Free World

Posted Dec 16, 2002
Last Updated May 17, 2006
“Is this how most people do this?” Samuel pondered.

He took a deep swig from his bottle of Jim Beam Whiskey and increased the volume of the after-market Luxury Stereo System in his mint-condition 1965 Mustang Fastback. He wondered why the music seemed to get fainter and fainter. Surely the battery wasn’t dying.

“Must be my senses waning,” he resolved.

He took another drink and began singing along.

“Bye, Bye Miss American Pie. Drove the Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry. Those good ‘ole boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye, singin’ this’ll be the day that I die.”

The last line instantly struck him. Neither alcohol, nor exhaust fumes from his Mustang could dull his sense of irony. He looked at himself in his rear view mirror and laughingly finished the chorus.

“… This’ll be the day that I die.”

This was all he wanted at this time. To be in the car he so lusted for as an under-privileged adolescent; the music that inspired him and carried him through those difficult years; and, of course, Jim Beam Whiskey.

On the passenger seat laid his most coveted possessions. The Thornburg Award he won for his portrayal of a disabled Army Veteran. Beneath that was a magazine naming him the most amazing man of 1994. He remembered posing for the picture. He was going for intelligent and pensive, but he ended up with pompous. He couldn’t help but look pompous at that time. He was, after all, the most amazing man in the world, albeit only for one year.

He would have brought his cat, Stevens, but that thought had obvious flaws. He considered purchasing a cat respirator, but he couldn’t find one. He would have asked his veterinarian, but he couldn’t think of a good reason to require such a device. Any reason other than having the feline friend nearby as you inhaled exhaust fumes until you died would have seemed silly.

Another magazine, a tabloid, was on the passenger floor. The cover revealed an affair between Rebecca Silver and Simon Beat. Rebecca Silver was an actress who had formed a niche out of romantic comedies and alluring music videos. She was also Samuel’s wife. Simon Beat was an award-winning musician whose sonic stylings were described by critics as a fusion of European Industrial Metal, and American Indie Punk. Samuel found the assessment to be both accurate, and unfortunate. Millions of young music fans disagreed. Beat’s albums sold millions and he received countless accolades, including the title of Most Amazing Man of 2002. He also specialized in setting his music to alluring videos.

The magazine was 2 weeks old, as was Samuel’s plan.

Smoke was filling the garage and Samuel could barely see anything through his windows. Stupidly, he turned on his windshield wipers. They did no good, and he was too far-gone to realize why. Frustrated, he skipped the CD two songs ahead and turned the volume as high as it would go. He leaned his head back and began to fade.

His life was now focused on this final song. Richie Furay played the rhythm as Neil Young picked the single note that somehow defined the song. Steven Stills began to sing.

“There’s something happening here…”

It was as if they were right there. Just Buffalo Springfield and no one else. Not his wife, who had been pounding on the door for 20 minutes. Not the paramedics who came and knocked the door down. Not the fire fighters, who came because usually where there’s smoke there’s fire. Not now. In this case it was just a dense cloud of combustion byproduct.

Once inside, the paramedics opened the garage door and the cloud escaped into the open air. They pulled Samuel from the car and began to give him CPR. Music blared from the Mustang as an EMT pounded on Samuel’s chest.

Rebecca crouched in the corner, sobbing. Music blared from the mustang and she could hear nothing. It was almost surreal how the paramedics worked on Samuel seemingly to the rhythm of the music. It was almost like working in music videos. She thought of Simon, and how she and her husband fought after he found out about their affair the same way millions of gossip-guzzling idiots had. Through the music and her own tears she wondered if she would have begun her relationship with the Simon Beat if she had known it would lead to this.

She couldn’t answer, so she cried louder.

“Turn the damn car off!” the EMT shouted.

Another paramedic reached in the car, turned off the ignition, and pulled out the keys.

Without the music the scene was drastically different. What was previously cadenced and dreamlike, was now awkward and dramatic. A woman crying in the corner. An EMT barking out a count while pressing on a man’s chest. Firefighters with nothing better to do than stand there and watch a man die.



To Be Continued...

Free World

An bizarre tale by California-based screenwriter Chris Webb.

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