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Chipped Bricks


Jerry Vilhotti

Instead of standing in the dark when the sirens screamed death the day after Pearl Harbor happened and those who were cheering for Hitler would never forgive the president FDR for his trick to defeat the isolationists but he too was fooled thinking the Japanese attack would be against the twenty soldiers he had in the Philippines protected by thick jungle and not Hawaii where many did die and those great haters of "the cripple" as they called him saying he betrayed his class and felt compassion for the riffraff who were only good enough to shed their blood for the more valuable commodities called oil, power and greed, and then given a medal as payment to their families for having defended a nation's self-interest forgetting the principles that had stood for good Johnny would have climbed into his imaginary plane - displayed in full grandeur at the Fordham Road toy store that had captured his many daily stares - which the Great Depression prevented his father from buying him - to follow the thick streak of white light that was searching the night sky for enemy planes coming in from a place called California where Ashcroft Camps were springing up to hold as prisoners - Japanese Americans and even American Japanese; along with some fascist Italian-Americans and even some innocent American-Italians who resembled Sacco or Vanzetti or Golden Boy's father Lee J Cobb ....

Even if he were shot down - after shooting down five suns and becoming an ace and though feeling very guilty that he had shot down the very same pilots he had seen in the movies wearing thick glasses that made his older polio afflicted brother Tom shout from the cheap seats, to the moviegoers delight, that the pilots were legally blind which did get most to laugh away sadness and then those very same people began to cry during the tense scene that had the American pilot, a Ronnie Reagan type making films of war rather than go into the real blood-bath where dying was going on among flying limbs carried by gentle breezes, aim his wounded plane bleeding red-white-blue smoke with a Kate Smith - who said every day on her radio show how much she hated the dirty non human "jap" - hidden in the clouds belting out "God Bless America", which did get many who had been told by teachers they were just hyphenated-American and could never become part of the "great American dream" and deserved to live in slums because they were just lazy ignorant gangster like people who had always been an uncivilized people contributing nothing to the world, to begin clapping their hands to pain - not knowing then that their unwelcome "kind" would have one of the highest casualty quota of all the other hyphenated-Americans in the whole war that attempted to save the world from tyranny and hate - toward the Japanese ship that was heading for the west coast to capture that whole region like Orson Wells had captured much of the nation with his Mercury theater radio broadcast of Martians invading the Divided States of America - Johnny would have felt much better than going down in his building that his older brothers and sister Tina (his sister Alice protected him for they knew if they had thrown Johnny off the roof to see if he could fly she would have squealed on them to their father and then an "Eighteen Forty-Eight" would have happened all over their heads just like the uprisings in European countries that year ) said would collapse on him only, since they resented Johnny with the blond curly hair coming into their family before the war, believing he stole their father's love away from them with all his cute ways of being happy. The collapsing of their five storey building would have happened even on a near miss of an exploding bomb so old their apartment building was, they said; built when the great writer Poe walked on their same cobblestones in what was then known as Old Fordham Village and Johnny could see himself being trapped under a million chipped red bricks with his arm waving out just as he had seen when the two cars smashed on the corners of Arthur Avenue and A Hundred and Eighty-ninth but Johnny was not tall enough - though he so much wanted to reach for the waving arm dangling out of the flipped over car's window - to bring the person out to safety.

Johnny flew his plane way over to the warm part of the sky. He would not go down in a pile of chipped bricks - if he ever had to die.

END 10-20-04

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