Chapter VII

Chapter VII

A Chapter by Mounsell

John and Lissie jam.


John carried Lissie's guitar as they walked to her home.  Not burdened with any load, Lissie was able to run ahead of him and frequently did so.  Once she reached the edge of town, Lissie turned back to see John lagging behind. 

               After John finally caught up, she remarked, "Don't worry, we're almost there."

               "Almost?" John replied, wearily.

               "You didn't think I lived in town, did you?"

               As the pair continued down the dusty road, John noticed the sun setting to his right.  Its auburn form was cupped between two distant mountain peaks, as if they were laying the sun to rest.  The aura of this fiery sphere reflected upon the sparse clouds and painted them a brilliant shade of amber. 

               Lissie noticed John gazing off to the west and jogged back to him.  When the sun completely disappeared from their view, she broke the silence.

               "Beautiful, huh?"

               John replied, "It sure is."

               The two continued along the road and John spoke again.

               "You know, I've never had the time to appreciate nature.  At sunset, I'm usually in the back of some kitchen or looking for the next town on my route."

               "That's one of the great things about Salton.  It's not as fast-paced as the big cities." 

               "Is that the reason you live way out here?" John inquired.

               "One of them." Lissie replied.

               Before John could inquire further, Lissie ran far ahead of him.  He looked where she had run to and saw a quaint home, lit by a single lamp on its lawn.  The ground around the house was well gardened.  Despite the arid land around it, the garden's plants had managed to survive and even to flourish.  Vibrant yellow sunflowers sat among white daisies, and blue sages.  The home's exterior was painted in a vibrant yellow that paralleled the coloration of the sunflowers. 

               Lissie walked to the front door and pulled a key from under the doormat.  As she pushed open the door, Lissie looked towards John and spoke.

               "Come on in.  I assure you, there are no booby-traps."

               John grabbed the guitar case by his feet and followed her inside the house.  Lissie turned on lamps throughout the house and John was able to spy the clusters of photographs that hung on one side of the living room.  Postcards depicting the Empire State Building, the Grand Canyon, and other distant locales, all covered the wall.  In the center of this large cluster was a small photo of a rainy day in Times Square.  In the middle of the square stood a young, flaxen-haired girl, clad in yellow rain gear.  Her hands were placed at her hips as if she was signaling to the cameraman her impatience.  She wore a broad smile upon her face, revealing the same pearly whites Lissie had flashed at John in the diner.

               From his position in the living room, he could hear a tea kettle whistle in the kitchen.  A few moments later, Lissie walked in carrying two steaming cups.  He gladly accepted the drink.  Lissie looked at the pictures alongside John.

               She sipped her tea and said, "So you've found my collection?"

               John replied, "It's a little hard to miss."

               "I know.  Did you see the picture of Times Square?"

               "Yeah, you were the one in the yellow raincoat, right?"

               Lissie grinned and said, "Smart man."

               She sat down on a nearby armchair and sipped her tea.

               "Yeah, that photo was taken when I was about sixteen.  It was my first time in New York, surprisingly."

               Puzzled, John asked "What do you mean?"

               Well, I lived in Yonkers, which is just a few miles out of Manhattan.  I never really understood why my parents wanted me to stay out of the metropolis until that time."

               Lissie looked away from John and sipped her tea.

               "Go on," John implored.

               Lissie smiled and said, excitedly, "Alright, if you insist."

               She and leaned forward in the armchair and began to story.

               "Well, when that photo was taken, I had only been sixteen a few months, so I was still daddy and mommy's little girl.  Keep that in mind.  It's an important detail."

               "Okay," John said, amused.

               Lissie continued.

               "In December of tenth grade, some of my girl and guy friends had the brilliant idea of sneaking off to New York for New Years Eve.  Of course, the other people were older than me, and most of them had parents who wouldn't care if their children were in Sing Sing.  About three days before New Year's Eve, my friends and I piled into Tony's Cadillac."            

               Looking at John's puzzled look, she quickly added, "Tony was the oldest boy of the group and the owner of the car."

               "How did you manage to escape your parents?" John asked. 

               "Well," Lissie began, "When my friends came to pick me up, it was a little after midnight.  I had sat in my bed for God knows how long before I heard their car drive down the street and park in front of my house.  The idiots somehow got to in their heads that the most discreet way to get my attention was to honk the car horn.  Lucky for me, my parents were apparently unconscious by way of sleeping pills. 

Unfortunately for me, though, a rumor had passed from the kids of Yonkers to the adults that talked about a group of teenagers running off to New York for a few days.  My father overreacted, like he always did, and locked my bedroom door from the outside."

               "Could you get out?" John asked.

               "Of course, I could.  My father's mission to keep me in the home that night failed to account for the possibility that I might use my bedroom window as an escape route.  I was prepared for the escape, too.  The night before, I had stashed a suitcase under my bed and filled it with clothing.  I tight a good rope, or at least, I thought it was a good rope, around the suitcase's handle.  When my friends pulled up to the house and blared the horn, my plan went into action.  First, I opened the window, and grabbed the suitcase's rope.  I held the line in my right hand and managed to climb a little ways down the vines that crawled up to my window sill.  I tried to drop my suitcase gently onto the lawn but the rope slid through my hand.  When I climbed all the way down, I realized that my clothes had spilled out of the fallen case.  I collected them hurriedly as my friends shouted at me from the car.  I jogged across the grass and reached for the trunk door.  I discovered it was locked and Tony told me to just hop in the car.  Collecting my things, I moved to a spot in the back seat between Sam and Ashley.  Throughout the rest of the ride, I tried to hold my broken suitcase together."

               "When we got there, Tony checked us in to what had to have been one of the ritziest places in the city.  Marble flooring, magnificent chandeliers, luxurious furniture.  Tony, after checking us in, gave us all room keys.  I slept with Lauren and Ashley, while the boys stayed in another room.  I have to admit, for all of Tony's bad tendencies, he was a great predictor of people.  He knew what would go on if the couples stayed in the same room and didn't want to come back with an extra person by the end of the trip.  I was surprised he didn't make us stay in the same room.  He did have a huge crush on me."

               "Really?" John asked.

               "Oh, yeah," Lissie replied, "you could tell by the way he talked to me."

               Lissie sipped what was left of her tea and continued the story.

               "The morning after we checked in, my friends and I went sightseeing.  That photo," Lissie pointed to the one of her in the raincoat, "was taken about lunchtime.  We had just come out of one of those fancy boutiques and John wanted to take a few glamour shots of me and the girls.  I agreed to do so and he used his newly purchased camera to take that shot.  We ended up eating at some fancy restaurant called Sardi's for dinner.  Tony used his fake I.D. to purchase some two-hundred dollar wine.  By the time the restaurant closed, he was drunk off his a*s and we carried him to the hotel.  I got stuck with him for the night.  He puked in the toilet.  I slept on the couch.  It was magical.

"The next day was a lot worse.  I woke up to the sound of Tony complaining about a massive headache.  All I had to do to get him to shut up about it was glare at him.  That day happened to be December 31st.  My friends and I made the stupid decision of getting to Times Square just as swarms of people were also entering.  I got separated from Tony and the gang and didn't see him until after the ball dropped.  Less than hour after midnight I found Tony looking pale as a ghost and running from something.  He grabbed my wrist, and pulled me into an alley.  I tried to walk back to the hotel without him but he grabbed me and started to talk so fast I couldn't understand a single word he was saying.  I told him to slow down and he spoke the words, 'The police know I stole my dad's car.'"

               "He stole it?" asked John.

               "Yeah, and wait, it gets better. So we rush back to the hotel.  I'm pissed off and soaked from the rain.  Tony was drenched also and, I suspect, a little drunk.  He makes me pack my things and put them in the car.  Apparently, the other girls and guys had already left, since their suitcases weren't in either of our rooms. 

               "John managed to drive us halfway out of town before the police pulled us over.  Long story short, he got prison and I got a slap on the wrist."

               "I'm sure you're parents weren't nearly as forgiving."

               "You're right.  They went absolutely nuts.  I got sent to a boarding school for girls upstate."

               Lissie looked at the clock across the room and said, "Man, I really talked your ear off."

               "It's quite alright." John replied.

               He directed his attention to the clock and saw that it was well past midnight. 

               John, grabbing his jacket from the chair of the couch, said "I should be leaving.  Bill and Martha are probably wondering where I am."

               As he walked to the front door, Lissie called his name.

               "John!  You forgot your coat."

               John looked behind him to see Lissie his worn jacket.  She smiled and helped him put it on.  Lissie wiped some of the dust from its back and opened the door for John.

               John thanked her and said "Goodnight, Lissie".

               As he walked out the door and towards the street, she smiled and replied, "Goodnight, John."         

               Walking home, the wind constantly bit at John.  He wrapped his body with the jacket and prayed it would keep him somewhat warm throughout the work.

               The moon offered John a substantial amount of light.  Its beams lit the dusty road ahead of him and each street sign.  John followed this signage home. He no longer had anything to carry and was able to quickly reach the Hodges' home. 

               Standing before the front door, John considered knocking.  He quickly dismissed this idea after considering the possibility that the Hodges were asleep.  He turned the door knob and slowly pushed the door in.  Once inside, he was glad he had not knocked.  Sitting on an armchair in the middle of the room was Bill, snoring.  He appeared as though he had fallen asleep while waiting for John to arrive.

               John moved quietly to the spare bedroom.  He put on more comfortable garb and laid himself under the bed's sheets.  His eyelids began to grow heavy and they soon closed.  The fan above his head whirred quietly as John drifted off to sleep.

© 2012 Mounsell

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Added on May 23, 2012
Last Updated on June 2, 2012
Tags: salt, city, sea, truck, salton, guitar, song, songs, concert, performance, yawn, sleep, paris



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