Schirripa: NICKY DEUCE: HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
The sky was gray. The trees were bare. Winter had come to Carrington.
Nicholas Borelli II, also known as Nicky Deuce, stared out at the dim afternoon as the smell of his mother’s lentil soup rose through the house like a fog. It would be dinnertime soon.
Nicky sighed. Nothing interesting had happened that day. Nothing interesting would happen the next day. He closed his math book and went downstairs to eat.
Over dinner, his parents exchanged concerned looks.
“Nicholas, your mother and I have been talking,” his father said. “You miss Brooklyn, don’t you?”
Nicky said, “Kind of.”
“You miss Grandma Tutti, and Uncle Frankie. And your friend Tommy?”
“Yeah. We had fun this summer,” Nicky said.
His father nodded. “You’re not having much fun now, are you?”
“I have fun,” Nicky said. “Sometimes . . .”
“You haven’t been to the skate park or the bike park in weeks,” his mother said. “I haven’t even seen you drawing.”
It was true. He hadn’t sketched anything in ages. Nothing seemed interesting enough to sketch.
“And you haven’t been eating, ever since you came back from New York,” his mother said. “Look! You’ve hardly touched your lentils!”
Nicky stared at the bowl of brown mush in front of him.
“So we’ve been thinking,” his father said. “How about spending Christmas and New Year’s with Grandma Tutti, and Uncle Frankie?”
Nicky beamed. “I get to go back to Brooklyn?”
“Better than that,” his mother said. “They’re coming to visit you!”
“Uncle Frankie and Grandma Tutti in Carrington?”
“And Tommy, too, if his mother says it’s all right,” Nicky’s mother added. “Isn’t that a good idea?”
A good idea? It was a great idea. Nicky said, “Yeah! Wow.”
“We’ve got it all worked out,” his father said. “Grandma Tutti and Uncle Frankie will come before Christmas. Tommy will come on Christmas, and all the guys from the old neighborhood will come right after that. We’ll throw them all a giant party on New Year’s Day.”
“Wow,” Nicky said again. “Which guys?”
“All of them!” his father said. “Jimmy, Oscar, Bobby, Charlie and Sallie.”
“Maybe with his daughter, Donna,” his mother added, and winked at his father.
“So,” his father said, “what do you think?”
“Wow,” Nicky said again, and dashed off to his room. “Yes!”
“Nicholas!” his mother called. “You haven’t finished your lentils!”
Nicky flipped open his laptop and began IM’ing his pals.
chk it out, he typed. my dad’s throwing a huge new yrs party. grandma tutti and my uncle frankie and my friend tommy from brooklyn are coming + all frankie’s goomba friends. SO GOOD!
Three IMs came back right away. The first said, remind me, wuts a goomba?
Nicky sighed. There was going to be a lot of explaining to do.
The previous summer, Nicky had thought he was going to camp. But the sewage system there had blown up, so his parents had sent him to Brooklyn to stay with Grandma Tutti. He hadn’t wanted to go. His grandmother was nice, but . . . Brooklyn?
Then he had gotten there, and so much had happened so fast that Nicky didn’t even remember it all. Nicky and Tommy had snuck into the movies, gone into business with a con man, and found themselves with a bootleg copy of BlackPlanet Two—the hottest computer game in the world—months before it was in stores. Then they’d been kidnapped by gangsters. Just when it had looked like they were doomed, Uncle Frankie had busted in and saved the day. An incredible adventure—all true.
The entire time, Nicky had thought his uncle was a gangster. Uncle Frankie kept weird hours and hung out with guys with names like “Jimmy the Iceman,” “Oscar the Undertaker,” “Charlie Cement” and “Sallie the Butcher.” People on the street treated Frankie with respect, like he was a Mafia godfather or something.
It had turned out he was an undercover police detective. He’d rescued Nicky and Tommy and put the kidnappers in jail.
In other words, it had been the greatest summer of Nicky’s life. Everything since had seemed dull and boring.
Until now. Suddenly Christmas and New Year’s in Carrington looked pretty exciting.
For the next three weeks, the Borelli household was alive with activity. Day and night, delivery trucks and repair vans went up and down their quiet tree-lined street, past the rolling lawns and curving drives, past the elegant old Cape Cods with their rooftop observation decks, and the newer brick and stone colonials with their four-car garages.
Nicky’s parents were busy preparing for the holiday season. His father arranged to rent a nearby bed-and- breakfast for his pals and their families. His mother arranged to have the living room painted. His father hired a caterer and a valet parking service. His mother hired a florist and had invitations printed.
As the holiday neared, Mr. Borelli’s driver, Clarence, helped by picking up and dropping off packages of wine and liquor and party decorations. He spent an entire weekend hanging Christmas lights on the front of the house.
Clarence even spent an afternoon taking Nicky to do his Christmas shopping, first at the shops on Main Street and then at the mall by the interstate. Nicky was a good shopper. He had his own debit card and knew what he wanted. He bought a new terry cloth robe for his mother. He bought a black cashmere scarf for Grandma Tutti. For his father he got a tracksuit, sort of like the ones Uncle Frankie’s goomba pals wore in Brooklyn. He bought Tommy a Super Phat Trux skateboard.
When Clarence went to get the car, Nicky sneaked back into the mall and bought a pair of leather driving gloves he’d seen Clarence admiring while they’d bought his father’s tracksuit. Nicky put the gloves in the bottom of the skateboard bag so that Clarence wouldn’t see them.
Most of the other holiday preparations went on without him. He was busy with his schoolwork—or he was supposed to be. Every time he said, “Can I help?” his mother answered, “After you finish your schoolwork.” But he never finished his schoolwork. There was always another chapter of English to read, or another math problem to do, or another science test to prepare for.
Because his parents had been kind enough to buy him a PSP, an Xbox 360 and an iPod, Nicky felt obliged to spend a certain amount of time each day using those things. Some days there just wasn’t any time left to finish studying.
Besides, he had to keep up with his friends. With IM’ing and talking on the telephone and posting on his MySpace page, Nicky kept busy. One night, he scanned a drawing of Grandma Tutti and a newspaper article about Uncle Frankie and posted them to three of his friends. Within an hour, he had IMs from Chad and Jordan—kewl, dude, i like cops, Jordan wrote—and a phone call from his friend Noah.
“Your uncle looks like a gangster,” Noah said.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Nicky Deuce: Home for the Holidays by Steven R. Schirripa and Charles Fleming. Copyright © 2006 by Steve Schirripa. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.