I always tell people that I write heart warming stories about a boy and his dog, and it is high time that I at least attempt to live up to this lofty ideal.
this is my file where I am putting the new prose for the book. Unfortunatly, after doing other writing for a few months, I am now approaching the project from a new perspective... the story has chaned significantly. The theme is the same, how people get swept up into the 'myths' of their local charasmatics, and sometimes follow mistaken leaders. Nothing too earth shambling.
Okay, here is the new and improved synopsis.
Four guys who hang out and smoke weed and play d and d in high school, get attacked one night in the city. One of them acts to save the others, and ends up killing two young gang bangers. He goes to jail.
The book starts sixteen years later, when Johnathon is getting out of prison.
During the time he has been gone, his friends, living kind of a perpetual youth based on the poetic license of being artists, have been just painting and writing and joking around, never having children or staying with a job or a profession that deviates from artistic, weedy whims.
Johnathon comes out of prison with a grudge against a gang. He does not voice this for awhile, until he thinks that the others will help him get revenge. What the gang does to him is never to be written. I hate that kind of prose and would rather leave the gory details up to whatever imaginary powers the reader wishes to employ on their own.
He does, however, have a six inch scar on his neck, which he explains at first as nothing personal, just part of being in prison... an event he has put in his past; though later, events seem to feed his feeling that he should exact revenge not for himself, but for others who are being abused. Specifically, dogs.
Dog fighting gang bangers get shot up, by a bunch of guys who are trying to forge a moral identity in a decidedly immoral world. ...
johnathon comes home
Dog is seen being exchanged by a gang banger.
Matt tells this to johnathon, who surmises that Matt has witnessed an exchange among dog fighters.
THE PSYCHO KILLER'S HIT LIST
Johnathon was the leader of our little crew of art major weed heads. I think because he was taller and a bit more pushy than the rest of us? Or perhaps it was his ability to be infectious with his excitement? He always had some fire burning in his chest over something, was on this or that end of some deep moodswing...
In high school we used to come into the city and go to our buddy Paul's Uncle, who ran a sleazy bar and the game store -- and more importantly to us, he sold weed and allowed us to smoke there.
Wicker Park was a fairly rough neighborhood back then -- at least there were a lot of druggies and muggers and gang bangers. We were suburban kids and missed most of the gritty side of the streets. We just came in on the el train, got off at our stop, traveled down the metal stairs -- which always stank of urine and sometimes even worse, walked the half bloke to the game store and settled in for the night in the back room, where there were comfortable chairs, barroom snacks like potato chips and beef jerky and all the pop we wanted and even blankets and a couple couches for crashers.
The day Johnathon went to jail, we were on our way home, making the short walk from Uncle Paul's game store, trying to catch the blue line to ride the loud, sparking rails back home. Around 4:00 am on a Saturday night and the bars were all letting out; people were walking here and there toward their cars or their houses. The gang bangers, mexican kids, came walking down the sidewalk toward us and Jimmy was talking on about something and didn't notice that they were taking up the whole sidewalk and slammed right into them. The rest of us had to kind of step off the sidewalk when we saw these guys because they were all wearing red bandana's and had the air of being dangerously shit-faced, talking loud in mexican about something or another that had pissed them off.
Jimmy just kind of muttered, "Excuse me," and kept walking and talking about a painting that he was working on, like he had been for the last twenty minutes non-stop with the ferverish energy that earned him his nickname -- Cassidy, as in Neal, the Kerouc muse who used speed to chatter on all night long in On The Road.
The banger who grabbed Jimmy was about 5 nine and barrel chested, muscular dude, had tattoos all up his arm, the amatuer india ink ones that you see on a lot of ex-cons. The only one I remember was 'mom.'
There was no fight in Jimmy. He kind of blocked the punch and ran toward the el', yelling at the rest of us, "Come on." At the first sign of violence, I dug my heels in and prepared to defend myself. I had boxed for a few years and worked out with weights and was young enough to look at fighting as fun. Up to then, I had won the few fights I was in without getting hurt.
Johnathon first started running with the others, then came back when he saw
all three of them attacking me. Two were trying to get my arms while the other one was throwing punches. Johnathon ran up and just slammed his body into them as hard as he could, knocking them off me.
I had room to throw a punch then and slammed a round house into the side of the head of a guy a head shorter than me, putting him down. Then a gun came out and the air changed and everything was moving slow and deliberate and was drenched in meaning.
Johnathon surprised the guy by just turning to him and grabbing the arm with the gun. ThE drunken banger fell back and dropped the gun.
Johnathon let go of him and caught the black metal .38 before it could hit the ground.
The two who were still standing jumped on Johnathon, knocking him down onto the sidewalk. As they started trying to kick him, he laid there on his back aiming up at them. He actually took a couple kicks before he fired again. This time one of the mexican's necks exploded with blood. The artery was torn through, pumping out red in great squirts as he stumbled back into a car dumbstruck. The next bullet hit the othr kid in the heart, instantly killing Juan Arthur Fuentes, age seventeen.
Johnathon was gone for twelve years after that. We all kind of cruised through those years, going into our twenties pumped full of ourselves and then slowly deflating through our thirties, until we were all long haired and bearded, kind of 'don't give a shit to be normal,' kind of guys. We propped up our mental madnesses with claims of artistic integrity and what not.
The first manifesto that we posted on our web site, the psycho killers hit list, said it fine: "Living poor for the art is better than living rich without."
Johnathon spent 16 years in Marion State Penitentiary. From his letters, we all were kind of reassured that he was making the most of his time, painting and reading and going to classes, getting easy access to weed and making his own booze. Seeing him made the letters seem all bullshit. Under his chin a read and angry looking scar encircles six inches of his neck.
He has just walked into the gallery. We are all stunned to see him. He has been out of jail for less than six hours. When he sees us all kind of swallow our happiness over seeing him and note the scar on his neck, he points at it and smiles like it's funny.... "Shit, this . . . Hey, why would I give you guys worries about shit that you can't do anything about, right?"
He has never met Matt, the kid who lived with us. Matt walked over, shook his hand and introduced himself. Then he asks, with the candor of youth and much to the embarrassment of the rest of us, "Did you kill the guy who did this?"
"I never would have gotten out of jail if I told on that dude, to be honest. Shit happens in jail, but I ain't there anymore, and I don't ever have to think about the place again if I don't want to."
"I saw this shit on TV, but..."
"He was in a gang."
Jimmy steps up to the doorway where Johnathon stands holding a couple suitcases and a smoking Marlboro, and tells the kid, "Don't ask him about shit from prison, Matt, that isn't polite."
We all rush him then, throwing our arms around him, giving him a bowl and asking if he needs a coke, talking all at once for a moment before we all shut up to let someone else speak and no one does for a few seconds.
"I'm glad to be back here. I can still smell uncle Paulie, though."
"Paulie junior inherited the smell with the game store," I tell them.
Two scars on his face, one about an inch under his chin and running six inches around his neck.
, the other on his right cheek, just as long and ugly looking.
12 years later, when Johnathon came home from Marion Penetentiary, Uncle Paulie had died and Paulie jr. had inhereited the corner property, complete with two apartments up stairs and a thriving weed business. We were all living together when Uncle Paulie died, a bunch of broke weedy bachelor artists in their thirties, who by watching out for each other, had ended up taking in one another in over the years...
We changed the failing game store into our art gallery, and like that became kings of a lonely mountain crammed into a slightly run down apartment in wicker park chicago