The Accordion Man

by Jerry Vilhotti

"I know Pa. If I hear we're the greatest and most powerful country ever invented one more time - I will throw up my stomach, liver, heart and lungs. Why we have to do a Nazi swagger and bully the weak for greed and power makes me wonder what religion has been doing? They should throw all the hypocrites out of their religions but then again that would mean losing a buck or two and that's why the first con-men who saw a way to make muzuma threw women out of being priests because they might get pregnant and another mouth to feed would take away from their riches! And then they decided to try and fool nature by telling their priests to not marry but instead jerk off and or to do unto little children by saying it was a law said by their creator to suffer the little children! I think the rich want another French or Russian revolution to spice up their lives even more. They're bored with hire the handicapped or the poor for poverty wages making them drown even deeper into poverty! They're fun to watch suffering!"

"You know Johnny when me, your mother and your three sisters came to these shores and we came up through south America since we both were born in Brazil because you remember your mother was denied entrance at Ellis Island saying she had an eye problem but she never needed glasses and I took it that this country did not want our kind of people from southern Europe and I tried to get a job and to the Irish we were cheap labor workers but they forgot that they too were working for cheaper wages than the Scotch-Irish and American-English so it was hard to find a job and when some friends of mine said Big Al from Brooklyn was hiring some guns to go to Chicago and I accepted the hire though believe me I never once fried anyone's brain with a bullet to their head and I can swear on my mother's grave I never killed anyone. I might have whacked a few Irish mobsters around with my fists but never during those days when Chicago died did I ever take the life of some mother's son."

Johnny never knew this about his father and he believed him that he would not kill anyone for a buck.

"You know Johnny when I was on my travels as a young man and my ship stopped at Marseilles - you know what the French and Italian fascists would do to suspected communists? The cowards would force them to drink bottles of castor oil and when they came to me asking me what I was - I told them I was for all human kind and not for chickens running about with their heads cut off and Johnny believe it or not they left me alone!"

Probably because, Johnny thought, he would have taken a dozen of them down into the sea with him so strong a man his father was. In Johnny's mind he would see his father working on the Empire State Building that almost touched the sky and building a bridge in honor of a man who didn't want to be a king. The chicken word made him recall how once he went to visit his uncle's chicken market on a street that once had been part of the Little Dublin section of Burywater just after they had moved from The Bronx and saw a chicken without a head walking about the place as his father's brother and several customers were laughing at the sight. Johnny never again went back to his uncle's place of business.

"You stood out like the sun, Johnny. You were the best and that's why you became my favorite!"

And Johnny wanted to say: And that's why my brothers and sisters resented me so much calling me "the Johnny Pump Kid" but he would not hurt this man's feelings for the pain all that had caused him. He could still hear his father playing on his accordion the many tunes Johnny still loved: "Gypsy Violins", "My Buddy" "Till We Meet Again", "Donkey Serenade" ... and in his mind many years after his father had passed away, he still galloped to that song of long ago and far away and then he threw his arms out like wings and began to make like the imaginary plane his father could not buy him during the Great Depression that had those who lost their godly fortunes throw themselves out of windows high above the ground to go to a make believe heaven of money.