Jerry Vilhotti: Didn't Christ Say
Fiction » December 2000

Every Wednesday night during summer, Johnny and his father would try very hard to get comfortable in front of the television set after putting on the channel that would bring forth the fight. The move was a strategy: if anyone attempted to change the station both son and father could "justifiably" say he was watching that particular program and "owned" the time during it and immediately following it but Johnny's maternal grandmother would truck no such nonsense and so forged mighty battles these evenings wanting them to retreat so she could watch her favorite show starring Ernie Kovak!

She would come toddling into the room offering a pseudo peace saying: "Who wants some bread?"

"Not me Mom but thanks anyway," Johnny's father said; having remembered not to use the contemptuous word he had invented for her "Mamasu" which meant "her mother".

He backed away from her stabbing thrusts while looking at his wife - asking her with his eyes as to how the hell did the person who never washed her hands get near the bread?

"What about you - little runt?" she said turning her attack on Johnny who was lying on the floor feigning complete absorption in the program that was engulfed in snow flurries and wavy horizontal lines moving slowly downward.

The old lady deliberately stepped on his back which made him shout out in anger: "What? Wha for Christ Sake?"

"Bread? You want some with a little something on it?"

"No, I'm still full from the sandwich I had before."

"Then, what about some cookies?"

Johnny shook his head as he tried to figure out how she had gotten near them - when he always had a hard time finding them since his mother hid them trying to extend their lifetime.

"Didn't Christ say if you don't take when it's offered - you can rot in hell with an empty stomach? And didn't He say if you don't respect the old - you'll make helpless children starve to death?" she said wondering what reminded her of Him.

Johnny looked at his father questioningly who answered: "Maybe Johnny. If she says so."

Encouraged by this acquiescent statement, she went on using Christ as if He were a weapon.

"Didn't He say if you don't like the bitter take the sweet - like the church leaders who killed all His Relatives said? Didn't He always say do with the good?"

Getting no reply and fully frustrated she decided to sit next to her son-in-law, who was taking up half the couch, and this did get him to rise up quickly and nervously to go sit on the chair behind Johnny.

"I want to see the funny guy with the mustache and beady eyes and thick little glasses - or else take me back to Montreal! Canada! Oh, Canada! Where I can sit in my Sun-Yat Sen Park and smell all the Chinese food!"

"Fights on tonight, Mamasu," Johnny said.

"Who gives a pound of shit about that?" she said pasting her most ugly look on the boy: puffing up her cheeks while focusing on his eyes her little beady coal black eyes that were encased in a murky haze resembling fog that did make him look down at the floor and begin a playing with his fingers.

Not seeing him run from the parlor, she continued in her most shrilling voice that penetrated bones: "Didn't Christ say to dance to the music of animals was better than beating a guy's brain to a pulp?"

They steadfastly continued to try and ignore her.

Realizing she wasn't winning this night, she decided to launch her always successful dirty attack that often made Johnny go vomit while nearly "French kissing" the toilet as his father ran gagging to his garden.

Dramatically she stood in front of the set; moving her finger along a cheek as if in search of a hole to burrow deeply into and within seconds it did find a nostril opening and as she was vehemently exploring inside she made a great dredging sound that brought up a great big heap of phlegm that she made dangle from her fingers like a yo-yo reaching the floor.

"Jesus Christ - she's doing a walking the dog!" Johnny said holding his hands up to his mouth making a dash for the toilet.

The parlor did become hers once again.

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