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Where is Beckett Stone?
935 Penn Street, Parts Unknown
Beckett opened his eyes to a mural of The Milky Way Galaxy, splayed across a frayed and chipped ceiling, inside a dilapidated and musky former children’s bedroom. He smiled then, for he could have sworn he noticed the stars and the gaseous nebulae sizzle and sparkle. Ah the lights, the glorious lights…
He sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.
Just across the ruins of the room, sat perched and poised, were a line of twenty bloated and greasy rats staring right at Beckett. Becket grinned and swatted the dust from his duds: “Well, hello furry creatures; and how are you this fine morning?”
As if a starting gun had gone off, the rats tore off and charged Beckett – gnawing and scratching at his clothes and flesh. One had hurried right up his arm and burrowed its teeth into Beckett’s scalp. Beckett’s face had turned from confusion to abject horror as he felt a sensation – pain – that he had never felt before. He dug into his pockets for his remote, but remembered it had been absconded. He was yelling. Why was he yelling? He was yelling because he was feeling pain. Beckett tried the bedroom door but the door had been boarded up long ago. His only option, his only escape, was a window and a thirty foot drop. As he got his right leg out of the window, he stomped a few tenacious rats with his left. Below, to cushion his fall – an odiously stained mattress lay out on the patio. He hung from the window ledge by his fingertips for a moment then let his body drop to the mattress.
Pain = check
Scared = check
As Beckett calmed down, just sitting there on the bed bugged mattress, he surveyed the barren world around him. Well, it wasn’t exactly barren: there were 3 story walk-ups sticking up here and there, misshaped sidewalks, open lots and a smattering of trees, but they all seemed depressed; and yet, amongst the drab and lifeless world, the sound of a merry-go-round. Where was it coming from? Other than the sound of the wind, the timeless, yet creepy music was the soundtrack to an immoveable, silent landscape. Like all the music he had heard while here, the organ sounds brought happiness to Beckett – as he ventured down Penn Street. Where was he going? He had no idea.
Beckett happened upon a ranch style house, completely gutted except for the beams. Within the confines of the structure was a man – dressed in pleated slacks and a dress shirt: clean and well groomed. He was on a cell phone and pacing inside what appeared to be a former kitchen area.
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Where is she? Goddamn it. Fuck!” The man hit the speed dial number again and it went straight to her voice mail – without so much as a ring. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Where could she be? Where? Son of a bitch!” He had begun dialing another phone number. Beckett watched calmly from outside the structure. “Nancy…she’s not home yet. I am starting to panic. She’s never gone this long without responding. I’m worried as hell. What? Yeah, yes. I am hanging up right now and reporting her missing. Huh? What? Yes, I remember what she was wearing. Yes. Okay…bye…” Beckett doesn’t know what to make of all this. The man is obviously distraught. “Hello, yes…I need to report my wife missing. Huh? Okay…yes, but please hurry…” The man had begun pacing again, this time, softly crying, cursing, talking to himself.
As Beckett watched this scene unfold, he was grabbed around in a violent headlock and slammed to the ground. Three youths were all over him, kicking and pounding and grabbing for whatever they could get. Beckett did his best to cover himself, for what they were doing to him hurt a great deal. One young man with a swollen black eye, from an earlier scuffle, tore Beckett’s right pocket from it’s seams and handed the wallet to his friend – a tall figure wearing all black, including a black mask over his face. What he found inside the wallet made him yelp.
“We fucking it the jackpot! Look at the cash this motherfucker is carrying. This must be seven to eight grand we have here. Holy fuck!”
“Let’s be easy on him then, and just kick him in his pretty face.”
The first youth let Beckett have it; kicked him right below his left eye, catching most of his cheek. His head rattled something fierce as he lay on the floor, bleeding from his nose and forehead. The three youths tore off down the street hollering like bandits.
Crap beaten out of = check
Beckett awoke to the firing of a gun.
With his cheek severely bruised and his left eye nearly shut, Beckett slowly lifted his torso from the pavement and leaned on his right arm, touching his face and grimacing in pain. In the distance, from the 7th Street overpass, eight corpses were hung. A banner running along the top of the bridge read: CARTEL KILLS JOURNALISTS WHO SAY FUNNY THINGS. BEWARE! Four gang members, dressed in plaid shirts and wearing black ski masks, fired their weapons into the lifeless bodies.
Beckett was learning not to be noticed as he moved toward a row of crumbling buildings and empty store fronts along Westfield Avenue – hugging the walls as he walked. The merry-go-round music continued, through the firing of guns, through his long, aimless walks. It was no matter – the music continued. A feeling of discomfort gripped his stomach. His mouth was dry and he was growing weak. Just ahead, on the right, was the Arlo Movie Theater. He hurried inside yet found no one at the concession counter. His eyes widdened with a desperate desire as he noticed a fridge behind the counter full of coke bottles and cans of seltzer. He snatched as many seltzers as could fit in his tattered Burberry jacket. As he opened the red doors to the main theater, he was happily surprised to find, what seemed to be, two to three-hundred spectators spread out amongst a capacity of a thousand seats. The arid air stank of un-showered bodies and garbage. Taking a seat in the last row, he noticed that the cold seltzer can felt good against his facial wounds.
Amongst the general crowd noise, a Pakistani woman emerged from the wings, head down and sobbing, and stood front and center on the stage. A sign like one you’d find on a Broadway theatre, was lowered, containing hundreds of circular, yellow lights. It hovered just behind the woman saying: HONOR KILLING. The woman threw her hands in front of her faced and screamed when she noticed it.
“The only thing I am guilty of is for falling in love with someone and having his baby. I am guilty because he is not approved by my family. Is this a sin? What has this world come to? This is a nightmare!” the woman screamed, as it echoed through the silence of the theatre.
Several men and one woman, came running from stage left, pummeling the woman with bricks. One fellow, her cousin, jumped in the air and came down with his boots on her stomach. She had tried to cover herself up, but the onslaught was too much. One brick, one stone after the other, as an elder man pinned her arms down with his knees and smashed her in the head with a brick. Her battered face was unrecognizable in seconds. Not a sound of protest from the audience as the killers chanted “disgrace! Disgrace! Disgrace!”
As the murderers spat on their dead relative, members of the Pakistan Armed Forces, dressed in military regalia, pounced on the stage, running up from the audience. They fired their guns at the killers, sending their bodies convulsing to the ground – riddled with bullet holes. As quickly as the Pakistan Armed Forces has convened on the stage, they were running off stage right having achieved their mission. An explosion erupts off stage. A mine sends pieces of the soldiers and wall flying onto the stage and hitting some of the spectators in the front couple of rows. Fire engulfs backstage as an entire wall had come down. With fire crackling and soldiers dying from their wounds, a teenager walks out from the wings holding a chair. A rope is lowered from the rafters, as a bevy of teens harass the young man shouting “Faggot!” “Wimp” ‘Cocksucker” “Move Away” “Asshole” “Queer” and other derogatory terms. He proceeds to step up onto the chair and tightens the rope around his neck. He kicked the chair out from underneath him and swings, kicking and clutching at the rope around his neck. The bullies that surround him point their fingers at him: “Die! Die! Die! Die! Die!” When his kicking ceases, applauds erupt from the bullies as they hoot and holler, exiting the stage.
And the crowd goes ho hum, ho hum. Several spectators stand to stretch, yawn, sit back down in their seats and doze off.
After having witnessed a scraggly man saw off parts of the bodies on the stage to eat them, Beckett too dozed off. When he awoke, the stench was unbearable and the bodies were piled on the stage twenty feet high. A man in a business suit was standing on top of the dead humanity and peeing on them.
Beckett had to get something to eat.
Horrified and hungry = check
Beckett enters the William Grocery on 9th. The seltzer didn’t cut it. He has to put something else into his system, but he had no money. A Hispanic man stood behind a counter enclosed in bullet proof glass. Beckett looked around, rubbed his stomach – let out a sigh.
“I am here in your store and I am hungry and I need something to end this pain in my stomach.”
“You are not from around here, are you?”
“I’m not from anywhere.”
“Looks like you were robbed. Let me get you some ice to put on your face. That is some shiner you have there.”
“You are very kind. I have not seen much kindness today. It is beginning to depress me.”
An emaciated Caucasian girl entered the grocery. Her eyes darted back and forth. She pretended to look at the pasta and sauce shelf, but had other intentions.
The Hispanic man put some ice inside a towel and gave it to Beckett. “Here, place this over your eye. Hurry, it looks terrible. Take a few things if you are hungry. I trust you were robbed and beaten up.”
“I think that’s what it’s called.” Beckett dis as he was told. “Yes, this feels much better. Thank you.”
The proprietor seemed distracted by the Caucasian girl pacing his aisle. He watched her from his security camera.
“Is this what people call Hell?” Beckett asked.
“Ha! Well, hahahaha, yes. I have heard this place called that. I have heard it called lots of names.”
“Is there any authority here?”
“No police. No authority. Cut backs sent them to the hills. They blow through here when they like. But no law and order. Very sad.”
Beckett entered the aisle where the nervous woman stood, seemingly looking at nothing at all, staring at the ground, biting the skin from her finger. Beckett took a can of Campell’s Cream of Chicken Noodle Soup from the shelf. “I will take this, Sir. This looks easy and appropriate. Very kind of you. You have been the bright sun in a very dark place. I appreciate it greatly. This should take my pains away – right?
“Uhhhh, yeah…I guess. Just a can of soup? Take some bread or something. Go ahead.”
“No, I can’t ask anymore of you. You are kind beyond measure.”
“You should go home to your parents’ house. This neighborhood is too rough for a kid like you.” The proprietor caught the young woman pocket something. “Hey…get out of here. Get out of my store. What are you stealing, huh?” He grabbed a broom and approached her – threatened to hit her with the broom stick.
“You just fuck off. Fuck off. I ain’t stealing anything!” Screamed the pale, young woman, who was blotched up and down her left arm with black and blues.
“Get out of here you druggie!”
“I will pay you for this can of Campbell’s. I will. I will return and pay you.”
“No problem, Sir. Just take it. On me.”
Beckett followed the young woman out. She was petite, with stringy red hair. Beckett peeled the lid off the Campbell’s soup can, dug two fingers into the creamy, thick soup and sucked the cream right off his fingers. “Can I help you at all?” It took a moment for the young woman to capture this picture of a beat up, good looking young kid, eating soup with his fingers.
“Do you have 40 dollars?”
“No I don’t.”
“I’ll give you head if you just give me twenty bucks!”
“I am sorry. It seems I was robbed of all my money.”
“Fuck you, fuck you! Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”
And yet…the carousel music continued to play…
“Where is the nice music coming from?” he asked the frustrated girl.
And with that, she had run off across the street to a barren field of dried up grass and dirt.
Beckett was exhausted, and that horrible feeling in his body cavity was happening upon him again. He’ll need to fetch another Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup to make it go away.
An old timer, wearing a loose fitting, beige, cotton shirt, slacks and black and white wing tip shoes, sat comfortably on a bench, on his porch, arms folded – watching Beckett make his slow, tired approach.
“You look like you’ve been beaten with the fugly stick!”
“Do you hear that music?” Beckett asked, referring again to the merry-go-round sound permeating the world.
“You aren’t from around here, are you?”
“No, I’m not.”
“You hear the music too, huh? Yeah, I hear it. It’s lovely. Reminds me of my youth.”
“Would you happen to have a can of Campbell’s soup? The creamy chicken kind?”
The old timer giggled. “Why do you need that? You look like you need cream of Neosporin!”
“I am finding myself hungry again and that took the pain away.”
“I don’t know whether I have Campbell’s soup, but I have some food. Come on in, I could use the company.”
“My name is Horace Williams,” Horace said as he stuck out his hand.
“Rick Deckland. Thanks for your assistance. My eye really hurts and so does my stomach.”
“If you can find a spot to sit, please, go right ahead,” said Horace as he stole away to the bathroom. All around the living room and up the stair and across the furniture were a vast collection of take-out containers, cleaned and identified from where they were taken from. There were Chinese food quarts and pints stacked inside one another…with pagodas on them or else panda bears, or just the name of the restaurant; there were soup containers of various sizes, coffee holders, and binders that contained matchbooks and napkins from the very same eateries. So many containers looked exactly the same, but they were all different, all from restaurants from around the country.
“You have quite a collection here, Sir.”
Horace walked out with a clean, wet cloth, some large band aids and Neosporin. “Yep, I have eaten in many, many places. I am a traveling musician.” Horace dampened and cleaned the wound. “I play many instruments and have played all over the country. I know each town, each gig, by the take out. I remember my life in music by the places I have eaten in. Hang on, I’m going to put some of this stuff on your eye…” Horace said as he addressed the wound with some Neosporin. “Why are you here? Why are you walking around this place for? A young man like yourself…”
“I don’t know why? I honestly don’t.”
Horace finished applying the Neosporin and looked at Beckett gravely: “Well, you have to get out of dodge fast. Don’t stay here. I believe it’s a mistake you came. I try and try and try to see the good. I try to stay positive, but it’s impossible in this place. There is too much greed and hunger and violence and delusion; and religions fighting religions and death and…and …I get so sick with it, I don’t want to play music no more.” Horace had begun removing the white strips from the back of the band aid.
“Is this really what goes on here? All of this violence? All of this hurt and suffering?”
“There is this and much much more, far worse. Get out while you can. I am sure you’ve seen enough. I hope this don’t hurt, hang on …” Horace carefully puts two large band aids over his check and lower eye. “We don’t want to get this infected. Now…let me see what food I have to end that belly aching of yours.”
Beckett walked over to a section of the take-out collection and picked up a rectangular tin; he turned it over and looked underneath: “May 4th, 1981 – Rusty Roy Tibbet and Len Abromowitz gig at Vanguard – 3 Guy’s Restaurant.” All other tins, cardboard, Styrofoam of the take-out or to-go variety, are all dated and marked.
“Hey! Look what I got!” yelled Horace from the kitchen, ducking his head in and waving a can of Campbell Soup. “It’s just plain cream of tomato.”
“I think that should work,” said Beckett, “May I have it?”
“I’ll make it for you. All I have are a few English muffins for dunking.”
“No. That’s not necessary. I’ll just take the can as it is.”
“Really? You sure?”
“Yes. I’m sure.”
“Take me 2 minutes to heat…”
“Just like that is fine.”
Horace flips the can to Beckett, who immediately tore the can open and had begun drinking it, smacking the back of the can to get the rest out. Horace looked aghast – eye brows raised. “Can I get you something to chase that down with?”
“Can I get you something to drink?”
“Do you have Vintage Wild Cherry Seltzer?”
“Then I am fine.”
“I have seen some far out cats in my day. I mean, I have seen some fucked up folks, but you go way off the bizarre meter for sure, brother.”
“Thank you,” said Beckett, as he reclined himself on the sofa – stomach already feeling better.
A rumbling amongst the foundations had awoken both Beckett and Horace. A few of the large towers of to-go containers and a water color painting depicting the 52nd street of old, had fallen over.
“What was that?” asked Beckett.
“Who knows in this god-forsaken place: earthquake? I’m going back to sleep. You should get going. You shouldn’t be here. Bad for you,” Horace was saying, still in a half sleep. Beckett stood up, stretched, and pressed the band aids against his eye and cheek to hold them in place. He squinted and looked through the open blinds out into a disorienting world. Why was this world so vastly different than the previous? Why do people keep vast collections of discarded food containers like Horace had? Horace looked chilled, so Beckett grabbed a pink blanket from an ottoman and covered him with it.
As he exited Horace’s walkup, he meandered down the road – with no real goal in sight. An alarming, ear shattering whistle sounded over him. All Beckett could do was hold his ears and get down. And in an instant, a missile had destroyed Horace’s house; had rendered it to rubble and red flame. Beckett was shaking. He could have sworn he felt his insides move violently with the blast. He had no idea where the bomb had come from, but his new friend was surely gone amongst the ashes. Looking at the crumbled building behind him, he could hardly make out a single one of those take out tins, or containers. All flattened and black. Beckett’s face was becoming flush as the trembling and inner pain started a surge within him that he was unfamiliar with. An uncontrollable energy that ended with the heaving of his shoulders and the crying of his tears. He was shameful of his emotions and covered his face. Why are all of these people suffering? Why are they so unhappy? What is the matter with this horrible cruel world?
“It’s not that hard…It’s not that hard…” Beckett kept saying in sniffled sobs, as he crouched down, arms around his head, peaking at the flaming building through the gaps in his arms. “Why all this suffering? It’s so easy. It’s so easy.”
After a time, he just sat, legs crossed, somberly staring at the burning building.
Distraught = check
A female voice, in seeming discomfort: “Bummer. He was a good man.”
Beckett turned around, and just up the way, the young woman, the addict, was having sex, right there on the street – bent over. Two large, clean-cut college types – one black, and one white, were taking her from both ends. The white kid, who looked like he played College football, had a dime bag between his teeth. He was cackling and high fiving his friend. She briefly removed the rather large penis from her mouth and looked toward him. “This place….uhhhh…sucks…Hang out, I’ll show you around, I feel much better now. We’re almost done.”
Beckett had felt a very strong desire the last time he had seed a naked woman back at the hotel. Here, he felt not a twinge – not a single spark of excitement. Actually, in concert with the constant merry-go-round music, felt like crying again; but managed to stave it off.
“You’re a good looking dude. Wait for me. I’m almost done. Okay?”
The jocks grunted as they reached across her back and clutched each other’s hands, slapping their flesh against hers.
Beckett nodded slowly.
The young addict had blue veins sprouting out of everywhere: accentuated by her fair, bruise-blotched skin. Her face was flush from her recent exertion and her dark roots and forehead were damp with perspiration. She was chewing gum and was far less distracted and desperate than when he first saw her back at the grocery store.
“Why were you doing that before? You look like you were in pain.”
She gave him a sideways glance: “Do I actually have to answer that? What world are you from? They get what they want, I get what I want, and the cycle continues, day after miserable fucking day.”
“But does it have to be that way?”
“Yes. Here it does. Yes.”
“What’s going on over there?” Beckett said, pointing to a queue of people.
“You mean that line of people over there?”
A winding line of men and women in gray military regalia stretch out from a small, rectangular, non- descript concrete building. Plumes of smoke rose from the back into the air.
“Those are Nazi fuckers. They are going to the ovens where they belong. Good-ridden cock suckers!”
“They are going to be burned? Burned like Horace?”
“These asswipes are Nazis. They deserve it. Don’t know why Horace bought it. So many innocent people die of bombings each year. Add him to the list.”
“Innocent people? Bombed?”
“And what’s with this line over here?”
A single line of men and woman, stretching deep into the distance, from all races and religions, face a concrete wall, hands over their ears. Some are crying, others screaming and stomping their feet and throwing fits.
“Those evil bastards committed, for my money, the worst crime you can commit. They all killed their own children in some way, shape or form: every one of them. Some killed their only son, some their entire brood. Now they have to hear the screams and sobs of their pained and frightened children for the rest of their days.”
Beckett closed his eyes, shook his head and pinched the top of his nose with his fingers, as if he were getting a massive head ache. “I…I…I…just…I just want to sob and sob and sob and sob. I am just so overwhelmed by this place. I just can’t process any of this.”
“What’s you name by the way? Mine is Trudy.”
“Rick. Rick Deckland.”
“Nice to officially meet you, Rick.”
Beckett was not in a cordial mood. He was groaning.
“It sucks, Rick. This world sucks big horse cock. It’s not worth living in. That’s why I am escaping it constantly. Look around you. Here, look at this poor bastard…”
Beckett recognized him as the man in the burnt out building, trying to reach a woman by phone – unable to reach her.
“That guy’s wife is missing. She’s never coming back. That’s why she won’t answer her phone call. She died in a car accident. He’ll never get an answer, just replay trying to reach her, worrying, calling her mother, in an endless cycle. This guy fucked up somewhere along the way, and here he is. Suffering for it.”
And the merry-go-round music played and played.
“Do you hear that music Trudy? Can you show me where the music is?”
Jody sadly smiled: “I don’t hear music anymore. My passion has solely become my next fix. Nothing else matters.”
“Where do you live?”
“I bum around, live with friends.”
“That does not sound stable or safe.”
“It’s never boring.”
“If I can find a way out of this world, I’ll take you with me. What I have seen in the other world is quite nice. Nothing at all like this.”
“Ha! You’re sweet. Nah. I’ll take a rain check.”
“Maybe some other time.”
“I am getting a pain again in my stomach. Amazing how often this happens.”
“Hope it’s no cancer.”
“No, it’s hunger.”
“Now listen, you are a young person. Why is this happening to you? Why don’t you have a profession? A calling? A passion? Why are you amongst all of this?”
“Because I am a sick person who can’t climb out from the swirl of shit that is her life.”
“But I can help you in this other world. I have lots and lots and lots and lots of cash in this other world, if I could only get back to it.”
“I doubt that. It makes for a good line. But you’re in this shit for a reason too. Don’t fool yourself.”
“But it’s different with me. I will get back to that world. I will get back there and I can take you to…a hospital? Yes? Maybe a hospital? And I will pay for it all. Please let me help you.”
“Stop it. Just stop it! You aren’t the first person who has told me things, then smacked me across the head and raped me and got what they wanted. I have been around far too long. Stop with the lines. Just stop talking.”
Beckett did what he was told as they continued to walk in silence, until Beckett saw something massive just up ahead.
“I think I see where the music is coming from.”
“What fucking music are you talking about? It’s in your fucking head. This place drives you fucking crazy, man.”
“I want to go see it. Come on. Come with me.” Beckett takes Trudy by the hand and they begin walking in the direction of the music. “What’s this over here?”
Row after row after infinitesimal row of mostly men sitting in wooden chairs – masturbating.
“Let’s walk on this side of the street. I think I’m going to hurl,” said Trudy.
“All of those people were addicted to sex and porn. They’ll wack off till eternity and never be able to release.
“I don’t really get it. But okay. I believe you beautiful Trudy.”
“Awwww…that is sweet. So sweet, that I still want to vomit.”
“It is gorgeous whatever it is! An object of miraculous beauty!” Beechum said, as he let go of Trudy’s hand and jogged toward a five-story high Victrola. The soft and delicate overture to Wagner’s Lohengrin was overcoming the air around him. The violins cascading out of the gargantuan Victrola horn. Beckett was so overwhelmed by the beauty of the music that he had to sit down. The five story tall Victrola was encased and protected by an electrified fence. Four lush trees overtook the fence on four sides.
Trudy sat down beside Beckett, who had his hands to his mouth – crying.
“Yeah, I guess we human’s are good at creating some pretty powerful music. But not much more than that, unfortunately.”
“Shhhhhhh,” replied Beckett, as he once again took Trudy’s hand into his. “I hear music like this, and instantaneously,’ Beckett snapped his fingers, “I understand, that no matter what this place has shown me, these people – all these people, have a deep capacity for good. I have to believe that. I have to. Hearing this, which was made via a human, I have to believe that all people are capable of such beauty. That they all have this within them.”
“Are you on something? Cause I want you to share it with me.”
“I have to believe that if one human being created this pieces of music, any human being can create it – or something similar to it.”
“Well, good for you, if you can see it that way. The world is a horror show and people are selfish, greedy, lying bastards. And to get away from it all, I shoot up; which is what I am going to do right now.”
It was dusk and Trudy sat down curbside and took out her heroin accoutrements from her JanSport bag. She began crushing the Oxycodone pill…she pounded that sucker to dust. Once mixed with the solution, she pulled out her lighter and lit a fire under a spoon that looked as if it were used to eat beans in the Civil War. Tying her belt around her arm, she found a vein on her forearm and shot up. She pulled back a few times on the needle to watch the blood rush. Beckett stared at her. Didn’t say a word; and didn’t know what to think of it.
“Want to try some of this? I can sterilize the needle and …”
“No thank you. Thank you for asking, though.”
As night descended, human cries and howls could be heard piercing the blackness.
“What are those horrible sounds?”
“Who knows: child being raped, wife getting murdered, Nazis being set on fire…I don’t know. I hardly hear it anymore.
Suddenly, Beckett and Trudy were lit from the bright lights of a spectacularly large, two decker bus. The lights made more prominent due to the lack of overhead street lights.
A line had formed, and various hard luck types were boarding. Most had big grins on their faces and tickets in their hands. The destination on the side of the bus read “HOME.”
“Maybe we should get on this bus?” Beckett asked. “What else have we got to lose? I have to get back to the other world, maybe this is how I get there.”
“You and that other world,” Trudy said with a laugh, as she slowly stood up from the curb and slung the backpack around her back. “What have we got to lose, huh? Okay, let’s go.”
As they boarded the bus, Trudy noticed the bus driver smelled of booze. “Boom, boom, crash, and around we go again. Boom boom, crash – and around we go again,” Trudy sang as she walked down the aisle and found just two seats left: two, side by side for Beckett and she. As they got comfortable, one could tell right at the outset, that this was not going to be an ordinary bus ride. The bus tore off with the shrill shriek of rubber to road and started accelerating toward the ramp onto the Parkway. Passengers were bouncing in their seats as the bus climbed up the odometer.
Trudy paid no mind to the way the bus driver was driving. She calmly rested her head on Beckett’s shoulder. “You have to remember, Beckett, in a hell, the same horrors repeat themselves over and over again. This bus has no intention of going home: only back to hell. Boom boom, crash – and around we go again.”
The bus driver was guzzling down a bottle of Jim Beam as he punched the horn, weaving in and around vehicles. “Get out of the fucking way! Move it! Move it!” yelled the bus driver. He smiled as he moved in close, right alongside an 18 wheeler. Again he hit that horn of his, trying to get the attention of the rig driver. As the bus driver stepped on the gas, the bus crept up just past the truck but not enough. As the bus driver made his foray into the center lane, the back end of the bus caught the front end of the rig. The truck driver slammed his horn as the bus was sent spinning like a dreidel into the embankment. The bus caught fire immediately. As if drawn up in a comic book, a fireman was on the scene, climbing through the fire and debris. His sole mission was to get to Beckett. He reached Beckett and mightily dragged him up through the emergency door which was now above them. Through screams and burning bodies, the fireman placed a semi scalded and passed out Beckett onto the pavement just outside the bus. The fireman’s face was covered by a faceshield. From his pocket, he pulled out Beckett’s rope chain with the stone at the end of it. The fireman placed it around the burnt flesh on Beckett’s neck. Picking Beckett off the floor, the fireman carried him to a waiting ambulance. As the doors closed and the sirens sounded, Beckett opened his eyes. He could feel the rope chain around his neck. Relieved, he was already feeling better.
Rescued = check
Alive = check