7/11/2012

Night Bird Flying - Chapter 13: Hey Joe




Apricot could hear footsteps coming up the stairs where Johnny had just left her.  Her heart fluttered.

"Johnny?" she called in hope that he would be the one to peak around the corner.  Instead it was Joey, wearing a long overcoat and a blank ominous expression on his face.  Apricot groaned loudly, lying her head back on the side of her bed.  "Ugh, it's you."

When Joey reached the top step, he stared down at Apricot's naked body menacingly, clinching the shotgun behind his overcoat tightly as he pulled it out and pointed it directly at her.

"Oohh, Whatcha got there, Joe?" Apricot asked, her eyes dilating at the sight of the gun as she stared at it in wonder.

Joey realized that something was wrong and lowered his weapon.  "What's wrong with you?" he asked in a near whisper.

"Nothing," she said biting her index finger innocently.  Joey walked farther into the room and spotted the drawer full of drugs that Johnny had left open.  He quickly realized what must have happened.  Apricot had either done the drugs or Johnny had brought them to her, dosed her, and then took advantage of her in her intoxicated state.  It had to explain why she was handcuffed and naked.  This wasn't Apricot's fault, Joey thought.  That was settled.  Johnny B. Goode would die.  Tonight.

As Joey sheathed the shotgun into his jacket, he turned and stepped out of the room.

"Hey Joey," Apricot yelled back at him.  He turned around in the hallway to see what she wanted.  "Me and Johnny had sex."

"I know," Joey whispered harshly with sharp emotions.  As he turned again, Apricot called out to him once more.

"You don't want some?" she asked with some strange form of drug-induced sincerity.
Joey stopped in his tracks, turned his head, and looked back at her, taking in the view of her naked body.  He knew he shouldn't.  He'd be committing an act worse than Johnny himself.  But the temptation was killing him, especially with the thought that after what he was about to do, he'd most likely never get the chance to engage in the act ever again.  He didn't need to be a hero either, all he needed to do was deliver the justice.  With his mind made up, he pulled his jacket off, went into the room, and shut the door behind him.

--------------------------------------------------

"Yeah, I don't know what her deal was," Johnny said through the phone, as he lay on his bed strumming his guitar.

"She said she wanted to sleep with you?" Chase asked on the other line, brushing his teeth in the mirror of his bathroom.  "She had to have been high."

"Thanks for that, Chase," Johnny said with sarcasm.  "Anyways, I had to kick her out until she gets clean."

"What're we going to do until then?  I mean, we kind of need her."

"I'm not sure.  We'll have to find a temporary Fill-In or just do without her.  I'll talk to Paul and see what he thinks."

"Okay.  And what're you going to say to Joey about this?"

"I'll tell him the truth.  She's addicted to drugs so she's out until she gets help.  Simple as that."

"So you're not going to tell him about the rest of the incident?"

"Why would I need to?  He can survive without knowin' and chances are it was the drugs talkin' anyway.  No use blowin' things out of proportion."

"Whatever you say, man," said Chase, rinsing his mouth out.  "I've got to go now.  Headed for bed."

"It's like 7:30," Johnny said, looking at the time on the watch that lay on his table.
"Yeah, beauty sleep, bro."  He stepped out of his bathroom and walked down the hall.  "Wait, there's someone on the other line...oh...holy crap dude, I've got to take this.  This is über important and it may have something to do with the band.  I'll talk to you later."

"Alright, let me know what's up.  Peace."  Johnny hung up the phone and gave the Night Bird his full attention.  A few minutes later, someone knocked on his door.  "Come in."

Uncle Chuck entered the room.  He was dressed nicely in a modernized leisure suit and crumpled a paper towel piece in his hand as he entered.  "Johnny, I'm goin' out.  Do not fuck up my house and do not throw no damn parties.  There's a pistol in the drawer of my room if some shit happens.  If I find out its your fault, your ass is mine."

"I never took you for that kind of guy, Uncle Chuck," Johnny joked.

Uncle Chuck tossed the paper at Johnny, hitting him in the face.  "Shut your punk ass up."  He turned around and headed down the stairs.  "I'll be back at 11.  Love you, boy."

"Yeah, love you too," Johnny said, still feeling a bit uncomfortable with saying it so blatantly.  Johnny strummed at the Night Bird patiently until he heard the door slam downstairs.  At the sound, he immediately grabbed his phone and speed-dialed May's number.  After a few seconds of ringing, she answered.

"Hey, honey," she greeted, as she saw his name appear on her phone.

"Hey, guess what?" he said enthusiastically.

"What?"

"My uncle is out for the next few hours and I've got the house to myself."

"Ah, so this is a booty call," May responded as if she were slightly offended.

"Well no, I wouldn't call it that.  I'm just callin' to see if you want to come over and do it again."

"Yeah, a booty call."

"Hey, you're the one puttin' the label on it, not me."

May laughed.  "Alright, I'll be over in a bit."

"Wear somethin' cute," Johnny said, standing up.  "Oh wait, that's pretty much anythin' you wear, nevermind."

"Okay, Bond, I'll see you in a little."

"Can't wait.  Bye," he hung up the phone and raced downstairs to get things set up for her arrival.  He knew exactly where Uncle Chuck kept the drinks.  He was going to try his absolute best to make this as romantic of a date as possible, despite his lack of professional expertise on the matter.  He grabbed two wine glasses along with the wine bottles that accompanied them from the bottom cupboard in the kitchen but decided to wait for May to actually arrive before pouring the glasses.

Johnny walked over, grabbed a lighter from the table, and pulled some candles from another cupboard in the kitchen, bringing them into the living room.  He set them up and lit them all individually, before going to the light switch and turning it off.  The only light in the room came from the one in the kitchen and the candles.  With an absence of sound being the only thing missing, Johnny walked over to Uncle Chuck's old stereo, went into his collection, popped in some old school Hall & Oates to establish a mood.

Outside the house, Joey pulled up a block from it and parked.  He looked up and took a deep breath, reaching down and kissing a crucifix that was hanging from his neck before exiting the car, the shotgun in his overcoat.  He walked with a purpose down the middle of the street until he spotted the house in plain view.  His heart began to race.

"I can't believe I'm doing this," he said as his nerves pulled him forward one step at a time.

Johnny was in the bathroom shirtless, grabbing a bottle of Uncle Chuck's body oil.

"I can't believe I'm doin' this," Johnny said, squirting the oil in his hand and rubbing it all over his chest.

Joey approached the front door and pressed the doorbell button before walking off of the porch and back out into the street.  Johnny heard it and looked around in surprise.  She's pretty early, he thought.  She must have already been on the road when I called.  He left the bathroom and quickly walked downstairs with excitement.

Joey pulled the shotgun out of his jacket, cocked it, and pointed it directly at the door.  He made sure to maintain self-control to make sure Johnny realized that he was about to die before Joey pulled the trigger.

Johnny opened the door with a large smile and started to open the screen door in front of him, when he saw Joey standing outside with the shotgun pointed directly at him.  The smile disappeared quickly.  Joey pulled the trigger.

BANG!  Johnny jerked to his side as the barrage of bullets shattered the glass of the screen door.  What the hell is going on? he thought.  What the hell is Joey doing?  There was a window right above Johnny, who was sitting by the door in shock.  He got up quickly but immediately realized that he was exposed and ducked down in a flash, just as another gunshot sounded and the glass from the window flew over his back.

Johnny sprinted to the other side of the door while Joey pumped the shotgun once again.  He busted into Uncle Chuck's room, flipping on the light.  The window to the room was right by the door and Joey could see it fly open.  BANG!  The bullets tore through the door, slamming it closed as Johnny tried to enter.  The splintered part of it stabbed him right in the head, narrowly missing his eye.  He began to bleed over his face as he ducked down and snuck into the room.

There was a drawer by Chuck's bed.  Johnny opened one of them frantically and saw a black .9 mm Pistol right in the middle, surrounded by a collection of condoms.  Johnny pulled it out and closed the drawer, turning the light off on his way back.  He edged across the wall anxiously as he held the gun at the ready.  For him to get back into the living room, he would have to pass by the front door once again.  Johnny pulled out the clip to see that it was full, re-inserted it, and cocked the gun.  He took a deep breath and hopped past the open door, firing several shots through it as he fell onto the other side.  He was sure none of the bullets landed so he needed to keep moving.

Johnny ran into the living room and ducked down once again, as the window by it shattered and rained glass onto Chuck's Plasma TV.  Johnny crawled by the couch and aimed the gun at the light in the kitchen, firing and darkening the room.  He crawled back to the table and blew out the candles, immersing himself in complete darkness.

Joey was impressed that Johnny was putting up a fight.  Those shots he fired through the doorway caught him off-guard and he was nearly hit as they zoomed by.  He sprinted up the steps of the house, hiding behind the side of the doorway for cover.  He counted to three and entered the dark house with his gun ahead of him.  Without the ability to see, Joey started to grow anxious as he moved professionally throughout the house.  The only sound that filled the room was the Hall & Oates music being played over the stereo and Joey was beginning to regret his decision to lead a one-man assault on Johnny's house.  He knew that Johnny could destroy him in a hand-to-hand fight and he was completely open for attack in this darkness.  He had to use his head.

As he entered the den, the television suddenly flickered on, displaying a news channel.  It startled Joey, who looked at it but signed in relief that it wasn't something else.  Glass.  Footsteps breaking the shards behind him.  Joey whipped around just in time to see Johnny swinging a large wine bottle directly at his head.  He ducked quickly and countered with a strike to the face with the butt of his gun that sent Johnny to the floor.  Just as Joey turned the shotgun back in his direction, Johnny fired the pistol at the TV, shrouding the two in darkness once again.

Johnny kicked at the gun and felt it fall to the floor.  He hopped to his feet and the two fought in the dark.  Both of them were receiving heavy blows that were sure to leave marks but neither showed signs of relinquishing the pressure.  Joey tripped over the coffee table in front of the TV and fell to the floor, crawling away as quickly as possible while Johnny hopped over the couch.  Joey got back to his feet as his eyes adjusted to the dark and tackled Johnny into the kitchen.  The two were grappling fiercely until Joey pushed Johnny away.  They continued to strike at each other until Johnny began to get the upper hand, landing several shots, one after another.  Eventually, Joey grabbed hold of one of the punches and tried to twist his fist around, to which Johnny countered by grabbing hold of Joey's arm.  The two tussled towards the glass-door that led to the patio outside in the backyard, struggling to keep their grip on each other.  As they both began to lose their balance, they smashed through the back entrance, spraying glass everywhere.  The patio light switched on, as it was automated to turn on when it detected large motion outside.

Joey and Johnny stood up and continued to fight on the patio.  Joey began to worry, as he knew Johnny would have the upper hand, now having perfect light and an unarmed opponent.  Joey went in for a punch, which was considerably weak, to which Johnny knocked away and followed up with his own.  It was devastating, knocking Joey back as he lost his balance, collapsing onto a pillar that held up the sun roof above them.  As he started to turn back around using the pillar for support, Johnny spun quickly to gather momentum and sent a powerful kick right to the back of Joey's head, which sent him flipping farther into the backyard.

Joey slowly got to his feet and charged across the backyard grass towards Johnny as he began to approach him.  He threw a punch, which Johnny dodged and countered with a blow to Joey's abdomen.  He followed with a punch to the face and several more following that, the last of which sent Joey back down onto the grass.  Joey got up onto his knees, blood dripping from his face, and struggled to stand up.  As soon as he turned, doubled over and barely off the ground, Johnny kneed him directly in the face.  The force propelled Joey so far into the air, that he did a complete back flip and landed on his stomach hard with a grunt and a loud thud.

Johnny stood over Joey breathing heavily, his face bloodied and bruised but not nearly as abused as the guy lying before him.  He walked to Joey's side and kicked him as hard as he could.  Joey cried out in pain and rolled onto his back.

"All right, all right, I give!" he shouted, holding himself.

"You give?" Johnny repeated with anger.  "You give?!  'Give' me a reason why I shouldn't keep goin', Joey!  Why the fuck are you tryin' to kill me?!"

"Because you're a fucking traitor, Johnny B!" Joey shouted with weak anger masked over by the pain.  "You drugged up Apricot and had your way with her!"

"What the hell are you talkin' about?!  I never drugged her!"

"Then why were you coming out of her house earlier?  Why was she handcuffed naked in her room and acting delusional?"

"Joey, she was tryin' to kill herself on the roof!  I saved her life.  She was high on LSD and God knows what else."

"You're a fucking liar!  You were after her the whole time and you made the others think I didn't belong in the band to fuel it!"

"Joey, for once will you fuckin' listen to me!!" Johnny screamed, grabbing Joey by the shirt and confronting him, their faces inches from each other.  "Do you really think I would do that to you?  Because if you do, this was all a mistake from the very start!  I handcuffed her to the bedpost to stop her from hurtin' herself!  I left the drugs out so her mom would find them and get her help!  Apricot was high, whatever she told you was said because of that!  You are too fuckin' blind with rage to see anythin' right now!  Calm the hell down!!"

Johnny threw Joey to the ground and stood over him, waiting for him to make a move.  Joey looked up at Johnny sternly through his facial wounds and saw the genuineness in his eyes.  He was telling the truth.  Joey laid back down on the grass and placed his hands over his face, overcome with grief.

"Oh my God," Joey moaned behind his hands.  "I fucked up...I fucked up."

"Big time," Johnny said, wiping the blood from his mouth as he headed back into the house.

"I can't believe it.  I went into my best friend's house with a shotgun with the intent of killing him.  The cops will be here in a matter of time.  I'm screwed.  And on top of that, I took advantage of Ap for no reason at all."

Johnny emerged from the house with the wine glasses in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other.  Joey turned and looked at him curiously as he walked to the steps of the patio and sat down with them.

"What the hell are you doing?" he asked in confusion.

Johnny pulled the cork out of the wine bottle with a bottle opener he'd also brought from the kitchen.  He took a deep breath.  "You're goin' to jail, Joey.  For a long ass time.  Someone was bound to hear the shots and called 911."

"No kidding," Joey said, looking away with despair.

"Well, if I were you, I wouldn't spend my last few minutes of freedom sulkin' around on the grass.  You gonna have a drink with me or no?"

Joey turned to Johnny with a look of disbelief, to which Johnny returned with a hurried expression.  Joey got up from the grass and sat down beside Johnny.

"You're not mad that I tried to kill you?" Joey asked, turning to him curiously.

"I'm fuckin' furious," Johnny said, pouring the first glass.  "But you realized your mistake and now you're back to your old self.  Misunderstandin's are like a cold, you know?  When it's resolved, everythin' goes back to normal, as if it never happened.  Unfortunately, we can't pretend like this never happened, I mean you had me at gunpoint just a few minutes ago.  But we can make the best of our last time together."

Joey chuckled, as he took the glass from Johnny, who then proceeded to pour his own.  "I could've brought my Bass and we could've jammed out before the police got here."

Johnny chuckled and lifted his glass.  "To music."

"To music."  Joey toasted his glass with Johnny's and the two took a swig of it before continuing the conversation.  "I'm 20 years old, Johnny."

"What?" Johnny said with a confused look.

"I'm 20 years old.  I flunked freshman year twice.  My house isn't a house, it's an apartment.  My parents kicked me out two years ago because I used to be really rebellious, almost like you.  Mainly I was lashing out because I didn't really have any friends; most of them turned against me after our first band attempt.  My life basically sucked.  When I turned a new leaf, my parents still wouldn't let me back, so I had to make it on my own.  Got an apartment building and that's where I've lived, but I've been ashamed to tell anyone.  That's why you've never seen my place.  I bought the shotgun myself last year, no permit.  Another charge will be tacked on for that.  To be perfectly honest, my life was a living hell before you came around.  I was days away from suicide; that's what the shotgun was originally for.  And joining your band was the best thing that could have ever happened to me, I felt like you were my saving grace, you know?  And when I thought you betrayed me, I flipped out.  I thought I'd have to go back to the life of being a worthless shell again.  I couldn't take it.  I'm sorry."

Johnny turned away and looked down at his wine glass intently.

"Anyway," Joey said, coming back after spacing out for a short moment.  "So who are you going to replace me with in the band?"

"I don't like to call it replacin', it's an insult.  Fill-in sounds more temporary."

"Okay, who're you going to fill in to take my place?"

"I honestly don't know," Johnny said, sipping his wine once again.  "I still haven't thought of a Fill-In for Apricot yet.  We'll probably be at a stand-still until we do."

"Man, Apricot.  I shouldn’t have recruited her into the band now.  She's fucked everything up."

"I was the one that persuaded you into it," Johnny said, putting an arm around Joey's shoulder.  "I'm startin' to regret that now, but it's whatever."

"You shouldn't," Joey said with a smirk.  "Because whatever happens happens, no use wondering what could have been.  You accept that and it makes life a lot easier."

Johnny turned to Joey with a smile and slapped him on the back of the head.  "Hurry up and finish that wine," he said chuckling.  "We're underage.  Don't want to add on any more charges."

"Right," Joey said, downing the rest of the wine before handing the glass back to Johnny, who carried the empty glasses and the bottle back in side.  "Thanks man."

When Johnny re-emerged from the house, he held the neck of the Night Bird firmly in one hand.  "You know, you could just get out of here.  Run through the fences of the neighborhood and get away as fast as you can.  Nobody would ever know you were here.  I could say somebody tried to kill me and fled the scene, maybe the Silencer or something."

The sound of sirens echoed in the distance and grew louder as they approached the house.  Joey shook his head.  "No, I've got to do this.  I appreciate the idea though."

He got up and headed back inside, but stopped at the broken glass-door entrance and turned back to Johnny.  "You know with me being gone, that makes you the king of the school now.  You better take care of my throne."

"You know me," Johnny smiled, holding out a bloody hand, to which Joey shook firmly.

"See you," he said simply, retiring into the house.

"See you, man."  Johnny walked to the patio steps and sat down, strumming away at his guitar as a somber tune manifested itself.  He would later dedicate this new riff to his best friend.  Joey went into the living room and lifted his hands in the air as a SWAT Team stormed into the house.  He confessed that he was responsible for the gunfire.  They grabbed him forcefully, bound him in cuffs, and led him out of the house.

Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix

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