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While Babak drove, he listened to the hip-hop radio station. As he approached the worksite, he spotted Navid gesturing madly at a group of sweaty workers, the end of an apparent rant that culminated in Navid removing his helmet and throwing it at the wall near where the workers were standing. Where had his son learned this behavior? Atefeh had always said, perhaps somewhat sadly, that Navid had turned out just like his father. But it wasn't true! Babak had tried to fit in with the workers, had made a constant effort to stay popular.
"What took you so long?" Navid said, getting into the car. "I'll take a cab if I can't rely on the elderly."
That night, Atefeh filled a pipe with marijuana and flipped on a local news network. Babak brought in a box of eight-inch matches from the kitchen. He lit one match and kept the flame burning while he took a short hit, just long enough to get Atefeh started. Pulling hard and getting nothing often aggravated her back even further. They watched a lead-in to the piece on the Big Dane funeral, the camera showing people lined up around the block.
"Isn't that near where you and Navid bought property?" Atefeh asked without much force behind her voice. She inhaled the smoke slowly, smoothly. Her grip on the blue porcelain bowl was as elegant as the way she used to walk prospective customers to the back of her brother's showroom to see the most expensive rugs in the store. "Look, there, East Tremont, it all looks familiar," she said, squinting.
Several times during the segment, Babak almost told his wife about going to the funeral. Each time though, he stopped himself. Atefeh offered Babak more of the marijuana but he declined. They watched the coffin being carried into the hearse. A voice praised the rapper for being "bombastic," a word Babak did not know. They played a clip of one of his songs. "I like some of the beats," Atefeh said.
When the song ended, the two anchors, a Latina woman and a Chinese man, discussed the crowd that had attended the funeral. "All different races, all different nationalities, all different ages." Atefeh fell asleep on the couch as she often did, and Babak reached under her shoulders and coaxed her to her feet. He urged her to begin walking, and he pushed behind her, saying "step," "step here," "step," "right here." Her right leg led, her left leg followed. They made it up to their second floor bedroom after ten minutes. He got into bed next to Atefeh and took off her dress and shoes and socks, and pulled an extra-large "Bronx Bob's Housing Dev" t-shirt over her bare torso.
For a long time after Atefeh had fallen asleep, Babak lay very much awake beside her. He found himself humming the music to Big Dane's songs, rasping his fingers over his ribs to the beat of lyrics he could not remember. Finally, deciding that he could not sleep until he heard the songs again, Babak got out of bed, grabbed his car keys from the fruit bowl no longer re-filled with fresh bananas each Thursday, and walked to the work van in the driveway. He turned his key to power on the radio and tuned to the hip-hop station. As he expected, the station continued its tribute to the deceased, and the dead man's voice came loud and full from the driver and passenger speakers: "I am marvelous, you is the horriblest." Babak leaned his seat back, conducting the songs with his index finger. Not until Babak saw in the shadows of his peripheral vision the approach of his son did he realize how high he'd set the volume. Navid walked out to the driveway in his pajamas, waving his right hand at his father in violent protest, and before Babak opened the door, he knew he was going to be scolded—Navid, already in charge. Babak grinned a wide grin that he knew Navid hated because it allowed the gap of his two missing teeth to show.