He was the only guy in our gang who would never take a drink, even to show he had, you know, big balls. He said he wasn’t going to grow up to be a fucking tosspot like his old man. And he told me once privately–this was after the DeSpain twins showed up with a six-pack they’d hawked from their old man and everybody teased Chris because he wouldn’t take a beer or even a swallow–that he was scared to drink. He said his father never got his nose all the way out of the bottle anymore, and his older brother had been drunk out of his tits when he raped that girl, and that Eyeball was always guzzling Purple Jesuses with Ace Merrill and Charlie Hogan and Billy Tessio. What, he asked me, did I think his chances of letting go of the bottle would be once he picked it up? Maybe you think that’s funny, a twelve-year-old worrying that he might be an incipient alcoholic, but it wasn’t funny to Chris. Not at all. He’d thought about the possibility a lot. He’d had occasion to.