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Dishing Out

Jerry Vilhotti

The mother looked deeper into this polio infected son's eyes, he whom she hadn't wanted, really, what with a husband always falling into the smiles of all women and staying away for days. Him forgetting about her and the four children, stuck in the grip of the Great Depression, and unable to control her smile, that went into all directions the night she discovered her husband entwined on the couch with a bar maid, whom he had taken home the night she had hemorrhaged Tom out of her body, after seeing such a sight. And God would bestow upon this son that sin of the father's in the form of infantile paralyzes.

           She whispered harshly: "So you spent it! Look into my eyes and tell me you didn't spend any money you got shining shoes -- bum!"

           Tom tried to fix his afflicted leg steadier to the floor. He placed both his hands together behind his back and made his eyes fall deeply into her eyes while shaking his head as his tongue secretly scraped away from his teeth the remains of the chocolate bars he had eaten while watching Tom Mix silently killing bad guys. Silently, steadily, invisibly the tongue did its work. He had to make very sure his mouth was totally cleaned for fear she would next ask him to open it wide to gather up any evidence of a spending.

           "Leo and Flab dished me, Mama. They took away all my corners so got all the shoes!" Tom said, referring to a brother and a brother-cousin who laughingly did able to outrun Tom easily.

           She told him to go; appearing very dissatisfied with his lack of giving. Tom went to his room to wait for Leo's return. Alone in the darkness -- hiding beside their bed -- he waited. He checked and rechecked to see if the caps were properly in place inside the cap pistol and after two hours the bedroom door opened, silhouetting Leo to his sight, who had just moments before poured noisily "tons of coins" into their mother's quivering hands. And though Leo's shoeshine box looked like a shield dangling from his shoulder, Tom knew deep inside it would not repeal his shots.

           "You're dead. Dead! Dead! Dead!" Tom didn't stop shooting until all the caps were spent -- with all their odor of sulfur permeating the room from ceiling to floor and then to also encompass his whole being that was shaking from sobbing.

© 2001 Jerry Vilhotti, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

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