The Right-Cross Kid

Jerry Vilhotti

© Copyright 2007 by Jerry Vilhotti


A year after Johnny had his third leg operation, his older brother Leny One N, all ready having graduated from the Lepke reformatory and Grand Tobacco Acres State prison, and his brother-in-law Gus, who told everyone he had shot down around a million Kamikaze planes all by himself when he was saving a thing that was said to be a democracy and he once shook the hand of a guy who shook Gus Lesnevich's hand, attempted to get him into professional boxing.

"Jeez kid, me and Leny thought you might want to go into the ring and become a champion because. I thought you wanted to be like Tami and he almost beat Gus the first time they fou-" Gus was interrupted by Johnny's oldest brother Leny who was concerned that Gus was about to carry on the old rumor of sixteen years that Johnny might have been fathered by a guy who had gone out with their oldest sister Tina of the Troy for six months but had to go to an upstate reformatory where it took five guards to subdue the sixteen year old and when he came out decided to stop being a bum and go into the fighting "game" to win eventually a championship of the world by beating a champion with the name of "French Fries" or so Leny called Marcel Sadan.

"Yeah, don't worry about your leg because you remember Tami of Arthur Ave. who fought Joe Louis?  Well he had a bum leg too and it made no difference to him.  He won sixty-nine fights and I think he lost only six times," Leny said; leaving out the crucial fact that after staggering the great champ in the first round Tami could not back up away from the incoming charge due to a foot that had been run over by a truck- about the same age Johnny was when a close friend had been run over by a truck - trying to make good time - and so was knocked out 2:09 of the 'first candle".  Johnny had stayed with his friend who was bleeding and his guts spilling onto the cobblestones until his eyes became frozen.

"Johnny we'll even take you to Gleason's gym in The Bronx where Tami, Jake, Belloise, Tarranova and Biaggi trained.  They wouldn't go down to Stillman's gym in Manhattan so proud to be Bronx guys!" Leny said giving Gus a wink ....

"Look Johnny, a boxer has to have two good legs to go the rounds he has to last," Biaggi said trying to talk the kid out of going into a sport that knocked brains out.  Biaggi was proud that he still held the record at the East Harlem Club knocking out his first opponent in eleven seconds of the first round but when he came home thinking he was going to be like Tami Mauriello who lived on their same street beating the likes of Bruce Woodcock and Lou Nova. He told Johnny it was Tami who loaned him his robe that night since he didn't have one but then his father signed him and his brother Tonto into the conservation core which sent them to Montana on Fukeventer Mountain and then when they came back to The Bronx war had broken out and he went into the army walking from Northern Africa to Germany during which time he got two purple hearts and flat feet that would have made cops envious..  He had helped save the world from a world order that would be replaced by arrogant leaders telling the people that theirs was a better world order which would bring all the peoples of the world a democracy in a somewhat unrecognizable form and pure unfettered capitalism that would have "the survival of the fittest" as a slogan while the unwashed masses had to give up just a few freedoms so the full control could be gained by the world super elite and their puppets in politics getting eighty-five thousand dollar pensions while the "riff raff", also known as workers, were losing their pensions, health care, homes and dignity.

Biaggi would always have contempt for guys like Leny One N and Gus who only thought of their own gain at the expense of others.

Johnny liked Biaggi and respected him for all he had gone through and decided he would say another no to Leny as he had done as a five year old in the East Bronx after being forced by his older brother to fight the "rouna cawna" kids who were older and heavier than he so getting Leny bigger odds from betters like Julie Finklestein (John Garfield) Steve Mauriello ( Tami who borrowed his older brothers first name being only fifteen years old when he began his fighting career, Jake Lamotta ( who was going steady with Johnny's oldest sister Tina of the Troy) Vince Lombardi (one of the seven blocks of granite that were stopping other college football teams from scoring - who could not believe the kid with blond curly hair and a big smile could fight but fight he did -  winning all his battles - all frightened up inside.

"It's not your f--king fault your a coward!" Leny said disappointedly while Gus repeated that Johnny could have been a champion or a contender after seeing him as a thirteen year old beating up a sixteen year old bully so easily who had shouted his people didn't want Johnny's kind playing baseball in their sacred shamrock four leaf clover laden neighborhood.

Johnny told Leny and Gus to go fuck themselves which they probably did in the smoke shop they were partners, in a downtown Burywater, doing bookmaking and when one of them was alone - sending the other for coffee -  would go masturbate to the girlie mags full of beautiful big breasted half-naked women....

"Look kid I ain't saying you don't have moxie.  Jesus, I and my brother Tonto bet on all your fights and you doing your right jab and they were looking for a left hook but you did your right cross sending them down and we made money!  Remember when you went into that apartment to get our ball for us older guys playing stickball and Jimmy Cherry's mother who called everybody pieces of strained shit ran after you but you escaped with the ball and jumped out the window - all five feet down - and we cheered for you? So kid you got balls - don't let Leny and Gus eat them up." Biaggi said.

Leny and Gus said they would give him ten percent of the purse - which was "lots of money for a sixteen year old kid!" And to fully con Johnny they told him they would set him up with girls better looking than those girlie mags he was always studying while in the back room of their smoke shop but Johnny was doing OK in that department what with his now dark curly hair and rugged good looks.

Johnny never became a boxer; instead, he became a husband at the age of nineteen, a college grad with great help from his year and a half younger wife who worked in Manhattan in the same building that housed the British embassy which was constantly under siege by Irish, Polynesians, Argentines, Hindus while he was finally graduating from Harlem College after seven years, a teacher with a Sociology major and a masters equivalency in world literature that enabled him to teach some kids how to think, a father of a son and two daughters and a writer who would contribute in a small way some literature to a world going deaf and blind burning up in self-hate ... as it was fearfully embracing a renaissance of the Dark Ages.

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