There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up
forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me --- not forever, but
Morelli and I were both born and raised in a blue-collar chunk of
Trenton called the burg. Houses were attached and narrow. Yards
were small. Cars were American. The people were mostly Italian
descent, with enough Hungarians and Germans thrown into offset
inbreeding. It was a good place to buy calzone or play the numbers.
And. if you had to live in Trenton anyway, it was an okay place to
raise a family.
When I was a kid I didn't ordinarily play with Joseph Morelli. He
lived two blocks over and was two years older. "Stay away from
those Morelli boys," my mother had warned me. "They're wild. I hear
stories about the things they do to girls when they get them
"What kind of things?" I'd eagerly asked.
"You don't want to know," my mother had answered. "Terrible things.
Things that aren't nice."
From that point on, I viewed Joseph Morelli with a combination of
terror and prurient curiosity that bordered on awe. Two weeks
later, at the age of six, with quaking knees and a squishy stomach,
I followed Morelli into his father's garage on the promise of
learning a new game.
The Morelli garage hunkered detached and snubbed at teh edge of
their lot. It was a sorry affair, lit by a single shaft of light
filtering through a grime-coated window. Its air wa