Johnny of the Prayers
Seventeen-year-old Tina of The Troy, "The Knockout of The Bronx," knew guys like Julie Garfinkle who became an actor- philosopher with lines as "Sure, sure" and "Everybody dies" and a guy who would become a raging world boxing champion, would tell Johnny his ears resembled elephant ears and to make sure he understood what she meant, she fashioned their huge shapes with her two hands making invisible air become giant ears to his astonished eyes. She felt like spitting on him because she believed he was stealing her father's love from her. A father who now stayed home nights holding Johnny up to the ceiling when not feeding him.
Seven-year-old Tommy TomTom would make gruesome faces at "the little bastard" while attempting to pinch him from under the table and later when Johnny could walk even better, Tom would try to throw him down the steep flight of stairs: "Come on, little kid! Walk down the stairs with me! Trust me, I'm your brother that the Great Depression gave polio to," Tom said, while showing him his ravaged leg being held like a prisoner inside a brace. This habit of garnering pity, Tom would perpetuate for the rest of his life; getting pity from people feeling heaps of guilt of all kinds of things like not loving others the way their religions insisted they do. Tommy TomTom could make Johnny laugh in a sad way.
Eight-year-old Leny One N began calling the little invader trying to steal his mother's love from him affectionately - "ugly" - and when Johnny was able to walk steadily and at the same time hold up his arms in a coordinated way, Leny taught him how to fight southpaw and within weeks he had Johnny fighting for money; always making sure his opponents were older and bigger from around the corner where people lived in cold-water flats. Leny with the whisper of a confidence man would tell all those who wanted to see blood like the guy who would fight the great Joe Louis and a future godfather of all godfathers: "Sure, the little crap can take that big kid easy and my five pennies to your ten says so!"
Johnny would win all frightened up inside and then when he became five years old he would walk away from the blood and tears and say his first no that was wrapped up in a howl like the sound from the sea shell he had found on Orchard Beach which his three siblings, Tina, Leny and Tommy would throw out of their fifth floor apartment telling him, as he watched the shell being killed to death by the long fall, in an off chorus way - "It's just a fucking sea shell!"
No, Johnny thought, it was the ocean.
When Johnny was able to walk ever so slightly eleven-year-old Alice, who would be his protector for his first five years since she believed Johnny was her little doll sent directly to her by a European God the day before Christ was born, would "dance" with him as she stood on her knees to the music coming from Martin Block's Make believe Ballroom Time radio show. She would kiss his neck and masturbate his leg and when Johnny giggled excitedly, she would pinch him to quiet; afraid she would get into trouble with their father.
Johnny would do his East Bronx walk into the courtyard to stand below the two buildings housing many apartments and the two buildings joined looked like two palms beginning an attempt in prayer. END 10-17-07