20. Reactions

MARIA AND SERAFINO blamed themselves.

“Why didn’t I listen to her?” Maria cried. “She was trying to tell me something. She knew. How did she know? Why didn’t I listen?”

“It’s my fault,” Serafino sobbed. “I never should’ve let a man like that live here. I should’ve known better. It’s my fault.”

No guns were allowed in the Di Gregorio home after the accident, but the damage had been done in more ways than one. The accidental firing of the gun tore away at more than just the Di Gregorio family and their circle of boarders. The accidental firing of the gun tore away at the fabric of the entire community. People reacted to the freak accident in freakish ways.

The mother of the teenage girl from Farindola snapped at Maria: “You didn’t have to get blood on my broom!”

Some of the kids from Lehigh Row taunted the Di Gregorio girls: “Your brother killed your sister! Your brother killed your sister!”

Some of the kids taunted Raffaello, too. “Look!” they pointed at him. “The little murderer!”

Leonata promptly beat them up, each punch of a heartless neighbor an outlet of her own grief.

The tragedy was the type of thing for which none of the families on Lehigh Row could have been prepared. Adults and children alike behaved bizarrely, as if all their fundamental assumptions about one another and about life in America had been suddenly stripped away, leaving the immigrant families with only shock and horror.