Water to Water by Jerry Vilhotti
Ever since Biaggi's father killed himself, since he thought he was going to be arrested for stealing materials from the company he had worked - and stolen from - for thirty-five years; he had changed. It was as if he were trying to swallow up his father and all the past at the same time. But his wife had waited for him to return from the world war and still those cheap bastards who were going for Hitler and the Third Reich to kill off communism, so making their riches grow bigger at the expense of the "riffraff" new slaves in the Ayn Rand world of scam and using. To this very day they would not allow a national monument for the greatest generation that fought through two wars: the Great Depression and the war against totalitarianism. She knew he would not see it.
"Where are you going again tonight?" he heard his wife say in the long ago past; blinking to fight back her tears from blue-green eyes.
He couldn't say. In his mind, as vivid as the color of her eyes, he could see himself again crossing the German school yard resembling an American one, also having left many children behind on purpose for minds that could not think were easier to be led, shooting from the hip - a "Nazi", clutching at his throat as if a raw clam were crawling up through his mouth fell to the ground. This memory was quickly followed by the young German woman, whose face could have been his father's, from whom he had ripped off the Cross dangling from her neck and left her standing beside her burning house. He recalled the young recruit killed by the large light beam. Unlike other outfits they did not send the new replacements to places the veterans were cautious to go - at least he never did; always taking them under his wing: "Look kid, when the spot lights go on fight the urge to look up. Don't! Bullets will fucking follow!" That morning he found the nineteen year old in bits and pieces. He was already late for his date which was his twentieth in the past month. He had a lot of catching up to do since his long walk from Northern Africa to Germany.
He never did, nor ever would believe that the United States won the war single-handily as many politicians insisted; clothing themselves in the blood red, white and blue - coward-puppets who refused to sacrifice themselves for a country they said thousands of times they cherished; becoming part of a club known as "What's In It For Me" or "Buy One and Get One Free". They and their money power hungry bosses of the Fourth World Order were traitors to a people who might have helped in making a better world for all. This Biaggi would always believe. He knew he would always be a hyphenated-American and called so by leaders to make sure they knew their place in the scheme of things. What had he fought for while earning two Purple Hearts? Now he thought of Julius Garfunkle sitting beside him in his eighth grade class and would kill himself as John Garfield instead of telling Senator Gobbles WisMccarthy names of former friends who once belonged to the dreaded communist movement with all its frightening ideas impeding their ability to make lots of money that would be so much toilet paper trying to wipe away the stain on their souls so making them clean once and for all and Miss Wolf telling them that their country - though never perfect by any means having built itself on many lies that would one day come to roost - in the hearts of many stood for freedom and justice for all. Those were the ideals for which he had been willing to go die. Didn't Christ have it wrong? How do you love your neighbor when you don't love yourself? Should not it have been compassion your fellow human as you compassion yourself? "Hey kid does that hurt?" he had said to a nineteen year old who looked up at a Nazi spotlight trying to find faces.
During lucid moments he wondered out loud to all his former comrades - and he thanked his Jesus that the Russians had been on their side - many of whom would not come back asking them what had it been all about seeing their so-called leader folding their country into a hand basket before throwing it over the Grand Canyon? He asked them how a person who stacked the deck once and would again could possibly be re-elected when he had alienated eighty-five percent of ellegible voters: People who truly believed in the American principles of equality and freedom, families of reservists and guardsmen who in actuality were being drafted, conservationists, legal immigrants, fiscal conservatives, airlines going bankrupt in having to pay the increases of fuel, parents and grandparents of children left behind, seniors on fixed incomes, those paying for health care costs for millions that did not have any insurance from Hand Money Over corporations ... and yet the corporate owned media was saying their leader was going to win in a landslide. "Talk about stacking the deck!"
"Biaggi, who were you talking to? Do you need more water?" she asked this husband she still loved deeply despite his running around on her trying to imitate his father's animalistic womanizing behavior because Biaggi told him he could not come to live with him, his wife and their two children - never having forgotten his beatings trying to make him and his younger brother Tonto into good hyphenated-Americans who did not steal from others. He was melting away each day a little bit more.
"Just to memories. No sweetheart, I'll just go to sleep for awhile," he said trying to get away from the gripping pain of the cancer spreading throughout his body. Then he would dream of being a young man again in The East Bronx playing stick ball on Arthur Avenue; turning on jonnie pumps for all the young children so they could go swimming toward the Atlantic Ocean that lay beyond The Sound.
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