The Wind Riders
The noise was atrociously offensive and steadily beginning to grate on JFK’s nerves. Just for the hell of it, he decided to rate the earsplitting racket that was causing the patrons of the bar to shrink into themselves, squeezing into the darkest corners of their psyche where bad things happened. It was probably somewhere between the shrieking of two cats pre-fight and a rusty pick-up door cruelly being pulled open - slowly.
It was that bad.
Knocking back the rest of his bourbon, he took a deep breath, gritted his teeth and made his decision. Yep, they were doomed alright. If this was all that was left of man-kind’s once overflowing musical talent-pool then they had two options - or three if he counted the unpleasantness of the thoughts clearly emanating from the deadpan faces around him.
Killing them, although extremely desirable at that moment in time, was not an option. As unbelievably, unquestionably and unequivocally bad they were, the four clowns on stage were now part of a threatened species – much to their luck.
No, the options were clear, both for those in the bar struggling to contain their barbaric nature and for the rest of the survivors within the ruined landscape. Either someone - hopefully already possessing some degree of technical expertise - began to figure out how to kick-start the dead nuclear power plants around them, or they migrated en-masse to somewhere that relied solely on eco-power.
That was it then. His decision was made. They would leave immediately.
— The Wind Riders
Batteries were at a premium these days and the small amount he had managed to pilfer in the early days back before the rationing had begun in earnest was quickly dwindling. No matter how he sugar-coated it, no batteries meant no music, at least the kind that did not drive you to the point of wanting to pierce your own eardrums with the nearest object – sharp or not. Right on cue, the lead singer of the ‘Dusty Blues’ attempted to hold a note for more than a five seconds – an appropriate death-knell for JFK and life as he knew it.
That was it then. His decision was made. They would leave immediately. He had heard of a small community of tree-huggers somewhere in the Black Mountains of North Carolina living off the land. He was more interested in power - Solar and Hydro power. Where there was power there was technology and where technology still existed, there was music.
“It’s that look again, babe. I don’t like it when you do that – it means you’re planning something,” Wind said, resting her chin on his shoulder, eyes searching his as they stared off into a corner of the bar. “I hope you ain’t planning on leaving me ….” JFK sensed, rather than saw the all too familiar look in her eyes as she attempted to draw his attention. He sighed inwardly. It did not matter whether humanity was being overrun by flesh-eating zombies – Wind was as insecure as ever and once her insecure tendency was tweaked, things got nasty.
He moved quickly to stunt the growth of her infamous temper before it ignited.
“Babe, I was considering leaving …” He felt the sting of her hand long before the next group of syllables left his mouth.
“I fucking knew it; it’s that trailer-trash hoe, Serena, isn’t it?”
As much as Wind’s paranoia, which verged dangerously on the precipice overlooking schizophrenia, drove him ironically insane – he loved her. He put up with the shocked stares of his biker entourage time and again. Across the table, Richie regarded him, his eyes narrowed as if to say Well, aren’t you going to put that bitch in her place? JFK shook his head slowly, holding the beady eyes of the ex-accountant unblinking. Richie turned away, unsurprisingly.
It’s that look again, babe. I don’t like it when you do that – it means you’re planning something.
He then turned to Wind who was glaring at him, her eyes wide, darting backwards and forwards from Richie to him as if reading their minds.
“Before you so rudely laid hands on me,” he said, reaching up to place his palm upon the cheek Wind’s own palm had graced seconds earlier. “I was about to say I was taking you and the gang with me, but ….” He pointed to his cheek, shaking his head and just to add that little extra guilt-trip – closed his eyes and pursed his lips tightly.
It worked exactly as he had planned – as it always did – and seconds later, a flood of kisses rained down on him, caressing the area where she had struck him.
“Aww baby, I’m sorry. I always do that don’t I?” Wind cupped his face, and looked into his eyes, a look of apology on her sweet face but not before casting a menacing glance at Richie as if to say I know what you meant – bitch.
“Babe, I understand – after all, I’m one helluva catch aint i?” JFK said winking at her and pulling her in close where his lips found hers before she could protest.
“Go get Simon, would ya. He’s out front polishing Ruth.”
Wind, always willing to please, got up and left the bar in search of his trusty lieutenant. If JFK was Wind’s rock, Simon was JFK’s mountain. Best friends since High school, there was no one else besides Wind to whom he would entrust his life – if it came down to that. The rest of the gang was either too new or just downright rotten and that included Richie. Still, he would rather have them than not, the bulk of his biker gang was either laid in the dust rotting or aimlessly wandering the streets somewhere with the rest of the ghouls.
When the crack of the closing door broke through the din, JFK put his foot down. He would have put his size twelve boots square down on Richie’s neck but he had a feeling Richie was going to be useful. However, JFK was not averse to a little amputation – if need be - and as he stared at Richie who began to wilt like flower in the Saharan sun, he envisaged taking a pair of secateurs to his tongue.
Richie though, despite his flaws, was a dab-hand with the two desk legs he carried tucked away, each comically in their own holster at his belt, the ends wrapped in thick duct tape. Where they were going, JFK needed all the violent ghoul-killing machines he could get – perhaps later a little trimming might come in useful?
He decided right then to settle the score verbally.
Richie though, despite his flaws, was a dab-hand with the two desk legs he carried tucked away, each comically in their own holster at his belt, the ends wrapped in thick duct tape.
— The Wind Riders
Leaning forward on the small round table, barely large enough to accommodate his elbows, he laid down the law. “I know what you were insinuating there, Richie, so let me clear things up for you.” He reached down and pulled open his waistcoat, leather of course, and smiled wickedly. Neatly slotted into their own resting places in perfectly straight rows and columns like wickedly pointed tombstones, were at least two dozen blades. Each one was polished into a silvery sheen so that when Richie saw them, he was essentially staring at dozens of himself in their unblemished surfaces.
Richie seemed to melt into his chair then, his slight frame becoming one with it as he sought refuge where there was none. JFK fingered the knives, running his fingertips along the rows whilst Richie’s window-wide eyes tracked their movement. When JFK’s fingertips stopped and gripped the slim hilt of one of the deadly weapons, Richie wilted, his body subtly drooping to the right like a deflating hot-air balloon.
JFK enjoyed the way the cockiness had drained out of Richie much like bourbon from a biker bar when one of the big bands came to town – impressively fast.
“You may be good with a chair-leg, but I’m the dog’s dinner with these babies.” JFK feigned a throw, snapping his hand towards Richie and the ex-accountant flinched so hard his chair went up on its two hind legs, tottered for a second, and then inevitably, gravity took over.
Closing his waistcoat, a smile of satisfaction on his heavily bearded face, JFK looked around the bar at the others, his biker gang and other surviving townsfolk roaring with laughter at Richie’s panicked fall.
No one tells me what to do; he thought as he poured himself another glass of bourbon and stood up, his 6 7” inch height bringing him almost level with the long dead ceiling fan above him.
Richie was now below him, his body perpendicular to JFK’s so that if JFK wanted, he could land a vicious kick just for the hell of it – but he did not. The look on Richie’s young clean-cut face was more than enough to satiate his lust for revenge. Richie was laid on his back, legs slightly raised, knees bent and hands up just under his chin as if ready to assist him in curling into the fetal position. JFK smiled and shook his head, a wave of sympathy washing over him – once an accountant, always an accountant.
To be continued...
You may be good with a chair-leg, but I’m the dog’s dinner with these babies.
— JFK to Richie
Thanks for reading! What do you think so far?
Richard J ONeill (author) from Bangkok, Thailand on June 26, 2016:
Thank you Reynold Jay.
I appreciate the support. :)
Reynold Jay from Saginaw, Michigan on June 26, 2016:
Looks great to me, Richard. Great characters and an engaging story has me hooked. Well done and look forward to more.