Happy Jacks glorious 40 minutes.
A story about a has been, God, the Devil and Roger Waters.
The Tampa Bay Ice Palace lay off to his left, across the road, now darkened by the bedding of the sun for the evening. Happy Jack popped his last ecstasy tab, took a swig from the Pepsi bottle he'd just bought at the 7/11, and let out a satisfying belch. His third tab in two hours and the affect was starting to get really strange. The lucidity of the emporium in his vision was tantalisingly stark and near.
Happy Jack moved across the road, dodging the now dwindling traffic flow, not entirely successful as the Nissan Primera failed to swerve and ran over his toes. The drivers' hollered "fucken idjut" was soon lost as the car sped away. Happy Jack looked down then at his right hand and marvelled at how the snub nose 38 Special had dropped into his palm, and realised the concern on the driver's face was due to his amazing reaction. The craziness of the situation forced a demonic laugh from his ecstasy laden lips, soon replaced by the site of other dark objects flying past him, showing clearly the two moons of their headlights.
His foot hurt, hurt like hell, but his renewed vision of the stadium drew him forward in his purpose. He could hear it now, the sound from within, and the thump of the bass drawing him ever onwards.
....It all makes perfect sense....
...expressed in dollars and sense,
pound shillings and pence.....
Roger stood on the stage, staring down at the less than impressive opening night crowd. The bastards were giving him a grilling, moving around, shouting out the obscene "Pink Floyd" chant that really pissed him off, and those fucking pinpoints of laser light were giving him a grating migraine.
.... can't you see....
it all makes perfect sense....
Roger looked over to Doyle, who appeared to be lost in the moment of trying to hit every note perfectly, to keep the fans from complaining. Roger marvelled at the ease with which the young guitarist could hit the notes, the smoothness of the style. Damn, if he wasn't another guitarist from long ago, I'd eat my hat. Thank god he wasn't a waster though. Never again, thought Roger.
"Thank you everybody, it's magic here tonight....." Roger hated saying the words as soon as he spoke them. Sure, some of the crowd were appreciative but the rest just carried on with the tirades, the ignorant catcalls. Certainly, he felt happy that he was touring again, trying to connect with the fans, but this first night was just getting too much.
Happy Jack lent against the wall. He pulled out his crumpled packet of Marlboro's, flipped a crumbled durrie in his mouth, and flicked his well worn US Navy Seals Zippo into life and lit the ciggy. He snapped the cover back on, and allowed the fulfilling nicotine and carbon monoxide to settle into his cavernous lungs. A racking cough erupted forcefully, causing him to bend over and exude the brown phlegm from his throat. After the fit had caused his drug affected heart rate to settle a little, he stood and cleared the rest of the gooey stuff from his mouth and around his chin, wiping it on the back of his fingerless, gloved hand. Hell these things hurt, hurt the cancer in his dying lungs, the agony of the pain stretching into his cancer riddled liver, causing excruciating pain to shoot up his right side. The ecstasy helped to numb it a bit, but still the pain bit.
Roger walked back over to the microphone. The crowd were getting up and starting to walk towards the door, but not all of them. Thank god for that small mercy, at least.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to finish......." The song rolled out and the band hit all the notes to perfection. Damn, the months sequestered away in the recording studio had certainly been well worth it. The sound was meatier, and the song fuller in complexity, and the band just nailed it. Roger was pleased.
God stood atop the back row, smiling approvingly at Roger Waters's rendition of Each Small Candle. He was pleased the artiste had chosen to finish with that particular song, but was still mystified at why he had played WGW during the show? He knew the song wasn't directly aimed at him, but heavens, it irked to be questioned, and he couldn't help but take it personally. He knew that his mission here was most urgent, but first the people must have their moment. And he knew he had to keep an eye out for Lucifer. Galadriel the cat angel had mentioned that there was to be a visit tonight, and God had no idea why. Galadriel had said that it was a rumour, but the timing was too coincidental.
"....each small candle,
lights a corner of the dark....."
Happy Jack was swaying to the music, the drug now fully in control, his eyes tight shut to the wondrous sounds of the Greatest Living Anthropologist of the 20th Century. The sound of voices, drunken shouts from his right brought him to erect preparedness. What the fuck was going on he thought? Where did these people come from? A young girl dressed in a miniskirt, high boots and a tight T shirt to accentuate her too large chest, staggered past, giggling her head off, her companion beside her obviously in the same or worse state. He let rip a beer stained belch, which had both of them going off in fits of laughter again.
".... didn't see fucken Dave Gilmour again man," said the oaf, " must've left Floyd again eh, urp........"
".....nuh ya dumb oaf, he quit ages ago, that's why they play shit......"
there voices trailed away, only to be replaced by more and more as the stadium spilled it's dissatisfied Floyd fans.
Happy Jack smiled. They were still ignorant, twenty years on. He remembered back to his hey day, when he was a Navy Seal moonlighting as a roadie on The Wall concerts, to earn a few more bucks for his cocaine habit. He coulda done anything else, he knew, made bigger money doing other clandestine things. But hey, his brothers wife was friends with Terry Lee from the Light and Sound Ensemble, the guys doing the lighting for the show, and being a Pink fan from way back, the opportunity was just two good for Happy Jack to miss. Shit, what an amazing time that was!
But now the crowd was rapidly gaining in size, the disaffected leaving in their droves, and inside the auditorium, Roger and the band played on. He withdrew the spent smoke from his lips and flicked it into the path of a passing couple.
"Hey watch it buddy!" the character shouted as the butt hit his face. The black wig became disentangled from the guys' head and fell to the ground revealing a shock of gray-white hair. The fat faced blonde, also obviously wearing a wig, bent down and uttered ' don't worry Beelly boy, I'll get it for yo' to which the rather happy and slightly high elderly guy replied 'sho Honey, and while you're down there, show us your moniker' and he ripped into peels of laughter.
The bird picked up the wig and spied Happy Jack looking at her. Then she saw the black hole of the 38 pointing straight at her head, and in a wave of panic, pulled the old guy from the direction of the barrel and ran off down the road.
"Moniker, honey, wadda ah say, honey, aw come on honey, He-lary will never know....."
Happy Jack settled back into the shadows, trying hard to soothe his heavy panic stricken breathing. The gun had reacted the same way again, forcing it's way into his right hand at the threat of command on his person. Shit, shit, shit, I had the perfect chance, he thought. The President of the United States of America. But he refocused his attention through the haze, on the reason he was here, and it certainly wasn't some dope smoking politician from the Arkansas.
Lucifer walked behind the stage, his eyes fixed on the figure atop the stadium seats at the back. It was obvious that God hadn't seen him yet, but soon he must reveal himself, and the battle would then be on. Hells bells, how he hated that bloody song.
".....lights a corner of the dark...."
Lucifer was determined the dark would remain as such.
The music inside the Ice Palace stopped. Applause rang out, and as the crowd started to file out of the main doors, the figure in the park across the road remained impassive, watching the ex-seal like a hawk. His eyes never leaving the weaving assassin.
Where the hell was the bloody pig? Happy Jack searched the auditorium high and low, emptied now but for the cleaning crews, the roadies securing the stage, and a few admin types running around checking for damage. Happy Jack knew there wouldn't be any damage, there never was at a Roger Show. But it didn't help calm his nervousness though. There was always a pig somewhere in the show, but he couldn't for the life him find it anywhere. He thought perhaps his mind was so fucked up from the years of drug abuse that he wasn't registering that pigs' shape anymore. He looked up towards the back of the place and saw God walking down the aisle towards the stage. He was glad he was here. He knew God, had known him for years, since the heroin overdose he and his Seal buddies had taken when fighting the Contra's in South America.
Scary days, then! Eating wild pork with the local tribes, only to be laced and left for dead. But God had come to save him, and pulled him through his crises. But the price had been heavy. The cancer that now riddled his body was a legacy of those days, those uncaring excursions of youthful exuberance. God had said sorry then but there was nothing he could change about the way he fated his souls.
"Hi again, Happy Jack, hanging in there?" said the entity as he wafted past the bemused hunter. Happy Jack turned and watched him walk up to the side of the stage, the cleaners oblivious to his presence.
"yeah, bloody fine, thanks" he thought to himself, half-wondering why he had replied. God knew his thoughts anyway. Which created a dilemma in his fogged mind. Shit, why didn't he stop me from my errand? he knows what I want to do but he didn't stop me? Happy Jack slumped in one of the seats and stared mindlessly towards the stage, absolute confusion ruling his mind now. Where was that damned pig and why didn't god stop me????
"Thanks, guys, that was bloody magic. Can't express how much I enjoyed the experience tonight, and don't worry about the crowd, they had big night nerves as well and things will improve, believe me." Roger stood facing the band in the conference room, as each tucked into the after gig fare and drinks, soaking up their maestro's warming appreciation of their individual efforts. A warm glow emanated from each as they soaked in the glory of the evening.
The dark figure appeared from behind a screen, his coal black eyes covered by an expensive pair of RayBans transfixed on the crowd of musicians, singers, Ice Palace employees, and media especially invited to attend. He was ready to start that which had to be done. But he was unnerved. There was a feeling in this room he abhorred. The warmth and love that only satisfied humans could enjoy. His desire was to be sated but the strength of the enemy would be greater for the love in this place.
Dale and Emily danced through the auditorium, Dale resplendent in his nice new blue-gray suit and Emily in her bright purple and pink summer frock, legacies of their 5th birthday party being held next door at the Wendy's restaurant. Their parents oblivious to the situation their children found themselves in.
The two children had sneaked out from the playground when they saw all the happy people leaving the Ice Palace, and their curiosity was tickled as to why so many big people were leaving such a large place with very big smiles on their faces. There must be a circus or something going on for everyone to be happy. When they entered the auditorium, they were at first dismayed not to find a circus, but grew inquisitive as to why such a big place was suddenly empty and dreary, yet a moment ago a place of happiness. They started to search the stadium, twins in simpatico thought patterns reacting to each other's will as if by instinct. They shied away from the area the ugly sad looking man sat, his eyes transfixed on the front of the stage, not seeing the two of them. But they continued up to the back and then back to the front, each descending on opposite sides and racing each other to the stage.
A cleaner tried to shoo them from their joy, but gave up when he saw the happiness etched on their respective faces. God, by now up on the stage and making for the back stage area, turned and looked at the both of them. The two children recognised him and smiled wan fully at him, suddenly stopped in their tracks by his presence. God smiled again at them and disappeared behind the curtain. Dale and Emily looked at each other and were somewhat confused now.
"Was dat God, Emily?" asked Dale. "He looked like him, eh!"
Emily turned and shook her head in confused agreement, and looked back at the sudden sound from over her left shoulder. The fear in her eyes drew Dale round and then the screaming started.
The 38 slipped magically into his hand again. Happy Jack looked down and couldn't understand what had happened. He looked around and only saw the cleaner and the two children by the stage. He was suddenly very nervous. What had happened to cause the gun to be prepared for action. The cleaner, though somewhat a weird looking dude, didn't display signs of command, and the two kids certainly weren't a threat. He scanned the room but couldn't see a goddam thing that would be considered a threat. The panic started to rise in his groin, up through his chest, and spread into the paranoia of his mind. Forces he had no idea of how to control reached into the miasma of his brain, grabbing his soul and launching him on his path of destiny.
He rose from his chair, and started running, running and screaming towards the stage, "aaaggggrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhh" as he passed the two startled children and leapt onto the platform of performers, and through the backstage curtain following the path that God had taken. He cocked the 38!
Doyle sat by the bar, his strained eyes concentrating on the figure that had entered the room behind Roger. The white symbolic attire the tall dude wore was somehow beautiful and the song started to take form in his mind. The figure sort of looked like his vision of Gandalf the Great from the Lord of the Rings, only this guy seemed more majestic and pure. He shifted his eyes to the right of Roger and saw the other guy that he had noticed before, the one with the RayBans. Man, this guy was the complete opposite to the other, dressed completely in black, with his long flowing shiny-black hair tied up behind him by a red ribbon. He, too, bespoke power, but a power that was not very healthy, or so he, Doyle thought. Then he realised it. Right and Wrong! Shit, what is happening........
"Hey you guys, how would you like to jam for a bit?" Jim Carin raised his head from the laptop and addressed the rest of the entourage. "I've just hooked into the BBS, Rog, and that guy Mark Q Warren, you know? Goes by the name of Andersoncouncil, with the west coast band Daves Rope Swing!" Roger nods at the familiarity of the name and moves over towards the keyboard player. "He's posted a knew song and it looks very cool, something we could have a go at."
Dale and Emily watch the cleaner, suddenly aware he is not cleaning anything, but watching them and the strange army guy with the gun. he seems funny, and both telepath the Cat in the Hat to each other. They give a small childishly innocent giggle and turn back to the Cat in the Hat.
"Hey, mister, are you the Cat in the Hat?" yelled Dale.
The man looked at them, a blank look of deep mystery etched on his unresponsive features. His nose was different, they saw, not that of a cat, but almost like that of the third little pig from their favourite nursery rhyme.
Old Pink looked at the two lovely children. He started the rhyme as if by magic, transfixing the kids with his words.
"Hey Riddle, Diddle,
Two kids in the middle,
I'll see you on the dark Side of the Moon
When two, Right and Wrong,
and one who writes songs,
face the madman and futures boon."
The kids followed him then as he walked up the stairs to the stage, mesmerised by the words but unsure as to their meaning. Pink followed the path of God, and Lucifer before him, and the recent careening crusade of the assassin. The twins followed him, unsure now of their destiny but certain it lay in the path they now took. There was no turning back for any of them now.
Rogers voice rose over the strumming of Doyle and Snowy's acoustic guitars.
...wonder why I write like this
I'm just a product of societies lie
My life seems to run in circles, but
Wherever they run......
God and Lucifer were transfixed by the moment, as was everyone in the room....
........ make me act like that
You society made me mad
And you society make ..........
The girls started to improvise a backing vocal, humming a thread similar to the male voice choir on The Tide Is Turning.....
.......your head!! Don't listen to me
A madman lurks inside
Seeking relief from this thirst for freedom
Only then will I stand .........
Happy jack burst into the room and pointed the gun at the first figure he saw through the frosted vision of his ecstasy high, and realised very quickly that his aim on God's back wasn't very prudent. he swung the gun to the left on the figure wearing the fucking RayBans, only to feel a dread appear deep in his psyche.....
....... you say, FIGHT For what you believe
you say but don't fight me or you'll bleed
you say killing a man is not RIGHT!
Then you say take this gun and fight, ..........
Old pink strolled in behind Happy Jack, placed an arm around his shoulders and coerced the gun from his grasp by sheer will, forcing the demented drug addict to absolute calm before he was exposed to the crowd happily jamming in the room........
Rogers' voice reached a screaming pleading pitch as he continued the song off the laptop........
You tell me to act normal
But I never understood the rules
Society lives by a double standard
The poor are castaway, the rich are ..........
The kids wonder in and stand amazed at how so many people could possibly fit into such a small room. Their gaze is stopped rigid on the old guy singing in the middle of the room, a sudden glow warming in their hearts.
.........must listen to what I say
Or you yourselves will cast you away
yes we must change or we will die!
Change is THE power you can't deny!!
The sudden applause rocks the room and Roger and the guitarists look at each other and at Carin.
"Shit, what a great song," called Roger, what a fucking fabulous anthem. Man, I wish I had written it?"
"Hey, excuse me," called out Dale, "but my Dad told me never to swear in gods presence."
Everyone turned then towards the small boy and girl standing by the door, holding hands and looking at all the grown ups with childish innocence. Then someone saw the cleaner with the gun, and started to scream. The rest of the crowd started to react, God reached out for the throng to calm the crowd, Lucifer screamed as loud as the rest creating even more mayhem, and Happy Jack's soul reached out for something he couldn't see.
"Stop it!!" Yelled Old Pink with controlled strength. Happy Jack immediately looked down at his right hand searching for the gun, and felt the despair when seeing it wasn't there anymore. Lucifer cowered and God took a respectful pace back.
"What is going on here, please? Roger asked. Who are all you people and what are you doing at my bash.
The two children stepped forward, without a sign of fear on their faces.
Dale pointed to Happy Jack. "Who are you, mister?"
Happy Jack lifted his eyes from his missing gun, and stared at the kid. What had that kid just asked him? Oh, yeah!
"Me, Oh, I'm Happy Jack. I guess I'm the American Dream, defender of the Faith, One of the Brave, and now a sign of the drugged out, the lost and forgotten. Yeah, that's who I am." he dropped his head in sad contemplation.
Emily pointed at Roger. "Who are you, mister?"
Roger looked at the girl with wistful admiration. The strength her and her brother displayed were marvellous to behold in such so young.
"I am the troubadour, the recorder of life, the questioner of old times forgotten, I am the hope of the Now Generation.
The two kids swung their gaze towards God and Lucifer, who both turned towards each other and without saying a word, shook each others hands as if empowered by some greater force to do so. They then disappeared in a blinding light, shaking the already bemused occupants of the room, who were plenty badly shaken by the events thus far.
Old Pink then turned to the children and asked them:
"and children who are you?"
Emily and Dale looked at each other, smiled and lifted their heads high and scanned everyone in the room, looking each in the eye.
"WE are the children of your future, the hope, the learners of mistakes, the changers of the ills, the forgivers of the forgotten. We are our parents love, and we are the holders of the candles for the life that is to come." At that message, their eyes rested on Roger Waters, and he felt an empathy that he had striven for, for all these years.
Emily and Dale return to their Mum and Dad, still sitting in Wendy's, thinking their two 5 year old darlings have been in the takeout's playground. Everyone smiles at each other, and exchange family platitudes. However, the warmth of the family is now an encouraging glow, and the world changes a bit tonight.
Old Pink fades off into the distant, wondering the thoughts of a happy muse.
Happy Jack strolled through the transfixed assemblage, making a demanding beeline for the laptop on the other side of the room. He brushed Carin aside and read the words displayed on the screen.
TheGunnersDream Two Thousand Years 6/13/00
"Two thousand years.
I sit upon the beach,
upon the sea,
the tears of sadness rushing in
my memories stained
from years of strain
and pouring out in tears,
what have we humans done,
in the last two thousand years.
Two Thousand years of fighting,
Two Thousand years of death,
Too many soulful people
who drew their final breath,
Too many loveless children,
Too many sad old folks,
Two thousand years of wasted lives,
Too many hearts that broke.
As clouds roll in
and gray my thoughts,
I think of all that sin,
that may have been
why we were taught
to think of thee within,
they try to wash away the gold,
the bright light
of the sun,
But without love,
and God above,
I am the lonely one.
Two Thousand years of misery,
Two Thousand years of pain,
Too many innocent children
being sold down the drain,
Too many heartless tyrants,
Too many wounded prides,
Two thousand years of anguish,
Too many wounded cries.
I look out on the sea
the rising of the waves,
and try to seek a vision
of the ones that
I can save,
The clouds begin to part again,
The sun, it shines
a prod in my direction
show me what do?
Two Thousand candles to be lit,
Two Thousand years away,
To make the smallest changes
I have to make them pay,
To seek a path of love and hope,
To reach for souls so pure,
To spread the message far and wide,
To make their lives endure.
I sit upon the beach once more,
upon the sea,
the waves of gladness rolling in
my memories clear
I have no fear
My heart is full of cheer,
what can we humans do,
in the next two thousand years
Happy Jack, smiles, the first time for nearly twenty years. The pain in his lungs and liver no longer cause him distress and an arm reaches around his shoulders and gives him a bear hug, the warmth and love there for all to see.
"Don't worry, soldier, there is hope for us all yet, even you." Roger is smiling too.