by Jerry Vilhotti
Among all the shades of blacks and browns weaving about him into dull shadows, Byrom Lighthouse Hoover Bush tried desperately to understand his father's conception of what a gentleman owed to pride, power, hate and disgust.
Byrom rubbed the waxy white scar that spread disgustingly along the arm of his coat. It made him recall that it was one of his fifth infractions that brought forth his father's wrath saying that a boy should use a handkerchief always instead of a piece of garment when wiping his nose. He took his Cleveland Indian baseball cap off, which indeed was a complete affectation since he knew nothing of the game his father said was six pack Joe's "thinking sport" that was keeping the people busy in their coliseum minds, and studied the black mark on the inner rim that looked like dirty oil.
An ogre-like belch, as if emanating from Dante's inferno where all the takers and users were burning and not the ship's stack, startled him. He remembered his father's menacing face as if it were holding a rosy future canceling out all the debts of a past that couldn't really be erased since Byrom's father's father had allowed all of them to stay in their home after "The Old Warrior" was dismissed from his position as second chemist and their family of four ate and slept in the quaint old New Jersey town that had lamplighters erasing darkness over the heads of the super elite who dangled all others by strings. Byrom as a seven year old had thrown stones at all of their mansions; those who thought God had given them their good fortune. This stone-throwing incident became one of his many fifth infractions.
"Get your filthy arse up Bush! We're not paying you for sitting!" a voice from the stern bellowed out at him. Byrom immediately rose to his feet attempting a psychic coloration of movements of sea faring men; something he had often done trying to initiate a childlike innocence when his father announced another one of his infractions had occurred.
"Hey stutter-man get your dirty arse in gear and I mean you Indian fan!"
Byrom cursed the uncouth French Canadian whose relatives had probably collaborated with the Nazis as did the media and the elite rulers who were pulling for the moustache guy rather than see their great fortunes feed the starving under The Red Menace - under his breath - and pretended to remember he had something to do on the other end of the ship.
He pulled on a rope vulgar and hard to the touch. He felt a certain despair as the shadow of things began to fall upon him. He heard the sharp blare of a horn followed by a dozen progressively fainter sounds - like gasps which made him think of Olivia:
the mystery lady with her cobalt eyes ... she gasped before saying, "A penny for your thoughts?"
Disconcerted, Byrom held his knee with both hands in "Ivy fashion". His father, who graduated from Cornell, had taught him this affectation to affect a certain superiority.
She asked him if he ever saw Durer's double goblet: "Did you notice how the two figures, one on top of the other, become on a closer scrutiny - an explicit copulation? Do you see the lust of it all?"
He really didn't know what the hell she was talking about. He had quit high school in his sophomore year to his father's disdain - that was hurled out at him in moments of deep anger that always preceded the flame's hot breath beneath the palm of his hand.
"You see Byrom and you say your dear late mother attempted to name you after the great poet Gordon about whom it was said what God had subtracted from his club foot He or She added onto his ... but I digress. You see I can think in German,
Italic and English. Did you know my grandfather was General Amadeo one of Mussolini's top and closest advisors - who gave the leader the idea of social security?"
He agreed to that possibility though he really couldn't understand how it could be done for he was having trouble thinking in high school Divided States of American English.
"Do you think with me?"
When she said it was only a rhetorical question that no response was expected, he became less wooden in his chair.
"Did you know Munich means city of monks and the Nazis learned much from the way you concentrated your Indians so neatly? Did you ever see the movie ' Keeper of the Flame' with Tracy and Hepburn? Did not that eugenicist in America give them the idea of killing off inferiors and by the by Hitler did not have blond hair!"
He should have told her he hadn't seen the movie since he and his late father thought the two lovers only made superficial movies; instead, nodded enthusiastically which spurred her on to tell him how she loved men who stole a woman's mind and parts of her body.
She laughed a German laugh; just like Byrom had heard and seen the German actress M.D. do so often in movies.
"You see, my catcher of your father's flame beneath the palm of his hand whenever you did a fifth infraction, your so-called United States of America has become what that movie said it could not become. While the people were asleep or
I should say put to sleep by your educational system that left many children behind that did not really fail but made all the sheep good citizens and taught them enough to do menial tasks in factories and then to go die in your wars that would protect the financial interests of the powerful and your media to mouth the causes on a fourth grade level just like their counterparts in France did to help Germany conquer their country. My dear grandfather often said your country was never a democracy and would one day show it. That day my dear Byrom is now! It has become what that movie said in its sophomoric way could never happen! Can you ever fully begin to understand what I'm talking about? All your religions say they worship life and yet take it away inside enormous orgasms and if all you believers in God why my dear Byrom do they deface all his creations?"
He told her while using his Burywater speech therapist's suggestion he whistle before saying words beginning with a consonant, that would reduce his stutter somewhat, he fully agreed and as his father often said it was all the fault of that crippled man in the White House who had sided with the Bolsheviks and caused the Great Depression to happen because he would not leave big business alone ....
Byrom politely refused Olivia's invitation for coffee " and a little something more" saying he had to be off to the Great Lakes but he promised her he would see her again; most likely at her son's place. She told him he was unique in the way he could whistle and almost talk at the same time ....
"Olivia. Olivia. Olivia," Byrom whispered as the ship began its journey to Marquette in the upper peninsula; fifteen minutes before darkness would swallow him and the ship up into a mass of nothingness. The good ship Fitzgerald and then he woke up in the back room of Olivia's son's custard stand in Kasich, Ohio.