After months of badgering, Leona Vladso gave in to her six-year-old son’s demands. “Fine, Ronny, I’ll tell you about your father, but I warn you, it’s not a pretty picture.”
Ronny Valdso knew his father was dead, however he did not know the details of his life or death. Every time he asked about his old man, his mother would only say, “He’s entertaining God.”
As Ronny sat in a rigid, hardwood, kitchen chair, Leona paced in front of him. “I only knew your dad a short while before he died,” Leona began. “I met Bosco–that was his name, Bosco Peppitone–at the corner of Desmond Avenue and 126th Street. I had just finished my laundry and was carrying it back to my apartment. As I neared neared the corner, I heard this clicking noise…click, click click. It was semi-rhythmic, and I could tell the sound was the product of wood being struck. Turning the corner onto Desmond, I collided with Bosco. My laundry and your farther took a tumble on the sidewalk.”
Ronny’s eyes were wide as he listened to his mother’s account.
“Then what happened?” he ask eagerly.
“I asked if he was hurt. He said ‘no’ and helped me pick up my clothes. As I watched him pick up my panties, I noticed for the first time how handsome he was, just like you. I also noticed he was wearing a plaid mini-skirt, high-top sneakers, and a t-shirt from a ZZ Top concert. I gotta tell you Ronny, that was weird, but the really weird thing was the hair on his legs. It was about three inches long. Bellow his skirt he looked like a mountain gorilla.”
Ronny’s mouth fell open, “Was he a monster?”
“No honey, in fact he was quite sweet. You might think someone with gorilla legs would be scary, but I thought his hairy legs were beautiful. He spent a lot of time grooming his legs. He used expensive shampoos and conditioners, and he brushed them every evening.”
“Why was he dressed so silly?” asked Ronny.
“That’s what I wanted to know. I mean he looked like a waiter at a gay bikers club.”
“What’s a gay biker?”
“Never mind. Anyway, I asked him about his attire, and he told me he was a busker. I had no idea what a busker was, and then he showed me his clanking sticks, began banging them together, and started to do a slow soft shoe. He told me a busker was a professional street performer, a person or persons who performs some kind of act on the street for tips.”
“Dad was in show business?”
“Sort of,” said Leona
“So Bosco asked me out for coffee, and we really hit it off. Next thing I knew, Bosco and me moved in together, and I was pregnant with you”
“Did you let the hair grow out on your legs?”
“Uh, no honey, I didn’t.” Leona didn’t want to tell the boy why she and Bosco never married.”
“OK, so mom, how did Bosco die?”
Leona really didn’t want to get into Bosco’s death, but she knew she would have to deal with it eventually, why not now? “Honey, your daddy was a good man, but he wasn’t a great busker. Between his busking and my job at Pengin-on-a-Stick we could barely keep food on the table. Bosco was determined to make it as a busker, and he was also determined to provide a good life for us, so he relocated his busking from the corner of Desmond and 126 Street to Wall Street, just south of the stock exchange. He felt sure those mega-rich stockbrokers would surely be a higher-paying audience for his talents,”
Ronny got a quizzical look on his face. “What’s a stockbroker?”
Leona’s face grew somber. “It’s just another word for ‘asshole.’ Now listen up, I’m only gonna talk about this once, so pay attention. With the bills piling up at home, Bosco was feeling pressure to incorporate new bits into his act. Banging sticks together and doing a soft shoe just wasn’t enough for the jaded stockbrokers. Your daddy learned to yodel and juggle cats. He slid garden snakes up his nose and out his mouth. But what really did him in was his decision to become a stick-banging mime.”
The boy appeared confused. “What’s wrong with being a mime?”
Leona sighed. “You are too young to understand Ronny, but people hate mimes, and stockbrokers hate mimes worse than the hate poor people. After the close of trading on a Wednesday, a month after Bosco’s relocation, he painted his face white and started pretending he was banging sticks together. A large group of stockbrokers came by on the way to their favorite bar, and Bosco jumped in front of them and really started working his stick-banging pantomime. At first, the brokers tried to ignore him, but your father was relentless. Finally one of the men had enough and told Bosco to get out of way. Your dad was a stubborn man, and he was determined to mime his ass off. That was unfortunate. According to witnesses, briefcases began flying and wing-tip shoes lashed out at Bosco When the group of irate stockbrokers fled, Bosco lay dying on the sidewalk. Before an ambulance could arrive, a faux leopard-skin coat came by. She picked up his real sicks and crushed his skull. I’m sorry you had to hear about this Ronny, but you wanted to know. The world can be a cruel place.”
The boy hung his head…thinking. Leona hoped the story hadn’t traumatized her son. Finally,Ronny looked at his mom. “You know mom, the world is really fucked up. Why would someone kill a faux leopard just to make a coat?”