All the Mean Faces

by Jerry Vilhotti

The eighth grade teacher, Miss Moriarity Egan, sent for the second grader Johnny who would wear the sins of his older brother Leny One N's for the rest of his life.

Her face was the meanest Johnny had ever seen; having in it all the hate that had happened between her people whom their rulers considered "niggers"; proud to have been perpetuators of a superior caste system to separate the worthy from the unworthy.

She was hunched over her arms as she asked: "Where is Leonard - little person?"

Johnny thought and he thought for he didn't want to get his brother into trouble and after she repeated the question again — only louder — he said: "He left for school!"

"Well he isn't here!" she said, attempting to slap him while doing a tavern Hill cough molded from Hogen's beer place on top of Buywater's Washington Hill where Indian children were once killed to death by bullets and gifts of pock-infested blankets, as he flinched back away from her reach which got all the big eighth grade people to laugh wildly in that certain way Burywater people laughed; nervous tics with full anxiety.

Leny did get into trouble and Johnny was pinched by the principal, who looked exactly like the pictures he had seen of George Washington whom many of the "Founding Fathers" wanted to make a king but being a true "Free Mason" believing in the mason's lever and stayed on the level, and after every twisting pinch on his arm — she asked him if he were going to be like his two time stayed back in the eighth grade hooky playing brother.

Her pinches hurt very much. She wore the same hatred on her face as Miss Egan. Johnny wondered if all the people in this place called Burywater, a hundred miles north of his beloved The East Bronx where he had been born among people who could laugh and cry and still believed a better day awaited, were born with that hate etched on their faces? It was one of Dante's circles of hell but he would learn this after graduating Harlem College in New York City where Cornell Wilde the actor - whom a male librarian Mister Maddan thought he resembled and accused him of stealing his books and many girls' glances and Colin Sell Out Powel would graduate. He would not become an actor or a killer of innocent people.

He would become a teacher and a writer using syntax his teachers taught the dying of hunger to learn so to become eligible to die for medals for a fourth world order. He would treat all his students equally and attempt to teach them thinking in a world that lost its native intelligence and was drowning in polluted waters.