things in the world was supposed to be magic, sex, money, fun, and love. The order in which I was supposed to prefer these qualities was magic, love, fun, sex, and money. I thought that was sort of accurate, if you ask me.
    So John and I laughed a lot for the Pigman, making him think we thought the game was two tons of fun. It wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn’t two tons of fun. But he always had to do something to try to top us. The longer he knew us, the more of a kid he became. It was cute in a way.
    After Mr. Pignati finished playing the psychological game with us, John started skating. First he skated just in that hall leading from the dining room to the doorway with the curtains where all the pigs were. But then after a few minutes, he started skating right through the living room while Mr. Pignati and I watched television. Finally he opened the door to the porch so that now he had about fifty feet of nice wooden floor to race on. That looked so attractive I went and put my skates on. Mr. Pignati laughed like anything as we went flying by, and before we knew it he had his skates on and the three of us were zooming right from the porch through the living room and dining room down the hall into the room with the pigs. It was really a scream, particularly when we started playing tag. We were having so much fun I just never thought anyone would hurt himself. I mean, I had forgotten about Mr. Pignati going way down to the zoo in all that snow. I forgot he had shoveled the walk, and I guess for a few minutes I forgot he was so old.
    John got particularly wild at one point when Mr. Pignati was It and there weren’t many obstacles you could skate around on the ground floor except the kitchen table, and that got mundane after awhile. So John was off, running up the stairs to the bedroom with his skates on, and we were all howling with laughter. Clomp! Clomp! What a racket those skates made. And Mr. Pignati started right up after him, puffing like crazy, his face redder than a beet. Clomp! Clomp! Clomp! right up the stairs.
    Suddenly, just a few steps up, Mr. Pignati stopped. He started to gasp for air and turned around to face me at the bottom of the stairs… trying to speak. Only a horrible moan came out.
    “Bet you can’t get me!” John giggled, still clomping up the stairs, not realizing what was going on behind him.
    “Mr. Pignati—” I started, the words catching in my throat.
    “Bet you can’t catch me!”
    The Pigman reached his left hand out to me.
    “What’s the matter?” I yelled.
    He started to double over—his eyes fastened on me—gaping like a fish out of water. Then he pressed his right hand to his chest and fell to the bottom of the stairs.
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Friday, May 11

  1. page 4th hour survey edited Update of Parent Contact Information for grades 9-11 https://www.research.net/s/ZZ6DWM9 Studen…

    Update of Parent Contact Information for grades 9-11
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    Student Accountability for QA for grades 9-11
    https://www.research.net/s/97TTXG5

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    Then I found this bill right in with all the jewelry and junk and her Social Security card, and that’s when I knew Conchetta Pignati was not in California. I knew that where Conchetta Pignati was she was never coming back.
    [[image://pixel.quantserve.com/pixel/p-86fesW604oNxA.gifChapter 8
    His wife’s dead!” John whispered.
    “What?”
    “I just found her funeral bill.”
    A terrible chill ran through me when he said that, because I had been afraid Conchetta was not away on a vacation. I didn’t exactly suspect Mr. Pignati of having murdered her and sealed her body behind a wall in the cellar, but I was suspicious. There was something about the glaze in his eyes when he laughed that disturbed me because I could tell he didn’t really believe his own laughter. It was a nervous type of laughing, the same kind as that of a landlady we once had after her husband died in a dentist’s chair while he was under gas.
    “Did you see the ad in yesterday’s paper?” Mr. Pignati asked, finally coming back with more of the red wine.
    “No.”
    “For sale: Complete set of encyclopedias, never used. Wife knows everything.” And then he let out that laugh again.
    I just couldn’t smile at his joke. I thought it was very sad. I mean, that cute little girl in the ruffled dress had already grown up, gotten married, lived her life, and was underground somewhere. And Mr. Pignati wasn’t able to admit it. That landlady used to think her husband was going to come back one day too, but she died less than two months after him. I’ve always wondered about those cases where a man and wife die within a short time of each other. Sometimes it’s only days. It makes me think that the love between a man and a woman must be the strongest thing in the world.
    But then look at my father and mother, although maybe they didn’t ever really love each other. Maybe that’s why she got the way she is.
    “I found this upstairs.” John smiled, holding a small plastic card. “What is it?”
    The Pigman explained what a charge card was.
    “You mean you just sign your name, and a department store lets you take whatever you want, and you don’t have to pay for it for months?” John asked, wide-eyed.
    Mr. Pignati said he only got the card so his wife could go shopping in the fancy-food delicatessen they’ve got at Beekman’s.
    “She loves delicacies,” he said.
    And I remembered the taste of the scungilli.
    When I got home that night, I thought of them again, but another thought struck me. I realized how many things the Pigman and his wife must have shared—even the fun of preparing food. Good food is supposed to produce good conversation, I’ve heard. I guess it’s no wonder my mother and I never had an interesting conversation when all we eat is canned soup, chop suey, and instant coffee. I think I would have learned how to cook if she had ever encouraged me, but the one time I tried baking a cake she said it tasted horrible and was a waste of money.
    “Did you fix my coffee?”
    “Yes.”
    “This one has sex on the brain. He has only got a couple of months to live, and he’s still got itchy fingers.” I watched my mother powdering her nose at the kitchen table. She leaned forward between sips of coffee, dabbing at her face.
    “The last nurse quit because she couldn’t control his hands. He’s always trying to touch something, but I put a stop to that the first time he tried anything.”
    “Can I make you some eggs?”
    “Don’t bother. I’ll have breakfast at their house. His wife is treating me with kid gloves because they know a nurse isn’t easy to come by—particularly when they’ve got to put up with what I’ve got to. Make yourself something.”
    “I’m not hungry.”
    “Make sure you scrub the kitchen floor today. In fact I’d concentrate on the kitchen. It’s worse than anything else.”
    “We’re out of cleanser. Shall I buy a can?”
    “Wait until I see if I can take one from the job. I think I saw some when I was going through the closets yesterday.” She checked herself in the bathroom mirror and then headed for the door. “Give me a kiss—and lock the doors and windows. Don’t open for anyone, do you hear me?”
    “Yes, Mother.”
    “If a salesman rings the bell, don’t answer it.”
    I watched her waiting on the corner until the bus came. If I strained my neck, I could always catch a glimpse of her standing there in her white uniform and white shoes—and she usually wore a short navy-blue jacket, which looked sort of strange over all that white. As I watched her I remembered all the times she said how hard it was to be a nurse—how bad it was for the legs, how painful the varicose veins were that nurses always got from being on their feet so much. I could see her standing under the street light… just standing there until the bus came. It was easy to feel sorry for her, to see how awful her life was—even to understand a little why she picked on me so. It hadn’t always been like that though.
    But she did pick on me now!
    Lots of times I’d cry myself to sleep, but more and more I felt myself thinking of the Pigman whenever I felt sad. Sometimes just after I put the light out, I’d see his face smiling or his eyes gleaming as he offered me the snails—some little happy detail I thought I had forgotten—and I’d wish my mother were more like him. I’d wish she knew how to have a little fun for a change.
    I got most of the work done in plenty of time for John and me to meet the Pigman down at the Staten Island ferryhouse by eleven thirty that morning. Mr. Pignati said he’d meet us there after he had stopped at the zoo to feed Bobo, which was fine with John. He loves to wait for people in the ferryhouse because all the bums and drunks come over. He really drives them crazy. They’ve got drunks and bums all over the Staten Island ferryhouse, but not half as many as they’ve got on the other side at South Ferry. John makes them tell their whole life story before he’ll give them a nickel.
    This one bum who came over said his name was Dixie. Everybody called him Dixie because he came from the South. Then he told this story about how he used to be a professor at Southern Pines University, but he took some LSD as part of an experimental program and lost his power of concentration. His whole academic life had come to an end because he’d lost his power of concentration.
    I thought of writing a story about him until John told me the same bum had come up to him a month ago and said his name was Confederate. He said they called him that because he was from the South. John said he told an entirely different story—about how he had been taking a speed-reading course and he was reading faster than anybody in the world. He said he used to read so fast he had to buy two copies of every book and cut the pages out and put them on tables around the room, and then he’d run by the pages. That’s how fast he could read. He said he was written up in Scientific American magazine in the January, 1949, issue, and anybody could check it out. He was supposed to have a sister in Marlboro, Vermont, who could do the same thing. And then the tragedy was supposed to have happened. He was running around the room so fast he banged into a table and lost his power of concentration.
    The Pigman got there in time for us to get the eleven forty-five boat to Manhattan. I just had to go along on this trip to Beekman’s Department Store because John has absolutely no control over himself. If I had let him and Mr. Pignati go alone, John would have charged half the store. He wouldn’t have done it to be mean. He just isn’t used to people giving him stuff, and that’s what Mr. Pignati wanted to do.
    When the ferry docked on the other side, we got off on the upper deck, which meant we had to walk down this long, curving ramp that looks like a poor man’s Guggenheim Museum. The subway station is right there, so we went down the stairs and got on the Seventh Avenue Local. When you take the Seventh Avenue Local, you have to switch at Chambers Street for the Seventh Avenue Express. It really can get boring unless you keep your eyes open. There was one woman at Chambers Street who was talking to herself a mile a minute, and I know now it was another omen.
    “Death is coming,” she kept repeating. “God told me death is coming. He calls me his little chatty doll… God’s chatty doll….”
    It’s sort of spooky how when you’re caught talking to God nowadays everybody thinks you’re nuts. They used to call you a prophet.
    We couldn’t get to Thirty-fourth Street quick enough for me, and just as we came up out of the subway, there was Beekman’s—good old Beekman’s.
    Mr. Pignati started getting excited when we got inside with all those Saturday shoppers. You could tell right off he was going to show us around as though he owned the place. He took us right to the fancy-food store on the eighth floor. It was probably the only part of Beekman’s he’d ever been to, and I could just picture Conchetta and him pushing the cart up and down the aisles picking out all that vile food.
    “Wait until you try these frogs’ legs,” he said happily, “with ricotta cheese.”
    I felt sick.
    He also picked out three jars of bean soup, bamboo shoots, fish killies with their heads still on, and a lot of other delicious items.
    “The killies are tasty in bean soup.”
    I guess Conchetta and he had liked the same things.
    “Now you pick out some things you’d like to try.” He smiled at me. John had already picked out a carton of tiger’s milk and a box of chocolate-covered ants. Ugh. Anything to be weird.
    “Please,” Mr. Pignati insisted.
    Just then my eye caught a two-pound can of Love’n Nuts, which is a mixture of pecans, almonds, and popcorn. Right next to it was a large container of Jamboree Juicy Jellies, and before I knew what had happened the Pigman had grabbed them and put them into the shopping cart.
    “I don’t want you spending all that money, Mr. Pignati,” I said.
    “Nonsense,” he insisted.
    But I really didn’t. And still it felt good. No one had ever bought me stuff like this before—something I just liked and didn’t need and didn’t even ask for. Now I knew how John felt because I felt the same way.
    After we finished with the delicatessen department, we went to the fifth floor. We had to cut through women’s underwear to get to the toy department.
    “Hi, doll,” John said to one of the dummies that was wearing only a girdle and a brassiere.
    “Can I help you, sir?” a saleslady with too much makeup and an enormous beehive hairdo wanted to know.
    “I don’t think so,” I said.
    “Nothing for your daughter?” she asked Mr. Pignati. He started to smile.
    “I’m not his daughter,” I blurted out, and the Pigman looked depressed. I didn’t mean to say it as though I would be ashamed to be his daughter, but I guess it just came out that way.
    “I’m his niece,” I quickly offered, returning the smile to Mr. Pignati’s face.
    “Is there something you’d like here?” Mr. Pignati asked, and I knew he meant it. I had no intention of accepting anything more, but I couldn’t help looking around.
    “No, nothing, thank you.”
    “We have some lovely nylon stockings,” the saleslady said, with just the tone to make me embarrassed if I didn’t say yes.
    “Go ahead,” Mr. Pignati urged. “Please.”
    “I’ll take one pair,” I mumbled, and I’m sure my face was stark red.
    “They come in three-pair packages.”
    “We’ll take three pairs,” the Pigman insisted.
    “What size, please?”
    “Eleven.”
    “Eleven?”
    “Yes, ma’am. Eleven,” I repeated.
    “You couldn’t take more than a size seven-and-a-half.”
    “I want size eleven, thank you.”
    “But—”
    “Size eleven.”
    I began to get terrified at what my mother would say when I brought her home three pairs of stockings. I’d have to tell her some girl friend at school bought them by mistake and wanted to sell them cheap or something like that. But then I broke out laughing.
    “Is something funny?” the saleslady inquired, putting her hand up to her beehive.
    “No,” I said, watching John slip a lit cigarette into the hand of the dummy with the girdle and the brassiere.
    The visit to the toy department was something else. I hadn’t been in Beekman’s toy department in years, not since I was three years old and my mother took me to sit on Santa Claus’ lap. It was fun then, but now everything was made out of cheap
    plastic, and you could tell the stuff would break in a minute.
    The one thing that really got my goat was these ships in bottles. They were ships in bottles all right, but the bottles were made out of plastic. They had bottoms so you could open the bottle up and take the ship out whenever you felt like it. I mean, they lost the whole point of having a ship in a bottle. You’re supposed to wonder about how it got in there, not be able to screw the bottom off the thing and take the ship out whenever you feel like it.
    And there was the arsenal of course: guns, pistols, shotguns, slingshots, knives, and swords. It’s no wonder kids grow up to be killers with all that rehearsal. There was enough artillery in Beekman’s toy department to wipe out Red China and the Mau-Mau tribe of Africa, and I personally think some of the toy manufacturers could use a good course in preventative psychiatry.
    “Can we look at the pet shop?” Mr. Pignati asked.
    John groaned.
    “Of course we can,” I said scowling at John.
    “Kitchykitchykitchykoo,” John said, tapping his finger on the side of an aquarium that had two piranha flesh-eating fish in it. One of them darted for his finger and bumped its nose on the glass. Next to them were three little monkeys in a cage that were hugging each other like crazy, and you-know-who stopped to talk to them for half an hour.
    “Bobo… you look just like my little Bobo,” Mr. Pignati was saying, leaning over the counter and waving his hand at one of the poor monkeys that looked like it was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
    “My little Bobo.”
    The three monkeys were hugging each other desperately, and I really had to smile, watching them. Here they were, clinging to each other in the pet shop at Beekman’s, looking out at everybody with those tiny, wet eyes—as though pleading for love. They looked so lonely and sweet just holding on to each other.
    “Aren’t they cute?” I had to say.
    “Bobo… you look like my little Bobo—”
    “Give ’em a piece of popcorn,” John suggested. I offered my can of Love’n Nuts to Mr. Pignati, and he took a couple of pieces.
    “Don’t feed them,” this nasty floorwalker called out.
    “I’m sorry,” Mr. Pignati said, looking embarrassed.
    “Why not?” John had to ask.
    “Because I told you not to, that’s why.”
    Now that’s the kind of logic that really sets John off. That floorwalker could have simply said that monkeys bite or that popcorn is not their natural diet or something like that—but instead he had to think he was a schoolteacher. From that moment on, every time the floorwalker half turned his back John made believe he was throwing popcorn into the monkey cage, and I thought that man was going to go insane.
    “Bobo. Little Bobo….”
    I made the mistake of leaving the two of them alone while I went to the ladies’ room, because when I came out John was yelling, “Hurry up!”
    “What for?”
    “Mr. Pignati’s going to buy us roller skates.”
    “Oh, no, he isn’t. He’s spent enough money on us.”
    “He’s not spending any money,” John corrected. “He’s going to charge them!” He ran ahead and caught up with the Pigman, who was heading for the sports department.
    “How do those fit?” the salesman asked.
    “Mr. Pignati, I don’t think you should buy these.”
    “I used to love roller-skating,” he answered. He looked so happy and funny bending over in his seat, trying to put on one of the skates, that I had to laugh. One part of me was saying “Don’t let this nice old man waste his money,” and the other half was saying “Enjoy it, enjoy doing something absolutely absurd”—something that let me be a child in a way I never could be with my mother, something just silly and absurd and… beautiful.
    “Please let me get them,” Mr. Pignati said, practically asking for my permission.
    “I’ll wear mine,” John told the salesman, a tiny round bald man with spectacles which quickly dropped to the end of his nose as he laced up the skates.
    “Pardon me?”
    John picked up his shoes and plopped them into the box the shoe skates came in. “I said I’m going to wear them.”
    “But you’re on the fifth floor.”
    “She’ll wear hers too.”
    “John, are you crazy?” Just as the words came out of my mouth I could tell from the fallen expression on his face that if I didn’t wear the roller skates, I’d be letting him down. I’d be disappointing him in the main thing that he liked about me. I—and maybe now even the Pigman—were the only ones he knew who could understand that doing something like roller-skating out of Beekman’s was not absolutely crazy. Everything in his home had to have a purpose. There was no one there who could understand doing something just for fun—something crazy—and that was what he’d liked about me from that first day when I laughed on the bus and was just as crazy as he was.
    “I’ll wear mine too,” I sighed, and before long we were rolling toward the escalator—a good number of people staring.
    “Wait for me,” Mr. Pignati yelled, carrying his skates under his arm and laughing along with us.
    All John was doing was opening his arms and in his own way saying: “Look at me, world! Look at my life and energy and how glad I am to be alive!” We must have looked just like three monkeys. The Pigman, John, and me—three funny little monkeys.
    Dear Alice
    by ALICE VANDENBERG
    HE LOVES DOLLS
    DEAR ALICE: My husband and I have just had another violent fight concerning our five-year-old son Timothy, and I desperately need your advice.
    My son adores playing with a doll I bought for him last Xmas. He spends hours with it, putting doll clothes on it and feeding it on doll dishes. This aggravates his father no end, and several other adults have made nasty remarks about it too.
    Personally, I see nothing wrong with Timothy playing with this doll because it is a sailor doll. He puts a cute little white hat and uniform on it and I think the image is totally masculine. Why is it when a little girl plays Cowboys and Indians everyone says she’s a darling little tomboy, but when a boy plays with a doll they say he’s queer? Please answer this.
    WORRIED MOTHER
    Chapter 9
    I cut that “Dear Alice” thing out because it reminded me of Norton, and there are a few other things I’ve got to tell you about him because he gets involved in this memorial epic a little later on.
    Lorraine told you she thinks Norton and I hate each other. It’s true. Norton is so low on the scale of evolution he belongs back in the age of the Cro-Magnon man.
    Norton actually did play with dolls when he was a kid. That was his mother’s fault, just like in that “Dear Alice” column. When he was old enough to know better, he didn’t play with dolls anymore. But the kids used to make cracks about him, so that made him go berserk around the age of ten. He was the only berserk ten-year-old in the neighborhood. From then on he turned tough guy all the way. He was always picking fights and throwing stones and beating up everybody. In fact, he got so tough he used to go around calling the other guys sissies.
    When I was a freshman going through my Bathroom-Bomber complex, Norton was a specialist in the five-finger discount. He used to shoplift everywhere he went. It used to be small-time stuff like costume jewelry for his mother and candy bars and newspapers. Then he got even worse, until now his eyes even drift out of focus when you’re talking to him. He’s the type of guy who could grow up to be a killer.
    Now you can understand why I was suspicious when Norton invited me to the cemetery to have a beer just before Thanksgiving. That was more than a month after Lorraine and I first met the Pigman.
    “How come you’re going over there all the time?” Norton finally blurted out as he opened up a bottle of a putrid brand of beer and made believe he was deeply interested in looking down into one of the glass domes on top of Masterson’s Tomb.
    “Where?”
    He looked me straight in the eye for a second, and then one of his eyes moved away. “You know where—that old guy’s house on Howard Avenue.”
    “Oh him.”
    “Is he queer or something?”
    “He’s just a nice guy.”
    “What’s his house like?”
    “Like?”
    “Has he got anything worth stealing?” Norton clarified, his eyes beginning to get mean and sneaky like an alley cat about to jump on a bird.
    “Naw,” I muttered, throwing a pebble down off the front of the tomb. “All he’s got are some tools and stuff—”
    “Tools?” Norton perked up. “What kind of tools?”
    “Just some electrical junk.”
    “DD’s been asking for a lot of that electric stuff. There’s a big market for electronics, you know.”
    As soon as he mentioned DD I felt like socking him right in the face. I mean, DD is this lunatic man on Richmond Avenue who makes believe he’s the leader of organized crime on Staten Island, but all he handles are the hubcaps and radios that kids steal. King of the kids.
    “Any TV’s or radios?”
    “No,” I said.
    Norton had reached a new peak of ugliness that day with the afternoon sun shining down on him. He paused a minute, then took a sip of his beer.
    “Well, what are you and that screech owl going over there for?”
    “I told you not to call Lorraine a screech owl!”
    “What if I feel like calling her a screech owl?”
    I took a sip of my beer, which was as warm as @#$%, and then looked him straight in the face. I wasn’t scared of him because we were sort of evenly matched.
    “I mean, what would you do about it?” Norton grinned.
    “Oh, probably nothing,” I said, smiling back at him. “Maybe I’d go buy some… marshmallows.”
    The grin on Norton’s face faded away so quickly you’d think I just stuck a knife into him. “You wouldn’t happen to know where I could buy some… marshmallows, would you?” I said, smiling.
    “All right, I’m sorry I called her a screech owl,” Norton said, trying to avoid the unavoidable.
    “You got anything more to say to me?” I said, standing up.
    “Yeah.” Norton nodded slowly and with a return of courage said, “If you don’t give me a little more information about that old goat, maybe Dennis and me will pay a little visit over there ourselves.”
    I yawned and stretched my arms into the air. “Well, I can see this conference is over. Thanks for the beer.” Then I threw my empty bottle way in back of the tomb. I mean, I was really furious by this time, and I started walking down the path from the top and out across the white gravel courtyard.
    “Maybe we’ll pay a visit real soon!” Norton called out, and I turned to see him standing on top of the tomb. I walked a few steps farther so that I was about a hundred yards or so away, and then I spun around.
    “You do that,” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “You do that, you Marshmallow Kid!”
    I knew Norton had to make believe he didn’t hear that last remark because he would have had to run after me and try to bash my head in with a rock otherwise. It’s like paranoia in reverse when people are really calling you insulting things and you deliberately pretend they aren’t.
    But I guess I’m just as screwed up as he is.
    Sometimes I try to figure out why I’m the way I am. Take my drinking for instance.
    “Johnny wants a sip of beer,” Bore used to say in the old days. He got a big kick out of it when I was about ten years old, and I’d go around emptying all the beer glasses lying around the house.
    “That kid’s going to be a real drinker,” he’d say in front of company, and then I’d go through my beer-drinking performance for everybody, and they’d laugh their heads off. It was about the only thing I ever did that got any attention. My brother was the one everybody really liked—Kenny, the smart college kid. The only thing I did better than him was drink beer.
    “A chip off the old block.”
    Some chip.
    When Bore got sclerosis of the liver like Lorraine told you, he stopped drinking, but I didn’t. I don’t think I know exactly what year I noticed it, but then all of a sudden Bore and the Old Lady got old. They didn’t fight anymore. They didn’t do much of anything anymore, which is why I guess I nicknamed them the way I did. They just seemed tired, and I seemed out of place in the house. I had become a disturbing influence, as they say. If I light up a cigarette, all my mother’s really worried about is that I’m going to burn a hole in the rug. If I want a beer, she’s worried I’m not going to rinse the glass out.
    “John, turn your radio down.”
    “John, you’re disturbing your father.”
    “John, you’re disturbing your mother.”
    “John, you’re disturbing the cat.”
    “John, don’t slam the door when you go out; don’t make so much noise on the porch; don’t bang your feet when you walk up the stairs; don’t walk on the kitchen floor—don’t, don’t, don’t.”
    “John, please do whatever you like. Make yourself comfortable. If you want something out of the refrigerator, help yourself. I want you to feel at home.”
    And always with a big smile so you knew he meant it.
    That was the Pigman, and I knew I’d kill Norton if he tried to hurt the old man.
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Thursday, May 10

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    The Oath
    Being of sound mind and body on this 15th day of April in our sophomore year at Franklin High School, let it be known that Lorraine Jensen and John Conlan have decided to record the facts, and only the facts about our experiences with Mr. Angelo Pignati.
    ...
    And when Bobo realized he wasn’t going to get any more peanuts, you should have seen the expression on his face!
    P.S. The answer to the snake quiz is that only statements five and six are true.
    Chapter 6
    Right after we left the Pigman’s, John dragged me down
    7
    I don’t happen
    to Tony’s Market, which is on the cornerbuy all of Victory BoulevardLorraine’s stuff about omens. She talks about me distorting, but look at her. I mean, she thinks she can get away with her subliminal twists by calling them omens, but she doesn’t fool me. The only difference between her fibs and Cebra Avenue. All the kids gomine are that hers are eerie—she’s got a gift for saying things that make you anxious.
    I happen
    to Tony’s because he sells beerhave enjoyed that little trip to anyone and for some reason the police leave him alone. John thinks he pays them off, butzoo even if she didn’t. I think it’s just that old Tony has a nice, friendly face and believes in the old days when they thought a little alcoholit was good for everyone. He’s sort of nice that a father-image withbaboon had a cultural lag.
    “You’re not going to cash
    friend like Mr. Pignati. I’d say that check,” I said. “You can send it back to him in an envelope or tear it up or—”
    “If we don’t cash it, he’ll know something
    baboon was funny@#$% lucky. As a matter of fact, the way the Pigman was treating Lorraine and really call the police,”me you’d have thought he toldliked us as much as Bobo. He bought me with typical John Conlan logic.
    “Who are you kidding?”
    “I mean it. Really.”
    I refused to talk to him for five minutes while I drank
    two cotton-candies-on-a-stick, one bag of peanuts, and a chocolate drink I bought with my own money while John cashed the check andbanana split at this homemade ice-cream palace. Lorraine got a six-packat least four bags of beerpeanuts, one cherry ice-cream cone, and a pack of cigarettes. I just stared at him drinking his beerblack-and-white soda. If you let her, Lorraine would eat until she dropped, and waitedif she keeps going at that rate, I’m afraid she’s going to see how long it would take forbe somewhat more than voluptuous. She could end up just plain fat.
    We finally told
    him to feel guilty.
    “Wouldn’t you love
    call us Lorraine and John because every time he’d say Mr. Wandermeyer I’d forget that was supposed to go to the zoo?”
    “No.”
    “Don’t
    be a killjoy.”
    “Why should we go to the zoo? Do you mind telling me that?”
    “What do you mean why?” He raised his voice, which is typical when
    me. Besides, he needswas harmless—a little crazy—but really harmless.
    Lorraine and I went
    to delay a second because he’s at a loss for his next distortion. “We owe him something after taking ten dollars from him, don’t we?”
    “What did you take
    school the money for in the first place?” I practically screamed.
    John jumped at my outburst
    following day, and then slowly sipped his beer. He smiled and said sweetly, “You’re a little schizo today, aren’t you?”
    I
    we didn’t get homeover to the Pigman’s until that night until after six thirty, and Iaround seven o’clock. That was a little scaredbecause when I found my mother there. She’s a private nurse and was supposed to be working a four-to-twelve shift that night. I never have to worry about finding my fatherwe were heading over there because he left fifteen years ago when they got a legal separation,at three thirty, we ran into Dennis and then he died six years ago, which made it a more permanent separation. As it is, my mother’s enoughNorton who wanted to worry about.
    “Where
    know where we were you?”
    “I went
    going. We made believe we weren’t going anywhere, so we had to go to a drama-club meeting.”
    “Until now?” She fumbled with
    the buttons of her white uniform, which gave me a momentcemetery to think.
    “I had
    have a sodabeer with the kids afterwardsthem. We drink at Stryker’s Luncheonette.”
    “I don’t want you going in there. I told you that.”
    “All
    a special part of the kids go there.”
    “I don’t care what
    cemetery called Masterson’s Tomb. That’s where all the kids do. I don’t wantfamous Mastersons are buried, you know. It’s a fantastic place because they have acres and acres all for their own tomb, and it’s fenced in there. I’ve seen those boys hanging around there, and they’vewith a private road which they only gotopen up when one thing on their minds.”
    My mother’s got
    of the Mastersons dies. But there is a real hang-up about menhole in the fence at one place in the woods, and boys.
    “You didn’t tell me about it yesterday.” She put her faded blue bathrobe over her slip. “My legs hurt.”
    “I’m sorry.”
    “The old fossil had me on
    that’s where all the run fromkids go through.
    The tomb is a great big marble building that’s set in
    the minute I got there.” She started brushing her hair. “At least his worriesside of a hill so only the fancy front sticks out. The columns and everything are over.”
    “Did he die?”
    “Of course he died. I told his daughter two days ago he wasn’t going to last
    nice, but it’s all chained up, so we climb up the week. Put some coffee water on.”
    I was glad to be able to
    side of the hill and get out to the kitchen becauseon top by these two glass domes that let you peek down inside. You can’t actually see anything, but it sure makes me sad to watch my mother brush her hair. My mom is a very pretty woman when she has her long brown hair down, and when she smiles, which is hardly ever. She just doesn’t look the way she sounds, and I often wonder how she got this way. It’s not exactly easy being her daughter, and more than once I’ve thought about what a good psychiatrist could do for her. Actually, Iyou wonder.
    I
    think her problemscemeteries are so deep-rooted she’d need three yearsone of intensive psychoanalysis.
    “I mean
    the old guy’s throat was closing,loveliest places to be—if you’re not dead, of course. The hills and he was bouncing upgreen grass and down in bed for days. If they don’t think I knowflowers are much nicer than what you get when a cancer patient is goingyou’re alive. Sometimes we go there at midnight and hide behind stones to wind up, they’re very much mistaken.”
    “Yes, Mother.”
    “I don’t feel like eating anything. I had a few pieces of roast beef
    scare the @#$% out of their refrigerator, andeach other.
    Once
    I brought home some canned goods I borrowedran away from Lorraine and the pantry. They’ll never miss them. The family has started fighting over his money already. I think there’sothers and hid in a canpart of turkey soup. Why don’t youthe cemetery that didn’t have that?”
    I can’t tell you what she’d do if
    perpetual care. That’s the part where no one pays to keep the grass cut. I ever took anything, but she isn’t even ashamed of what she does. She figures they don’t pay her enough, so she’ll even itwas just lying on my back, looking up her own way.
    She came into
    at the kitchenstars, and opened a jar of instant coffee. I handed her this oversized coffee cupwas so loaded I thought I gave her for her last birthday. It has “MOM” painted in huge letters on one side. She cried when she unwrapped it.
    “Here’s two dollars for your sophomore dues,” she said, putting
    could feel the moneyspin of the earth. All those stars millions of light years away shining down on the table. “That school thinks it’s easy for a womanme—me glued to support a kid by herself—two dollars for this, five dollars for that… twenty-three bucks for a dental certificate!minor planet spinning around its own gigantic sun.
    I stretched out and touched stone.
    I can’t even affordremember pulling my hands back to get myself a pairmy sides, just keeping my eyes on the stars, concentrating on bringing them in and out of nylons.” She pulled her bathrobefocus. “Is there anyone up and moved so quickly toward methere trying to talk to me? Anybody up there?”
    “Anybody down there?” If
    I thought she was going to hit me. “Look at them! There’re so many runs you’d thinklying on somebody’s grave, whoever it was would be six feet away. Maybe there had been a cat chewed them.”
    “I could wait another week to pay the dues.”
    “Pay
    lot of erosion, and whoever it now. Nobody is going to talk about us behind our backs. Besides, I got an extra ten from Solvies.”
    “What?”
    “Solvies
    was was only five feet away… or four. Maybe the undertaker. The family let me call Solvies, and they always slip me an extra ten fortombstone had sunk at the business. How’s the turkey soup?”
    “Fine.”
    “I heard Berdeen’s Funeral Parlor is slipping twenty under the table, so maybe I’ll give them a little business when the next one croaks. As soon
    same rate as this one died I called the Nurses’ Registry, but they won’t have anything for me until the day after tomorrow. Another terminal cancer.” She sat down opposite me at the tableerosion, and lifted the cup to her lips.body was only a foot away below me—or an inch. Maybe if I tried to keepput my eyes onhand through the big painted letters.
    “I think it’d be
    grass, I would feel a good idea if you stayed home from school and cleanedfinger sticking out of the house with me tomorrow.”
    “I have
    dirt—or a Latin test.”
    “Can’t you make it up?”
    “No,” I said quietly, hoping she wouldn’t explode. Sometimes it’s just the way I say one word that gets her going, and she’s so quick with her hand it’s hard to think
    hand. Perhaps both arms of her being gentle to sick people.
    “I can’t go out and earn
    a living and keep this house decent. You’ve got to do something.”
    I blew
    corpse were on a spoonfuleither side of soup. “I didme right at that moment. What could be left? A few bones. The skull. The worms and bacteria had eaten the laundry yesterday.”
    “It’s about time.”
    “And I changed
    rest. Water in the sheets onearth had dissolved parts, and the bed.”
    “You sleep in it too, you know.” I was sorry I
    plants had said anything.
    “Look up
    sucked them up. Maybe one of the telephone numbermolecules of Berdeen’s Funeral Parlor for me and jot it down. I want to have it handy just in case.”
    I put my soup spoon down.
    “Are you sure you can’t stay home tomorrow?”
    “Yes.”
    “I think you could take a year off
    iron from that school and not miss anything.”
    “The test
    the corpse’s hemoglobin is very important.”
    “Yeah, it’s important. Later on
    in life I’m sure you’re goingthe strand of grass next to run around talking Latinmy ear. But the embalmers drain all over the place.”
    I’ve often wondered what she’d say if she
    blood—well, probably not every drop. Nobody does anything perfectly.
    Then I got very sad because I
    knew I wanted to be a writer. Writer!wasn’t really wondering about the guy underneath me, whoever he was. I canwas just hear her.
    After she went
    interested in what was going to bed,happen to me. I called John. His mother answeredthink that’s probably the phone, andreal reason I could tell there was some trouble over there.
    “Do you still want to
    go to the zoo tomorrow?”
    “Yeah.”
    “Well, it’s all right with me,”
    graveyard. I’m not afraid of seeing ghosts. I whispered, keeping one eye on the bedroom door.
    “What made you change your mind?”
    “I just
    think I’m really looking for ghosts. I need a day off. What’s all that yelling in the background?”
    “It’s just the Bore.”
    “What did you do now?”
    He raised his voice. “They’re trying
    want to accuse me of gluing the telephone lock. They don’t trust me around here.”
    “Lorraine!” The voice came from the bedroom. “Who are you talking to?”
    “Jane Appling. I forgot what chapter the Latin test is going
    see them. I’m looking for anything to cover.”
    “Hurry up and finish.”
    “Good-bye, Jane,”
    prove that when I said into the phone.
    The next day
    drop dead there’s a chance I’ll be doing something a little more exciting than decaying.
    Anyway,
    we cut school. That’s easy because this girl by the name of Deanna Deas is in love with Johnfinally got away from Norton and she happensDennis, but it was too late to go over to work in the Dean’s office which gets the cut and absentee cards the teachers send down—if they happenPigman’s—mainly because Lorraine had to remember. So Deanna said she’d fix it up so John and I wouldn’t get anything sent home, although I’ll bet she was sorry she wasn’t cuttinghome to check in with John. Somehow I don’t really think she was jealous. People just don’t get jealousher mother.
    She finally got out
    of me. I’m the typehouse again that night by performing an elaborate ritual about having to go to the boss’s wife would hirelibrary. As for her husband’s secretary. Deanna Deas ismyself, I didn’t have much of a problem.
    “Eat your peas, John,”
    the type the boss’s wife would definitelyOld Lady said, dabbing her mouth with a napkin. “Don’t roll them around.”
    “I’m
    not hire. Sherolling them around.”
    “Your mother said to stop it,” Bore ordered. It was the first thing he’d said to me during dinner, and
    even bleaches her hair.
    John
    though it wasn’t the warmest remark, I could tell he had calledgiven up prosecuting the Pigman and made arrangements for us to meet him in frontcase of the zoo at ten o’clock inphantom gluer.
    “Your father sold over three hundred lots today,”
    the morning. We didn’t want to be seen walking around our neighborhood with him, but the zooOld Lady said, like she was far enough away so we knew we’d be safe once we got there.
    John and I arrived around nine thirty and sat down
    patting a cocker spaniel on the benches athead. Bore has a seat on the entrance. The sea-lion pool is right there,Coffee Exchange, and if he sells more than two hundred lots in a day, he’s in a good mood. Anything less than that kept John busy while I was combing my hair and polishing my Ben Franklin sunglasses. I don’t wear all crazy clothes,there’s trouble.
    “It was like pulling teeth,” Bore returned, slightly embarrassed
    but I dopleased with the praise. He cut deep into the steak on his plate. “Wait until you start working, John.”
    “I have to get the dessert,” the Old Lady said, violently polishing a teaspoon and dashing out to the kitchen. She always gets terrified if it looks
    like my Ben Franklin sunglasses because everyone looks at me whenfather and I wear them. I usedare going to have any type of discussion. A suitable pause occurred after Hyper left the room, and then he started in.
    “I think your problem is you have too much spare time.”
    “That’s an interesting point of view.”
    “Don’t
    be afraidfresh. I was thinking maybe you’d like to have people lookwork with me over at me, but ever sincethe Exchange a few days a week. Just after school?”
    I almost choked on a mouthful of yams when he said that.
    I met John I seemmean, I’ve been over to wear little things that make them look. He wears phony nosesthe Exchange and moustachesseen all the screaming and things like that. He’s even gotbarking Bore has to do just to earn a big pin that says “MY, YOU’RE UGLY,”few bucks, and if he wears that once in awhile.
    I really didn’t want
    thought I was going to go to the zoo. I don’t like seeing all those animals and birds and fish behind bars and glass just so a lothave any part of people can stare at them. And I particularly hatethat madhouse, he had another thought coming.
    “It’d be better than
    the Baron Park Zoo because the attendants thereway you waste all your time now. After all, what are not intelligent. They really aren’t. The thing that madeyou going to do in life?”
    “I’m thinking of becoming an actor.”
    “Don’t be a jackass.”
    “You asked
    me stopwhat I’m going to do, and I told you.”
    “Your brother is doing very well at
    the zooExchange. He makes a fine living, and there’s still room for you. I’ve only got a few years ago was the way one attendant fed the sea lions. He climbed up on the big diving platform in the middle of the poolleft, and unimaginatively just droppedsomebody has to take over.”
    “Kenny will.”
    “The business can be half yours, and you know it. I can’t take
    the fish into the water.strain much longer.”
    Every time he says that,
    I mean, if you’re goingget a little sick to feed sea lions, you’remy stomach because I know it’s true. He’s almost sixty years old, and I know he’s not supposedgoing to plopbe around much longer. All the food intoguys at the tank. You can tell by the expressions on their faces that the sea lions are saying thingsExchange drop dead of heart attacks. They gather around this circle and bellow out bids all day long, like “Don’t dumpMexicans at a bullfight.
    “Pass me
    the fish in!”
    “Pick the fish up one by one and throw them into the air so we can chase after them.”
    “Throw the fish in different parts of the tank!”
    “Let’s have fun!”
    “Make
    butter, please.”
    “Just
    a game outcouple of it!”
    If my mother had ever let
    hours a day. You could help me haveclose out the accounts. Even a dog,dummy can learn how to do that.”
    “Yes,
    I thinkcould—”
    “An actor?” Bore blurted, as if
    it would have beenfinally got through to him. “Thank God Kenneth isn’t a lunatic.”
    “Dad, it’s
    the happiest dog on earth.only thing I’m really interested in doing. I know just how the minds of animals work—just the kind of games they likewant to play. The closestgo to acting school right after graduation. Everyone says that’s what I ever cameshould be, with my imagination—”
    “Try eating your imagination when you’re hungry sometime.”
    “I just don’t want
    to havingwear a pet wassuit every day and carry an old mongrel that usedattaché case and ride a subway. I want to hang aroundbe me. Just me. Not a phony in the neighborhood.crowd.”
    “Who’s asking you to be a phony?”
    “You are.”
    “I’m asking you to try working for a change. At your age
    I thought there was nothing wrong with sitting on the front steps and petting him, but my mother called the ASPCA, and I know they killed him.
    At ten o’clock sharp, Mr. Pignati arrived.
    “Hi!” he said. His smile stretched clear across his face. “Hope I’m
    working hard, not late?”
    “Right
    floundering around in a fool’s dream world.”
    “Do you both want whipped cream and nuts
    on time, Mr. Pignati. Right on time,” John answered.
    I felt sorry for
    your strawberry whirl?” The Old Lady stood at the old man because people just don’t go around smiling likekitchen door, wiping forks a mile a minute. I should have said nothing, but it was a conditioned reflex.
    “Do you mean real whipped cream or
    that allhorrible, prepared-mix, fake whipped cream?”
    “Don’t give
    the time unless they’re mentally unbalanced or harboring extreme anxiety.
    “What’ll it
    ingrate anything.”
    “He’s only joking.”
    The Hyper was off again.
    There was a terrible pause.
    “I apologize.”
    “One of these days it’ll
    be first? Peanuts? Soda? The Snake Building?” He sounded so excited you’d have thought we had just landed on Venus.
    I should have just left there and then because I knew things were
    too late to apologize. Your mother isn’t going to get involved. I realize now there were plentybe around forever either, you know. When she’s dead, you’re going to wish to God you’d been nicer to her. Mark my words.” He sliced another piece of bad omens withinsteak and groaned when the next few minutes. If I’d had halfknife wouldn’t go through a brain, I’d have Pogo-sticked it right outbit of there.
    The first was a woman selling peanuts.
    gristle.
    “Oh Dad, can’t you see all
    I went upwant to her and said, “Ido is be individualistic?”
    “Don’t worry about that.”
    “I
    want four bags of peanuts.”
    “How many bags?” she said.
    “Four bags.”
    “Well, why didn’t
    to be me.”
    “Who’s asking
    you say so?”
    I mean, that’s how antagonistic she was. A real devoted antagonist. You could tell she hated kids—just hated them.
    not to be?”
    “You are.”
    “I am not.
    I don’t know whether one of the requirements of dealing with kids is thatwant you have to hate them to begin with, or whether workinggo along with kids makesthe crowd. I want you hate them, but one way or another it worksto be your own man. Stand out that way—except with people likein your own way.”
    “You do?”
    “Of course I do. Take your plate out to
    the Cricket, and she doesn’t really know what we’re like.
    That was the first omen.
    kitchen.”
    “Just give me a little longer to find out who
    I should have left right onam,” I said, heading for the spot.
    Then I
    kitchen door while the getting was attacked by a peacock. This low-IQ peacock came tearinggood.
    “Be yourself! Be individualistic!” he called
    after me as soon as it heard me open my bagme. “But for God’s sake get your hair cut. You look like an oddball.”
    “How nice
    of peanuts. They let them run around loose at Baron Park Zoo, and this white one opened up all its feathers and started dancing in frontyou to remember to bring your plate out,” the Old Lady said, squirting some whipped cream out of me and backing me up against a fence.
    “Just offer it a peanut.” The Pigman was grinning. “He likes you. Ha, ha.”
    The third omen that this was
    can. “Are you going to behave dessert?”
    “No, Mom.”
    She looked me over carefully, checking for any clues as to what mood I left Bore in.
    “Your father’s
    a bad day was when we went into the nocturnal room of the Mammal Building. The whole room is pretty dark so you can see these animals that only come out at night, like owls and pottos and cute little vampire bats.tired tonight. Maybe you’d better go over to a friend’s house to do your homework? I had never seen this nocturnal room before,mean he’s worked hard, and I almost went into shock when I gotdon’t think we should aggravate him, do you?”
    “No, Mom.”
    “Would you like
    a look at the vampire bats. They had some explanatory pictures next to their glass cage that showed a couple of bats sucking the blood out of wine?” Mr. Pignati offered, straightening up a horse’s neck whilefew things in the horseliving room. It was sleeping.
    But that wasn’t the part that
    great how happy he was the third omen.to see us. I mean,can’t remember Bore, or my mother either for that exhibitmatter, ever looking happy to see me, let alone when I came into the house with
    a friend.
    “That
    would have been there on any day. It was this child thatbe pleasant,” Lorraine said.
    “This is a great house you’ve got,”
    I thought was an omen—a little kid about ten years old who was sitting right up onsaid. “It’s well… interesting.”
    He beamed.
    “Come on, and I’ll show you around,” he said, smiling to beat the band.
    He took us through
    the railingdownstairs part, and leaning against the glass ofless you know about that the bat cage. Only he wasn’t looking atbetter. The first time we were there we saw the bats. He was looking at youhallway when youwe came to look atin and the bats. And when I came upstairs that went to the cage to see these ugly blood-sucking creatures, I had to look right into this little kid’s faceupper floor—and the living room that had a smirk on it. He made me feel as though I was a bat in a cage and hereally lived in. There was also this dining room affair with the kind of furniture you see everybody put out on the outside lookingstreet for the Sanitation Department in at me. It all made me very nervous.
    But Mr. Pignati just loved
    the nocturnal room, andspring.
    Then on
    the only one who loved it moreother side there was John. John likes thingsa door leading to a porchlike room that looked like king vultures and alligators. He was even excitedsomeone had tried to fix it up so it could be lived in but had failed. And the snake house. As far as snakes go, I think once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. So I let him andonly other thing on the Pigman go on running around while I took this snake quiz thatfirst floor was on a lighted sign. They had ten statementskitchen, and youthat’s where we stopped because Lorraine was hungry. I mean, we were really making ourselves at home there after awhile. At first we had just stood around, bashful about touching his things. We’d walk over to pick out which ones were false.
    1) All poisonous snakes have triangular-shaped heads.
    2) Some snakes have stingers in their tails.
    3) You can tell
    a rattlesnake’s agebookcase and touch a book and stroll by a table and admire the number of rattles it has.
    4) Milk snakes will milk
    handle on a farmer’s cow.
    5) Large snakes can live for more than a year without food.
    6) Snakes cannot close their eyes.
    7) Coachwhip snakes will whip people.
    8) Some snakes can roll
    drawer. But in fifteen minutes we were laughing with the Pigman like it was a hoop to overtake their victim.
    9) A horsehair rope will keep snakes away from a campfire.
    10) Snakes can hypnotize their prey.
    I mean,
    treasure hunt, and he kept smiling and saying, “Just make yourself at home. You just go right ahead and make yourself at home.” But it was not exactlyreally all a depth quiz.lot of junk. The most interesting thing I found was right on every one of them. Just in case you’re trying to take it, I won’t put down whicha table drawer full of old Popular Mechanics magazine, and the statements are false untilmost interesting thing Lorraine found was the endicebox.
    “Try some
    of this chapter.
    Anyway, after seeing Galapagos tortoises, reticulated pythons, and puff adders, the Pigman dragged us over to the Primate Building, more popularly known as the monkey house.
    “I want you to meet Bobo.”
    “Bobo?” Even John’s eyes widened.
    “My best friend,”
    this,” Mr. Pignati explained.
    We stopped
    insisted, holding up a bowl of little roundish things that looked as if they were in front of a cage with bars, only about three feet from where we stood. Let me tell you, Bobo could have usedspaghetti sauce.
    “Ummmm!” Lorraine muttered as she stuffed
    a good spray deodorant. A little door was open at the back of the cage, and apparently Bobo was in the inner part where they get fed.
    “Bobo?”
    few into her mouth. “What are they?”
    “Scungilli,”
    the Pigman called out sweetly.
    John looked at me
    said. “They’re like snails.”
    “May I use your bathroom?” Lorraine asked her face turning stark white.
    “Right upstairs.”
    Mr. Pignati
    and I looked at him and he rolled his eyes upwent into his head.
    “Bobo? Come out and say hello!”
    At last Bobo decided to make an appearance. He was
    the ugliest, most vicious-looking baboon I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean a real baboon. And there’s the Pigman, the smiling Pigman, leaningroom with all the way overpigs, and I started lifting the guardrail, tossing peanutsbigger ones to see what country they were made in.
    You could hear Lorraine upstairs for about five minutes. When she came downstairs, she had
    this mean baboon. Mr. Pignati would take a peanut, hold it uppicture in the air, and say, “Bobo wanther hands.
    “Who’s this?”
    There was
    a peanut?” And Bobo would show these monstrous teeth that looked like dentures when they don’t quite fit, andpause. Then the beast would grunt and swoon and move its headsmile faded off the Pigman’s face. He took the picture from side to side. “Uggga. Uggga!”
    Mr. Pignati was throwing peanuts right
    her and left. About every third one would hitmoved over to the barsstuffed armchair and fall where the baboonsat down.
    “My wife Conchetta,” he said, “in her confirmation dress.”
    “Conchetta?” Lorraine repeated nervously. We both knew something was wrong but
    couldn’t reachput our finger on it. Sometimes Bobo would catchI got the peanut like a baseball. And the expressions on both their faces got to be upsetting. Johnidea that maybe his wife had gotten bored with Boborun off to California and moved downleft him. I mean, you couldn’t blame her when you stop to the next cagethink that hadher husband’s idea of a gorilla. Hebig time was imitating Tarzanto go to the zoo and going AaaaaaaaayaaaaaaaaaH!—which I don’t thinkfeed a baboon.
    “She liked that picture because of the dress,” he went on. “It
    was the most original performance that gorilla hadonly picture she ever seen. Can you imagine what gorillas must think after beingliked of herself.”
    He got up and put it
    in a zoo a few yearsthe table drawer where all those old Popular Mechanics books were, and hearing practically every boy who comeswhen he turned around, his eyes looked like he was going to start crying. Suddenly he forced a smile and said, “Go upstairs and look around while I get you some wine. Please feel at them go AaaaaaaayaaaaaaaaH? If that isn’t enough to give an animal paranoia,home, please….”
    Then he went down the hall toward the kitchen.
    “What else is up there?”
    I whispered to Lorraine.
    “I
    don’t know what is.
    It
    know.”
    I decided to take a look, but frankly there wasn’t much to look at. At the top of the stairs
    was obviousthis plain old bathroom with a shower curtain that Mr. Pignatihad all kinds of fish designs on it.
    When I opened the door on the left, I got a little bit scared because there
    was going to visit awhileone of those adjustable desk lamps with Bobo, and John and I felta long neck that made it look like we were intruding.
    “Miss Truman and I are going
    a bird about to getattack. I put the light on though, and the touring car,” John finally announced.
    “Yes….” Mr. Pignati muttered, tossing another peanut to Bobo.
    “Mr. Pignati, we’ll meet
    room was a huge bore. The ceiling slanted on the far side, and there was only one window. It was okay if you back here in twenty minutes.” I wanted to make sure he understood.
    “I’ll be right here with Bobo—”
    “I’m sure you will,” John added
    keep somebody as we went outthe Prisoner of the monkey house and got on this mechanical contraption that came by. ItZenda, but it looked like a train, androtten place to work. All it had five cars with rubber wheels becausewas this big desk made by taking a thick piece of plywood and laying it didn’t run onover two wooden horses, and a track. It only went about four miles an hour,bookcase with blueprints and stuff in it, and it’s a good thing because this blond-haired boy drivingbig oscilloscope, with its guts hanging out, in the thingcorner. There were three old TV sets too, but they looked like hethey didn’t quite know what he was doing.
    I was getting full about this time because
    even work.
    Then
    I had eaten more peanuts than Bobo, so I just sat back and watchedwent into the landscape drift by. We passedroom on the bald eagle (which is alsoright of the nickname forhall. It was a bedroom—much neater than the principalrest of our high school), the white-tailed deer, tahr goats, three white-bearded gnu, lions inhouse—and it had a pit, one otter, a black leopard, a striped hyena (“a raiderlot of graves”), two cheetahs that were fighting, four Bengal tigers,drawers and things to go through.
    The bedroom had
    a Kodiak bear, an American bear, a polar bear, two hippos (“which secrete a fluid the color of bloodcloset too, so I started with that. There were all over their body”), an eight-ton bull elephant,kinds of dresses in it, and a giant anteater.
    By
    lacy ladies’ coats, and hats that time we were almost back tolooked like they must have been the Primate Building, so we jumped offpurple rage at the tiny train and watchedturn of the alligators being fed. They were intenth century. It was a big outdoor pool, and two attendants were throwing huge chunksloss; it really was. And let me tell you, this room was a little nerve-racking too. It had a double bed with a cover made of millions of meatruffles, and bone right at them. They ate the bones and all. It really made me feelway the pillows were laid out, it looked like gagging.there might be a dead body underneath. I mean, I just don’t see any point in having animals likechecked that running around on earth.out right away, but there were only pillows. Then I think God goofedfound one drawer in the dresser bureau that department, if you ask me.
    When we got back to Mr. Pignati, he
    had a fresh supplylot of peanutspapers in it.
    There were some pictures,
    and was still chuckingI looked at them over to Bobo, who kept flashing his dentures at him. Then John decided to strikequickly. Also there were some bills and old letters and things tied up a conversation with the gorilla. Only the gorilla started to make these terrifying noises, and John started to make believe he was a monkeyputrid ribbon and began screaming back atthen—sort of funny—this little pamphlet caught my eye. It was called WHAT EVERY FAMILY SHOULD KNOW. That’s all there was on the gorilla. I joined in finallycover, and got this pair of chimpanzees going. “Uggauggaboo” I told them, and they knew right away it was a game.really had my curiosity up, so I opened it. The very first page gave me the creeps.
    I ditched that quick enough, but one thought Mr. Pignati was going to blow his top with allstruck me about that nonsense going on because at first he just looked at us,dumb high school I go to. They think they’re so smart giving the kids garbage like Johnny Tremain and Giants in the Earth and Macbeth, but do you know, I don’t meanthink there’s a single kid in that whole joint who would know what to do if somebody dropped dead.
    In the same drawer there was a leather case
    with a smile.
    Then I heard this “Uggauggaboo,”
    broken thingamajig to close it, and I’ll be darned if it wasn’t Mr. Pignati starting in. And before you knew it, all threehad jewelry in it—a lot of us were going Uggauggaboo,junky women’s jewelry that looked like it was made out of paste and we had Bobo, two chimps, and the gorilla worked up into such a tizzystuff. I thought the roofmean, that wife of his—Mr. Pignati’s wife—looked like she didn’t take anything with her to California. All those clothes in the monkey housecloset. But how was goingI supposed to fall in.
    “I’ll miss you, Bobo,” Mr. Pignati said as we were leaving.
    And when Bobo realized he wasn’t going
    know? Maybe she went to get any more peanuts, youvisit the Pigman’s sister in a nudist camp or something. They do anything in California—crazy religions and that kind of thing.
    {http://dev.epubbud.com/uploads/9/8/7/9873123/images/The_Pigman___Zindel__Paul_epub/00005.jpg}
    What
    should be done first?
    Who is our Funeral Director?
    Do we
    have seen the expression on his face!
    P.S. The answer
    a cemetery preference?
    Are there any organizations or friends
    to invite?
    What kind and type of casket?
    Do we have money for
    the snake quizexpense?
    If so, where? How much?
    If not, where
    is that only statements fivethe money to come from:
    Veterans’ benefits?
    Social Security?
    Insurance?
    These,
    and sixmany more, are true.the questions that are asked when the time comes. Peace of mind will be yours if you follow this booklet.
    If you need more than one book, just call the Silver Lake Company, and we will forward it at once.
    {http://dev.epubbud.com/uploads/9/8/7/9873123/images/The_Pigman___Zindel__Paul_epub/00006.jpg}
    Then I found this bill right in with all the jewelry and junk and her Social Security card, and that’s when I knew Conchetta Pignati was not in California. I knew that where Conchetta Pignati was she was never coming back.
    [[image://pixel.quantserve.com/pixel/p-86fesW604oNxA.gif width="1" height="1" caption="Quantcast"]]

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    8:59 am

Wednesday, May 9

  1. page The Pigman Quizzes edited ... 4. Give 5 details about John? 5. Give 5 details about Lorianne? Chapter 3- 5 Quiz 1. What …
    ...
    4. Give 5 details about John?
    5. Give 5 details about Lorianne?
    Chapter 3- 5 Quiz
    1. What street does Mr. Pignati live on?
    2. How much money did Mr. Pignati promise to donate?
    3. What does Mr. Pignati collect and why?
    4. How did Mr. Pignati pay John and Lorianne?
    5. Where does Mr. Pignati want to take John and Lorianne?

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    11:22 am

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