Movie tie-in edition of Tim McLoughlin's best-selling debut novel. (Film title: The Narrows.)
Big Lou's gangster brother, Tony, vouches for Michael, so he gets away with much in a neighborhood where one's local standing is the only real currency. Michael has recently entered into strange territory by enrolling in night college classes across the river in Manhattan. Having been raised by his widower father never to reveal himself to strangers, he winds up in an awkward position when he finds himself attracted to a college girl named Kathy. Just as he is about to learn something about the outside world, however, Nicky robs Tony's club and is killed, and Michael is sucked into turf battles on his home territory.
McLoughlin, a Brooklyn native who works in the Brooklyn court system, powerfully describes the bonds between Michael and his father, whose background is gradually revealed as Michael implicates him further in his own criminal bunglings. The novel's greatest achievement is its tender depiction of Michael as a would-be tough guy, trying to follow his father's dictum of "Give them nothing," while undergoing a painful education in the real world.
- Akashic Books
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- Barnes & Noble
- NOOK Book
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- 1 MB
Read an Excerpt
I was showered, shaved, and dressed for my night out when Lou turned the corner and stopped in front of my building. He awkwardly slid over and I got behind the wheel. There was a mountain of a guy in the backseat whom I didn�t know. Lou introduced him as Edward and he grunted at me. I smiled as politely as I could.
"We got one more stop," Lou said. �Pass by the store.�
When I pulled up, Little Joey strutted out and climbed in the back with Edward. Joey and I looked at each other with equal surprise.
"Lou," I said, "what the fuck's going on here? Am I driving you somewhere or are we having a reunion?"
�I asked you to do me a favor,� he said. He didn�t look at me or Joey. �You gonna do it or you gonna ask questions?"
"No questions," I said. "But please drop the Don Corleone. You sound silly."
Lou grinned, but then looked back to see Edward�s reaction. He was looking out the window as if he were alone in the car. Edward definitely had me worried.
Following Lou's directions, I drove under the El tracks along New Utrecht Avenue to Sixty-second Street. We parked across from the subway station, in front of the mouth of an alley that ran between a deli and a video store. Every shop on the block was closed and the place looked deserted. I glanced back at Joey and realized he was frightened. He looked like a dwarf next to Edward.
Lou told me to cut the lights. We sat that way, in silence in the dark, for about fifteen minutes. Then two people turned the corner from Sixty-third Street and walked down New Utrecht towards us. They looked completely bombed, weaving and tripping and mostly leaning against each other to stay upright. As they drew closer I saw that one of them was Shades. The other looked like a hippie, with long hair pulled back in a ponytail. When they were next to the car the rear door opened and Edward got out. I tried to say something then, but I couldn't. I felt like one of Edward�s huge hands had my throat squeezed shut. The guy walking with Nicky suddenly straightened up and veered away from him. Nicky practically collapsed into Edward's arms. The hippie walked over to the car. Lou handed him an envelope and he turned and ran back to Sixty-third and out of sight. Edward was walking Nicky down the alley. Lou got out of the car and stuck his head back in the window.
"Joey, I want you to walk around the block to Fourteenth Avenue. You stand at that end a' the alley. Nobody comes down the alley, you unnerstan'?"
Joey stepped out of the car and began walking around the corner. After he�d gone a few feet he started running. Lou turned to me.
"Keep the motor running. Lights off. Keep your eyes open. Hit the horn twice if there's trouble."
As he was turning away I tried to talk again. My throat still hurt and his name came out in a stage whisper. He turned back.
"I know, kid. You gotta be on the road by ten-thirty."
He walked to the back of the car and opened the trunk. I thought for a moment they were going to throw Shades in, but when I looked down the alley, Nicky and Edward were disappearing behind a dumpster. Nicky seemed to be talking to him. They looked like old friends. Lou slammed the trunk. He walked down to them with something bulky under his coat. They all moved out of sight around the bin.
I wanted to move, but I couldn't seem to take my hands off the steering wheel. There wasn't anything I could do, I told myself. I was a driver. I couldn't stop them.
Overhead, I heard the roar of the B train approaching from downtown. It passed and continued south to Coney Island. I closed my eyes and tried to will myself onto it. Nathan's, chili dogs, whorehouses. As the sound faded, I thought I heard another screaming that lasted a few seconds longer than the wheels on the rail marking the turn at Fifteenth Avenue. I looked down the alley, but saw nothing. I hoped I was mistaken.
About five minutes later Lou stepped out and trotted to the car. He was getting in next to me when I saw a flash of light--fire flaring from behind the dumpster. Its glow framed the mammoth shape of Edward as he plodded down the alley toward us.
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