by Jerry Vilhotti

Byrom Lighthouse Bush's dreaded whenever a fifth infraction occurred as when he dared to open his mouth ( children and their disgusting words were not to be heard in Pa-pa's house) to ask where Lena May was.

Lena May was as black as the night that lamplighters overcame as they lit the lamp posts that made the mansions on The Row high above them loom like lurking hideous monsters and Lena May was as big as a tunnel and had held him in her arms to protect him from his mother's many strappings. Lena May had read him stories of cows, sheep and beanstalks - producing each word magically from beneath her chubby finger. Byrom had felt much affection for her but as her "awkwardness'" mounted, as the Great Depression began deep thrashing even those who thought they were economically sheltered from such hardships, she received even more criticisms and once she was accused for being responsible for the doings of "that man in the White House" who was crippling their ability to make lots of moneys under their inequitable umbrella of laissez-faire capitalism - survival of the fittest and all that - and even when she told them she had not voted; unable to read with full understanding the five pages of instructions that would have allowed her to vote, they still insisted with eyes half closed - manifesting the contempt they felt for her - that their great country should never have allowed her kind to migrate into it.

Byrom intently studied his father's and grandfather's dazzling display of cruelty on her which encouraged him to do his own many forms of nastiness on her: asking for many glasses of water during the night and then to deliberately spilling the water on his bed, pressing the buzzer from beneath the dining room table when no eating was going on that forced her to leave her work to go and see what was needed and often when having to sit with her to finish his eating while she was having her meal - since he had been dismissed from the table for having farted softly and though he vehemently denied doing such a thing accusing his older brother Stephen and even his grandfather with all the wounded words he could muster under the fear he had made a "fifth" happen! He would be told to go sit with the nigger and give much thought to what he had done. Every chance he got, Byrom would spit in her food when she was "buzzed" up to her feet to see what was so desperately needed ....

Byrom's father, who was dismissed from the chemical firm as second chemist after having graduated fifth in his class at Cornell several years before saying the cripple in the White House was forcing the prestigious firm to lay off their highest paid people which necessitated him to take his wife and his two young sons to go live in his father's house in the small quaint New Jersey town that sided in a patriotic way with Washington and his colonists who no longer wanted to pay taxes to an England for protections rendered against the heathen who had either been nearly massacred out of existence or rendered harmless inside of concentration camps. It was the father and grandfather who asked Leny May, what with the hard times now affecting them as well, if she would take a reduction in pay of seventy percent. Having no choice Leny May accepted which emboldened them to demand she take another fifteen percent cut in pay and no day off since the country was indeed falling into a socialistic shade of dark colors what with social security coming alive and a possible heath care program for the masses - which thank God never did happen - which would have, they surmised, bankrupt their beloved country and that's when Lena May told them all - Ma-ma included - that she was not about to become an in house plantation nigger and left leaving three days pay with them that they said she forfeited by her ungrateful quitting. After Byrom finally finished his question with words stuttering out of his mouth like half-eaten food was when his father hustled the boy into Pa-pa's study and was once again made to feel the pain from the flame of the wooden match, not unlike the kind used by the lamplighters when they lit up the night for the mansion-people to see if any trespassers were invading their huge large grounds the size of football fields, which began to devour Byrom's palm and only when the thud of seven year old Byrom's body was heard making them all jump and to wonder out loud, in polite whispers, if there were indeed any way to cure the boy of his evil, disgusting and tormenting ways. END