Page 32, “The Persuasion”
“I was lucky in a way. If it had happened to, say, Red Bird, she would have had a nervous breakdown. But I wasn’t exactly surprised. Shocked but not surprised if that makes sense. I always figured I'd end up an orphan after my father.”
Tonin put his hand to his mouth, looked off to the left and then to the right, as if he were trying to decide which direction to go.
“So what was the minute-by-minute?”
No one had ever asked.
He wanted to know how I got the news that my mother was dead—the dean had pulled me out of English class, taken me back to her office, and hinted around, using words like “very ill,” “hospital,” and “pack something black” until I figured it out; how I got back to school after the funeral—my mother’s best friend, Rose, rented a car and drove me from Brooklyn, not leaving until we’d unpacked my suitcase, I’d brushed my teeth, and she had actually tucked me into bed; who paid for my education—my mother was such a careful planner that there was enough money, if I could maintain my academic scholarships, for both boarding school and college, after which she figured I’d be able to support myself; and whether I’d lived with Rose after she’d died.
Her will had specified my guardians, her twin sister and brother-in-law, Julia and Irving, Upper West Siders with no children, and that in the event they disagreed—my mother knew them well—over decisions regarding my life, Rose would make the call.