“Jukebox Hero” by Erik Wennermark
“These direction are cray-zy! It’s going to take me like an hour to get there.” You remember that on the same freeway an automobile struck a man just a week before. You feel a pang of concern. Your compassion is admirable, yet misguided. It is balance you must achieve. This is a difficult position you are in, you must find a place of seduction and compassion without losing sight of the larger goal, without compromising your ability to act with swiftness and fortitude when action is necessary.
The man had been killed jogging. A car collided with him at a rate of high speed. He was flipped into the air and killed instantly, his head smashing the ground, shattering his skull. The police are suspicious. They will discover nothing, and even if they do it will be but a shill. The man killed was a prominent member on the board of a local ‘do-gooder’ organization. A dangerous and amoral man. The police will say ‘these things happen, dipshit shouldn’t have been jogging along here.’ They will be right.
You imagine her sitting on the side of the road. The freeway smells of honeysuckle. Watch her inhale deeply, the sweet smells mixing, the exhaust fumes. Her chin resting on her rolled up knees, arms wrapped around her legs. She plucks a dandelion growing from the cracked black asphalt and puts it in her hair. The yellow flower mixes with the sun’s rays to wash slowly over her cheek. She kicks a spray of loose asphalt with her red Converse All-Stars. She holds herself, rocking slowly backwards on her heels. She falls softly on her back and squints. She takes a pair of sunglasses out of the bag slung over her shoulder, puts them on. She sits back up, pulls the dandelion out from behind her ear, puts it in her mouth, and slowly begins to chew.
You are ‘rocking-out’ as you drive. There is a ‘call-and-response’ going on within the cabin of your automobile. The stereo system says, ‘Jukebox Hero!’ You reply enthusiastically, “stars in his eyes!” This repeats. You then begin to sing incoherent lyrics during sections of the song they do not seem to belong. It does not seem to bother you. You are shouting now. “With that one guitar! Blows them away!” You are shrill and vibrato. “One way ticket! One man show!”
The disc you are listening to, you crafted yourself. It was a pleasing development, if an unanticipated one. After returning to your apartment from meeting the woman you sat down at your personal computer and begin accumulating songs for the disc. This activity has been seen before, but with unclear motivation. “I wake up in the morning, and there’s like a song going off in my head, you know. Like part of my dream from the night before. Lately it’s been weird, like all this pastoral shit. I don’t know why. Some farming thing happening. This morning it was ‘Big Country,’ you know, like, ‘in a big country, la la la, like a morning sky,’ or some shit.” There is uncertainty as to the exact significance. “I dig bagpipes. That song’s got a wicked bagpipe solo. It’s like I wake up, and I’m all excited cause I got this crazy cool song bouncing around in my head, and I get up and run over to my computer. I have a shitload of mp3s but I almost never have the song I woke up singing, you know, cause, like there are a lot of songs, but it sucks cause I have dialup and by the time I search for the thing and spend hours downloading it I’ve already had two cups of coffee and I’ve moved on, like I’m awake, and it’s like I listen to the song but it?s not the same thing as listening to it, like right away, like dream to reality with no lag time. I need to get DSL.”
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