Bitter Winds
by Jerry Vilhotti

In Johnny's dream a group of people were coming out of rotating doors attached to the lobby of the tallest hotel he had ever seen taller than the twin towers where the wind - like groans from innocence were screaming "Why? Why? Why?" but would not get truthful answers - was howling just like the sea shell he had found on Orchard Beach when he was three years old and the wind like a huge fist hurled his mother, who had been the first one to set foot onto the sidewalk, to across the street. She landed in a sitting position holding her head in her hands. Johnny ran half-carried by the very same wind. He was the protector of all people hurled by winds, though he knew truly he could not protect all from ripping winds.

"Hate begets hate but love creates miracles!" he shouted to all the religious hate mongers who fought over which God was The Real One making them all be swallowed up in the failure of making the blind see. He wanted life to conquer the fear of death as the ancient Greeks and Romans had tried to do until defeated by the dark minds of the Dark Ages.

He stooped down touching the pavement with his knuckles saying: "Ma. Ma, you all right? You all right?" She nodded as most mothers had nodded in pain pushing out life to embrace life and said, like the whispering end of a giant wind, "It hurt. It hurt." Next like a cannonball came his aunt Easter who had been his mother's best friend working in the fields as young girls herding sheep in the "old country". The sheep looked like trotting white lilies being swayed by a gentle mountain breeze. Johnny bent down to her saying: "You all right, Aunt Easter?" She nodded and said, "Yes. Yes. It's only the burning howling wind that frightens me."

Johnny awakened. His mother was dead. She had been dead for nearly two years but he still felt like the little boy who had tried to make warmth come up from the cellar; placing chunks of coal into a bed full of ash-white waste ... "Johnny born of old parents go downstairs and see why heat is not coming up to us?" his mother said. The seven year old went down the steep stairs of the new house they had just moved into at the beginning of a winter, a hundred miles north of his beloved East Bronx, being the only one among all his siblings to be born on Arthur Avenue near Fordham Road, but he could not make the coals begin to light up into a flame. Realizing this, he yelled up to her that she should continue to wear her sweater; that the cold was probably going to cling to them all - the whole cold bitter winter. Occasionally, the furnace would yield little greedy fistfuls of warmth but never enough to soothe bodies ... never enough.


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