"Die Laughing Man"
by Jerry Vilhotti

The words "horses and ponies" had been Tina's magic that had her four children begin their steps toward the big foreboding iron door which opened up to many bewildered expressions of all the discarded children peering out at them from heavily barred windows.

These very same expressions eight year old Larry, six year old Clara, five year old Danny and three year old Michael would be wearing after a few weeks; wondering what wrong they had done to bring them to the Saint Apartheid Orphanage which stood like a grotesque sore beneath the shadows of the prestigious Yale University nearby.

Al their father would try to see the children but was told by Mother Superior Holier Than Thou - she had explicit orders from their mother to make sure he would not see them.

After calling her "nazi fucking bitch" he left to walk three thousand miles to California since he had nothing left to stay in the east; having been divorced by the only woman he had ever loved. He blamed himself for their break-up. He called himself stupid for always working overtime to lift hundred pound bales of rubber; making her become mad with him and so she would go out with her two girlfriends for drinks at various bars while he was working nights. He even blamed himself for having caught Tina in the car with the carpenter who was building their dream house that never was finished.

In California he was able to land a job as a Good Humor man, white uniform and all, serving such great people like Victor Mature, Tyrone Power and his wife Linda Darnel who often entertained Errol Flynn; buying him big succulent ice cream cones that the three would greedily share as if they were indulging in something obscene right in front of Al's eyes. He often told them that his x-wife was a double for a blend between Joan Crawford and Constance Bennett. They told him to bring her out and they would get her a hot role and Al did send Tina a letter telling her he would get her a part in a movie. He would believe that if she hadn't married again, she would have taken him up on it. He didn't think she really meant her "fuck off" letter back to him.

After Tina's second divorce, Al returned to Burywater; got married to spite Tina and then moved in with her giving her his disability check and whatever winnings he would get on his horse bets with the ten dollar allowance Tina would give him.

"I died on the operating table and Christ came to me telling me He would show me the way to make millions in antiques and all I would have to do was help all the crippled children in the world." He would tell this to all the five children bearing his last name and even the two sons Tina had during her second marriage. It was his way to say how sorry he felt for his marriage dying and they being placed in the stomach of that orphanage for almost two years.

He made them all laugh when he would tell them that when he ever made his first million he would have given half to Tina and she would have put then deep inside her mouth, between her breasts and some between her legs and then he would have wrestled all the money back from her - and laugh at her shocked expression!

The near adult children would think Al's crying was part of his pseudo laughing.

Al would die during his last open-heart surgery.

Al was fifty-two years old.


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