Thursday, October 28, 2010

Short Story: Death of Me

Here is my entry for Donna's Ramones short story challenge. I should probably let it gestate for a couple of days rather than posting the first draft, but what the heck. The Ramones were pretty rough and ready, just like this story. The song can be accessed below if you want to sing along.

Death of Me

Johnny had reached his limit. He stormed from the kitchen, defeated and fuming. Her parting words screeched at his back: ‘Fuck you, Johnny. My mother was right – I could have done better than you!’

Mary Wallis wrecked his head. There was no two ways about it. Arguing with her was a complete mind fuck. It didn’t matter what he said, she’d found some way of twisting his words, making everything seem like it was his fault. She dug out remnants of conversations from years ago and spliced them with recent events to create a fictive world in which every misfortune that been bestowed on them was a result of his ineptitude, fecklessness, and lack of ambition.

He stabbed at the stereo, a choppy guitar and crash symbols blasting from the speakers. He joined in, yelling rather than singing.

‘Da-da-da-da, Da! Da! Da-da-da-da, Da! Da! Der-der-der-der, Da! Da! Der-der-der-der, Da! Da! We've got to stop this crazy carrying on, it's gonna be the death of you. Stop this crazy carrying on, it's gonna be the death of me. It's gonna be the end you see. It's gonna be the death of we.’

‘For fuck’s sake, Johnny, turn it down,’ Mary yelled from the doorway.

He carried on singing: ‘If we don't stop this crazy carrying on, it's gonna be the death of you.’

Mary twisted the dial, the song dropping dozens of decibels. ‘Jesus, Johnny, when are you going to grow-up? Is that what life is to you, a fucking Ramones song?’

Johnny snorted a laugh. ‘There was a time when fucking to Ramones songs was all we did.’

‘Yeah, when we were like sixteen. If you lasted as long as one song it was a fucking miracle. Now you’re so impotent, it’ll take you a whole album just to get it up.’

‘Not a surprise, you looking like that,’ he said, defensively, still playing air guitar. ‘A blind man would find it difficult to get aroused for you these days.’

‘At least he might give me a good time. When was the last time you did? When Joey was alive?’

‘Don’t bring Joey into this.’

‘What? He was a singer, not you’re fucking brother or something.’

‘He was a god!’

‘He sang in the fucking Ramones!’

‘Yeah, exactly.’

‘For god’s sake, Johnny we only saw them twice. Anybody would think you were married to them, not me.’

‘More’s the pity. I seem to remember you thought they were the dog’s bollocks. You spent half the night flashing them your tits.’

‘I did not! We were jumping up and down.’

‘Jesus, Mary, what the fuck has happened to us? We used to have a fucking great time. Always having a bit of craic. A few drinks, concerts, nightclubs. Now all we do is fucking argue.’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Yes, you do. You want more than this.’ He gestured at the tired looking room, old furniture and crappy knick-knacks. ‘More than I can give you. You want a new life.’

Mary shrugged. ‘I don’t know what I want. I just know it has to be better than curry and chips, cheap lager and the Ramones every Friday night.’

‘We can get Chinese instead if you want,’ Johnny said factitiously.

‘I need more than the memory of the Ramones, Johnny. Things we did twenty five years ago. We can’t live on memories.’

‘We’re still together aren’t we? Been together half a life time.’

‘And we’re still locked in the past. We’ve gone nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. I need to feel alive again. Like I did when I was twenty.’

‘We can’t turn the clock back. This is it.’

‘Well, it isn’t enough. When was the last time we went on holiday? I mean a proper holiday. With a beach. Some sun?’

Johnny shrugged. ‘We can’t afford it, you know that.’

‘I’m going out,’ she announced flatly, heading for the door. ‘I ... this can’t go on, Johnny. Things have to change.’

She closed the door behind her. They’d been together since school. Now they were barely civil to each other. Whatever magic had been there had been revealed as the cheap trick it had always been.

In the living room the volume jumped again. He’d skipped back to the same track, singing along in his best American drawl: ‘Stop this crazy carrying on, it's gonna be the death of me. It's gonna be the end you see. It's gonna be the death of we.’


Anonymous said...

Rob - This is absolutely terrific! Thanks for sharing. It works on a number of levels, and you've got the characters spot-on. Well done

Donna said...

Great stuff - thanks Rob! I love the fact that you've actually included reference to the Ramones in the story :o) Made me smile. Love it. I'll link to it in my next blog post.

Paul D Brazill said...

Cracking story .'If you lasted as long as one song it was a fucking miracle'! Beut!