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Scott flips through the vinyls sitting on a shelf in his room, dusty old Chuck Berry albums mixed with a new Stones record and everything in between. There’s a few odd ones, like the Beach Boys and Shirelles, more of his mom’s music than his own, but they act as a nice break sometimes from the regular Hendrix riffs or gruff vocals of Black Sabbath. His parents are gone for the next few hours, giving him the perfect amount of time to blast his music uninterrupted for a while. He pulls off a 7” “Stairway to Heaven” single he found back when he was probably ten or so with his dad. The album art is relatively bland, but the song definitely made up for it. He also picks off "Road to Ruin" to listen to as well, especially considering his dad’s hatred for the Ramones meant he couldn’t listen to them when he was at home. He finds them dirty, ill-mannered, and unkempt with their matching shaggy hair and ill-fitting jeans.
Scott places the 7” on his record player and moves over to his bed to lay down. The beginning static fuzzes in the teenager’s ears and warms the air surrounding him. He grabs a Camel Clove from the pack lying on his night stand, and lights one as the song starts. He draws deeply from the cigarette, lets the smoke cool in his mouth, and inhales using every part of his chest to savor the sensation before slowly exhaling through his nose. Every so often he flicks the ash collecting on the tip into an old can filled with sand lying next to his bedside. He stays there, chain smoking throughout the entirety of Zeppelin’s eight-minute masterpiece as well as the Ramone’s vinyl he starts after. When the music’s over he remains on his bed, staring at the Beatle’s poster on his wall, a 3x3 image of their
"Revolver" album. The members are drawn somewhat realistically, but at the same time cartoonish. They look as though they could be caricatures that are unexaggerated. The lines look like pen marks in someone’s sketchbook, so impersonal. It’s nowhere near Scott’s favorite album, but he could look at the artwork for days and never grow tired of it.
The smoke in the room begins to turn into more like a fog, so Scott stands up to open a window. His head feels lite and his vision turns a bit dizzy, and he stumbles around carelessly to get his bearings. The window feels like ice on his fingertips as he opens it, but the crisp early December breeze feels nice on his chest, and helps cool his burning lungs. The change in temperature relaxes him even more, and when he reaches his bed again, Scott falls asleep within seconds. It’s not until his telephone rings hours later that he wakes up.
The shrill bell startles Scott upright and he feels confused and dazed. He can’t remember falling asleep, or being asleep at all. The only way he could tell that time had passed was the clock that sits on his nightstand next to his pack that read 11:19 PM. He wiped the sleep from his eyes and reached for the phone.
“Hello?” He sounds groggy, with his voice cracking with the “ll” part, making him sound more frog than person. His mouth is dry, as if he hasn’t had water in a week, so he smacks his lips to add some sort of moisture.
“Scott? Are you watching the news right now?” the rushed voice sounded like his friend Patty.
“No. I’ve been asleep. What are you talking about?” Scott assumes she’s exaggerating something, it’s what girls do. There was probably a small fire at a church or some shit. He doesn’t watch the news anyway, all if it doesn’t even matter to him. Half the stuff’s about Reagan now anyways, since he got elected the month previous, and Scott hates that son of a bitch. His parents can adore him all they want, but to Scott, that bastard doesn’t care about the little folk, only the big guys that give him money.
“You need to turn it on. Stay on the line with me though.”
“Why, what’s the big deal?” Scott chuckles a bit until it turns into a slight cough. “I’m a big boy, I can handle it.”
“Scott, trust me on this. Turn on the news right now.”
“Just tell me Pat!” Scott begins to get annoyed. Why is she so cryptic about everything?
“For Christ’s sake Scotty, turn on the goddamn ne-” she stops talking and Scott can hear someone yelling in the background. Even though she tries to muffle the receiver, Scott can still hear her apologizing to someone. Her stepdad must have gotten on her case about her “un-lady-like” language. It was about half a minute before she comes on the phone again. “I am extremely sorry for using foul language at you. Will you turn it on please?”
“Okay, but only because you asked nicely. What channel?”
Scott turns on his television, and an old western’s playing. He’ll have to come back to that, once he gets Patty of his back. He flips down through the channels, 12, 11, 10, before hitting 3. The screen was showing a city street, with police cars all around. He was watching the scrolling caption, and it looks like he just missed the juicy part, because all he could read was "NON SHOT DEAD." Scott must wait now for the “who” part until the caption rolls around again. “Where is this Pat, New York? Chicago?”
“Do you know who it is yet?” Pat inquires. "DEAD AT DAKOTA APA."
“No, but even if I did I’d still ask.” At this point, Scott assumes it’s a well-known politician. Everything’s political. "APARTMENT COMPLEX."
“It’s in New York City,” her tone sounds extremely flat. "LEX. BREAKING NEWS."
“Oh, okay.” Scott barely pays attention to their conversation anymore, he was too focused on the screen. He just wants to figure it out. "NEWS: MUSICIAN J."
“Are you good?”
“Yeah, hold on.” SICIAN JOHN L. John who? “It’s saying John…”
“John.” Patty sounded patient.
“John Le…n…..n…..o…” Scott doesn’t even finish spelling it out. He knows. Patty knows. There’s no point. It won’t change the fact that his favorite musician, favorite idealist, his role model… That he’s dead. He preached peace, and died through violence.
"BREAKING NEWS: JOHN LENNON SHOT OUTSIDE"
"DAKOTA APARTMENT COMPLEX."
Scott quickly tells Patty goodbye, that they’d talk at school the next day. He doesn’t even wait for her to respond before he hangs up the phone. After watching the banner run through four, five more times to be certain, he shuts off the television.
He lays back down on his bed, feeling as if an eternity has passed since he answered the phone. Gazing at the poster, the image seems so much farther now. Revolver. Revolver. Revolver. He falls asleep analyzing the drawings on it again.
Scott refuses to get up when his alarm rings, so he hits the snooze button again and again. The sun is too bright. The snow’s too blinding. He wants to curl up under the covers and pretend it’s a dream. His mother comes in, tearing off his comforter like a Band-Aid that was shielding him from the world. Scott begrudgingly gets up, still in the tobacco-stenched clothes from the previous night, and only has the energy to change his shirt. After all, he never really changes out his jeans daily anyways. After slipping on a pair of Chuck Taylor high tops and slinging a backpack across his shoulder, Scott slowly makes his way to school.
He catches a glimpse of Patty in a long green army coat standing next to a few of their other friends, talking solemnly in the school’s courtyard. When they saw Scott approaching, they all gave a half, little wave, like no one had the energy to even lift their whole arm. Glancing around, Scott notices that it’s not just his friends that look downtrodden.
Freshmen girl’s eyes are swollen, as if their boyfriends had just broken up with them not ten minutes previous. The shoulders of Senior guys slump more than usual as they trudge on to class. In fact, it seems as if only half the student body even bothered to show up. Scott puts on a stone face, and lights another cigarette as he approaches his friends.
“We’re ditching today,” Patty announces. “No one should have to even be here. It’s, like, a national tragedy.” The grape flavored gum pops in her mouth as he smacks it openly inside her right cheek. Scott can turns away as he smells it, reminded of an unfortunate night three days prior when he caught a taste of it from her first hand.
“So where are we going?” Scott takes a puff and blows it into his friend Meek’s face, laughing when his nose and eyes scrunch up, resulting in his glasses sliding down his face a bit. Everyone needs some humor, so he feels relieved when a few of his buddies chuckle.
“The records store downtown. 12th street sound, I believe. It’s the most fitting now, considering... Plus, I think some local bands are going to play a tribute later on at the bar nearby, too. Ya know, some Beatles covers and stuff from his solo career, mostly songs from Double Fantasy I guess. For John.”
Scott’s stomach turns. Everyone knows. She doesn’t have to mention it. He shrugs, trying to brush it off as no big deal. He knows he doesn’t have to pretend, everyone was affected. It just makes him feel better, to act above the shock. “I’m okay with that, Pat. I’d rather be with you guys than here right now anyways. Anything the teachers are gonna say won’t even matter to me. To anyone really. I mean it usually doesn’t anyways, but they are probably even just as fucked right now as we are. Hell, they probably got a cherry popped listening to him.” Pat looks at Scott in disgust at his last comment. She was no lady, but even she knows when he crosses a line. Scott caught the glare a quickly shifted gears. “Who’s ride we takin?”
The group of teenagers begin to walk off into the parking lot together, climbing into a busted old four-door wood-paneled station wagon that their friend Jace drives, and make their way into the city of Detroit.