Mark LaMonda

My big brother Frankie says "Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. ...and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus," and slams the carved wooden statue of the Virgin Mary down on our formica table top, smashing a grape.

"You smooshed the grape," I squeal.

"I've demolished it," he replies.

The statue was purchased on my parent's once-in-a-lifetime trip to Rome. Purchased in the Rome Marriott gift shop. Purchased by Mom for Mom.

Frankie does it again, making farting noises with his over-sized mouth just as the grape is disemboweled. I'm so excited I practically wet my pants.

"Wait, wait. No more. No more. Wait 'till I get back."

But with thumb and forefinger he delicately places another grape on the table, a priest presenting the host. He goes down on one knee for a quiet moment of prayer.

"Dominicus, republico, Omni-anus," he sings.

Our father liked to sing when we sat down to dinner. Sing as soon as my mother filled her mouth with potato. Sing until she would smile, laugh, choke, and spit chewed up potato into her napkin.

I go down on both knees jostling the pee in me. I reach down and adjust myself as though I might be able to make more room for the inevitable.

"Rise," my brother hums. He kisses the top of the virgin, then slowly raising the statue above his head -- slams it down.


"Time out. Time out," I say laughing and running to the bathroom.
I pee with the door open, crying out into the next room. "Don't smoosh any grapes while I'm gone."

"Demolish," he yells back. "I demolish grapes."

I know Mom has told Frankie that he has to take care of me now that Dad is dead. I know that Frankie will always do his best.

Holy Mary, mother of God. Pray for us sinners. Now and until the hour of our death. Amen.