How many fish?
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The Missing Fish. By Jerry Vilhotti.

The second course consisted of white fish and cod filets, both covered with tomatoes, onions and garlic, strewn chunks of lightly burnt crusted Italian bread, broccoli rape, roasted potatoes fully browned, shrimp bathed in a red fiery hot sauce and lettuce with onions drenched in vinegar and a bit of olive oil - the too much vinegar that should have been outnumbered two to one by the olive oil - brought on the initial hits to the father's head by his very own hand.

The first course of linguine with clams, a deep dish of bacalla that was smothered beneath broccoli and lastly octopi copulating with sardines swimming in a deep olive oil lake - had gone well.

After the completion of all the eating, the father began tapping his forehead with a fork handle; blinking slightly after each hit as if contemplating something missing.

He wanted everything to be perfect in honoring the feast of seven fishes - even ignoring spilling by the little ones; not going into a mini rage; biting the side of his hand.

Like a thunderbolt from Zeus - it hit him!

"Where was the seventh fish?" he said as he tried very hard not to look at the visitor, "Mamasu", the word he semi invented to identify his wife's mother which in the Appian way kind of dialect meant "her mother".

Mamasu had been deposited by the father's brother-in-law, whose face he had changed during a ten minute fist fight when they were young men after the four year younger Deo had told the guy with a reputation worse than the Sultan of Swats The Bambino himself that he was not allowed to see his sister, who said he had business in New Haven teaching a guy, who might have been his half brother from the family his father had created years before naming all his USA children after the ones he left behind in the Mezzogiorno, on Wooster Avenue how to make real New York City pizza and would be back in a few hours.

That was said the day before Christ and Johnny, his favorite child, were born - Christmas Eve!

"If it was up your ass you'd know it!" This was said by Mamasu around seven in the evening of Christmas Eve.

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