He strongly suspected the hyphenated American had no business attending his school from which eighty percent of the student body most of whom he would proudly say were of his ‘race’ would enroll in college….”
by jerry vilhotti
Nutsy Harridan had another bright idea to go to a whore joint in Bridgeport, Connectandcut where the women accepting moneys would not laugh at his elephant balls and since he told Johnny he would pay for the night out the two seventeen years-old boys set out for The Sound. When the prostitute tried to steal Johnny’s money and he pulled the bills from her breast, the two pimps agreed with his saying that was not honorable that she should try to keep his money after giving her money for the jukebox. Nutsy could be heard screaming all over the house about his big balls.
“WEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOO!” Nutsy Harridan said to Johnny as they were indulging in a smoke in the boy’s room at Commercial High, where girls outnumbered boys. One of the major reasons Johnny transferred there from Dabingle High.
Johnny had decided to transfer from Dabingle High and regrettably Nutsy followed his move a week later. Johnny had enough of the freaky guy after the incident when Nutsy asked him if he could join him in a little meeting he was going to have with guys from Alcatraz Trade High who wanted to kill him for being Irish and Johnny said yes; emerging from the front entrance, Johnny saw a mass of guys from the other school. When their leader came to them saying to Johnny: “You crazy taking on two hundred guys?”
When noticing none of the fifty “friends” Nutsy said were going to show up, Johnny said: “Look I know you’ll kick our asses but I tell you the first wave will have five guys going down!”; not bragging. He believed in what he was saying.
That’s when their leader said: “You are crazy for defending this harp who called us retarded for going to a school named after a prison!” The leader, Red Fortee, said and then waved to the large mass of guys yelling: “Forget it! This guy’s nuts too!”
Dabingle’s vice-principal would beg Johnny Sanque, every morning the two years of his attending, to please get out of his school and let peace begin again. He suspected it was Johnny who orchestrated the falling of all the rows in the auditorium by having all the screws taken out – producing a domino affect of sixty rows falling to a heap – and he strongly suspected the hyphenated American had no business attending his school from which eighty percent of the student body most of whom he would proudly say were of his “race” would enroll in college – cajoled the whole freshmen class to walk the third floor hall in prison fashion while teachers were retreating to their classrooms; looking at them frighteningly from widow panes of their locked doors.
Some insane guys even began throwing hallway monitor desks out of windows and then the cops, the army of the rich, came with guns drawn – making the riot: “Take back dignity” suddenly end.
Mr. Moriarity could never get enough evidence on Johnny. It was one of the few times no Burywater guy ratted out.
In fact Johnny had planned the whole event even appointing Joe Big Cherries to bang out rock and roll melodies on the piano and Johnny would marvel at a piano playing R&R singer copying Joe’s style to perfection a few years in the future by standing and pounding away at the keys almost out of control. Joe Cherries never married his first cousin as did the singer from Louisiana.
This weird compulsion of Nutsy to scream funny would get Johnny expelled for two weeks in his senior year at Commercial when Ambrose the vice-principal entered the history class – in which Johnny would meet his future bride blue-green eyed Linda Ann at the June class picnic and marry five months after they graduated – and pointed to the ruggedly handsome Johnny saying: “OK out! You’re expelled from my school Johnny Santee!”
Johnny asked: “Why for?”
The answer given was: “Because your friend Harridan is on the third floor screaming weeeeeeooooo like that niggero singer Jamie Brown!”
The history teacher Mr. Percy told all his colleagues later that that was the first time in his thirty years of teaching he had ever seen something like that done by an administrator.
Mr. Percy had been the school’s football coach. Eight years before he had to cut Johnny’s older brother Tommy Tom Tom due to one of his legs was half eaten by polio. He would never forget the crippled kid’s moxie and Johnny many years in the future would tell Tom of this hoping to prevent his dying. It would not work. His closest sibling born in the same decade as he would die from the polio that would revisit him in the late autumn of his life. He told Tom on his death bed in the Hospice place that every one was a song and after they left the memories would make the melody linger on and on.
Johnny nodded almost doing the Burywater expression of holding his mouth opened wide while deep furrows spread across his forehead; instead, he left; almost happy for the two weeks of vacation. His older sister Alice would come to plead for him as she had many times before – keeping it a secret from their mother who would hit her offspring in front of the administrators who would nod approvingly but this time Alice would not go to Mister Ambrose. She would go see the compassionate principal Mister Moran who had never forgotten what was done to his people in the “Ole Sod” by haters and exploiters called “Say What”.
Johnny knew he would eventually get used to these people living in a town that would have a river overflowing their heads every ten years or so. He knew. He knew. After Nutsy almost killed him when sleeping in the subway in the city and Nutsy fed him cola. He knew. He knew.
Within three years he and Linda Ann would be off to New York City where Johnny would get two degrees – one from a Harlem college that was the only school in the country to win the NIT and NCCA basketball tournaments in the very same year and a Masters in world Lit. from a mid-Manhattan college that was once an armory as rock and roll blared from their car radio and Burywater was slowing falling out of sight in the rear view mirror. “Goodby Nutsy and your home town!” Johnny sang to the tune “Slow Dancing.”
(illustrations: kurt eisenlohr)
Jerry Vilhotti graduated from the only college that won the NIT and NCAA basketball tournaments in the same year, but more importantly than that, a Jonas Salk who helped rid some of the world of polio graduated from that same NYC school. Hjs stories have appeared in Dream International, Puck and Pluk, Hob-Nob, Our Pipe Dreams and many other literary magazines & net zines in the USA, Canada, England, Australia and India. He lives in a simpler place in time among the Litchfield Hills with a beautiful wife who treats him well, and they both helped bring into the world three sort of nice kids who he hopes will be as lucky in finding the partner that he did long ago and far away, just like the song.