Johnny Who Babe
by Jerry Vilhotti

Johnny heard his name called in an hour of the deepest darkness in the middle of a howling wind. His name was being pronounced in his father's ancient tongue but he would not get up to see if his father were standing outside his bedroom window actually calling him. According to his sister Alice, their father was plowing their sister Tina, the child of the field conceived there among rocks two years before her parents would get permission to marry by the matriarch called whom the father would call contemptuously "Mamasu" which meant literally "her mother".

Alice had screamed into Johnny's ear which he jerked the receiver away while still hearing: "The Make Believe Ballroom Time! It's like that! Remember when you were three or four dancing with thirteen year old me in the parlor while I was standing on my knees?"

"What the hell are you saying?"

Remember all the songs like "Perfidia", "Green Eyes", "Donkey Serenade", "Amapola" and I would playfully rub your leg and you said it felt good?"

Yes, he remembered. He still could hum those melodies but one song he could not remember its title. The haunting melody that if he knew its name would have convinced him that he was truly loved by his father for himself and not due to the fact all his siblings had resented him saying he stole their father's love from them. This was probably why their father did tell everyone Johnny was his favorite to protect him from being thrown off the roof of their five-story building by his two sisters and two brothers.

Johnny told her he didn't remember; that it was too long ago and far away.

Just before Alice hung up smashing an even greater noise to his ear, she told him she had vomited soon after Tina told her what their father was doing to her.

"How do you know its true? Could a Tina who probably invented the lie ever be able to tell a truth. Her kids and her two husbands she threw away like they were just pieces of sh-"

Then the noise happened; followed by the dial tone that sounded like crying.


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