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Upsidedown Trees

By Jerry Vilhotti

While the six men were playing a New Brunswick California Settlement version of poker Big Mike, the father of two of the men who had journeyed six hundred miles to visit him after his release from the Saint John Hospital, sang a song semi-created by a young fellow patient.

The words told of traveling through life in a cobalt treatment machine named "Cannonball Express" that released its electrons into the malignant cancer attempting to kill it before it could devour life. Those were the days doctors were making commercials with a cigarette dangling from their lips telling young kids watching that not only did the cancer sticks taste good but they were good tasting to boot!

"Dad! Dad - you're looking much better!" Gavin his youngest son said. The more Gavin drank the more beady his eyes became.

"Looking and being are two different animals, Hon," Big Mike said; liking the pity he was being bathed in up to his eyeballs.

"Gee Dad, don't talk that way!" Monty his older son said getting up in a fitful rush; to go out and cry on the deck where "Bear Dog" came to stand under the thirty year old's patting hand and he whispered to the big dog that he would keep his promise he had made their first day to his father that he would plant the six trees by the barn ....

"No need in planting those trees. I'll do them tomorrow so you guys don't get caught up in the Queen's Day traffic," Big Mike said the morning they were to leave after having spent five days of fishing, gambling, drinking, fishing, drinking, gambling, drinking ....

"No Dad! I'll do her now!" Monty said beginning to walk in circles.

"That's OK , Hon. They can wait," he said looking out the window as if for the dawn.

Johnny, (Mr. S. teacher of all Big Mike's children) had come up with the boys as their guest and had really enjoyed himself among these down to earth people nearly out-drinking, out-playing and out-cursing most of them - except for the women who occasionally screamed concepts he had never thought about: "In your asshole - up your throat - and out of you mouth! "Hey Slur Man - jam this between your mother's legs and then into one ear and out the other! Hey Gavin up your one nostril and out the other - fuck off you Blair flake!" And then after twenty or so drinks the women began turning on each: "Up from your gangrened toes into your wormy cunt!" "Hey Josie, did anyone tell you your French-Canadian nipples are cross-eyed?"

That morning on the road again and listening to Monty lamenting he hadn't planted the trees for his father, Johnny marveled how the little boy, father of the man, never left one - as one of the great poets had said.

In the Maine sunrise, Johnny thought to himself: Damn, we should have planted those trees the very first day and then he recalled his own father's death six years earlier and the willow tree his father had planted for him that he had climbed to the sky.

(C)opyright 2007 Jerry Vilhotti All Rights Reserved

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