Sunday, January 31, 2010

Johnny Rumble:
Preview of "Death"

Been up to my old tricks again and putting fingers to keys.

I knew she was dead. It wasn’t the fact that the passenger seat had been sheered off at the mounts and gone through the windshield, or the fact that I see the motor was sitting 30 degrees offline of the car. I knew Rose was dying because she told me.
Made a run of it didn’t we, you orphan?

With that, Tokyo Rose was dead.

Her body lay in the middle of the street, a Chevrolet van sitting not to far away, the front end smashed in. Rose was caved in drastically right in the middle. Almost looked like somebody had tried to fold her in half. I put the transmission into neutral and took the keys out of the ignition, throwing them on what was left of the dashboard.

There was a fireman talking at me, asking me if I was okay and telling me to stay conscious. The trucks were all around, and an ambulance was waiting to take to the hospital. Fuck that, I thought, I’m not going to another fucking hospital. Two fireman were working the Jaws of Life into the door, the hydraulic pump clattering loudly, prying apart the metal.

I undid my harness and took the steering wheel off the column. I was pretty sure that I hadn’t broken anything in the crash, but I did feel some moisture on my forehead. My hand was red when I pulled it away. That fireman was yelling at me not to move, not to do anything. They weren’t sure what state I was in and didn’t want me to hurt myself accidently. “Fuck off,” I told him, “I’m all-fucking-right.”

By the time they had pried the door open, I had already swiveled my neck and flexed nearly all my joints. I knew then that I hadn’t broken anything, but they still slapped the neck brace on and threw me on a gurney. I saw Rose from the outside, lifeless, seemingly limp, but still strong in death. I knew she had saved me, let me fight for at least one more day. But she was done. Totaled by some cunt that ran a red-light.

She was sitting in the back of a police cruiser, and an officer handling what looking like a bag of powdered sugar. Stupid bitch.

I looked at Rose one last time before I lay my head back on the gurney and closed my eyes.
____________________

The hospital was antiseptically clean. I knew this from the smell if only because I couldn’t see right now. They had draped a towel over my eyes. I also knew I was in the hole of the giant white donut they called a MRI. They were checking for permanent brain damage, as my pupils were different sizes. At least the attending is pretty.

As the machine was making its hammer noises, I thought of Sadie and the state I left her in. I knew she was angry at the choices I had made, and that I doubt she would ever forgive me. I still loved her, and wanted to be with her, but I understood and respected her choice when she told me “I don’t want to see you again. Stay away from me.” So here I was, in Nashville, at the Centennial Medical Center, getting my brains hammered out. Rose was dead, I was alone, and everything I owned was sitting in some scrap yard, waiting for me to pick it up.

Fuck.
That.

When the doctors slid me out from the machine I told them, “I’m leaving. I’m checking myself out.” They all threw their typical fits and tried to convince me that I couldn’t go, that they weren’t sure I was okay or not. They gave me nearly every reason in the book. Except for her. She stood behind the other two, silent. I looked at her. “What about you doc? Got anything to say?”

She didn’t.

I pulled the IV out of my arm when I got back to my room and started taking off all the little sensors and glued wires on my body. The nurse wasn’t happy that I was doing all of this on my own, and slapped my hands away while she undid the rest of them. While I was buttoning my shirt, the doctor walked in and closed the door. I laced up my boot and looked at her, waiting.

“There’s nothing I can say that will get you stay here is there?”

I shook my head. A mistake and my head began to throb badly.

“Your concussion is very severe. It would be best if you were here, where we could keep an eye on you, and make sure that you get better.”

“No, I’m leaving. I don’t need to be bed-ridden,” I spoke.

“You’re Jonathan Lewis. A guy that has a police file three inches thick. Yeah, I looked into your history.” She paused. “No, you don’t need any help. You just need to get your head on straight.”

“What the fuck of it?” I asked, lacing up my other boot. The blood had dried on the sage green leather, turning it brown. I just fucking bought these too.

She sighed. She pulled out her prescription pad and wrote something on it. “Here, my number. Just in case you change your mind, or you get worse.” I took the slip and put into my wallet, sliding that into my back pocket. My head was still in pain. “You’ll find your car at Mercer’s Auto and Salvage. Centennial and 63rd Street.”

This I already knew from when a cop came and talked to me about the accident and get my side of the story. The bitch that hit me was going to jail, regardless if I was at fault or not. They found cocaine under the front seat of her car. And she also had an outstanding warrant for her arrest. With a wink and a nod the cop told me, “Scene investigation found that she was the one at fault.”

Whatever, all that mattered was that Rose was dead. No resurrection was possible with her this time. I pulled her out of barn outside of Pigeon, Michigan, right off of Sturm Road. Mr. Howard’s property. I had family that lived in that area. That was the only reason I knew she was there.

As I stepped through the sliding doors, I pulled out my phone and dialed for a taxi. I did some quick calculations and figured that I had about eight grand left to spend. If I had much hope of making it to Tulsa, I needed to find a new car. And quick.

The cab ride was short. Maybe only 10 minutes. I paid the cabbie and went inside. A girl, maybe 16, was sitting at the desk reading some magazine about that movie Twilight or some such thing. ‘Some such thing…’ fuck me, my linguistics are coming back. I walked to the desk, and even before she could put down the magazine I started, “The police told me that I could find my car here. ’31 Ford Model A rat.”

She looked over the top of her magazine and gave me a look like I was interrupting something more important than doing her damn job. She kept her eyes locked to mine with that stare as she called over her shoulder, “Hey grandpa, the owner of that car is here.” With that she went back to her magazine and loudly snapped her bubble gum. Bitch.

An old guy, must have been in his 70’s, came out of the back office and offered his hand. I felt the thick calluses on his plam. “Names Mercer. Most people call me Merc.”

“Johnny.”

“So you’re the one that owns the sweet Model A Rat?”

“Built.”

“Huh?” He looked me up and down.

“I’m the one that built that sweet Model A Rat.” Mercer looked me in the eyes for a moment and gave a nearly imperceptible nod.

“Well, she’s out back. Dang rotten shame what happened to her.” He led me out the back door of the office and into the Tennessee sun. I shielded my eyes and scanned the yard as he took me toward Rose. Lots of hardware out here. I saw a yellow 240SX sitting in the corner, peeking out from beneath a tarp. Fuck me, is that…?

“Here you go. You did a real nice job with her.” Mercer got my attention and my eyes fell onto the corpse of Tokyo Rose.

She really was smashed all to fuck. I took a walk around her, looking at what could be salvaged. Left wheels and tires, taillight… The passenger side was a total loss. Both wheels were cracked and the frame and body were so completely caved in, that I found myself wondering how I had survived. Both turbos are done, headers and downpipes are bent… I looked the Toyota block over and saw no apparent damage, but the valve cover did have an unsettling large dent in it. Camshafts are probably busted, which means valves might be unseated.

“Total fucking loss. A total fucking loss. God fucking damn it,” I swore under my breath. I looked up at the old man and he looked at me with some sort of sympathy in his eyes. Looking through where the front windshield used to be, I remembered about the shifter. Brass. Handmade by Shinya Kimura. It had still better fucking be there.

Love,
 
Johnny Rumble

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