Monday, October 22, 2007

Johnny Rumble:
Johnny's Folly part 1

"Fuck man, we need to get a van or something. It's brass fucking monkeys back here," I managed to chatter out.

"Hey Johnny," I turned to the voice in the back of pick-up bed, "buy a coat."

The talking weather-head on Channel 10 said it was going to be a cool, crisp, clear night. It was clear enough to see the stars overhead and the craters on the moon's surface. At least it would be, if it wern't for the streetlights passing overhead at forty miles an hour. As to the cool and crisp, it was cold enough to worry the local fruit growers about frost and freeze.

I closed my eyes and bunched myself up against the biting cold. The noise of the roaring tires, the one note song of the pick-ups engine, and the wrapping around the cab to smack me in the face cause me to remince about everything that had happened in the past 6 months. Fights, parties, blood, love, brothers, guns, insanely good football, and lots of beer and whisky. To think, I used to be just a college kid...
_______________________________________

"Jonathan Lewis, stand and hear the verdict." I stood and waited. "It is the verdict of this court," The judge paused. Dramatic fucking effect, I thought to myself. "On the charge of academic misconduct..." Another pause. I wanted to scream out, Just read it you twat! I bit my tounge instead. "Guilty. The sentence of immediate expulsion carries. This tribunal is finished." The gavel rapped and in a swirl of tacky black cloth, the judge left the room.

So that was that. My college career was over. One guilty verdict and I was kicked out of Chester University. Out of every university for that matter. Nobody was going to accept an expelled Chester-head. That thought alone made me want to find the cardboard in a case of beer. I shuffled out of the courtroom and into the waiting sunlight. Stopping and lifting my head skyward, I felt the summer breeze on my cheeks.

Fuck, now I want to get really plastered. Placing one booted foot in front of the other, I started back to my dorm. I had to figure out what to do now. No job, little money and what about the parents? Yanking open the door to the lobby, I walked over to the elevators and punched the button. The polished doors slid open nearly noiselessly, and I walked in. "Yeah, what would my parents say about me getting kicked out?" speaking into thin air, "probably disown me or tell me to join the army. Fuck." I spit on the elevator floor and settled into the corner, hands in my pockets, waiting for the doors to close. I got lost in my thoughts.

Or at least I would have, if not for her.

"Hold the elevator!" a female voice called. Instinctively, I reached out and held the door open. What stepped through was not what I expected. She was a punk rock pin-up fantasy in normal clothes. Smiling politely at me, she pushed a few loose strands of purple tipped auburn hair behind her ear and reached out to the button panel. I noticed she wore black finger nail polish with electric purple accents on both hands.

I shook my head and thought, Come on man, you got more important things to think about. Problem was, when the doors closed, I found she was staring at me through the reflection. She saw a washed-up, withdrawn kid in a torn-up and rumpled hoodie, faded and ripped jeans, and black combat boots. Not to mention the sky blue hair on my head. Returning the look-see, I stared right back. Plain light blue button up shirt that was snug enough to show off her curves, but not tight enough to over do it. Wether she meant or not, she had managed to skewer her buttoning job and had it off by one. Wandering my eyes down met with black shorts that were clearly cut for a man. Suspenders were hanging free from under the shirt, and she wore black boots with white accents to top the package off.

I walked my eyes back up he legs, past her shapely hips and back into her watchful gaze in the reflection. Her deep blue eyes held mine and sucked me in. Time seemed to freeze. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a chime went off. Contact was broken when the elevator doors slid open and the reflection replaced buy a snap back to reality. The punk rock beauty took a step out, paused, and without looking back said, "Sometimes our worst days lead to our greatest moments." I cocked an eyebrow an eyebrow and watched her walk down the hall way until the doors impeded my vision. I was alone again.

The doors to my own floor opened, and there stood the requisite campus cop to escort me. That wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was that it was George who was given the job. “Hey Johnny, sorry to hear about the decision,” he carefully stated.

“Yeah, whatever,” I replied. George and I go back far enough that I knew I could crash at his place anytime I needed to.

“I’m serious man. I did what I could to keep you here. Everybody knows that it’s you that keeps this place from becoming another Ivy League dream-killer. But you gotta admit, stealing the Dean’s new Lamborghini and selling it to a chop-shop was too many toes over the line.”

“Hey!” I threw my arms up in mock innocence. “They couldn’t pin it on me. You know that as well as I do. That’s why they nailed me on my one failing grade. Besides, that money went back to the students that are were in debt because of tuition hikes.” I pulled out my keys and unlocked the door to my room. “Standard fare right? Pack my shit and leave?”

“Have you called you folks yet? You got a plan?” he asked.

“No I haven’t, and I figured I’d stay at your place a couple nights.”

“Sorry mate. No can do on the couch. Jill moved in with me.”

“So? I’ll stay out of her way.” Jill loathed me.

“Remember the last time you were at my place?”

I stared blankly at him as I tried to dredge up drunken memories. “Yeah, gotta find someplace else to stay. And by the way, so were laughing so hard you were crying.”

“You took a shit in my sink man! A shit! In my sink!” he belted out.

“Yeah, and? I cleaned it up, right?”

“After Jill beat my ass three ways to Sunday,” He laughed out. “But that was pretty freakin’ funny. Anyway, I got a mate down in Greensea…yes, its three hours away, but you don’t have to call your parents. But he’s got a couch you crash on. Lemme give him a call for you. He owes me anyway.”

“What, did he defecate in your sink too?” I chuckled.

“Jackass.” George pulled out his cell phone and started punching numbers. “You got some paper?” I pointed in the direction of the desk, and started to shuffle stuff around looking for what he needed. Somebody answered, because George started talking into thin air. I was too busy throwing my clothes into a duffel to hear the words. When I heard his mobile snap shut, I turned around. “Here, that’s the address to meet him at. It’s a pub called, oddly, Johnny’s Folly. Ask the bar keep if Paul is there. He should point out the way.”

“Okay George. And thanks. I owe you one. Just one,” I raised a single finger. Throwing my duffel over my shoulder, I started to walk out.

“Hey, what about this stuff?” George pointed at the still messy desk.

“Won’t be needing it,” I called back.
______________________________

I found the place easily enough. It was a quaint and mostly quiet place. No flashy neon, no loud music and right on the corner of Green Road and Wycombe Way. A small, simple painted sign identified the place. “Johnny’s Folly,” it read, “Members Only.” Great, I thought to myself, this should be interesting.

I slung my bag over my shoulder and went in. The air was heavy with smoke, and a few people were milling about. A pool table sat unused in the corner. The whole place seemed to be the darker and more insidious set of that TV show Cheers from back in the 80’s. The barkeep was at his station behind the bar and seemed to pull double duty as the bouncer as well. His voice backed the theory up.

“You, pissant!” he barked, pointing at me, “Members bar! Fuck out!” He pointed at the door right behind me with a finger that was bigger than bratwurst. Mmmm…bratwurst, I thought. My stomach rumbled and I didn’t move. “Hey dickhead! I said get the fuck out!”

“I was told by a friend to meet a…”

“You want me to throw you the fuck out then?” he interrupted and started to walk out from the bar. All the eyes in the barroom were now on me. I sighed.

“Meet with Paul. Told to. Where?” I rushed out before I get interrupted again. The barman/bouncer paused.

“You Johnny?” he growled.

“Yeah, I was told to…” His bratwurst finger now moved toward a booth in the corner.

“He’s over there. And you speak like that to me again, I will throw you out,” he menaced.

“Thank you.” I nodded my head in his direction and he sneered in return. The booth the anger-management-issued barman pointed to was occupied by a single man sipping a pint of beer. Stout judging by the dark color and a Guinness I’d have to say, judging by the downward flowing bubbles. Can’t knock a man with good taste. I softly stepped my way over and took stock of the features of the man named Paul. White collared shirt, untucked, and a nice looking pair of grey slacks. His shoes were an odd choice though. White Adidas shell-toes. He reminded me of Leonardo Di Caprio. Only rougher. That has to go down as the gayest observation I’ve ever made.

When I got close enough, he stood and greeted me with an out-stretched hand and some words, “I’ve got to admit, you’re the first person I’ve ever seen stand up like that to Bradley,” he motioned to the barman. “Don’t worry though. He’s softer than a tabby.” Paul ducked as a piece of ice came winging its way from the bar amidst some drunken laughs. His own accent threw me and Paul must have seen it on my face. “Yeah, I’m from England. Newcastle to be exact. Exiled. Brad there is from Romania, and he’s,” pointing at other men in the bar, “he’s from Germany, that guy there is Swedish, and that black man there is from Los Angeles. He’s a big gun nut and sometimes we tease him about being from Somalia.”

“Los Angeles?” I asked.

“Come on, this is North Carolina. In Greensea, L.A. is like a whole ‘nother country. So yeah, were all exiles here. Speaking of which, sorry about you getting kicked out and all that bollocks. You should fit in nicely here with that under your belt.” He looked me over and at my bag. “That all you got?” I nodded. “Okay, come on, my flat is upstairs.”

I followed him to the back of the bar and through the tiny kitchen, up a rickety, dimly lit flight of stairs and to a door that looked it had been shot full of holes. Apparently there was no lock, because Paul just pushed it right open. The place was small, but well laid out. There was a kitchenette off to the side and a nice living area in the middle. A huge flag dominated the one wall that wasn’t taken up by furniture.

“That’s Greensea A.F.C. right there. You follow footie?” he asked.

“Can’t say that I do. More of a basketball kind of guy.”

“Now THAT’s a damn travesty. Anyway,” Paul pointed toward the single hallway, “bathroom’s down that way, sheets and pillows are in there,” pointing at a footlocker, “I apologize in advance if you hear me banging around at five in the morning. I like to get a good run in before breakfast. You’re welcome to join me if you wish.”

“Oh, I’m not much of a runner, but yeah, that sounds good. That is, if you don’t mind slowing down a bit.”

Paul laughed, and I smiled at him. “Yeah, I’m sure I can go slow for ya. Besides, it’ll give a chance to get to know each other. Now, it’s ten o’clock, and I’m going to bed.” He walked down the hallway toward the bedroom. “Goodnight Johnny.”

“Night Paul, and thanks for opening up your sofa.” I called after him. I grabbed a pillow and blanket out of the footlocker and fell toward the couch.



Johnny

4 comments:

  1. Yo mate good story, if I may I've made one correction, with the introduction in bar, it reads better I think, what with me also frequenting a message board where said term is used a lot...but again nice..perhaps we can cook something up together like that one we was going to do a while a go?

    Trav

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  2. forgot to note, I edited for spelling too, and took out exile and put in expat, replace it if you want but like I said, it sounds better

    and I'm deffo going to re do my footy team, though liverpool v Arsenal saturday, so thinking i might get voronin back, if torres is going to be out again... on another note, think Rafa will get the axe? I hope not, but you've got to ask what he is doing exactly?

    Thoughts?

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  3. Well written! Can't wait to read the rest!

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  4. hey its kieran, travs mate.... good story... it really got me going... dead interesting and very descriptive... love it

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