Thursday, November 20, 2036
And almost exactly a year after he left, The Boy has returned. He says, this time, to stay (although “stay” might mean in town or in Atlanta, rather than at the manor). He’s said that so many times in the past that I gave up trying to keep count a long time ago, but there’s a new look in his eyes. His side trip to the shale pits might have done him some good… given him some closure, exorcised his demons, put his ghosts to rest, however you like to say it. Just being out on the road, playing his music to crowds, did the rest… even if most of the venues were makeshift or pressed into service on the spur of the moment.
He took more time than strictly needed to get from Washington to LA and then back here, of course… he put on a couple of concerts in each major city, and spent a few more days in a couple of places. He admitted to being tempted by the offer to join the Chicago Corporation, but decided in the end that they probably wouldn’t have been interested in him if not for his celebrity status. He did spend a week in Chicago though, playing various venues and seeing what there was to see before moving on.
A month in California is still quite an experience, according to The Boy, even if the beaches are getting eaten away by the permanently risen tide. During the junta years, when the west coast was first known as Pacifica and then became part of the Rebel Alliance, there was a lot of development aimed at coping without oil. Drive motors, batteries, and aerogel were all improved; then a company called LSO (Los Santos Occidental, but some people say it really means Life Sans Oil) put them all together on a bicycle. The sucker’s not cheap, but it does make life easier for people who need to get around. He brought one home with him; Rene tried it out and said it was an easy half-hour ride to town. Good thing we have the Heehaw, because I expect The Boy will be using the LSO himself to get around before long.
I asked him when he realized he’d put the past behind him finally. “I guess it was an evening in Santa Monica,” he said. “I was sitting there, watching the sun set, picking out a tune, and it was like… like everything just drained out of me. I’m glad I was alone, because I started crying. Everything I’d hoped for when I was younger — going on tour, people lining up to hear my music — it finally happened, after I’d given up hope on even having a normal life.” He paused for a long moment. “And going back to the shale pits. When I was there before, I dreamed about getting even with the assholes who put me there. When I got there, I didn’t know what I was going to do. They make you go with a guard, and they tell you the guard is there to keep you from going after them, just as much as them going after you. But you can go in there and tell them whatever you have to say.”
“So what happened? You never told us.”
He chugged down what was left of his homebrew. “Damn. You gotta go to a bar to get cold beer now, and sometimes that’s a crap shoot. ’Least this is good warm.
“Anyway. I was in Denver, and I was going back and forth about it: gonna go, not gonna go, that kind of crap. I already had the ticket though, so I figured I might as well go. I figured I didn’t have to say anything, I could just have a look and get back on the train. But I checked out of the hotel, so I had to carry all my gear. They said that wasn’t a problem, so I went ahead. I had to take it all with me off the train, because I’d have to take a different train back to Denver and Cal was doing his own sightseeing tour. No big deal, I had a bag of clothes, my guitar, and amp is all, and I carried that around pretty well before.
“So I got there and looked. All it was, was a bunch of old crooks shuffling around the work site. A couple other people came, and yelled a few things at them. Me, I just stood there a long time, just watching. Some of them looked at me and then turned around.” He grinned. “So I plugged in the guitar, turned on the amp, and played them some songs. I Opted Out Today, and that one from the 60s that Bob Dylan did…”
“How Does It Feel?”
“Yeah, that one. Then I made up one on the spot, just for them. I called it What You Deserve, and it was about all the shit they deserved to get, a lot worse than pretending to mine shale. They didn’t like it too much, a couple of them started throwing rocks and pieces of shale at me. I was too far away, but it got the guards down there by the time I finished. Then my guard said no more, it’s time to go, so I turned off the amp and left. I guess he liked it though, because he carried the amp back; I had to carry everything there myself. He told me ‘Good one’ when we got back to the station.”
“Heh. You remember the words?”
He did, and said to post them here:
You treated me and America like shit,
And now you’re here, stuck in your own pit.
Life has thrown us all a curve,
But you didn't get what you deserve.
You look down on me as I look down at you,
I was always something to scrape off your shoe.
You wanted to rule, and us to serve,
So you haven’t got what you deserve.
You should be a display at the county fair,
For us to laugh at, and spit in your hair!
Slapped and punched when we get the nerve —
That’s only the start of what you deserve!
You thought General K was so very brave.
But he’s long gone, and I pissed on his grave.
Throw you in a hole, deep down in the turf,
Buried alive — it’s what you deserve.
Buried alive — it’s what you deserve!
He cut his album in California, at one of the old studios out there, and put that song on there too. It’s been a roaring success, as such things are measured nowadays — a good 10,000 downloads (and that’s just the paid version), topping the Retro Rage charts. Enough for him to live comfortably on for a good while, even if he’s paying rent. He’s not sure what he’ll do, but I suspect that he’ll try to find a place in Atlanta. I’ve already asked Kim to keep an eye out for something halfway decent.
The important thing is, he’s healed.