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Jerry Vilhotti

 

When fever hit Johnny, he felt he was getting smaller and smaller or at other moments bigger and bigger. Once, his thumb grew larger and larger until it became the size of half his body and then his fingers became pinheads. He had refused to go to the room after his mother had felt his genitals to see if his fever had increased. He ran beneath the table. He dodged her touch for her hands were cold; ice cold. "No!" she insisted. "No." She hadn't meant the room upstairs; instead, she meant the room downstairs where he was now sleeping by himself since his older brother had gone off to reform school - for his stick up of a smoke shop. To the very same institution where Lepke of "murderers incorporated" infamy had learned many years before from sadistic guards the lesson to hate more and kill easier ... "Len, time to go back to school!" the mother yelled; wishing she were calling him to go to work. He had told her after lunch he was going to take a short nap so he could get smarter and he asked Johnny to join him but the boy refused. He didn't want to say why in front of his mother but she insisted he go since he had gone to bed very late the night before and after a half hour his brother got off his ass and they hurriedly put their pants on and were off to school but after a block his brother took a bus downtown to go shoot pool as Johnny continued on .... The eighth grader teacher, whose face resembled a bulldog's and to whom he would say as a seventh grader; "Hey since when did this who and whom thing get started?" making her almost fall off her chair in laughter, sent down for the second grader. She was hunched over her arms as she asked: "Where is Leonard?" Johnny thought and he thought for he didn't want to get his brother into trouble and after she repeated the question again - only louder - he said: "He left for school!"

"Well he isn't here!" she said attempting to grab his hair into her gnarled fingers as he flinched back away from her reach which got all the big people to laugh wildly in that certain way Burywater people laughed: full of hysterical nervous twitches and pseudo joy. His brother did get into trouble and Johnny was pinched by the principal who asked him after every twisting pinch - if he were going to be like his "two time stayed back in the eighth grade hooky playing bother" - and her pinches hurt as much as Leny did when trying to unsuccessfully penetrate him.

Johnny walked into the woods alone. He was happy when alone. He stayed in them for a long long time. That was when no one could hurt him. No one could hurt him ....

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