THERE WERE-THERE still are-good markets for both sawlogs and pulpwood over the Canadian border. The north country of New Hampshire continues to feed wood in huge quantities to paper mills in New Hampshire and Maine, and to a furniture mill in Vermont. But of the logging camps, as they used to be, mere tumbledown evidence remains.

In a town like Twisted River, only the weather wouldn’t change. From the sluice dam at the bottom of Little Dummer Pond to the basin below Twisted River, a persistent fog or mist lay suspended above the violent water until midmorning-in all seasons, except when the river was frozen. From the sawmills, the keen whine of the blades was both as familiar and expected as the songs of birds, though neither the sounds of sawing nor the birdsongs were as reliable as the fact that there was never any spring weather in that part of New Hampshire-except for the regrettable period of time from early April till the middle of May, which was distinguished by frozen, slowly thawing mud.

Yet the cook had stayed, and there were few in Twisted River who knew why. There were fewer who knew why he’d come in the first place, and from where or when. But his limp had a history, of which everyone was aware. In a sawmill or logging-camp kind of town, a limp like Dominic Baciagalupo’s was not uncommon. When logs of any size were set in motion, an ankle could get crushed. Even when he wasn’t walking, it was obvious that the boot on the cook’s maimed foot was two sizes bigger than the one he wore on his good foot-and when he was either sitting down or standing still, his bigger boot pointed the wrong way. To those knowledgeable souls in the settlement of Twisted River, such an injury could have come from any number of logging accidents.

Dominic had been pretending to be a teenager; in his own estimation, he was not as green as Angel Pope, but he was “green enough,” as the cook would tell his son. He’d had an after-school job on the loading platforms at one of the big mills in Berlin, where a friend of Dominic’s absent father was a foreman. Until World War II, the supposed friend of Dominic’s dad was a fixture there, but the cook remembered so-called Uncle Umberto as an alcoholic who repeatedly bad-mouthed Dominic’s mom. (Even after the accident, Dominic Baciagalupo was never contacted by his absconding father, and “Uncle” Umberto not once proved himself as a family friend.)

There was a load of hardwood sawlogs on the log deck-mostly maple and birch. Young Dominic was using a peavey, rolling the logs into the mill, when a bunch of logs rolled all at once and he couldn’t get out of their way. He was only twelve in 1936; he handled a peavey with a rakish confidence. Dominic had been the same age as his son was now; the cook would never have allowed his beloved Daniel on a log deck, not even if the boy had been ambidextrous with a peavey. And in Dominic’s case, when he had been knocked down by the logs, the hinged hook of his own peavey was driven into his left thigh, like a fishhook without the barb, and his left ankle was crunched sideways-it was shattered and mangled under the weight of the wood. From the peavey wound, he was in no danger of bleeding to death, but one could always die of blood poisoning in those days. From the ankle injury, he might have died of gangrene later-or, more likely, had the left foot amputated, if not the entire leg.

There were no X-rays in Coos County in 1936. The medical authorities in Berlin were disinclined to undertake any fancy reassembly of a crushed ankle; in such cases, little or no surgery was recommended. It was a wait-and- see category of accident: Either the blood vessels were mashed flat and there would be a subsequent loss of circulation-then the doctors would have to cut the foot off-or the broken and displaced bits of the ankle would fuse together and heal every which way, and Dominic Baciagalupo would walk with a limp and be in pain for the rest of his life. (That would turn out to be the case.)

There was also the scar where the peavey had hooked him, which resembled the bite wound of a small, peculiar animal-one with a curved, solitary tooth and a mouth that wasn’t big enough to enclose the twelve-year- old’s thigh. And even before he took a step, the angle of Dominic’s left foot indicated a sharp left turn; the toes were aimed in a sideways direction. People often noticed the deformed shape of the ankle and the misdirected foot before they saw the limp.

One thing was certain: Young Dominic wouldn’t be a logger. You need your balance for that kind of work. And the mills were where he’d been injured-not to mention that his runaway father’s drunken “friend” was a foreman there. The mills were not in Dominic Baciagalupo’s future, either.

“Hey, Baciagalupo!” Uncle Umberto had often hailed him. “You may have a Neapolitan name, but you hang around like a Sicilian.”

“I am Sicilian,” Dominic would dutifully say; his mother seemed inordinately proud of it, the boy thought.

“Yeah, well, your name is napolitano,” Umberto told him.

“After my dad, I suppose,” young Dominic ventured to guess.

“Your dad was no Baciagalupo,” Uncle Umberto informed him. “Ask Nunzi where your name came from-she gave it to you.”

The twelve-year-old didn’t like it when Umberto, who clearly disliked Dominic’s mother, called her “Nunzi”-an affectionate family nickname, shortened from Annunziata-which Umberto didn’t say affectionately at all. (In a play, or in a film, the audience would have had no trouble recognizing Umberto as a minor character; yet the best actor to play Umberto would be one who always believed he was cast in a major role.)

“And you’re not really my uncle, I suppose?” Dominic inquired of Umberto.

“Ask your mama,” Umberto said. “If she wanted to keep you siciliano, she shoulda given you her name.”

His mother’s maiden name was Saetta-she was very proud of the sigh-AY-tah, as she pronounced the Sicilian name, and of all the Saettas Dominic had heard her speak of when she chose to talk about her heritage.

Annunziata was reluctant to speak of Dominic’s heritage at all. What little the boy had gleaned-bits of information, or misinformation-had been gathered slowly and insufficiently, like the partial evidence, the incomplete clues, in the increasingly popular board game of young Dan’s childhood, one the cook and Ketchum played with the boy, and sometimes Jane joined them. (Was it Colonel Mustard in the kitchen with the candlestick, or had the murder been committed by Miss Scarlet in the ballroom with the revolver?)

All young Dominic knew was that his father, a Neapolitan, had abandoned the pregnant Annunziata Saetta in Boston; he was rumored to have taken a boat back to Naples. To the question “Where is he now?” (which the boy had asked his mother, many times), Annunziata would shrug and sigh, and looking either to Heaven or in the direction of the exhaust vent above her kitchen stove, she would say mysteriously to her son: “Vicino di Napoli.” “In the vicinity of Naples,” young Dominic had guessed. With the help of an atlas, and because the boy had heard his mother murmur the names of two hill towns (and provinces) in the vicinity of Naples in her sleep-Benevento and Avellino-Dominic had concluded that his dad had fled to that region of Italy.

As for Umberto, he was clearly not an uncle-and definitely a “legendary asshole,” as Ketchum would have said.

“What kind of name is Umberto?” Dominic had asked the foreman.

“From da king!” Umberto had answered indignantly.

“I mean it’s a Neapolitan name, right?” the boy had asked.

“What are you questioning me for? You da twelve-year-old, pretending to be sixteen!” Umberto cried.

“You told me to say I was sixteen,” Dominic reminded the foreman.

“Look, you gotta job, Baciagalupo,” Umberto had said.

Then the logs rolled, and Dominic became a cook. His mother, a Sicilian-born Italian-American transported by an unwanted pregnancy from Boston’s North End to Berlin, New Hampshire, could cook. She’d left the city and had moved to the north country when Gennaro Capodilupo had slipped away to the docks off Atlantic Avenue and Commercial Street, leaving her with child as he sailed (figuratively, if not literally) “back to Naples.”

Asshole (if not Uncle) Umberto was right: Dominic’s dad was no Baciagalupo. The absconding father was a Capodilupo-cah-poh-dee-LEW-poh, as Annunziata told her son, meant “Head of the Wolf.” What was the unwed mother to do? “For the lies he told, your father should have been a Boccadalupo!” she said to Dominic. This meant “Mouth of the Wolf,” the boy would learn-a fitting name for Asshole Umberto, young Dominic often thought. “But you, Angelu-you are my kiss of the wolf!” his mom said.

In an effort to legitimize him, and because his mother had a highhanded love of words, she would not name Dominic a head of (or a mouth of) the wolf; for Annunziata Saetta, only a kiss of the wolf would do. It should have

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