Back to School

Back to School

The light cutting through Johnny’s eyelids is undeniable. For hours he’s been fighting the diurnal, circadian curse of being human, but the light was here and he has slept enough. It’s time to wake up. The chirps of birds and the chatter of people, conversations ring through his ears. Not just conversations, laughter, the laughter of girls.

Johnny pops up into a sitting position on the couch of the old RV and looks out the window. He sees grass, he sees skies, he sees girls, school girls. Different shades, different haircuts, different sizes, but all in the same outfit, skirts, socks, blouses, and blazers. “I think I’ve woken up in my dad’s heaven,” he says out loud to himself. “A heaven of big hair and bobby socks.” He quickly remembers where he is and why he’s here.

Johnny and his band, Ivan Rocket and the Blackness Between the Stars are here at Altare Deorum, a historically all-girls Catholic school, to play their graduation prom tomorrow night. So that means a day to kill, hanging with rich kids and another showdown, one step closer to the CD release show in Marble Head. Sure the show will mainly be a chance to rub shoulders and hobnob, but Johnny likes the fancier things in life if only for them being fancy.

He gets up from the couch and takes a piss in the claustrophobically small bathroom, a room that never seems to air out its years of shits and being used as a pot-smoking room while driving through the less “friendly” states.

When done, he steps to the back between the sink and the door to the back bedroom of the RV. Looking at his face in the mirror, with some concern, he raps on the door yelling, “Yo, Ivan you in there?” No answer.

Johnny takes inventory of his face. All the parts are there and in the right places. Johnny likes himself, a lot. He is not down on others as much as he is just up on himself. He is proud of his, what he considers to be, true all American look. He is a tall Japanese man, 24 years old, with the build of a Nebraskan high school football star and he liked that. Eye to eye or more with everybody else, diverse in the face, wide at the shoulders and lean at the hips. Not too tan, not too pale, not too yellow, not too pink, to Johnny, his look was him and he was his look. There is no distinction.

He splashes water on his face and over his hair, digging the crust from his eyes and pulling his black hair back with his hand, then leans against the wood veneered bedroom door, elbow and forearm holding him up.

Knocking again, “Ivan! You in there? Where is everybody?”

Johnny hears a disgruntled moan from beyond the door and twists the flimsy knob opening it. The door slides across the orange shag carpet, sounding like it’s made of cardboard as it drags across. “Yo, man? Get up. Let’s get coffee ‘er something. I think it’s late.”

“It’s always late when we get up,” Ivan responds dismissing Johnny.

“Yeah, but we’re at a school. Ya know, gotta inspire young minds.”

“Some of these kids, as you call them, are our age,” Ivan rolls over and starts to sit up “and the rest of the kids aren’t far behind,” he says accentuating the word “kids” in snotty air-quotes.

“Yeah, well, get up anyway cuz I don’t wanna go out there alone,” Johnny tells him, “It’s bright, fun, and peppy, but not like us, like, weird bright, fun, and peppy.”

Johnny leaves the room while Ivan makes himself presentable. He digs around for his bag under the couch, pulls it out, and selects a pair of almost black blue jeans, a tank top undershirt, and an almost black green stitched western shirt with opal-colored plastic snaps.

Ivan comes stumbling out of the back with a wild look in his eyes. “Where is everybody?” He moans.

“They must already be out there with the kids.” Johnny answers.

“I’m not kidding, man, you gotta stop calling them kids or you’re going to seem like a creepy pretentious turd.” Ivan snickers while picking up a shirt from the floor and smelling the armpit. “These are grown mature women ready to make a change in the world.” He sniffs the shirt again and with a pleasant look and a nod he pulls it over his head adjusting it at the shoulder and palm ironing the front.

“Put on a clean shirt, Ivan.”

“Clean shirts are for shows,” Ivan informs him.

“And funerals, “ Johnny adds, getting ready to brush his teeth.

“And funerals,” Ivan agrees, joining him at the sink, toothbrush in hand.

The Music

The Characters

Continue on with Part 20: Booze and Smokes

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