"Thirty-Eighth Parallel"
by Jerry Vilhotti

If Johnny and Linda Ann were going to eat at least one meal a day - Johnny had to get a job! Linda Ann's job working as receptionist at the Navy Offices in mid-Manhattan was able to pay the rent, utilities and a partial meal for the day, so he became a census taker (when they were not being threatened), believing he could handle his non-matric courses at Brokenland College - a school that would have allowed him that status for life - though the possibility of his matriculating among students who were reading the Bible before the age of five made him believe this was remote, as his minus average was climbing toward fifteen and he would eventually transfer all his credits from Tom's college to Harlem College when Professor Booker Walker told him the school in upper Manhattan was made up of people his kind--that could not afford to go to any other schools--and he mentioned famous people that graduated from it like Salk Vaccine, Edward G Robinson, a Justice Frankfurter and the great Bertram Russell, who had taught there before the New York Supreme Court ruled he could no longer teach At Harlem College since he was making the poor riffraff think ....

Tom had graduated Brokenland in a record three years and insisted Johnny go to "his school", enrolling him in courses that had a prerequisite of needing to be a sophomore which, though getting C's to the great astonishment of his brothers, Leny One N and Tommy Tom Tom, who found his feat very hard to believe in that he graduated high school in Burywater with a flunking average (passing enough courses) telling his mother that "his school" was so advanced that they would not allow kids from having any homework so the reason he never carried books home.

One of Johnny's first assignments was to go count people in the Little Korea section of Williamsburg, since he had a car which, for the time being, was in his possession--having been crazy to have gone partners with Tom in buying a used car that had Tom having it for weekends to go to the Poconos to visit his second wife's parents (whose father was a vice president at Simon and Shutter Publishing House and a sister cousin who was a Miss America with a penchant for taking items from stores without paying) and Johnny would have the car during weekdays.

When Johnny came out counting nine hundred people living in the tenement on Herkemer Street, he saw his big car that Tom would steal on a Wednesday or a Thursday surrounded by fifteen Hispanic guys who were determined to lift it up and put it on the sidewalk.

Johnny nestled in between two guys and began helping them. One guy looked at Johnny and said: "Hey man, didn't I see you getting out of this car?"

Johnny nodded and put an even more determined expression on his face as he put every strain into the lift, which got everyone to laugh as one added to the laughter by saying " And you guys telling me we don't have the best people-counters in the world!"

Johnny drove away waving as they stood with wide grins waving back tenderly.

Johnny would eventually graduate from Harlem College the year after a guy who was in the ROTC would become a Secretary of State and convince the UN that a weak country had weapons of mass destruction, though in his heart he knew he was perpetuating the Great Decder's need to kill innocence, and he and Linda Ann would bring forth three children into a world to kill itself off a billion years before its time, become a teacher whose only goal was to have his students be able to think and become a sort of a decent writer ....

END 4-22-10

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