By Richard Valeriote
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A bittersweet description of an historic kinfolk condominium in an enchanted atmosphere, and of growing to be up with a broken brother. "Sublimely evocative. "—The New Yorker. William Fiennes spent his adolescence in a moated fort, definitely the right setting for a kid with a brimming mind's eye. it's a condominium alive with heritage, good looks, and secret, however the younger boy starting to be up in it really is both in awe of his brother Richard.
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Extra resources for Alice Street: A Memoir
Richie, what in God’s name is all this stomping around. ” Another ﬁre truck wailed past on the street below. She walked over to the window and bent over to peer out. “What’s happening with all this commotion? ” “Nothing. ” My face and neck burned. She ﬂashed me a frown, then went back downstairs. I sat in the attic, hugging my knees, my stomach churning. I was in the biggest trouble of my life. I was the condemned man waiting for the clang of the prison door that signaled the guards had come to drag me off to the guillotine.
I worried that there was an axe awaiting me, but none ever fell. I received my ﬁresafety lecture, but beyond that it seemed I had been found innocent of malice, and guilty only of good-intentioned, childish bumbling. The incident was never spoken of again and it would be forty years before I learned why, serendipitously. On a visit home, I ran into a cousin who was an insurance agent in town. We chatted and he happened to bring up the garage ﬁre, lowering his voice in a conspiratorial tone. Even after all those years, my shame was so close to the surface that I braced myself for a reprimand.
I was dumbstruck. I’d never met any of my grandparents, and I felt no obligation to give up that chocolate rabbit. But I kept my selﬁsh thoughts to myself and watched in wistful silence as she put it in a empty cloth sugar bag, sewed it shut, and packed My Second Encounter with Death / 31 it in a box with paper to keep it from being broken. The parcel was then mailed to Italy. I consoled myself that it was God’s will that I should never enjoy so much as a nibble of that rabbit. But in a twist of fate, it was apparently also God’s will that my ninety-nine-year-old grandfather would eat too much of the chocolate, suffer an adverse reaction, and die shortly thereafter.