them for a bit before pulling an empty pizza box out of a nearby trashcan and curling up on the floor to gnaw at it.
Ronny looked at me in amazement.
“He ate mine first!”
I gave a thumbs-up, even though I couldn’t remember which dish had
“Shit,” Ronny said, writing in his notebook. “Think of the uses.”
Ronny laughed and drummed on my head with his pen as if he ex-
pected a hollow sound, but he had to think for a while before he could
come up with an example.
“You could put it on dog medicine,” he said finally, then invited me tofollow him back to his room.
The wood-paneled hall was dark and empty except for a single bookcase with each of its shelves covered in decorative shot glasses. Aboveit was a framed poster of a topless woman in rawhide boots. She waswearing a Native American headdress but holding her arms out as if shewere on a surfboard. I hadn’t seen any evidence of Ronny’s mom in thehouse, and the presence of this poster seemed like confirmation that shehad little to do with the daily lives of the Trezzo men.
In Ronny’s room there was a mattress on the floor and a card table with a folding chair. The floor was covered with library books, theirspines all bearing call numbers and the name of the branch. They hadtitles like A Student’s Primer in Biology and Beginning Topics in Chemistry. Ronny had bookmarked and dogeared them to the point wheremany of them couldn’t close. There must have been forty of them.
“How many books does the library let you take out at a time?”
“They’ve got a window in the bathroom,” Ronny said. “You just take
whatever you want in there and chuck it outside.”
He told me to take a seat at the card table and placed a bowl in front
of me with a raw potato in it. He rattled around in a toolbox and then
handed me a bottle of lighter fluid. He also gave me a pen and notepad,
instructing me to drip the lighter fluid on the potato a little bit at a time
and write down any observations.
After observing me to make sure I was dripping the lighter fluid correctly, he sat on his mattress with a plastic bin of cleaning supplies andan ashtray. He would pick up a bottle, read the list of ingredients on theback of it, and pour a little into the ashtray to light it with a match. Hetook notes whenever the liquid caught fire and conscientiously wiped