The big black Lincoln Navigator rolled slowly down Bath Avenue. A group of teenage boys playing
stickball in the street stopped their game and stared. The huge SUV had smoked black windows
and, one of the boys saw through the windshield, a uniformed black driver.
"Hey--it's a limo!" the boy shouted.
The ragtag group of boys circled the car. They pressed their hands and faces against the windows
and stared inside.
"What's the big idea, breaking up our game?" one of them shouted.
"Hey, mister, who's the celebrity?" another yelled.
"Open up and let us see!" a third said.
Soon the boys were banging their hands on the side of the SUV and chanting, "Open up and let us
see! Open up and let us see!"
The Navigator came to a stop at the curb. Then the driver's-side door swung open. The uniformed
driver, menacing in his mirrored sunglasses and chauffeur's hat, said, "All right, boys. Back
The crowd of boys went silent--for a second--and then began chanting again. The driver scowled
and studied the numbers on the houses.
In the back of the Navigator sat twelve-year-old Nicholas Borelli II. He was pale and thin and
wore khaki pants, a polo shirt and a dark blue sports coat with a school emblem over the pocket.
He watched the chanting boys with dread. He'd been right all along: he did not want to go to
He was supposed to be at Camp Wannameka. The night before he was to leave, though, there'd been
a phone call. Nicholas was in his room at home in the leafy suburb of Carrington, New Jersey,
packing his things in a duffel bag. In went the swimsuit, the sunscreen, the snorkel, the
digital camera, the Game Boy, the cell phone and his pencils and sketch pad--filled with
drawings of his camp friends at play. Noah at the archery range. Chad and Jordan in a canoe.
Noah and Chad and Jordan after a lacrosse match.
The next morning his father's man, Clarence, would drive him two hours north into upstate New
York. For three weeks, Nicholas would run, swim, sail, fish, canoe and drink watery fruit juice.
But then the phone rang. Nicholas strained to hear what was being said. He went downstairs. He
found his parents in the kitchen. They wouldn't look him in the eye.
"There's been an accident at Camp Wannameka," his father said. "An explosion in the septic
system. The entire camp is knee-deep in, uh, sewage. Camp is canceled."
"Camp Wannameka is knee-deep in crapola?" Nicholas said.
"Nicholas!" his mother exclaimed.
"Sorry," he said. "Are you going to cancel your cruise?"
"We're leaving tomorrow morning, just as scheduled," Nicholas' father said. "You're going to
spend the next couple of weeks with your grandmother."
"Grandma Tutti is coming here?"
"You're going to stay with her, Nicholas," his mother said. "Clarence will drive you to New
York. To . . . Brooklyn."
Brooklyn! Brooklyn? Nobody went to Brooklyn! Brooklyn was the place where his father had grown
up. Brooklyn was full of Italians--the people his father called goombas. Brooklyn was the place
his father hated most in the world.
"Forget it," Nicholas said, and ran to his room. "I'm not going."
But here he was. Nicholas looked through the smoked black windows, past the chanting boys. The
street was lined with three-story brick buildings. Some of them had businesses on the ground
floor and apartments above. Nicholas could see a butcher shop, and a candy store, and a dry
cleaner. Music came from open windows. The heat was stifling.
Clarence opened the back door and pulled out Nicholas' duffel bag.
One of the boys said, "He's coming out!"
Another said, "Somebody call the newspapers!"
Another said, "Somebody get the red carpet!"
Nicholas stepped onto the street.
One of the boys said, "Hey, it's nobody!"
Another said, "It's just some rich kid!"
"Hey, rich kid! Gimme ten bucks!"
The boys crowded around. Clarence put his arm around Nicholas' shoulders. The boys started
chanting, "Gimme ten bucks! Gimme ten bucks!"
Then a voice said, "You boys! Stop it!" and the crowd went silent.
Nicholas' grandmother was on the street. She was short and compact and dressed in a black cotton
housedress, and she was carrying a long wooden spoon.
"You, Tommy! You, Angelo! Get away from here before I call your mothers."
The boys scattered. Nicholas' grandmother smiled and opened her arms. She said, "Nicky! Caro
mio!" and gave him a huge hug. "I'm so glad you're here. Come inside. Who's the African?"
"The airline pilot. With the bags."
"That's Clarence, Grandma. He's Dad's driver."
"Ask him if he wants to come inside," she said, and then shouted, "Do-you-want-to-come-inside?"
"Mr. Borelli instructed me to--"
"Capito," Grandma Tutti said with finality. "Just bring the bags."
It was five steps up the broad concrete stoop, through a short hallway, then into a dark, cool
apartment that smelled like bread, garlic and old people. Nicholas' grandmother said, "Your room
is at the end of the hall, on the left. Put the bags in there."
Nicholas followed Clarence to a room with a single bed and a small desk. On the walls were
posters and pictures and sports pennants. Nicholas stared at a black-and-white photograph of two
young men. One was a husky kid wearing a baseball uniform and cap. The other was a thin, nerdy-
looking kid wearing glasses and a sports coat.
"Clarence, look! It's Dad."
Clarence peered at the picture and whistled. "So it is. I bet this is your dad's old room."
Nicholas' grandmother was waiting with her purse. She said, "How much do we owe you?"
"Nothing at all, ma'am. Mr. Borelli said--well, goodbye, Nicholas. Good luck."
Clarence shook Nicholas' hand gravely, bowed to Nicholas' grandmother and left them.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from Nicky Deuce: Welcome to the Family by Steven R. Schirripa and Charles Fleming. Copyright © 2005 by Steve Schirripa. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, 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.