This next round for the Music Be The Food flash fiction event is inspired by a band that is very near and dear to my heart. You might know them from their incredible catalog of music, or you may know them from my novel, The Dark Seduction; the band is Die So Fluid and the song, “Bittersweet”, is off their upcoming album, “One Bullet From Paradise”.
Listen to this powerful song and read the first piece of fiction by Jay Wilburn.
The Zealot’s Last Address
Tom never got used to the sand through the cracks in the walls irritating his nose or the way the heat lay. Dry or not it was still hot as hell even before the sun kicked back in. Shaking scorpions out of shoes and looking for creepers and biters in every shadow was an old habit from before ever moving into the dry heat and endless flats.
He pushed the microphones to the sides of the table so he could take his meds in the low light of morning. The cord to the transmitter hung cut from the ceiling where it helped support a new web. The wire to the TV antenna was still connected, but since everything went digital, it picked up nothing.
Tom dry swallowed the bigger horse pills. Those little steroids were a bitch though. He had to push lots of precious water with them. If they caught in his throat, the stuff hit his brain as fast as meth used to. He’d black out and likely bust his head open on the concrete foundation. He’d normally not care, but he’d wake back up again and that’d be one more thing to deal with.
He could see the dead mics on their stands and the dark analog TV in the corner as he stared and waited for his vision to clear. He had nothing original left to say and nothing new he cared to hear from the outside, so no great loss on either side of that useless conversation.
He stood and dumped out the grinds without losing the damp filter paper. Tom refilled judiciously from the tin and poured the rest of his morning pill drinking water into the pot to boil.
He pulled a couple eggs and two slices of bacon from the rumbling, ringing mini fridge. The thing barely qualified for a dorm room, but looking at his shack, Tom had little room to compare his current state to his college years.
Eggs and bacon fell into two sides of the same cast iron surface within the low lip of the pan. The sizzle subverted the complainings of the fridge and the dusty whistle of desert through the cracks. He wanted them scrambled, but black spots filled the edges of his vision, so he sat in the closest chair and let the eggs free fry instead.
Pamphlets lined the edge of the ceiling above the squat stove and around the room over the cot and back. Between old license plates and a scrub board on a hook, these pages marked his timeline of causes and true convictions old and ancient. His full name and sometimes aliases donned the front of a few of the faded pages. Sometimes they traded titles between reverend or chairman. He believed in every one of them for a season.
Most of that shit was online now and turned over quicker. Just a different printing press for the same wheel of rotating fanaticism. If he could reach them without passing out, he might finally tear them off their hooks. Maybe he needed the reminders to keep away from old habits and beliefs more dangerous to him than the meth had ever been.
The smell of burning woke him back to the dusty, dry heat of the present away from the sultry passions of youth, middle age, and second childhoods. Tom stood slow and plated his blackened bacon and uneven eggs. He could tell by looking that one yoke was hard and the other would be runny. There were always two sides to every pile a shit a person had to eat though, he thought. He flipped one slice of bacon to reveal white, underdone fat. He was finished trying for the morning though.
He poured the steaming pot through the spout and into the filter. Tom used his coffee cup to catch the first half cup of brew directly before putting the patient glass pot on to gather the rest.
He shuffled out the door haning on one hinge with his plate and mug to sit in his rocker. There he stared sideways from the rise of the sun. A fence surrounded his sandy lot. Twists of tire ruts led to a road on the other side of a gully some half mile away from his face. Between the truck and the gate inside the fence, a post held a sign facing the unseen road.
PRIVATE. NO TRESPASSING.
The fence and the sign held loose in the sand. They could barely stand on their own much less to hold anything or anyone out who wanted in. Both served more as suggestion than threat.
There were still a few things that bite or creep about on two legs hanging from one hinge that might have been interested in finding Tom. Things blackened on one side and still raw on the other. If they made it far enough to read the sign, there wouldn’t be much point any longer. Some of them would come to hurt him to pay for his convictions deeply held deeper back in life. Others would come to follow a man they thought still stood for something. Both possibilities were equally repulsive to Tom as he drank his bitter coffee and ate eggs cooked badly two ways.
Read more from Jay at jaywilburn.com.