Wednesday, December 5, 2012

37TH BINGO BOY episode 12/6/12

Bingo Boy - post 37

Permit me to introduce myself before I begin the tale. My era was the eighteen eighties. I lived in a small room at the back of a tenement with my father, a hat blocker for The Stetson company. Well, he was a hat blocker til his hands were smashed and burned in a 'shaping' machine.  The steam was under pressure and very, very hot. I was eleven years old. They sent him home with bandages. A doctor, paid by the company, came once a day to go through the motions, but he couldn't do anything. And some days he never came at all. 

He got a pension, my father I mean. Think it was about three and a half dollars a week. Just enough to slowly starve in quiet, unseen poverty. A woman upstairs crocheted mittens. He wore them all year long. That became his name -- 'Mittens.' The kids called him 'Mittens.' And I was mittens boy. Earned some money sweeping out a taproom. Never went to school no more. That stopped after fourth grade. Who the hell has to know fractions anyway?

One day, must a been almost thirteen, I sneak off to the side show with 'Fat Ass.' He was a kid from the next block. They had 'The Luxemburg Mermaid.' Looked like a flabby whore with her legs stuffed into a tight tube made outta oiled up snakeskin. I says - Yo, you God damned bastid! She ain't no Luxemburg Mermaid. She ain't even from France! Ain't that where all the mermaids come from?....... Fat Ass goes - No, them's hootchie-kootchie dancers they got over there..... But the guy what took our money didn't like my looks and he mumbled somethin' when we left. Even the mermaid thumbed her nose at us and said - Drop dead.....

Two minutes later, Fat Ass gotta go take a crap, so he run into the crap-tent. You can imagine the olfactory memories made in that hole. That why folks piss up alleys. I squeeze through bunch a stinkin' people lookin' for the Vienna Sausage man. Got my four cents ready and everything. Daddy say - Don't eat them Vienna Sausage. They made outta monkey balls and lady-toes. He say it a well known fact. But I don't set much store on well known fact. 

Only thing, never did sink my teeth through that hot, pig gut casing. Got conked over the head and pulled into a wagon, I did. Later i heard Fat Ass set up the whole thing. His uncle pay for him a go to 'white slaver' school and I like one a the tests. Don't 'member much til after it happen. What they done to me, I mean. But after, they gimme a mirror so I can look. Took 'em two days too, plus four more for the pus and the swellin' to go down. Tattooed bunch a swirly shit all over my face, my ears, my head (they shaved that) and everywhere. Some lines is brown. Some is green. Some is yellow. Dye my teeth orange too. Don't know how they did that. Don't like a think 'bout no greasy bastid stickin' his fingers in my mouth. So now I a freak an' a 'hop' head too, 'cause they gimme all kind a Asiatic Elixirs to keep me quiet, while they 'colored me up.'.....

Call me Lizard-Head-Johnny, the boy wit' an alligator 'pa.' I cry for weeks. Time I stop we in Pittsburgh. Still play Philly every spring, but I don't go home. I don't know what I do. Third time we circle back here I get 'lock jaw.' Think I step on a tack or somethin'. Carnie-doc say he know how to fix it, so he gimme some pills. Shake and sweat for couple night. Shit the bed real bad too. But two days later I stop all that, 'cause I dead. Must a been like fifteen, or almost fifteen years old. Sold what was left a me to some surgery school on eleventh street. That why I 'ghostin'' in Philly. That why I hear.

And before I forget, lemme tell you why I come tonight. I come to tell you 'bout that skinny school teacher. He wern't gone call no cousin at no telly-vision place. He jus' gone suck it up like a big, old, stupid dope. But then he get a letter from the school. It say (and I memorize this part) - Due to budgetary constraints your position as music teacher and in-house substitute are no longer covered. Please see me (that mean a big, boxy, principal woman) in my office on Monday, of next week, at 7:30AM, so I can supply you with all forms necessary for re-assignment to another school........ Principal woman ain't one a his friends. But he never think she gone do somethin' like this...... That when he change his mind....

And now folks gonna cry.....

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