Bone Crusher

Jerry Vilhotti

© Copyright 2011 by Jerry Vilhotti                                                     

     Photo of a candle on a coffin.

Ten year old Johnny could hear no sounds; nevertheless, he listened intently for "Mamasu" who was given that name by Johnny's father telling him it was a very affectionate word for Grandmother; never telling him it literally meant "her mother." 

He always wondered when he called her that why she would go into a rage charging at him with right left combinations attempting to take his head off?  Her moves would have had the "Raging Bull" - De Niro - envious but Johnny's sidestepping and ducking had the eighty-three year old lady reeling off into unbalanced misses.

He was twenty, married for the past six months to the prettiest girl in his History class Linda Ann, and both were attending Ninety-one year Mamasu's funeral.

Everyone was there afraid the woman whom everyone believed could break bones with her boneless tongue would get up  and begin hurling out her words that unmasked deep secrets.

Bald-headed Carrado, brother cousin son of Johnny's mother's brother Nickalangelo, was there too whose nickname "Curly" had been bestowed upon him by Mamasu.

Also Johnny's two older brothers, Leny One N and Tommy Tom Tom, were there two cringing of past memories ...  Mamasu kept calling Leny One N a thief who had inherited his father's gene never forgetting how the  polio afflicted Tom had stolen her sewing machine ... minding the boys the day after the stealing and finding her sewing machine hidden under an old coat in the corner of the fire escape - she would make sure no more robbing would occur again on her watch while her daughter went to work at the glove factory making gloves for five fingers; having to do so because our father was away frolicking on the sands of Orchard Beach; stealing the hearts of pretty women and then falling into their smiles. Mamasu tied Leny and Tom to the bedposts; tying the ropes so tightly, they left large burnt marks on their arms and legs.

"Why did you do this?" their mother asked - trying to keep her voice under control as her fingers trembled over the wounds; afraid such a sight would break her mind again as it did the night she saw her husband deep inside a naked woman in their parlor and not only had that sight smashed her mind and her body began hemorrhaging Tom whom she was carrying deep inside.

Tom began to cry but Leny remained stoically silent; to show he hadn't been afraid. It was Leny with his mighty hugs all the three months of her Bellevue Hospital stay that had helped put all the broken pieces of her mind back together again.

"Because Mussolini told parents who are supposed to protect and love their children to give him their sons and he would make all the trains run on time going back to Roman Times!" Mamasu said.

"Mamasu, here comes the big freaking jerk!" six year old Leny said tormenting the sixty-five year old.

She scowled as she ran after him; attempting to get his hair and pull every strand out.

"You thief, come here and I'll teach you to swim in sand!"

Leny escaped and went to steal candy at the Arthur Avenue candy store while the owner was busy in the back room with a woman the syndicate had sent him for the afternoon as a reward for collecting bets from poor people who would contribute their children to die in meaningless insane wars after losing ....

And this was only the tip of the iceberg dangling from Mamasu's tongue that though boneless could break bones.

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