Jerry Vilhotti


    All during Johnny's first operation, the doctor never did realize "the thing" he had taken out of the boy's leg were growth cells which would manifest five years later when the leg would bow from the weakness of them no longer being there which would force him to play all the sports he loved on more or less one leg - so well that the principal Miss Stonewall would reinstate baseball and basketball programs that had been dormant for twenty years since her kind began going to the new Catholic school around the corner believing Johnny would lead the teams to city titles and probably would have if the captain Johnny didn't have to go in for a second operation just before the city championship basketball game that had their team lose by one point -  he dreamed of the sun twanging from a frown to a smile while overlooking a huge forest where Indians were once massacred - and inside the smile he placed the faces of the nun and nurse.  They had  been gentle to him hours before he went up to the room with the giant overhead light.

    Johnny defecated in his bed the night after his leg had grown bandages.  He had stood in the blood drenched bed trying to see anyone in the deep darkness surrounding him and when the nurse and nun finally came through the early morning light, the first words they said were: "Shame on you Johnny.  A big boy doing that."

    The whispers were said in a kindly way; realizing unconsciously he had given something of himself to them which despite convention was something from something and so he did not feel any shame as he often did when he was told by most of his Burywater teachers that his parents spoke "broken English" and had no say in how they were teaching him; that Burywater teachers weren't in the business of making little God damn Einsteins.  Their only job was to make all the heathens become good citizens so willing to go die in meaningless wars for the powers that be who would remain nameless while others took credit for killing life and to be intelligent enough to do menial repetitive tasks in their numerous factories. Johnny would speak in his parent's tongue at home, though his father would try to speak United States; imitating all the swear words of his fellow factory workers who toiled among chemical explosions and Johnny could honestly say he never did hear his father say cuss words - like he could - that came falling off his father's tongue so: "Bash", "cocknocker", "somanabeech" - "hey-fac fiece!".   Johnny had indeed given something of himself as the eight year old in the horrifying darkness that had red blotches of growing blackness smothering his leg.  The nun and nurse had further lessened his fears moments before his going upstairs by telling him he was a brave good-looking boy and they promised they would be with him in the operating room and they had kept their promises. Something he would learn to do. It was the first time since they left The East Bronx, where he was born, that strangers had been kind to him in this strange strange place called Burywater; renamed so after the religious white settlers having no more witches to burn began killing off the rest of the Indians who had called the area Mattatuck that was situated by the then beautiful river that meandered down to the Long Island Sound before the factories stained the waters with long tongues of green and brown colors killing off all the fish.

    The boy in the very next bed, burned by friends who decided to do a "Burywater" on him because he was a "dirty kike" and didn't want one of them in their school where they were all being taught by teachers who were only six months brighter than they and all of the female teachers, who had to promise they would never marry, looked down on all the disgusting foreigners forgetting their parents or grandparents, who had assimilated into the American culture at the price of losing their identity only to be resurrected during a Saint Patrick's day - the saint who instructed the people to viscously kill the first snake they saw which would rid any bad thing a neighbor could do one that year or a Columbus Day that would honor a person who had destroyed nearly a whole race of people in the name of God and Country.  The boy full of bandages from head to feet and he exchanged some words, many silences and comic books peopled by pseudo heroes.  Johnny talked to the slits that showed the boy's eyes; eyes that were wisps of black smoke like the ones that emanated from the many factories in Burywater and the valley.

    Within a week the boy full of bandages died and Johnny was told by a nurse - who would tease her elderly un-American patients by eating apples and telling them they were onions - that Arnold had gone to a better place where everyone spoke the same great one language in nice ways.   When Johnny said he wanted to go there too, she said: "He died!" and then she laughed ....    END      



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