Note: Hey readers, this is just something I wanted to add. It would take place between chapters 11 and 12. I sort of changed the point of view here to first person. It isn't a huge deal, but it is a change, so I thought I should warn you. Also there is A LOT of swearing in this chapter, but when you see the extra character in here, you will understand that it is fitting! Thank you to all of my readers. Anyone who wants to leave a review will be greatly appreciated. Thanks again!
Someone once said somethin' to the effect of 'day by day nothin' changes much, but then one day you look up and everything's different.' Well, ain't that the truth. We were in the final countdown to Thanksgiving and the album was coming along beautifully. Things were so good in fact that Tommy dragged me out golfing this morning and now was treating me to dinner. Tommy treating anyone to anything is a miracle in itself.
The album and golfing aside, things were lookin' good for me too. All I could say was it was about fuckin' time. Silvio and Nina have been very supportive, and said that however I wanted to proceed was fine. I took a long weekend with the kids, all three of them, over Halloween. We went up to the city, saw a show, did some shopping and ate our way through Manhattan. In the middle of all the sightseeing and food, I explained everything except Margie. I told them that They could continue calling Silvio and Nina mom and dad, but I was here for them and would love to be as involved in their lives as they would have me as a extra dad or uncle.
The kids were pretty shocked. Patti has always been pretty laid back so I immediately became second dad to her. Bobby needed some time to think things through, but he understood. He wants to still call me Uncle Bobby for now. I told him that was fine. I was just happy he didn't have a fit. He also wants to see where Margie is buried. I told him, I could take him when we got back home. Gina, my little fireball didn't want to hear anything from me, and said she would talk to Nina when she got home. From Saturday evening on, she refused to speak to me. That hurt a little, but I am trying to be understanding.
So now we were back in Jersey, counting down the days to Thanksgiving and relaxing a bit. Everything seemed to be the same, just like the good old days. Little Joey's movie had just wrapped and he was home for the holidays with his mother. Well, that is what Tommy heard anyways. I wasn't surprised when Tommy suggested Joey join us for dinner. That is where we first noticed how much had really changed.
Tommy and I were settled in the booth, sipping on some wine while we waited for Joey to arrive. I didn't see him approach, but I think the whole restaurant heard him when he reached our table.
"Da fuck is this Tommy?" Joe asked, rounding the corner into the booth we'd already secured. "Halloween?"
"I haven't seen you in a year and this is the hello I get," Tommy chuckled. "Asshole."
Well of course it's good to fucking see you again, but geez." the waitress approached the table. "Hey Sweetheart, bring me a glass of…what the hell are you twos drinking?"
"Fontodi Chianti," I spoke up.
"Bring me a glass of that, no, make it a bottle."
"Alright and can I interest you all in an appetizer?"
"Yeah, you better get us an antipasti plate. Tommy are you fucking eating at all? You're fuckin skin and bones."
"I'll have these right out to you," The waitress murmured and hurried off to the kitchen.
"Nicky, is he eating?" Joey asked again.
"I'm eating Joey," Tommy assured his friend uncomfortably.
"I hardly recognized you sittin there," Joey continued. "If it wasn't for Nick, I wouldn't have recognized you. What the fuck is going on? You're balding faster than your old man and white hair to boot."
"Joey, I've got cancer, and it's really taken a lot outta me. I am sorry I didn't warn you, or tell you sooner." Tommy explained briefly.
"I guess we just hadn't noticed how drastic the change has been," I added. It would be startling to see Tommy looking the way he did. A year ago, he'd been a tad on the heavy side, a full head of dark hair and full of life. I suddenly felt like I was seeing Tommy for the first time through Joey's eyes.
"Yeah, well, geez Tommy…" Joey trailed off. "I'm sorry to hear you got cancer. It looks like it's pretty bad too."
"Yeah, things aren't lookin' too good for me right now, but you know me Joey," Tommy smirked. "You know I always call the shots."
"You sure do Tommy," Joey agreed a little softer. He leaned back as the waitress set his glass and the extra bottle of wine on the table.
"So tell us what you can about your movie," I asked, trying to get onto a lighter subject.
"It's called Raging Bull," Joey pours himself a glass and sips at it. "It's about a boxer and his life. I can't really tell you much more. Best directing job I've ever seen though. Martin Scorsese is fuckin' brilliant."
"Sounds good," Tommy nodded encouragingly.
"Yeah, can't wait to see it," I agreed whole heartedly. I always loved a good action flick.
"Hey Nicky, I heard Margie was in an accident, sorry to hear about that. I wish I coulda been back for the funeral. Was it nice?" Joey suddenly blurted out.
"Oh uh, thanks," I shifted uncomfortably.
"It was a beautiful service," Tommy quickly jumped in. "Had a good crowd there and lots of nice flowers. A good lunch afterwards at Silvio's." It was scary how good Tommy was at lying. The "funeral" was small. There was a priest, Nina, Silvio, the kids, me, the guys and their families and that was it. Silvio did fix a nice lunch though.
We fell into a silence and everything felt awkward all of the sudden. I didn't want to talk about Margie, Joey couldn't talk about his movie and Tommy didn't want to talk about his cancer. Where did that leave us. Did we have anything to talk about besides the good old days? Apparently not.
"Remember the old bowling alley days," Tommy grinned wistfully.
"Yeah," Joey scoffed. "Seems like ages ago."
"During those days I don't think you and I were both outta jail for more than a few days," I laughed.
"You know," Tommy mused as he swirled his wine around his glass. "We worked so hard back then, but life was so much easier then."
"I know what you mean," Joey nodded. "Nicky, you were the high flying man back then."
"Hey," Tommy and I both scoffed.
"What am I now," I demanded kindly, "chopped liver?"
"I thought I was the big man." Tommy replied indignantly.
"You always think you're the big man," Joey and I both spoke at the same time.
"Eh, can't argue with the truth," Tommy puffed his chest out a bit.
I just rolled my eyes, but Joey laid in to Tommy.
"Tommy, you remember how you treated everyone then, You were an asshole."
"I know Joey, I know," Tommy sighed deeply. "I was an asshole, and I owe you a huge apology. You didn't have to put up with the shit I put you through. You are a good man Joey."
"I…well…yeah, okay," Joey stammered, a bit surprised at Tommy's lack of fight. "Nicky?" Joey turned to me in shock.
"He's learning his lessons," I gave a slight nod. "He's finally found some humility and a dose of maturity in the past couple of years."
"Not too much maturity though," Tommy interjected.
"Don't worry Tommy," I grinned. "When you're fifty two and eatin' Cap'n Crunch for breakfast, no one will accuse you of being too mature."
"It's the only cereal that doesn't make me sick," Tommy argued back. Never mind that I had to run back to the club house after the fourth hole." he murmured.
"You said you just wanted to get some more tees," I nearly exploded. "I told you I didn't want to go out if you weren't feeling well."
"The fresh air does me good," Tommy snapped back.
"You two still sound like an old married couple," Joey shook his head laughing. "Let's order already, we'll be through two bottles of wine before our food even gets here. I know that isn't a problem for Nicky, but I need to eat a little with my grappa."
I shot Joey a nasty look, but was able to acknowledge the truth in what he said. We picked up the menus and continued a pleasant evening with friends. Who knew it would be the last time Tommy would ever see Joey again? Not us.