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Joe Zito

Rotting Barn Press






Copyright © 2017 Joe Zito

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 6866118

ISBN: 13: 978-1542582988












Hell Night ‘59





August 13^th^, 1959


John Stryker leaned back in his chair and took another sip of Jack Daniels. He was all alone. Everyone had left Bridgeway Studios hours ago, even the guys in his band, but John wanted to hang around for a while and listen to his masterpiece. He stared at his reflection in the large, rectangular window of the control room and thought of the conversation or rather the shouting match he had with Bill Bridgeway over the new offering of music he and his band had worked so hard on the past four months. Bill was the owner of Bridgeway Studios and subsequently the manager of John’s three piece outfit, Johnny and the Roadside Devils. What right does that fat fuck have to tell me what’s good and what ain’t, he thought with an angry mask on his face that stared back at him in the window. He had been throwing back shots since around three in the afternoon. It was all he could do to calm himself after Bill told him he wasn’t going to let him release something that sounded like stale dog turds in a tin can. It’s just too different John. The kids won’t buy it. John sat slouched in his chair with that drunk and disgruntled mask on his face. “Fuck him,” he said aloud in the empty room. It was a quarter to midnight. He raised the Jack Daniels bottle to his mouth no longer having any need for the shot glass in his other hand and took a drink. The dark whiskey burned his throat. He shook it off and stood up. His legs hobbled for a moment but he regained his balance. He started pacing back and forth without taking his eyes off his reflection in the window of the control room. “You think you can do better Mr. Bridgeway? Huh!” Pacing, staring, pacing, staring. “Did you slave away every night for four months writing the best damn music you’ve ever written? Huh Godammit!” His southern Indiana drawl bounced off the glass window in the control room. He stopped and stood in the middle of the room, looking at his drunken reflection. He murmured incoherently, “Muthfucker, try tell me….” He threw the shot glass at the window. It shattered into tiny pieces but only left a little crack on the window. John’s face was now a distorted reflection of a broken man.

He went over to the soundboard and sat down. Beside him was a large eight track reel to reel player containing the final mix of The Devil’s Season. A distant thunder boomed across the dirt roads and cornfields of Indiana outside in the August night. Cicada’s buzzed out in the brush of woods surrounding the studio. John was eyeing the 8 track player, tapping his finger on the play button. He sifted his hand through his greasy, black hair and took another swig of his fire whiskey. Quietly he said, “Just me and my music. You’re all I’ve got and they’re tryin’ to take it away.” He pushed play on the reel to reel. The two black spindles of tape began spinning around. A rancid sounding guitar tone, piercing, raw and eerie, crackled into the speakers in the control room. A mid-tempo drum rhythm on the toms started pounding away soon after, but then it changed to a surf type of beat, boom bopbop boom bop boom bopbop boom bop, and hellish, dissonant guitar chords scraped across the speakers. The low thunder of a standup bass joined the odd jungle, surf concoction. John smiled proudly at his creation. He stood up and began nodding his head to the rhythm. In the middle of the room he closed his eyes and stretched out his arms in a scarecrow crucifix stance. His white shirt was untucked and unbuttoned at the top. He howled drunkenly at the top of his lungs to the eerie sounds coming out of the speakers. Joooohneeeeee! John eyes shot open upon hearing someone call his name. He was drunk as a skunk but not that far gone to realize he heard his name coming from the speakers. Joooohneeeeee!

“Whoa now! What the hell!” He put his arms down. Some of his Jack Daniels sloshed out of the bottle and onto the floor.

“Who the hell is there?”

No response; only the raw, garage sounds playing from the eight track recorder. And then he heard, let’s go for a ride Johnny.

“Who said that? Who the fuck is there?”

He went and turned off the player. Outside, thunder rolled through the night sky. It startled him.

And then it was eerily quiet.

He looked around the control room with drunken, yet cautious eyes but there was no one else there. He was sure of it because the last person he saw was Bill Bridgeway almost seven hours ago.

He began laughing to himself because he felt like a damn idiot.

“All right Bill, come on out. Ya got me, ya hillbilly asshole!”


“Bill, c’mon now. I don’t like playin’ ga….. JOHNNY!

He hunkered down like a bomb had gone off when the sharp, hoarse voice called his name from seemingly nowhere.

His heart was racing and then a new terror took ahold of him when the eight track player suddenly turned on by itself. The two black spindles began spinning wildly out of control. A high pitched scream blasted through the speakers. John fell to his knees and covered his ears in agony at the ultra-loud sound. His face cringed in pain. The screaming stopped and his masterpiece, The Devil’s Season, started to play once again. A deep laughter filled the room. C’mon Johnny, let’s go for a ride!

And then he saw two gaunt, skeletal hands reaching for him through the glass window.

“No, no, nooooo!”

And everything turned black.






Sunday, August 8^th^, 1979




The airstream trailer sat like an ancient relic from the past on the side of county road nine. It’s once shiny, metallic surface was now a collector of dust and abused by all of earths beasts; rain, wind, hail and heat. A muddy brown tone clung to it indefinitely, making it look as if it drove right out of a sepia toned picture from the dust bowl of 1935. Attached to the ugly, brown metal dome was a beat up junker ’68 Dodge truck. It looked nearly as bad as the trailer itself with its dents and non-hub capped wheels.

It was eleven in the morning and John Stryker already had his tables set up on the side of the road. In a while there would be people driving along county road nine either getting out of church or just going for a Sunday drive. They would stop and get out and have a look at the mounds of junk for sale on one of the large rectangular tables. Or at least that’s what John hoped. Most of the time they would lazily walk along with their hands in their pockets and maybe pick up some odd gadget or make small talk and then leave without buying anything. John would sit in his lawn chair with an umbrella attached to it to keep the sun out of his face, and smoke non filtered Camels and wave and politely nod his head at the people walking by not caring to buy anything. When they would get in their cars and pull away, John would mutter his annoyance at the people, usually with a ‘fuckers’ or ‘fuckin’ fuckers’ or simply just ‘fuck’. It was hard to sell things like guitar strings, playing cards, plastic flowers, Jesus statues, twisty straws, guitar picks, twisty ties, yarn and buttons. But that was the junk table. On the other table were a few decent am/fm radios, a record player, a crate full of vinyl records, books, magazines, tools and some cookware.

Being a salesman of junk was not what John had intended to do with his life. It just sort of turned out that way. He gave up being a musician twenty years ago. His group, Johnny and the Roadside Devils came blazing out of the cornfields of Cast, Indiana in 1957 with a high octane sound that the kids couldn’t get enough of. It was guitar, standup bass and drums. End of story. Armed with a Fender guitar, Johnny’s hooks were contagious. They played fast, up beat rock and roll that got the kids rowdy and their parents hated it. They especially hated Johnny’s rebellious lyrics. Love you all night long; don’t need no authority; wild rockin’ girl; this ain’t mozart daddy-o; blow the fuzz away; I’m hot for your lust, lovin’ you deep in this helldust.

He glanced over at his airstream trailer. It was a constant reminder of what could have been. If it wasn’t for that damn night long ago, he thought. Just then a small Datsun pulled up to the side of the road. Its muffler clanged and sputtered out an out of control rhythm. The rattling engine came to an abrupt stop and a young kid with shaggy chestnut hair stepped out. John’s hardened eyes followed him as he walked towards one of the tables. The kid had an acoustic guitar on his back. He began sifting through the guitar strings laid out on the table. John blew smoke from his mouth and said, “I got nickel strings in there.” The kid looked up and nodded without saying anything. John thought he looked a little nervous. Probably wants an autograph or something. Shit, who are you kiddin’ Johnny Devil. Ain’t no one alive that remembers you.

“You’re Johnny Devil right?” The kid’s voice cracked.

“Huh, what say?” John said uncomfortably.

“You had a band a long time ago right? The Roadside Devils?” The kid said nervously with his hands in his pockets.

John sat in his chair, a little shocked. The kid can’t be but seventeen, eighteen years old.

After a few moments John answered the kid’s question with a question. “How old are you boy?” He sat up and leaned forward in his chair with curiosity.

“I’m twenty; be twenty one in October.”

John sat back. “Huh, twenty,” he said pondering and looking up at the late morning sky. A couple of large and puffy white clouds scudded across the sky. Then he said, “Yeah, I had a band once. Back in ’57.”

“You only released one album. I have it in my collection. It’s great.” The kid kicked at the gravel road and looked down as if embarrassed. He was nervous.

John squint his eyes at him and the kid thought he saw a smile forming. He didn’t.

John inhaled a breath and let it go. “Yep, we were real good too; played all around here and Kentucky and Illinois. You play?”

The kid bashfully looked over his shoulder at his guitar and said, “Yeah, I ain’t that good though. Only been playing about a year. My old man think’s it’s a waste of time.”

John shook his head. Don’t need no authority.

“Well, I don’t know if I would agree with that. Anything that makes a girl wanna spread her legs for ya can’t be a waste of time now can it.”

The kid looked up as if coming out of a daze. He didn’t know whether to laugh or not. John flicked his cigarette and grey ashes fell to the ground. He was gazing at the kid from where he was sitting and had a devilish grin on his face. Then, the kid laughed nervously to himself. John shook his head and laughed too. The previous customers had already left so it was just the kid and Johnny and the early morning heat rising among them. They didn’t say anything for a while. The kid just kept looking at the mounds of junk on the table in front of him and John decided to light up another non filter.

“What’s your name?” John said and blew rancid smoke from his mouth.


John shook his head as if he was pleased.

“Well I guess you already know who I am from the sound of it.”

Jack smiled bashfully again and looked up at the sky and squinted from the brightness of the morning sun.

More silence.

John began to tap his fingers on the arm rest of his chair and then took another drag from his cigarette. Then Jack said, “You know it’s all making a comeback.” He gulped nervously as if addressing a large crowd.

“A what?” John said.

“Um, I mean the music; the music of the fifties. It’s getting popular again right now.”

John nodded his head with that suspicious squint in his eyes and a look of gratification on his face.

“Is that right?” He said slowly in his thick southern Indiana drawl.

Jack shook his head.

“Yeah. They talk about the Roadside Devils quite a bit actually. A lot of these punk bands today love your band. They say you were a big influence on them.”

An honest look of confusion formed on John’s face. “Punk? What the hell is punk, boy?”

“Uh, It’s a type of music,” Jack said nervously with his hands beginning to sweat. “Bands like the Ramones and The Clash.”

“The what?”

Jack looked at him hoping he wouldn’t start yelling and cursing, telling him to get the hell out of his face. Instead John smiled and laughed a little but not without thinking that this kid’s generation must like the way turds sound in a tin can. The kid’s words didn’t seem to register in John’s mind when he told him his music was making a comeback. He had been living under his metal dome for so many years, cut off from the rest of the world that it was almost impossible for him to grasp the concept of people listening to his music much less even knowing who he was.

He looked up at the late morning sky one last time and then slowly stood up from his lawn chair knowing that he was done for the day even at this early hour. No sense in waitin’ around for someone to come buy some junk they don’t need. He trudged over to one of the long brown tables. Jack stood back, trying not to get in the way. He couldn’t help notice a slight limp in John’s step. John grabbed a wooden walking stick leaning against the table. Jack assumed his hero had lived a hard life but didn’t figure him to be any older than forty four or forty five. Jack was taken back when he saw John lean into the cane for support as he walked around the tables, pulling up green tarp to cover them. John noticed the kid staring.

“Strange lookin’ ain’t it?” He said and huffed out a short laugh.

Jack tried to pretend like he didn’t notice but it was obvious.

“Hell, I’m only forty nine and already I’m using a Goddamn walkin’ stick just to get around. Ain’t that a pisser.”

Innocently Jack said, “I’m sorry. I wasn’t tryin’ to stare or anything.”

“No, no that’s all right.” John waved his hand at him. There was a moment of awkward silence but Jack had to know. “What happened?”

John lit another non filter. He said, “Oh, some jackfuck in a Buick Skylark came barrelin’ down the road right at me one day back in ’74. I was comin’ outta the drugstore downtown and out of nowhere this damn thing was comin’ right at me. Apparently I was the only witness. No one else saw the accident or the car. Ever since then it’s been me and the cane.”

Jack nodded and decided not to pursue the matter anymore. Just as he was wondering if he should just take off or ask Mr. Stryker the question that’s been tugging at him since he first heard the Roadside Devils hit ‘Helldust’, a long, white bus with black lettering came driving up along the side of the road leaving a large cloud of dust behind it as it parked. Its breaks hissed out a high descending wheeze of air. John had already pulled the green tarp back down on the tables just as the door opened on the bus. A large man wearing a grey jacket and pants stepped out and waved kindly at John.

“How are ya’ John. We’re a little behind today; looks like we caught you in time.” The security guard for the Indiana State Mental Hospital motioned to the driver. A long line of people exited the bus.

“That’s all right Larry,” John said with a smile that revealed his crooked yellow teeth. “Send’em on out.”

Jack could see how happy John was when the large group of people came off the bus. He was talking to a few of them and laughing and cutting up. Jack assumed that John didn’t have many friends and was maybe even bit lonely. If this was true then they both had something in common. Jack threw the package of nickel guitar strings back onto the table. He had forgotten he’d been holding them the whole time he’d been talking to John. He figured he wouldn’t be able to talk to John and pick his brain and ask him all the questions he’d been hoping to ask, now that he had plenty of customers to keep him busy. Jack began to make his way to his car hoping to slip out unnoticed. But then from behind him he heard someone yelling, “Kid, hey kid”. His sneakers skidded around quickly in the dust of the roadside. John was waving at him. He looked around at all the people sifting through the junk on the tables and was hesitant to walk over to John. He’s too busy to talk about the good ol’ days, he thought. He went over anyway.

“They won’t bite kid,” John said with a smile and pulled up another lawn chair. He patted the seat and Jack sat down.

“These here are my regulars,” John said proudly with a smile.

Jack nodded trying to look interested. He was glad he didn’t leave. Maybe now he would be able to talk to John and possibly get some insight on what it was like being a musician in the fifties or at least hear some good stories. Jack held off at first because John’s mood had gone from dreary to vibrant in a blink of an eye. He was smiling and waving at the crazies from the Indiana State Mental Hospital like he had known them all his life. Jack realized then how lonely John was.

A few feet in front of Jack, an older woman wearing a grey wool sweater and a tall girl with long black hair browsed through some useless junk on the table. The girl was wearing a pair of tight, hip hugging bell bottoms that Jack couldn’t seem to get his eyes off of. Neither could John. The older woman was silent as a corpse as she followed closely behind the pretty girl that didn’t seem to fit in with all the other crazy looking people.

As the crazies bumped into one another and carelessly picked at the junk on the tables, John waved and smiled at them. He looked at the kid and said, “You want one of these.” He held out his almost empty pack of Camel non filters. Jack shook his head and told John that he didn’t smoke. But he instantly regretted it because of the look of confusion and maybe even a little hurt on John’s face. Jack felt his body tighten and then loosen when he saw John grin.

“You got a band?” John asked and then lit yet another cigarette.

“No. Well at least not yet. I’m always looking though.”

Jack hoped he sounded convincing. So far it’s only been him and his guitar and the four walls in his room. He knew all the basic chords and could keep rhythm pretty well and even had a couple songs written, but he had yet to take that great leap of getting off his ass and finding other musicians to play with.

John blew a plume of smoke from his mouth. “Well I’m sure there are guys out there around your age. Hell, in my day I was lucky to find Rat and Elroy. They were just a couple of bums like me with nothin’ better to do than make some noise.” John laughed at the sudden memory of his two other bandmates. It seemed like a lifetime ago to him. He continued with, “Yeah, I met ol’ Elroy in Jr. high. We use to hang out at Mickey’s pool hall. And it was the Goddamn dirtiest shithole in town.” He laughed and waved at another crazy and then continued his story. “Me and Elroy were pretty good friends and he was already playing the drums by that time. I remember one time….” He was cut off when a middle aged crazy with a bad comb over came up to him and asked him how much the toaster was that he was holding. John looked at him with his sharp eyes and said, “Now what in the hell do you need a damn toaster for?” He huffed out a laugh and looked at Jack who just smiled and shrugged. “Go on and put that back now. I got a deck of cards over on that table right there.” He pointed at it with a long and bony finger. The crazy smiled like a little kid and went to the table. John threw his arms up and shook his head. “Where was I?”

Jack said, “You and Elroy at the pool hall.” He shifted a little in his lawn chair, giving his undivided attention to John.

“Oh yeah,” John said and then the security guard blew a whistle letting all the crazies know that it was time to get back on the bus. His story was cut short which was a little upsetting to Jack but he figured he could always come back next weekend. John waved at the crazies as they strolled back onto the bus and just like every other Sunday when they would drive from Blare County to the small town of Cast, they would leave John’s roadside flea market of useless junk with nothing in their hands.

“We’ll see in a couple Sundays, John,” Larry the security guard kindly told him and then got on the bus. It drove away leaving a giant ball of dust behind it.

Jack felt bad for the old musician as he sat there for a few minutes after the bus had left; his happy mood long gone. Neither of them said anything for a few minutes but then Jack stood up. “Well, I better be getting on home I guess. Thanks for talking with me.” He looked down at the heavily weeded, gravel roadside and started walking to his car. He felt out of place and slightly weirded out that John had not said a word since the bus pulled away. Just as he put his hand on the handle of his Datsun he heard from behind him, “I never finished my story.” Jack turned and faced him. He shrugged not knowing what to say and then looked up at the sky. John slowly stood up with the help of his cane. He waved at Jack and said, “Tell ya what. You come on back tomorrow and I’ll finish my story. Hell, I may tell ya a few more if that’s okay.” Then, Jack saw John’s smile return.

“Are you sure?” Jack said awkwardly. “I don’t wanna get in your way or anything.”

John hushed him and said, “Hell boy, I ain’t got nothin’ goin on. It ain’t no problem. Just don’t come back here because I won’t be here.”

Now Jack was really confused. “But you said I could come back tomm…”

John laughed and said, “I know I did but I won’t be here. I’ll be at Shady Lawn Trailer Park. I’m the landlord out there and I love takin’ folks money.”

Jack laughed feeling embarrassed and said, “Oh.” John asked him if he knew where the trailer park was at and Jack told him that he did.

“All right then,” John said and began putting all the useless junk in one of the boxes he kept under the table.

“Would you like some help?” Jack asked. “I don’t mind.”

John contemplated accepting the kid’s offer of helping him put away all his junk that no one ever buys. His leg was acting up a little more for some reason this morning so he could really use Jack’s help. They put the items in the boxes and then folded up the tables. As they worked Jack asked, “What year is your trailer, ’54, ’56?”

“55,” John said stretching out the word with a hint of pride in his voice.

“I bet you got some crazy stories about it,” Jack said, feeling a little more comfortable.

“Yeah,” John said with a smile. “I got a few.”




Monday, August 9^th^, 1979





“Well I see ya made it back!” John squinted at the morning sun and took a drag from his non filter Camel as Jack walked cautiously towards him with his guitar over his shoulder.

“Sun’s a killer, ain’t it.”

Jack shrugged and glanced modestly at the clear blue late morning sky. He stood in front of John with his hands in his pockets, obviously nervous again being in the presence of his hero.

“Have a seat, bub,” John told him and then stood up with the help of his crooked, wooden cane. He half limped, half walked to the right side of the trailer, where he retrieved a green and yellow lawn chair.

“There ya be. Oh, wait, forgot somethin’.”

He limped once again to the side of the trailer. Jack felt awkward standing there. Should I help him? Under John’s arm were two umbrellas. One black, the other army green. He half assed rigged them to the lawn chairs.

“Screw that sun! Shit!” He scowled and then spit.

He plopped down in his chair and let out a sigh as if he had worked all day hauling bricks around. He re-lit his now diffused cigarette.

“Ah, that’s some sweet tobacco.” He scratched at the grey stubble on his pointy chin. “You want one?” He held out the pack of Camels to Jack.

The kid shook his head, remembering that he asked him yesterday if he wanted a cigarette.

“I don’t smoke, remember?”

John grunted. “Oh, well.”

He set the pack down on a small white table sitting next to him. A jewel green ashtray full of cigarette butts and fallout looking ashes sat on the table. “Ya know a man can’t stand all day on his feet in the heat like this. Take a load off.”

Jack took a seat, still feeling awkward.

He looked around the trailer park, eyeing the rundown, metal single wides and campers. Oddly, John’s airstream trailer seemed to be in the best condition of them all. There were only eight trailers in all.

John stretched out and crossed his feet. His left hand reached for the cooler sitting in between the lawn chairs. Jack gazed down at the sound of ice and glass bottles mingling in the cooler. John pulled out a brown glass bottle.

“Want a beer?” He said.

“It’s ten o’ clock in the morning,” Jack said in surprise and then regretted it, hoping his new and lonely friend wouldn’t take offense. Luckily, John smiled, displaying a row of crooked, yellow teeth and said with an all knowing wide grin, “The earlier the better!” He pulled off the cap and took a big drink, afterwards wiping his mouth with his arm.

A door flew open on the trailer next to John’s.

A heavy set woman with curlers in her hair and a flower printed dress, slid out and hobbled down her porch steps. Jack thought for sure she was going to fall and break the wooden steps due to her size, but he internally sighed when she made it safely to the ground.

Once there, she bent forward and picked up a folded newspaper. Jack could hear her cursing.

“I told that fuckin’ paperboy, no more leavin’ my paper at the bottom of the steps. Lil’ son of a bitch!”

“You all right, Ms. Mable?” John said.

She shot straight up like she’d been goosed.

“Oh, now! Oh my goodness.” She nervously began primping her hair. “I didn’t see you sittin’ there Johnny.”

“Don’t worry now, Mable, that shitrat does the same thing to me. Reckon I ought to call the paper and complain.”

She put her hands on her lower back. “It about breaks my back every morning.” She paused for a beat and eyed Jack.

“Whose your friend, Johnny?” Her ample cheeks puffed out when she smiled at Jack.

“This here’s Jack. Say hi, Jack.”

The kid bashfully waved in the direction of Mable. She smiled jovially. Her already big cheeks puffed out and Jack cringed at the sight of her smile. Her teeth were stained purple. Blueberry pie for breakfast he thought.

“I see you got a guitar.” She said. It came out sounding like gi-tar.

“Ol’ Johnny right there plays gi-tar too real well. In fact he used to be famous back in them fifties. Ain’t that right Johnny.” Sexy blueberry smile. “What was the name again?”

John sat with something between a smirk and a smile on his face that was lost in thought.

“The Devils, Mable, Johnny and the Roadside Devils.”

“OOOH,” she squealed. “I just love that name. Gets me a tinglin’, OOOH!”

John took a swig of warm beer.

“Well, I better git on,” Mable said and wiggled fat fingers at Johnny before stepping back inside her trailer. Her door shut with a dull thump.

A few moments lingered between the late-forties man with better days behind him and the star struck kid who couldn’t seem to speak one sentence since he showed up at John’s trailer.

“You ever fuck a big woman like that?” John said with a serious look on his face.

Jack looked at him, stunned. Then he snorted out a laugh while holding his head down. “Uh, no!”

“Oh, I bet you have,” John said mockingly with a scratchy, whiskey laugh.

“No way, man!” Jack said, trying to control his embarrassed laughter but was unsuccessful.

“Shit, you ready for a beer now?” John reached for the cooler.

“Sure,” Jack said feeling more at ease.

John handed him a beer. Jack popped the top off and put the bottle to his mouth.

“Hold on, buddy,” John began to say while raising his beer bottle. “Here’s to cold beer, good smokes and fine pussy on your face!”

Jack scrunched his eyes, not really sure how to respond. He went along with it anyway.

“Ha!” John cackled out loud as their bottles clinked together.

They both drank.

“Whew, it’s hotter than a sixteen year old pussy in heat!”

John took another drink.

“Shit, boy you wanna hear some stories, right?”

“Sure, I mean if you don’t mind. I mean if you have the time.”

“Boy, I got all the time in the world. I’m the landlord of this hell hole. Other than my roadside weekend gig, this is all I do every day. Just sit back, drink beer and take people’s rent money.”

From the looks of the small trailer park, Jack didn’t think John was hauling in the big bucks. “Sounds like the life.” He took a drink. John finished his story of him and Elroy hanging out at the pool hall, getting into fights and getting blowjobs by good girls gone bad in the ladies restroom.

When he was finished he took out a white handkerchief from his back pocket and wiped his forehead. “Damn, it’s getting’ warm. Mr. Weather man says a storm is on its way, later this week.” He looked up at the sky. “You know, believe it or not, a thunderstorm is the reason I started playin’ guitar. Really it was a tornado to be honest.”

Jack was a little confused by this, but curious. “How so?”

“Tell ya what,” Jack said leaning back in his lawn chair. “You just enjoy that beer and let me tell you a story or two about them devil days.”





























Little Johnny and the Devil of a Tornado





I was sixteen when our farm was destroyed by a tornado in the year 1944. It came spittin’ out of the sky, lookin’ like a dirty brown snake. I saw it through the crack of our underground cellar door just outside next to our house. Carrie Sue saw it too.

Hours before the tornado hit, my mama and daddy were primpin’ themselves up, getting ready for a night out together; dancing, drinking, that kind of shit. My mama loved that jazz music real well. My daddy would always take her out every now and then to go dancing. I begged them to let me stay home by myself, but they wouldn’t have it. Shit, I was sixteen. I wasn’t no baby. They insisted Carrie Sue come over and stay with me. She’d been my regular babysitter ever since I could remember. But hell, I didn’t need no babysitter. I was Goddamn sixteen years old already; even growin’ a little hair on my balls. Shit!

Anyway, we argued for a bit but they finally won in the end. It’s not that I didn’t like Carrie Sue. She was real pretty and all, nice long blonde hair, nice shape on her too. I just didn’t want her watchin’ me like I was still five. Mama insisted.

It was five in the afternoon when Carrie showed up at our house. She was twenty and drivin’ already. I thought that was pretty neat at the time, seein’ a girl drive a car like that. She stepped out of her daddy’s Ford, wearing a white, summertime dress with flowers printed on it. She came up to the screen door carrying a basket.

“Hi, Johnny,” she said through the screen. I stood there still fuming on the inside. I didn’t want to let her in. “Well are you gonna let me in?” Her hand reached for the black door handle.

I let her in anyway and she was all smiles. As mad as I was, she did smell real nice, like she just done took a bath.

My parents came downstairs all dressed up, laughing and talking and all ready to go. My mama thanked Carrie for comin’ over. I still thought it was stupid. Anyway, mama and daddy left and it was just me and Carrie standing in the kitchen. The sound of my daddy’s truck drifted away.

“Oh, now Johnny, don’t be that way.” She was still all smiles.

“Like what way?” I said.

She cocked her head and gave me a sarcastic look.

“Your face says it all honey. You think you’re too old for a babysitter, don’t you.”

“Well, I am!”

“I know you are, but you’re mama only cares about you. You don’t want to alone anyway do you?”

I nodded and said, “What’s in the basket?”

She quickly looked down at the brown, wicker basket she was holding and then returned her gaze to me, but her face was full of mischief.

“Nothin’,” she said. “Just some snacks I brought over.” She rolled her eyes and looked away. I could smell trouble.

“You sure about that Carrie Sue? What do you got in there?”

She set the basket down on the kitchen counter and then rested her elbows on it. Her chin sunk into her palms and she said with a smile, “Do you wanna have some fun ?”


I gagged and then coughed out a cloud of white smoke from the joint Carrie and I were sharing. We were sittin’ on the bottom step of my front porch. Carrie laughed hard when I spit out that smoke. I’d never smoked before, much less a joint. It made my eyes water.

“God, it smells like a skunk’s ass!” I said still coughing.

Carrie cackled out a laugh and leaned on me. Despite the horrible odor of the pot, she smelled really nice when she got close to me like that. She’d been babysitting me for a long time. This was the first time she’s ever been like this around me. Maybe she knew I wasn’t a kid anymore and it was time I learned about certain things in life like getting high for the first time.

“You gotta hold it in, ya little shit!” She laughed some more; her system full of thc.

“Where did you get this stuff?” I could feel my head getting heavy, the mellowness setting in.

“Sorry, can’t say. Top secret.”

I took another hit and held it in. The smoke burned my throat and lungs. I couldn’t complain though. I was feeling rather fine.

Just then, Carrie took the joint out of my hand. She stubbed it out.

“I gotta use the ladies. Can’t have you suckin’ all this down when I’m gone.”

She stood up. I caught her scent as she did. I felt like I was in a dream.

“You okay?” She asked with a soft smile on her face. “I’ll be right back.”

She took the magical basket with her too. I sat on the step enjoying the deep, warm feeling flowing throughout my body. I gazed dreamily at the sepia toned clouds in the sky, feeling almost like I was up there floating around in them. Then, a distant thunder made itself known. Before I knew it, those lush, dreamy brown clouds were turning to an ugly shade of green and then dark, steel blue.

The screen door snapped shut behind me. Carrie was back. She sat down next to me and for some reason she smelled even nicer. But that didn’t change what was going on in the sky.

“It’s lookin’ ugly, Carrie. Maybe we should get in.”

“Oh, it ain’t nothin’. Just some clouds. Want some pie?”

She was obviously more stoned than I was. The weather had taken a dark turn and all she wanted to do was eat some pie she had brought along with that stinky, funny stuff.

She took a giant bite. “Mmmm, my mama makes the best rhubarb pie! Here, try some.”

I resisted, telling her no, but she just laughed and forced a forkful of her mother’s pie into my mouth all while saying in a stoned, exaggerated, deep voice, ‘eat some pie’, followed by a fit of laughing.

“Carrie, I don’t want any pie! Look! In the sky!”

She huffed and rolled her eyes as if I was the great destroyer of fun. Her eyes finally looked out into the vast skyscape of terror falling upon us.

“Oh, shit!” She said with a mouthful of pie.

I yelled, “We need to get to the cellar, quick!”

A funnel cloud was forming right in front of us. We both stood up and quickly ran to the underground cellar my daddy put in when I was a baby. We went down the jagged steps. I searched around for the lantern we kept down there. I found it and lit it. The small dirt pit glowed to life.

Terror took over but I was still feeling the effects of the pot. Carrie stood quietly by the back wall, holding the lantern.

I braved a gander through the cellar door. Up there in the green and black murky sky, I saw a funnel cloud swirling like death, lowering its snake shape to the earth where it blasted out dust and debris at its base. My heart was racing. I’d never seen a tornado before.

“Close it, Johnny, now!” Carrie yelled, but I couldn’t look away. I was mesmerized and terrified at the same time. Then the twister began to take on a different form. As it spun violently, a hellish face appeared in its spinning wrath. Either it was the pot making me hallucinate or I was going crazy. Maybe both. The demon tornado grinned at me. It had giant, black fangs within its spinning brown cloud.

I’d seen enough and took Carrie’s advice and closed the cellar door. The wind screamed as it bore down on us. And yet, Carrie was calm as ever. I crossed my arms like I was cold. I faced her. I was trembling.

Something slammed into the cellar door making a loud bang. We both jumped. I thought for a second that my heart was in my mouth. The wind screamed on and the roar over took us.

“We’re okay, Johnny. Don’t be scared.”

Carrie’s voice was like an angel; soft, airy, comforting.

The death wind picked up.

“Come here,” she said, holding out her arms.

I went to her. She pulled me close and wrapped her arms around me. Her left hand gently pushed my head into her bosom. I felt the softness of her breasts, then her enticing sweet scent. I wasn’t quite as afraid. Her scent was calming. She released me from her breast and cupped my face in her hands. She looked into my eyes; the oil lamp flickering and glowing all the while. She brought her face close to mine and then she kissed me. Her tongue slipped easily into my mouth. It wrestled with mine. I could taste rhubarb pie. I felt dizzy. My high was at its peak. I felt a stirring in my pants like I’ve never felt before, even more when I heard my mama makin’ weird sounds late one Friday night in her room.

Carrie rested her hands on my shoulders and smiled at me as the demon twister reveled in destruction just beyond the cellar door.

She lowered her hands to her sides. They gripped her dress. And then she pulled it up and over her head, revealing her completely naked body underneath.

Other than the sparkle in her eye, her golden bush was the brightest thing in the dark glow of the cellar.

I stood frozen in place. I couldn’t move. Jesus, she was beautiful.

Another loud bang attacked the cellar door but I hardly noticed. I was entranced by her hourglass figure. She took my hands and placed them on her hips.

If she had only known that I’d been dreaming of this moment ever since I could get a hard on, and that I’ve never been with a girl before. Somehow I think she knew that.

Silently, with her eyes and smile on me, she unzipped my jeans. Then they were off. Her hands were warm when she wrapped them around my throbbing penis. We lowered ourselves to the floor. I was on my back, looking up at her. She winked at me and then straddled me. My hands automatically went to her ass. She didn’t insert me into her yet. Instead, she scooted towards me. Her bush was right in my face. I could smell her heavy, pungent female scent. I liked that smell. A lot. Her hands cupped the back of my head where she slowly pushed my face into her soft, pubic region. I inhaled her greedily, getting as much of her scent on me as I could. It felt like putting my face deep into a large, shapely glass flower vase. Her body being the vase; her feminine perfume the flowers.

She pulled away and scooted back. Her wet, middle part rested on my penis. Still, no insertion. Only the outer wetness sliding up and down on me.

“How’s that feel?” She asked.

“Good, damn good,” I replied.

“How about this,” she said and then took my virginity.

Her palms pushed down on my shoulders. Her shape moved slow and liquid like on top of me.

“See now. No killer tornados. No wind. Just you and me.”

She kept repeating the words ‘you and me’ and it was then that I knew she was just as scared as I was. She closed her eyes and kept talking; riding me slow. I could hear the fear and shaking in her voice. The wind continued to scream. Debris hit the cellar door. Things were moving around outside. And then it all came to an end.

There was silence.

I was still nestled deep inside her when I heard my name being called. It sounded muffled.

In the orange glow of the cellar I saw Carrie’s eyes widened like an owls. She jumped off of me. My bottom half was damp from her sex. It had a strong smell. It kept my hard on at attention which was a bad thing because I could hear my mama’s voice getting closer.

“Johnny! Oh, Johnny, baby!”

Frantically, Carrie said, “Quick! Get dressed!”

As I fumbled with my pants, Carrie slipped easily back into her dress. Before I could even zip my pants up, she took my face in her hands and kissed me. She pulled me away and said, “You don’t speak nothin’ of what we done, okay?”

I shook my head.

“Say it out loud, Johnny Stryker!”

“Okay, I won’t say nothin’, wasn’t planning on it.”

She smiled as if pleased. “Good, now here’s something to remember me by.” She grabbed my hand and slid it under her dress. “Get a handful now, go on.”

I did. It was saturated and so incredibly soft.

“Okay, that’s enough now. Your mama’s callin’.” Carrie winked.

“Johnny, oh my goodness!” Mama cried out.

The cellar door popped open and even though the sky was a dismal grey, the sudden rush of light was blinding.

“We’re okay, mama,” I said.

Carrie Sue and I climbed out of the cellar. My mama started kissin’ and huggin’ me. I felt really awkward and strange about that. I just got done kissing Carrie Sue and now my mama was putting her lips all over my face. I prayed she couldn’t smell Carrie on me.

She hugged Carrie Sue. “Oh, girl, I’m so glad you were her for Johnny. Are you all right?”

“It was a bit scary, Mrs. Stryker, but we’re okay. Really, we are.”



Our house was spared, but a good portion of my father’s soybean field was torn away. I could see the stress in his eyes as he looked out at the horizon, shaking his head in disbelief.

“It’s only beans,” he said pulling me to him, giving me a strong hug. “What’s important is that you’re safe Johnny. That’s all that matters.” I could hear him crying over my shoulder. “You’re safe now, son. I love you.”

It felt strange, the way my parents were showing me love just after I experienced another kind of love only moments ago.

I realized what had been banging and hitting the cellar door. It was pieces of our barn which was completely destroyed.

That night I didn’t sleep well. I dreamed of hellish tornados with demonic faces peering through rapidly spinning, midnight black vortexes.


The following week, Carrie and I finished what we started in the cellar, but now in her father’s barn, which was spared by the tornado.

“You just hold onto my backside like this, okay Johnny. I’m gonna bounce real fast like on you until I see a big smile on your face. Ready?”

She clapped and laughed afterword’s and held me close to her bosom. “Want some pie?”


Although it was fun and exciting being with Carrie Sue like that, I guess it wasn’t enough to rid my face of a week-long frown. The tornado incident messed me up. I was scared to go outside or to be alone. Plus, I was having nightmares still.

It wasn’t until I came home from school one day and went up to my room only to find a guitar lying on bed. A note was attached to it. I stood in my doorway, not moving, not knowing really what to think until I felt a slight nudge on my back. My daddy was holding a big cup of coffee, smiling at me.

“Well, go on. That’s yours, John.”

As I sat on my bed, awkwardly holding the acoustic guitar, reading the note, my mama came up behind my daddy, putting her arms around him.

“We thought this might help. You know, take your mind off what happened,” she said.

From that moment on I couldn’t wait to get home and start pluckin’ on that guitar, even though I wasn’t that good. Eventually I learned how to play it. That guitar had become my safe place, my solace for the horrors that the tornado instilled in me, but more so, my best friend.

“Sorry about the nicks on it, Johnny. It was the best one they had at old man Tom’s pawn shop in town.”

“That’s okay, daddy. I love it. Thank you.”

After that day, Carrie and I didn’t spend much time together. She was okay with it. I’m guessing she knew what we was doin’ was wrong after all with her being four years older than me. But damn did she smell good.

Anyway, I had a new girl in my life that sounded as sweet as Carrie Sue smelled on a spring day.

Her name was Suzy.









Tuesday, August 10^th^, 1979





John was sitting in his lawn chair smoking a non-filter Camel and drinking from a brown bottle of beer, just like he had yesterday.

Jack came striding toward him with a stack of records under his arm and a big smile on his face. And of course his guitar on his back.

“What do we got here?” John said. “Let me guess, more junk for my roadside business.”

“Nope,” Jack said glancing down at the records. “More like your influence.” There was pride in his voice.

“Say what now?”

“Your influence on music.”

“My influence?”

“Yeah, take a look.”

Jack sat in the other lawn chair, setting the albums on his lap. “Check it out. This guy says you were a major influence for him.” Jack handed him an album.

“Johnny Thunders,” John said slowly, looking at the album cover. “Neat name I suppose.”

“Here’s another.” Jack gave him The Clash.

“What kind of name is that for a rock and roll band? Shit!”

Jack laughed and handed him one more record.

“What’s this one?” John said taking the album. “The Ramones? They Mexican?” He shot a look at Jack.

“No, John,” he laughed. “They’re from New York.”

“Didn’t you mention them the other day?”

“Maybe,” Jack said. “I can’t remember, but look John, your music has made an impression on these groups. They love you and what you did back then. You were a punk long before their time.”

John was unsure about that. He looked at the kid like he was crazy.

Jack said, “They loved Helldust, John. If they only could’ve heard The Devil’s Season.”

John’s face went blank. Jack knew he touched a nerve.

“I’m sorry. Did I say someth….”

“You damn right you did. I don’t talk about that record. Ever. You hear me!”

“I’m sorry man, I was just….”

“You were just nothin’ boy! You don’t know nothin’ about that. I buried that a long time ago and I’d like to keep it buried. How do you know about that record anyway. It ain’t ever was released. Shit!”

Jack knew he made a mistake by bringing up John’s so called unreleased masterpiece. He didn’t bother explaining to him that the word gets around about stuff like that, especially with an underground legend like Johnny Stryker. It’s in small articles in magazines; kids hanging out at the park with their boomboxes rant about it and stoners having conversations at the local record store say ‘have you heard about Devil’s Season?’ while Kiss is playing on the stereo.

Jack seemed to be the only one that didn’t want to talk about it.

But why don’t you wanna talk about Johnny? Did the demons scare you away that night? Too many bad memories? Or was it just a dark reminder of a failed, dead end accomplishment?

Jack took the albums from John and stood up.

“Look, maybe I should just go. I’ll see around John.”

He started off.

John was shaking his leg, tapping his fingers nervously on his knee. Don’t let him get away you old bastard. He’s a good kid. You don’t have many friends. Hell, you don’t have any friends.

“Wait, now wait a second. Come on back kid?”

Please, come back.

Jack stopped. He stood there for a second and then slowly turned around.

“Come on and sit.” He patted the lawn chair. There was a hesitation from Jack. John sighed. “I’m sorry, kid.”

Jack went to sit down again. He couldn’t leave if he wanted to. He could hear the loneliness in John’s voice.

John blew out another sigh like he was glad the uncomfortable moment was done. He took a hit from his Camel. He figured some kind of explanation was in order for his behavior. He gave it shot.

“Look, kid, that was a long time ago.” He talked normally without contempt in his voice. “I just don’t like to talk about it. It was a difficult period when I recorded it.”

It was hard for Jack to understand but he accepted it anyway. He did however give it one last shot.

“If you don’t mind me askin’, I heard you’re the only one that has a copy of it. Is that true?” He didn’t look at him when he asked.

John wasn’t in the mood for dealing with the nightmares of the past, but he figured it was a normal question.

He nodded his head slowly at Jack.

“That’s right,” he said in a matter of fact tone.

They didn’t talk for a while. They sat and listened to the cars going past out on state road nine.

John, after a while, blew out the last of his smoke.

“Well, shit. What do you say we go listen to some of my influence on this….what did you call it?”

“Punk rock,” Jack said questioningly but with a smile forming on his face. “You have a record player, right?”

John looked at him like he was nuts for asking such a question.

“Boy, I’m the king of junk ‘round here. Got three of them inside. Let’s go.”


“Holeee shit, boy! That’s one helluva git-tar sound right there. Holy mackeral, son, that’s loud!” John yelled out.

“I know!” Jack yelled over The Ramones blasting through the speakers. “It’s good stuff!” He coughed out a pale cloud of marijuana smoke.

“Don’t be a reefer hog, now,” John said.

Jack gave him the now almost roach clip size joint. John put it to his lips and inhaled it. Outside, his neighbor Mable was bitching as usual about her paper not being on her porch. She scrunched her face in annoyance, looking at John’s trailer, hearing the muffled, heavy backbeat of Judy is a Punk. She cursed as she bent to get her morning paper. And cursed even more when she almost fell and face planted herself on the sharp gravel. The riot inducing, rebellious fodder coming from next door wasn’t’ helping either.

“Oh, yeah, I think I like them Raymones real well. Shit!” John said, now settling back into his torn, leather recliner; the music at a reasonable volume. The absolute worst way to listen to The Ramones while getting stoned is at a reasonable volume.

He went on to say, “I don’t know if I can hear my influence though.”

“Well, think about it,” Jack said, taking a sip of his beer that John gave him after smoking the joint. “There are twelve songs on Johnny and the Roadside Devils debut album. All of them are short and sweet. Kick you in your teeth and to the point. Just like the Ramones album.”

That made John smile. He shook his head slowly.

“How long is that album anyway?” Jack asked him.

“It’s right around twenty-five minutes.” He smiled some more at his new friends interest and enthusiasm of his old band. He leaned his head back and looked up at the deteriorated ceiling of his airstream. His thoughts were deep.

“So, you say the Roadside Devils are gettin’ some attention as of late, is that right?” He kept his eyes on the ceiling; a sleepy, mellow smile on his face.

“That’s right,” Jack told him. “They love you.”

John lowered his head and gazed at the kid, talking slowly.

“Shit, boy, we had one record and that was in ’57. It couldn’t have made that big an impact.”

“Well, see, that’s the thing. There’s talk going around about The Devils Season. People wanna hear it, John. Some think it’s just a rumor that you recorded it and….”

“But I did!” John said defensively. His smile now gone. “How do people know about that anyway?” It was twenty years ago. Shit, I don’t like where this is goin’.”

Jack internally kicked himself for bringing up Devils Season again. He felt a little guilty that he was one of the many people talking about Johnny’s infamous, never been released album, and maybe even guiltier for tracking down his hero in hopes of maybe getting an exclusive listen. But his high interest in Johnny’s past was slowly turning into something more than just wanting to hear some old music. They were becoming friends.

“Oh hell, kid.”

Jack didn’t respond. He was too afraid of saying something that would set John off again.

“Don’t sweat it, I’m sorry.”

An unsure smile formed on Jack’s face. He looked around the small interior of the airstream. Then he realized something.

“Is this the same trailer you used back in the fifties? You know, to tour in?”

“Yep, sure is. She’s been with me since 1958.”

“Wow, I could just imagine you driving all across the country in here, playing shows every night.”

“Yeah, this old tin can has been around. Hell, we drove out to California one time and then all the way back to Gary, Indiana.” John chuckled at the thought of that time long ago, like he hadn’t thought about it in ages. And he really hasn’t. “Holy hell, now that’s one crazy ass city! I remember it was at some ho-dunk bowling alley, outside of Chicago. Shit got crazy that night.”

With an eager smile, Jack said, “What happened?”

John leaned forward in his recliner. The window air conditioner turned on and blew thick, thc smoke all around the living room.

“You get me a beer and I’ll tell ya.”

His smile had returned.















Rumble Thunder





We had just played a show out in California; Fresno to be exact. It was late 1957. November, and it was getting damn cold here in the Midwest. We had released our first record that year in March. Our manager Bill Bridgeway, that son of a bitch, he had us crisscrossin’ all over the U.S. We loved playing all them shows, but it was hard on us. We weren’t used to it. Anyway, he had booked the Fresno show and Gary show back to back. What a fucker. Sometimes I think he did that just to piss us off or thought it was funny messin’ with some young, dumb kids from Indiana. Shit. That motherfucker. He jumped on the bandwagon so to speak right as Elvis emerged from Memphis. He was originally a casino owner out in Las Vegas and I guess a real shark for the big money, you know. When he saw what was goin’ on with music taking a big leap in 1955, he started his own label and studio to go along with it. I’m grateful for him discovering us and signing us but damn, he was a brute.

Shit, where was I?

So, he booked them two shows back to back. We had only two days to get from Fresno to Gary. I don’t how we pulled it off but we did. No stops or anything. We all took turns driving. Me, Rat and Elroy. Rat played stand-up bass and Elroy was our drummer. We pulled into the parking lot of the venue.

“You sure this is right?” Rat said looking at a road map all wrinkled to hell. He was also nursin’ a joint.

“I reckon it is.” I told him. “Check the itinerary Elroy.”

“Yep,” he said from the backseat. “This is it. Fuck, Bill!”

I knew we were in the right place. I followed the directions just as they were on the tour route. We sat there in the cold Buick, staring up at a big, red neon sign flashing the words: Mavericks Bowl and Bar.

“You gotta be kiddin’ me!” Rat said.

I sighed. My cold breath clouded in front of me. “Goddammit, Bill!”

Now don’t get me wrong, we played plenty of dives. We were new so that was part of it. But Jesus Christ. This place looked like the end of the damn world. It was a dump.

“This must be the swanky side of town,” Elroy laughed in the back.

I tried to keep everyone’s spirits up.

“Ah hell, c’mon boys. Let’s see what we’re gettin’ into.”

The air was biting at our faces as we walked up to the rundown looking building that was Mavericks Bowl and Bar.

“So you reckon Elvis ever played a shithole like this?”

I laughed at Rat’s joke.

“Nah, he’s too much of a pretty boy.”

When I opened the door to the main entrance, a blast of smoke filled warm air that stunk of beer hit us in the face. Good thing it didn’t bother us to bad. We were smokers and drinkers anyway.

Hardly wasn’t a soul in there but it was only six-thirty. I hoped folks would start showing up. That was all that mattered and of course getting paid.

Some twangy, country tune was playing rather loudly when we entered. The few people who were already there stopped what they were doing (talking, sipping whiskey, shootin’ pool) and looked up at the three of us like some aliens had just walked in.

I heard a voice boom from behind me.

“You must me that devil band, right?”

A tall, broad shouldered bartender set his hands flat down on the bar, eyeing us.

“You’d be right. We’re Johnny and the Roadside Devils,” I said to the bartender; my southern Indiana drawl comin’ out proud.

He looked us up and down.

“Wait here.”

I turned around and leaned my back against the bar, surveying the joint, staring back at the lookyloos, trying to find the stage. I couldn’t find it.

“Why in the hell would Bill book us here?” Elroy finally said.

I glanced over at him but didn’t say anything. I was feeling his anger too.

The bartender returned with an older looking man of at least sixty. He had on a cowboy hat and a nice looking suit; too nice for this shit pit.

He smiled real big and put out his hand to me.

“So you’re them Roadside Devils. How are ya! I’m Maverick Mcneil, owner.” I shook hands with him.

He went over all the preliminaries and all that shit for about five minutes. Things like when we go on, how much we get at the end of the night.

“Have any questions?” He asked, still grinnin’ real big like.

“Yeah,” I said, still leaning against the bar. “Where’s the stage?”

He barked out a short laugh and I followed his finger, moving through the smoke surrounding us, to a corner of the bar. “Right over yonder.”

I had to squint and focus my eyes because the bar was dark. I still couldn’t see it. “There?” I pointed.

“Yep,” Mr. Mcneil said as if he was proud.

I looked a little harder and saw a small, deck looking wooden platform. I didn’t know how in the hell we were gonna fit up there, especially with ol’ Elroy’s big ass bass drum. He used one of them giant, jazz type drums, like they used in the big band days. That son of bitch could boom; twenty eight inch I believe.

“You boys have yourself a drink. It’s on the house. Set up ‘round eight. Go on ‘bout nine. Sound good?”

We shook hands again with the owner and then he was off. The bartender laid his hands on the bar again. He cocked his head sideways, looking at us like he wanted to kick our asses.

“What can I get ya!”


We were the only ones on the bill that night. No opening act. I guess Maverick was a cheapskate and didn’t wanna fork out too much of his money for entertainment.

Hell, this was a Goddamn bowling alley in a hick town outside of Chicago. I doubted anyone would even care or notice that we were on the damn stage. They’d be knockin’ down pins and throwing shots back. I knew though as soon as the first chord was struck we’d get their attention and holy shit, did we ever.

We had everything set up and ready to go about a quarter to nine. Me and the boys were still feeling strung out and tired from the long trip out here. Three shots of Jim Beam helped me clear the fogginess.

I looked out into the dismal crowd which by now, believe it or not, had picked up a bit. There were more folks but they didn’t seem interested by what was up on stage. I wonder how much promotion Brideway put into this. I guessed none. That son of a bitch.

What was more concerning to me was the type of people I was seeing out there in the darkness, sitting at high, round tables. They were all middle aged folks, all dressed up and looking like cowboys. The women I saw had nice, primped hair and they were wearin’ fur coats. Fur coats at a rock and roll show? Shit!

It was a little discouraging, especially after playing to four hundred screamin’ kids two nights before when we opened for Bill Hailey and the Comets. Although we ran right over Mr. Rock Around the Clock! Teenage girls were thrown in the air by their boyfriends; gettin’ crazy, screamin’ my name like they wanted to fuck me right then and there and I could smell every one of their little pussies too!

I wasn’t feeling this hillbilly bar bullshit, but I had a job to do.

And now it was showtime!

I plugged in my Fender and turned my amp up to eight. Fuck it. I went to ten that night. I went to the mic and kindly introduced ourselves, and of course with a smile. “How’s everybody doin’! All right, thank you all for blessin’ us with your presence. We hope you enjoy the show. By the way, we’re Johnny and the Roadside Devils and we play rock and roll!”

I turned around and faced Elroy. He said from behind that behemoth bass drum, “Let’s get this shit over with so we can get fuckin’ drunk!”

I strummed a few chords and then Rat, Elroy and I huddled around the drumkit.

“All right boys, let’s rock’em and sock’em. No remorse now. Count me off four, Rat, let’s go!”

One two one two three four!


And away we went! Off like a rock and roll rocket! Playin’ loud and strummin’ hard! Sweatin’ grease and stinkin’ up the joint! Goddamn they didn’t know what hit’em! We came barking right out of the gate, full of distemper and testosterone. Like a bulldog’s balls itching to fight, fuck or kill for its dominance! And I spit into the mic:


This ain’t Mozart daddy-o.

I’m a greaser, creepin’ at your daughters door

Gyratin’ and full of lust

Ready to blaze outta town in my Chevy

With your daughter by my side

Wearing my black leather fightin’ jacket

And the dust devils scream

Lovin’ you deep in this


Don’t you know

Hail Hail!

Rock n Roll!


Don’t you know

Your daughter’s kiss I can’t say no



Fire and ice


Her green eyes


Ain’t no lie she wants me in between her thighs!



I’m a bad, bad man! Wheelin’ and dealin’, wrekcin’ lives with fire in my eyes. Set your soul on fire! Good gracious, I’m just a honkey tonk venom spitter of the illest kind! I’m a wild man, wild I say! Jerry Lee ain’t go nothin’ on me!


It was a non-stop collision of fast and rockin’ tunes. Songs me, Rat and Elroy wrote after midnight in the garage we worked at, just a year earlier. We nailed the crowd. That’s all we knew how to do. Nothing else mattered once we started playing. The long drive was long forgotten. The cold November night was non-existent. And all of the booing and nasty looks we were getting didn’t mean shit. It’s what we did. We played rock and roll.

Then the heckling came.

“I thought yous all were a country and western group. Get off the stage!”

“Do you kiss your mama with that mouth, son?”

“That ain’t music! You and that hillbilly from Memphis are gonna burn in hell!”

Although, I thought the Roadside Devils were ten times raunchier than Elvis, I did take that insult as a compliment. Elvis was all right in my book.

Then the crowd started spitting at us. Can you believe that shit? I had to do something.

“Whoa, now Daddy-o’s. We’re all friends here. Just givin’ you somethin’ to listen to while ya’ll drink and love on your ladies this here wonderful Friday night, that’s all”

Someone yelled, “Don’t give me that Daddy-o shit! You punk son of a bitch! You’ll address me as sir, boy!”

There was a wild applause. This guy looked to be about fifty or so. His lady friend or wife or whoever the fuck she was, was sippin’ on her drink, smilin’ at me. People kept on yellin’ and booing. I put my hands up.

“Ya’ll not see the flyer on the entrance door. It says, appearing tonight, Johnny and the Roadside Devils, rock and roll band.”

“It’s the devil’s music!” Someone yelled. “Go to hell!”

And I said with a smile, “Well now, with the hostility in the room right now, I believe we already are in hell, shit!”

Just then, Maverick came waddling up to the stage, waving at us like a lifeguard would do at a pool full of kids and sharks. I looked down at him. “They always this cheerful Mav, Goddamn!”

“Shut up, boy! Just get the hell off the stage!”

I looked at him like he done lost his mind.

“Hell no! I’m playin’ rock and roll, hot shot. Don’t ya know never to interrupt a band playin’ rock and roll!” I smiled and winked at him. I don’t think he liked that.

“C’mon Johnny, let’s scram! It’s heatin’ up in here,” Elroy said from behind his kit.

“Excuse me one second, Mr. Mcneil.”

We huddled again around the big ass bass drum.

“Boys,” I said firmly over the din of yells and curses coming from the crowd. “We just drove a thousand miles to play some rock and roll, and that’s what we’re gonna do!

“Shit, Johnny, but…..”

“Elroy, I know we stepped into hell but now we gotta do what we gotta do to get out. I do, however, like your idea of gettin’ drunk though.”

I smiled at him and returned to the mic. The crowd was loud with constant chatter.

“All right now, we got a few tunes left in the tank, so sit back and let us do the drivin’. Here we go. Count it off Rat!”

Before I could hit the first note, the old guy down in front with the pretty wife, opened his stupid old mouth again.

“Get off the stage you damn heathen!”

I looked at him and then his wife. I realized it was his wife because of that big, sparkling rock on her finger. I also saw that she was drinkin’ a beer. My kind of woman.

I wasn’t about to get off that stage until I done did my job and that was playin’ rock and fucking roll. But I think I had enough of these loudmouths and this jackfuck yellin’ at me.

I smiled at his wife and she smiled back. I think she was enjoying all of this. And the show was about to get a lot better.

“All right people. Settle down. I’d like to do this proper.” They actually simmered down a little.

“We’re Johnny and the Roadside Devils and we play rock and roll. If you don’t like that we play rock and roll, you can get the fuck out! How’s that?”

I crossed my arms and put on the widest grin I could. Rat turned and gawked at me in terror. But then he started to laugh. “You crazy sumbitch, Johnny!”

The crowd lurched towards the stage.

Old Maverick yelled, “Off! Now!”

I didn’t budge. Not even an inch. I just kept on smiling at the angry mob of folks who hate rock and roll. That old big mouth with the pretty wife was down in front, staring right up at me. He started swinging at me. Shit!

“Whoa, Daddy-o, c’mon now!” I said with my I don’t give a fuck smile on my face.

“Johnny, let’s git!” Elroy yelled.

“Nah,” I said, still facing the crowd. “I’m kinda liking this here attention.”

The old guy was swinging away still and cursin’ up a storm at me. Finally I said, “Sir, is that your pretty wife next to you. I’ve been keepin’ my eye on her all night. And I think she’s been eyeing me too.”

“You son of bitch! I’ll rip your dick right off, you hear me!”

“Huh? Say what now Daddy-o.” I put my hand to my ear.

I looked at the beer sippin’, fur coat wearin’ lady who was as cool as ice during all this.

“How are ya, Ma’am.” I tipped my head her direction. She winked.

Elroy yelled again. “Johnny, this place is gonna blow! Let’s get outta here!”

I paid no attention to him. If it’s gonna blow, it’s gonna blow big, and I’m pushin’ the button.

I looked down at the old guy. His face was so Goddamn red I done thought he was havin’ a heart attack! Shit. I guess he was just real pissed off on the account of my respectful, gentleman like attitude towards his wife.

“Sir,” I said into the mic so everyone could hear my wonderful voice loud and clear. They weren’t interested in hearing me sing so I was gonna talk for a second. Not sure if they would like what I had to say.

“You know what?” Hillbilly punk ass rock n roll smile, yellow teeth and all. “I’d think I’d like to fuck your wife! Whaddaya think of that, Daddy-o! Shit!”

Rat raised his head and howled out a wicked, beer drinkin’ hoot. “Ohhhh shit! Get your fightin’ gloves on Elroy!”

I was laughin’ my ass off but when I turned around I saw that Elroy was already gone.

I turned back around to face the crowd. Old boy wasn’t there anymore. I look to my left and I see him comin’ at me, swingin’ like a crazed boxer on pcp.

He didn’t miss this time.


I came to about a half hour later. I was lyin’ flat on my back in the parking lot of Mavericks. My eyes felt swollen and puffy. My lips did too. Then I realized I had just got my ass beat. Shit!

As I opened my eyes, I saw a group of people standing around me. The colors green and white faded into my vision. The green was a twenty dollar bill floating down on me in the cold November night.

“That’s for your trouble. Now get the hell outta here and don’t come back!” That was ol’ Maverick Mcneil speaking.

The white color was the pretty lady in her cheap, white fur coat.

“Sorry, Johnny,” she said. “Call me.”

She tucked something into my pants pocket. I could hear her high heels clicking off into the night.

I was still on my back, dazed and out of it. Something splashed in my face. It burned for a second. I coughed and gagged and tasted Jim Beam. A hand reached down and pulled me up.

“Shit, Johnny, that old fucker fucked you up!” Elroy said, laughing as he took a swig of Jim Beam.

“Oh, yeah!? I said groggily. “Where the hell were you?” I put my hand to my swollen, bloody mouth.

“Where do you think? Getting’ fuckin’ drunk, devilman!” He barked out a laugh and so did I but it hurt like hell.


A thousand miles to play three songs, get heckled and then get my ass beat, all for twenty bucks.

That’s rock and roll I guess.

We never played in Gary again.



















Wednesday, August 11^th^, 1979






“Them better be dirty magazines your holdin’ boy, cuz that’s the only kind I read!”

John inhaled a deep drag from his cigarette and blew the smoke out into the warm, August morning air. Cat Scratch Fever was playing on a small am/fm radio sitting on the ground next to John’s lawn chair.

Jack laughed. “Sorry, John, these don’t have pussy pics. I’m sure you have plenty of those. These are a couple of magazines I wanted to show you. They have some articles written about you and the Roadside Devils. I thought you might get a kick from it and you know; see that folks still remember you.”

John eyed Jack cautiously and the magazines.

“Here, take a look.” Jack handed him Hit Parader and Creem.

John sat them in his lap; his rough hands lying flat on the covers. He was shaking his leg like he was nervous. And he was.

Why so scared Johnny? Afraid of what you’ll see inside? The past that still haunts you at dusk when the lights go out and the skeletal hands of doom come reaching out of the maddening dark night to take you to some unworldly hell.

He opened the Hit Parader first. He flipped through the pages. Words and rock band pictures flew past him until he reached the page with a sticky not attached to it. An arrow pointed to a small paragraph. He squinted his eyes in order to see the small print. A small headline read: Johnny and the Roadside Devils – A short lived success.

As he read the article, Jack strummed out a few chords on his guitar as if to pass the time. He kept silent, not wanting to interrupt. After a minute John sighed, looked up at the clouds floating across the sky and then took a gander at the Creem magazine. Kiss was on the cover. He held it up to Jack.

“Now that’s a fucked up group right there.”

“Eh, they’re all right,” Jack said and kept strumming lazily on his guitar.

John found the article on his old band and began to read it. A great blanket of pride covered him when he read the words: Great songs, fast, raunchy, turned the tables on 50’s rock and roll, high energy, rebellious. But he sunk down in his lawn chair upon reading the last few sentences.

‘Whatever happened to Johnny Stryker. We miss him.’

He sat there speechless and looking out into nothing. Whatever happened to good ol’ bad boy Johnny Stryker, he thought. The devil caught up with him.

Jack stopped strumming his guitar. John noticed how quiet it got. He turned to Jack.

“Well don’t stop now. That sounded real nice.”

Jack felt his face redden by his hero’s compliment. He felt like a ten year old kid.

“I’m just messin’ around. I’m still learning how to play.”

“It ain’t bad though,” John told him. “Maybe I’ll show you some chords or somethin’ sometime.”

“You mean on Suzy?” Jack said, full of hope.

“Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t it be Suzy. She’s my first love, boy.”

He handed the magazines back to Jack. They both sat for a while, letting the August sun shine down on them.

“Ah shit, kid. C’mon. Let’s go inside. I wanna show ya somethin.”

As they walked up to the trailer, Jack said, “A joint?”

John laughed. “No. Well, yeah, but that ain’t what I wanna show ya. C’mon.”


Jack couldn’t believe his eyes when John handed him, with trembling hands, an album in a plain black jacket. Jack took the dark album.

Jack already knew what it was.

“Is this it?” He said anyway.

Unenthusiastically, John said, “Yeah, that’s it; the only one in existence.”

Jack’s eyes were wide and full of wonder like he stumbled on a mound of gold. He couldn’t believe he was actually holding the only copy of The Devil’s Season.

“Can I take it out of the jacket?”

John beheld a tight grin that portrayed both pride and concern.

He felt like shit for snapping at the kid the other day when he brought up his unreleased masterpiece. Every now and then John would take the old record from the messy wreckage of his living room and just stare at it. He would never listen to it though. There were too many demons from the past. He supposed one day he would brave a listen, since he hasn’t put the record on since that night back in 1959 at Bridgeway Studios. Despite its absence from his life, he still remembers every evil note he played on it.

Jack lifted his stare of amazement away from the record and looked at John.

“Why are you showing this to me?”

John only shrugged, not wanting to admit that he liked the kid and thought it would be all right if he did show him his masterpiece from long ago.

“Hell, I don’t know boy. Maybe I….” He stumbled on his own words.

Then Jack said, “Can we listen to it?”

“Oh, no, no. Hell no.”

With nervous hands John took the album from Jack.

He looked at Jack and saw the disappointment in his eyes.

“Well, I guess we could sometime. Just not now.”

He carefully put the album back into his record collection in a milk crate. “Them magazines were real nice, thanks,” he said trying to change the subject.

“No problem.” Jack took a seat on the couch. A few moments passed. “If you don’t mind me asking, what ever happened to Elroy and Rat?”

He was expecting John to snap or yell at him again but he didn’t. He was relieved.

“Them two? Well shit, ol’ Elroy found himself a pretty little wife a year after we broke up. He had a couple of kids and finally grew up I guess. Last I heard he was a real estate guy, sellin’ houses and shit.”

“What about Rat,” Jack asked him.

John was sitting in his recliner now, staring ahead in deep thought.

“Huh? Oh, well, Rat overdosed on the heroin in ’63. That ain’t a pretty ending is it.”

“Shoot, I guess not. I’m sorry.”

“Eh, don’t be. That’s just life. Shit happens. He knew better.”

There wasn’t much to say after that. Jack now wished he’d never asked about the other devils.

They both sat quietly, lost in their own thoughts. Shit happens.

“So did you ever hook up with that lady?” Jack finally said.

“Say what?”

“You know, that lady from Gary. The one whose husband kicked your….uh, I mean….”

John laughed. “It’s all right. That old boy did a number on me. But no, I never did give her a taste of the devilman. Too much trouble I suppose with a woman like that.”

“Man, I bet you had all kinds of girls throwin’ themselves at you all the time.”

“Now you’re right about that Jack! Yeah, this ol’ trailer has seen many a female. Lot’s a crazy shit! Tell ya what. Let me get that joint and I’ll tell ya all about the time we played the Kentucky State Fair in the summer of ’58.”



























The Devil in May Ann





The devils were headin’ north on I 65 in Kentucky, cruising at an even seventy, until I saw them familiar red cherries behind me and that’s when I slowed my Buick down to the normal fifty-five.

That pig didn’t care neither that I had slowed down. He was chompin’ at the bit to give me a ticket. Lucky for us he was a young dumb rookie of about twenty-two I’d say. And when he found out we were Johnny and the Roadside Devils he about shit his britches. The rookie was apparently a fan.

“Oh, hell yeah! I got your record. That’s some nasty rock and roll.” We cut up with the kid right there on the side of the road, talking about rock and roll, women and cars. But his kind demeanor turned back into Mr. Straight Edge Cop.

“Look, I’m really sorry Johnny but I gotta give ya a ticket. You were twenty miles over the speed limit. Laws the law. Where ya’ll headin’ to anyway?”

I rested my arm over the steering wheel and looked at the kid cop and told him, “We’re on our way to the Kentucky State Fair. Got ourselves a gig tonight.” He slowly shook his head like he was trying to understand. I’m not sure if it was enough to convince him. “Look, I’m real sorry about breakin’ the speed limit. The fuck I was! It’s just that these shows we play are our bread and butter. It’s how we make money. I guess I just got caught up in tryin’ to make it there on time. Damn, see my mama’s been real sick like and most of the money I make has been goin’ towards helpin’ her and my daddy out too. He’s retired and all.” That should do it. A sick mother always gets a son’s heart down and I could tell just by lookin’ at this pup that he sure loved his mama. Hell, not that I didn’t love my mama either. She was healthy as a damn horse and more than likely shackin’ up right now with my daddy, praisin’ jesus that I was outta the house finally. Shit! I just didn’t want no goddamn ticket.

The cop looked out at the barren road ahead. He had his thumbs hooked into his pants. A certain look was on his face. There was no traffic; only us and the heat of the sun bearing down. Then he said, “Ah hell. Look, all I ask is just watch your speed from here on out, okay?”

I shook my head dutifully making sure he understood that I was gonna be a good boy and drive correct like from now on.

“Oh, and one other thing.”

Oh no!

“What’s that?” A rush of fear went through me when I envisioned me, Rat and Elroy on the side of the road, on our knees, with our hands tied behind our backs and the kid cop whippin’ his dick in our faces.

He took out his wallet. “You sign this here five dollar bill and I’ll forfeit that ticket.”

Done deal.


With the traffic stop behind us, we continued on our way to the State Fair. This time I knocked it down to sixty five miles an hour. We were lucky getting off with just a warning. Even luckier the kid was new and not some old ass experienced cop who would’ve made us get out and put our hands up and then check our trailer. Holy shit! That would’ve been a bad deal; nothin’ but pot and playboys back there and of course cold beer in the cooler full of ice. I like my beer cold.

We pulled into the main entrance of the Kentucky State Fair around two that afternoon. The combined stench of horse shit and cotton candy attacked us right away; corn dog batter too. But what I was sniffin’ for was some of that sweet Kentucky pussy. I like that dirty, summertime, bluegrass pussy real well. And Kentucky girls love to fuck. And I loved fuckin’em and that’s what I planned on doin’. But work before pussy.

We drove behind the stage area. Three large revival looking tents were set up. Backstage Kentucky style. Usually at these outdoor shows, me and boys just stay in the airstream. Sometimes it’s better that way. Less fightin’. But I knew they had food in those big tents and I was hungrier than shit.

We got out of the Buick and stretched. The great, mouthwatering aroma of steak sizzling on the grill found its way to us. But there was something else in the air that day too.

It was electricity.

I loved that feeling I would always get whenever we pulled up to a venue. It wasn’t nervous butterflies but raw excitement. I couldn’t wait to get on that stage and sweat and gyrate and beat the hell outta my guitar and the audience, and smell their sweat and mine. There ain’t nothing like it. Goddamn, I love rock and roll!

It was a great lineup too, this here Kentucky show. It was us, Link Wray, Buddy Holly, and Chuck fucking Berry headlining! All hail rock and roll!

It looks like Mr. Bridgeway finally got it right this time. We usually butt heads most of the time on things, but we both agreed that this show was going to be great.

We met the appropriate people and they led us into one of them big ol’ tents. We ate like kings. Ribeye steak, corn on the cob, mash potatoes, cinnamon apples, biscuits, sweet tea and of course Kentucky grits.

When we finished with our feast I told the boys I was ready for a little fair action; told them I wanted to walk the midway, maybe ride a few rides. They agreed.

It was three-thirty when we set off for the midway. Showtime wasn’t until seven that evening.

We walked along the midway, inhaling the smells of the fair and listening to its rambunctious sounds. High pitched screamin’ girls being whipped around on some junky coaster, folks laughing, popcorn bags scrunching, the slurping of soda’s through red straws, some high roller yellin’ to step up and try to win a giant pink bear.

And that’s when I saw her. She was standing by the funhouse; pretty little blonde headed girl in a white dress. Another girl was with her. Probably her best friend. Girls usually go out in pairs or packs most times.

I stopped my strolling. I put my hands up telling the boys to hold up. I started sniffin’.

“Hold up boys. I smell me some Kentucky female.”

“Oh, shit, devilman found him somethin’! Where at?” Rat said.

I pointed. “Right over yonder by that funhouse.”

“Damn, devilman, you got one hell of radar,” Rat said again.

“You are right about that Rat and I’m goin’ in for the kill!”

“Whoa, wait a minute Johnny,” Elroy said.

“What ol’ Roy?” I said.

“There’s only two of them. And we’re a three piece.”

I grinned at him and patted his shoulder. “Now I’m sure Rat will let you have sloppy seconds. Ain’t that right Rat?”

“Shoot, devilman!” Rat remarked. “Drummer boy there is on his own!”

“Real nice, fellas!” Elroy said, pissed.

I told him, “Oh now Elroy, you’re the backbone of this band. So are you Rat. You guys should work as a team. One of ya get in front and the other just get her in the back, see.”

“Wait,” Rat said, concerned. “Which one you takin’ devilman?”

“Like you have to ask. You know I love them blondes.”


She was already smiling at me when I came walking up to her a few minutes later, like she’d been watching me from afar. She could stalk me any day. But as soon as we reached the funhouse, a group of kids came barreling outta nowhere at us. They were all yellin’ and yappin’ and some had our record in their hands. We got ambushed by our fans before we could even get to the girls. I guess the word got around that we were walking around the fair and some kids wanted our autograph. I didn’t mind. In fact I loved the attention. So did Elroy and Rat. I was a little taken back though by the enthusiasm of these kids. They all were crowding around us, throwing our album in our faces, telling us how much they loved us and didn’t care what their parents thought about us and rock and roll in general.

Through the barrage of fans, I saw the little blonde girl smiling at me. I smiled back and winked at her. Her pretty face turned all kinds of red.

Once the crowd cooled down and started to trickle off, I made my move on the Kentucky sweetheart.

“Hey there, little lady. I couldn’t help but notice how pretty you looked from way over there where I was standing. And I know you saw me. And you know what else?” She smiled bashful like and shook her head no. “You’re even prettier up close.” I extended my hand to her. “I’m Johnny Stryker and who might you be?”

She giggled again. She said, “I’m May Ann and this here is Darla Jean.”

“Well, nice to meet you both. Boys, say hi to the pretty ladies.” Those two shit for brains just stood there gawkin’ at them girls like a couple of virgins on prom night. Shit! Maybe it was the heat. “Ya’ll forget how to talk?” I said trying to keep my patience. I said to the girls, “You have to excuse them two, they’re a little road weary.”

“That’s all right,” Darla Jean said, smiling at Rat. “You all can take it easy with us.” That brought him out of his stupor. He perked up after that.

I said to May Ann, “What about you little baby? You mind if I hang out with you until showtime?”

She inhaled a breath like she was either gonna scream or pass out. She did neither. Instead she took me by the arm and led me into the funhouse. It was pitch black in there. Good thing I could smell her sweet female sweat in front of me. Some mechanical ghoul with as green face popped out of the shadows and May Ann screamed and I put my hands on her waist to keep her from falling.

In the dark, she put her hands on mine. I spun her around to where she was facing me. Her white skin looked pale in the darkness. Her blonde hair stuck out though. When she smiled her eyes seemed to glow.

“Baby girl, how old are you?”

Her mouth opened a bit with surprise.

“Old enough,” she said confidently with a little smile.

The sound of screaming girls and noisy machinery was all around us.

“C’mon now, spit it out,” I said but smiling at her. “How old?”

She tried giving me a serious look, holding back that pretty smile of hers. “Now you know it ain’t proper for a man to ask a girl’s age. But if you must know Johnny Devil, I’m twenty.”

I raised my head to the ceiling and barked out a laugh that I think was louder than the funhouse. I laughed because there was no way this girl was twenty. I was, however, flattered that she would lie about her age just to be with me.

She pushed at my shoulder.

“What, you don’t believe me Mr. Johnny Devil, rockstar?”

“Well now, I gotta be careful ya see, cuz I think I may like you just a bit.”

We stood there staring at one another in the loud darkness. She moved closer to me. “Well, why don’t you let me show you that I’m a woman.”

Her hand found my crotch.

“Baby, you can show me all you want, I don’t mind that one bit. But first things first.”

She pulled away. Her hands went on her hips. “And what might that be?”

“Girl, I gotta rock and roll before I rock and roll, know what I mean?”

She fake pouted and I laughed.

“Don’t worry honey. You’re gonna get a taste of the devilman.”

She smiled in the darkness.


“You just set your pretty little self-down right there and watch the devilman go to work; back in a flash sweet thing.”

That’s what I told May Ann just before the devils hit the stage that hot summer night in Kentucky. I was gonna give her and about fifteen-hundred other folks a show. I just hope she would do the encore with me. Something about the look in her eyes told me that she would.

She and her friend sat together on a road case from the side of the stage as we beat, overwhelmed and rocked the crowd. As I looked out into the sweaty crowd I could see young girls dancing and screaming my name and their boyfriends throwing them high in the air. They were on fire and so were the Roadside Devils! We came, we kicked ass and now it was pussy time.

I was on natural high as I staggered back to the airstream with a smile on my face and my arm around May Ann; the roar of the crowd becoming more faint.

Before we stepped inside the trailer, I made my libido known when I pushed her back up against the trailer and forced my tongue inside her sweet little mouth. She didn’t object. She was just as forceful with me.

“You get me so hot, devilman!” She said into my mouth. I could smell cotton candy on her from earlier, along with her sweat.

“I’m all yours now, little girl!”

It was like she had been waiting for this moment all night and now just as her poor little female hormones couldn’t take anymore, she opened her mouth willingly and sucked my face down her throat.

“I want the devil in me Johnny. Take me!”

We kept on kissing and I said to her, “Hold on now little darlin’. Let’s get inside.”

We stumbled inside the airstream. It was dark. Rat and Elroy were already in there sucking face with Darla Jean. Their shadows stuck out in the darkness.

“You fuck me right now, devilman!”

May Ann laid down on my cot. It was so dark I couldn’t get my pants off. They finally came off but my white stage shirt was still on. It was drenched in sweat.

I got on top of her. She already had her white dress pulled up with her pussy all glistening and ready. I drove myself into her. She let out a moan like she’d been achin’ for it.

I fucked her hard and fast and she yelped and screamed and I could feel her Kentucky pussy tightening up. She was real wet too. Wetter than I’ve ever known a female to be during sex. She was like Goddamn velvet!

“Oh, Oh, don’t stop Johnny. Keep goin’. Fuck me! Fuck me! AHHHH!”

She bit into her hand and screamed out her orgasm. She quivered like an earthquake beneath me; my sweat dripping onto her. She was moaning slow like and laughing to herself. A lot of females do that I guess after they come real big like. All the while I didn’t even hear ol’ Elroy and Rat double fuckin’ Darla Jean. They had taken my advice and were goin’ at her from both ends. My eyes had adjusted a little to the darkness. I could see their dark shapes moving in the trailer.

“All I need is you devilman.” May Ann slid her soft hands up and around my neck. I leaned down and kissed her.

“Oh my God!” She said suddenly.

“What! What’s the matter? You okay?”

“Yeah, I mean no….I think so….oh my gosh!”

I got off of her and went to turn on the light. We all squinted from the sudden harsh brightness.

“What the hell devilman!” Rat yelled as he was fucking Darla Jean from behind. She shaded her eyes.

“Shut the hell up Rat! I think somethin’s wrong with May Ann!”

He stopped fuckin’ Darla Jean. She took Elroy’s dick out of her mouth. She said, “You okay May Ann!” Then wiped her mouth.

When my eyes came into focus I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. May Ann’s dress had blood on it.

“You fuckin’ try to kill that girl, devilman!” Elroy laughed out loud.

“Shut the fuck up Elroy. You know what happened here. Shit!”

May Ann looked down at her dress. Her eyes grew real big. She did the opposite of what I thought she would do though.

She gasped and then a big smile formed on her pretty and very sweaty face. “You made me start my monthly, Johnny, look at that.”

Rat and Elroy cracked up laughing like drunken hyenas. I wasn’t laughing. May Ann lifted up her dress a little more and she let out a high pitched laugh like she was drunk too. But she was stone cold sober. Drunk on fuckin’ maybe.

“Oh my goodness! I’m a mess!” She sat up and began fanning her face. Her dress was stained but she didn’t care. “Oh, my gosh, Johnny!” She covered her mouth trying to hold in her joy like maybe she was embarrassed a little, but she looked at me real dirty like. She lowered her hand and began exploring herself. When she raised it again, her fingers were all bloody. She smiled again showing off her bright smile. Her middle finger tapped at her teeth and then the tip of her tongue came slithering out. It touched just the tip of her bloody finger. She giggled.

“Oh, now don’t do that girl. C’mon now!”

She giggled again and pulled me forcefully to her.

“Shut up! I got somethin’ to tell you devilman.”

I really didn’t know what to think of all this. I knew it wasn’t natural for a man to see a woman during her time of the month, but I guess I was okay with it. It didn’t seem to bother her either, that was obvious.

“What do you gotta tell me, girl?”


“I’m still fucking horny!”

I love it when a woman cusses. Shit!

Rat yelled out, “Now we’re, talkin’, devilman!” And started in again on Darla Jean.

May Ann began to touch herself improper, like the way her mama probably told her never to do. She was goin’ at it, all moaning and smiling at me while she was doing it. Four fingers slipped inside her. Holeeee shit!

Darla Jean cackled out a laugh, “That’s it May Ann! Show’em what you got!”

May Ann let out a half cry, laugh type thing. Then she said with her hand still up inside her and her eyes closed, “Praise be Jesus! I got the devil in me, said my mama!”

Say what?

Now, I thought that was a little strange what she said. But then it dawned on me that we were in Kentucky and more than likely her daddy was a preacher who told her the devil was in her.

“Good Lord, I need that devil!”

Elroy said, with his dick in Darla Jeans mouth again, “What the hell she babblin’ about?”

I raised my hands up in confusion. I stood up.

“Daddy says the devil is watchin’ me. He’s by bedside every night. Praise Christ!”

Yep. We’re in Kentucky.

Hell, I just let it be and let her do her thing and keep on babblin’. I went and got a beer from the cooler. I slumped down in a chair, just watchin’ her. It kinda reminded me of speaking in tongues. Shit, I ain’t ever seen nothin’ like this before, much less been with a girl like May Ann. I kept watching.

She had her eyes closed the whole time but was still smilin’. Her hand was going in and out of her womanhood. It was covered in blood by now and then Rat started gagging like he was gonna puke. I sat up and shot a fierce glance at him. I pointed my finger.

“You know the rules, Rat! No pukin’ in the trailer!”

“Shit, Johnny, I know, but damn, that’s kinda gross what she’s doin’.”

I spread my arms out. “Well just don’t look,” and then sat back in my chair. I smiled and took a swig of cold beer.

I did notice that Darla Jean was eyeing May Ann the whole time; like she maybe wanted to do something really dirty with her friend. And I was getting ready to suggest that when suddenly May Ann let out a high pitched scream that could have raised the dead in Alabama. I jumped up real fast, sloshing my cold beer all over myself. Shit! I didn’t know what the hell was going on. Just only seconds ago she was smilin’ and just having a good ol’ time with herself and then she starts screaming at the top of her lungs. But in addition to that, she let out a howl of obscenities I ain’t ever heard come out of a female’s voice.





Rat stopped fuckin’ Darla Jean. She was sitting with her legs crossed, getting ready to light up a cigarette, and had this all knowing smile on her face.

Who are these girls?

May Ann screamed out one more time and then it was over. Her face was a twisted wreck of emotions. It kinda freaked me out a little seeing her like that. It had turned beet red and now was cooling down back to her normal color. I could hear her crying just a little.

As I was replaying what I just saw in my mind, her jumbled words suddenly made sense. And I understood.

There was more to this that her bangin’ herself silly and getting off. I’m not sure if Elroy and Rat could see it or not, but I sure as hell did.

And I knew what me and the boys just witnessed was the pure angst we’ve been hearing about all across the country. It was fed up teens against their stuffy, uptight, paranoid parents telling them not to listen to the devils music called rock and roll. And that they need to burn their Elvis records and go confess their sins to the almighty God.

Well, the devilman is here to tell them mommies and daddies to kiss my ass! It’s only rock and roll daddy-o! These kids aren’t hurtin’ anyone or doin’ any harm. They’re only dancing and bobbing their greaser heads to my hillbilly rock stomp beat. Shit, no wonder poor little May Ann is doin’ herself this way. She’s releasing the pent up anger and frustration at her mama and preacher daddy I presume. Hell, you go on little girl and bleed and fuck and sweat till you hearts content! And fuck them old church ladies makin’ you feel bad about your sexuality and tellin’ you that me and Jerry Lee are makers of devils music that gets you tingling down below.

Because like I said, it’s only rock and roll daddy-o!

The feeling in the trailer was comparable to a tornado tearing through and then dissipating. It happened so fast. Everyone was staring at one another with big eyes and open mouths. All except for Darla Jean who was as cool and reserved as we were shocked. I think maybe she’s seen this before.

“Her daddy’s a preacher.” She said with a smirk and then took a drag from her cigarette.

Well, Goddamm!

I sat back down and slumped once again in my chair. I just stared at May Ann and slowly sipped my beer, trying to process what I had just seen. Then, she sat up. Her face was neutral but still a little red and sweaty. She fanned herself again and then she smiled at me, all while getting herself together, adjusting her now bloody white dress, sighing real quiet and lady like. She looked down at her dress and laughed.

“I made a mess all over, didn’t I, Johnny.”

“You sure did little girl.” I couldn’t help but smile back at her. I hope whatever demons she had inside her were gone. At least for tonight.

I said, “You get that devil outta ya?”

That bad girl smile returned. She shook her head slowly.

I want more, she mouthed to me.

“Oh, shit girly!” I waved my finger at her.

Her bloody finger summoned me to her. I stood up. She looked up at me; her face a young, dreamy portrait of sex and rebellion. Her eyes sparkled. I swore I could see shooting stars in them.

“Cum on my face, devilman!”

There was a loud band on the door, just then. May Ann shot a fast, fearful look at it and clenched her bloody dress with her hands. She looked scared like it might be the fuzz out there.

“Yo, devilman! It’s Link. Goddamm! What the hell is goin’ on in there?”

I threw my head back and laughed out loud; relieved that is was Link Wray.

“It’s all right,” I said to May Ann, putting my hand gently under her chin. “It’s ol’ rumble man.” I could feel her lips trembling. She rolled her eyes and sighed out a breath of relief. But she was still smilin’ and waitin’. “Hang on, Link. Gimmie one minute!”

“Shit, devilman, don’t keep me and mary jane waitin’ too long. Chuck’s going on soon. Can’t miss that!”

And he was right. There was no way I was going to miss Mr. Roll Over Beethoven! Shit, no!

Quickly I looked down at May Ann.

“Are we doin’ this, baby!”

“Well, I’m waitin devilman. Start shootin’!”

Those sweet sparkling eyes.

“Well, all right,” I grinned.

“Wait!” She said. “You two, get over here!”

She of course was speaking to Rat and Elroy. They stood there looking once again like virgin prom boys.

“Well, get over here!” May Ann huffed with a smile. And they obeyed her command. Demanding little southern girl with the sharp southern drawl.

We all stood around her. I was in the middle. I glanced back at Darla Jean. “You want in on this too?”

“No, thanks. It’s May’s night tonight. I got my fill.”

Another bang on the door.

“Goddamn Johnny, c’mon!” Link yelled.

And then I yelled, “I said one minute, rumble man. I gots ladies!”

“Oh, I see how it is. You hicks from Indiana open for Elvis and it all goes to your head. Now ya think you can get all the pussy! By the way, the stagehands just dropped off your gear right here. Jesus, that’s one big ass bass drum!”

So there I was with my cock out, getting ready to blow a load on May Ann’s face because she needs it, and Link Wray is yellin’ at me outside to hurry the fuck up so we can smoke that mary jane and watch Chuck Berry from the side of the stage.

“Ya’ll better start shootin’,” May Ann said. “I wanna see Chuck!”

I love this girl.




























Thursday, August 12^th^, 1979





And we’re looking at another scorcher for today folks. Highs around 90. But tomorrow we will be seeing some thunderstorms rolling into the area right around late afternoon. Be prepared. Some of these may be severe. Expect torrential rain, lighting, high winds…..


John shut off the small radio sitting next to his lawn chair.

“That fucker don’t know when to shut up!”

“It’s only a weather report John,” Jack said while strumming his guitar.

“Yeah, well it’s lookin’ to be a bad motherfucker too. I hate that wind.” John lit a Camel.

Jack didn’t have to ask him why he hated the wind. He knew because of the tale of the tornado when he was a kid. At least that pretty girl was with him. I forgot her name, Jack thought.

John slouched in his chair and sighed. He rubbed the hard, black stubble on his chin. He was in deep thought.

Jacked looked at him and thought, maybe another story?

“You hungry, boy?”

Jack shrugged. “I guess.”

“You want tacos? I want some fuckin’ tacos. Here.”

John reached into his dirty, tan khaki pants and pulled out a few crumpled bills.

“Run down to Roscoe’s and get us some tacos. Shit!”

“Sure Johnny.” Jack let out an amused laugh at John’s sudden craving of tacos at eleven a.m. He didn’t even notice he had called him Johnny. Just then John’s neighbor, Mable, opened her door. Jack saw her newspaper lying there on the step. He immediately ran over and picked it up for her.

“Where the hell you goin?” John asked with a wad of bills in his hand.

Mable said, “Oh, well ain’t that a nice young man, getting my mornin’ newspaper for me. Thank you, honey.”

Bashfully and a little red faced, Jack said, “I just remembered you having trouble the other day.”

She smiled at him.

“Shit, Mr. Fuckin’ Nice Guy,” John said trying to hide his smile as well.

And what is that you’re feeling right now Johnny Devil? Is it warmness in your heart?

Jack handed Mable her paper. John sighed, sounding like a dog growling. But then he brightened up. “Ms. Mable, you want some tacos? Boy here is makin’ a run to Roscoes.”

She squealed with delight at the sound of Roscoe’s tacos.

“How much you need, Johnny?”

“No, no, Ms. Mable. It’s on me.” He waved his hand at her.

She grimaced. “Well ain’t you two just a pair of gentleman.”

After writing their order down on a napkin, John handed it to Jack.

“And don’t forget the hot sauce! And Ms. Mable’s guacamole. Why she would wanna ingest that baby diarehha shit, I don’t know.”

“Oh, Johnny.” She slapped his arm.

“Go on, boy! Get them tasty ass tacos. Devilman’s hungry.”

As Jack walked away, John informed, “And while you’re doin’ that, I’ll be doin’ this.” He held up some rolling papers and a bowl of marijuana sitting on the table. “Hell, Ms. Mable here might even join me.” He hacked out a beer and cigarette soaked laugh. Mable smiled guiltily at Jack, waving and shrugging her shoulders at him.

Jack left.


He returned an hour and ten minutes later.

“What in the hell took you so long, boy? Ms. Mable here is about to die of starvation.” Mable coughed out a laugh full of dreamy thc. She took a minute to get ahold of herself. “And I ain’t feelin’ too shabby myself,” John carried on. “I think my sugar is low.”

“Relax, John, you’re fine. Here’s your tacos.” Jack threw the wad of crumpled bills on the table.

“What’s this all about? My money no good at Roscoe’s?”

“You ain’t gonna believe what….”

“Well, come on boy, spit it out!”

“Hush, Johnny, and let the boy speak,” Mable said.

Jack’s eyes told her thank you. John’s eyes told her, shut your mouth woman.

Jack went on. “So I get there and I was waiting in line. Two guys were ahead of me placing their order. Problem was, is that they weren’t giving Roscoe their order. They were holdin’ the place up.”

Mable gasped. “Oh no. Is Roscoe ok? I wouldn’t know what to do if somethin’ happened to Roscoe. He makes the best tacos.”

John eyed her again, almost telling her to shut up about the damn tacos. Instead, he kept his thoughts to himself, which was a difficult task. I’m sorry Mable. I do like your company.

“So what happened?” John asked, licking a rolled tobacco paper full of mary jane. It was his second one. He smoked the first one in the time that Jack was gone.

Jack shook the cobwebs from his head. He lost track of what he was saying.

“Yeah, uh, so these guys started mouthin’ off real bad to Roscoe. You know how Roscoe is. He could never hurt anyone much less get in an argument with one of his customers. I knew something was wrong. The next thing I know, these guys are through the window, yellin’ and throwin’ punches at Roscoe and then I saw a gun in one of the guy’s hand, pointing it at Roscoe. They ran off with a bunch of cash in their hands. Roscoe called the cops. I stayed and told them what I saw. Even after all that, Roscoe took my order. He even paid for it. I guess he thought I was traumatized or something. I was fine and told him he didn’t have to buy my food. He insisted and now here I am. Hell, let’s eat, I guess.”

The three of them ate their tacos in silence. Even the talkative Ms. Mable didn’t have much to say. When they were finished, Mable thanked Johnny for the free lunch and said goodbye. As she scooted off to her trailer she fluffed and primped her hair. “I got that hair appointment today,” she said to no one in particular.

Johnny slouched and sighed in his lawn chair. He put his hands behind his head and stared out into the hot, early afternoon. Eventually, he lit up another Camel. The drone of a few cars passing by the trailer court out on St. road nine, made themselves known.

A five minute lapse of silence ended when Jack asked, “You okay John?”

John turned and looked at him, blinking his eyes as he did. He donned a facial expression that was either a smile or a show of stress. Jack couldn’t tell.

John grunted.

“Yeah, I suppose I’m all right.” He thought for a moment longer. “Hell, maybe I ain’t. I don’t know. I guess your account of what happened at Roscoe’s has got me thinkin’.”

“About what?”

“Oh, just some shit that went down a long time ago. Some bad shit.”

“What happened?” Jack thought he asked it too soon. But he was curious.

“Oh,” John said lazily, taking a drag from his smoke. “You don’t wanna hear about any of that.”

“I can handle it.”

“No, now come on.”


“I said no, boy!”

They were silent after that for what seemed like a very long time. Jack wasn’t angry at John for his outburst. He did however feel bad for pushing him. John took another hit off his cigarette. He blew the smoke out slowly.

“Ah, shit,” he said and then turned his one hundred mile gaze to Jack. “Have you ever seen a dead body?”























Deadman Blues





I was in Kansas City, Missouri, when I saw my first and only dead body. The year was 1958. It was December. Don’t ask me how I remember the month. I just do. I suppose seeing a man’s face turn blue makes a lasting impression on someone.

It sure did to me.

It was the last leg of our tour that year. We had been touring our asses off since February of ’57. That was Bill Bridgeway’s doing. The more shows the more money. It was non-stop rock and roll, whiskey and pussy for a year and a half. Shit!

Although my encounter with that wild blonde headed gal in Kentucky, the one that bled all over while I fucked her, was enough to last me a while.

Me and the boys were ready for a break in the action and I was itchin’ to get back into the studio to lay down our next record.

Unbeknownst to us and the female companions we were with that night in Kansas City at Max’s Bighouse, we were in for one more round of action. But it didn’t involve whiskey, pussy or rock and roll.

It involved death.

The crowd had cleared out of the venue completely at around one a.m. that night. Me, Rat and Elroy were at the bar, slammin’ down a few shots of Jim Beam. They were on the house, the bartender informed us. And that was all right with me. Shit, free drinks for rockin’ the house? I’d have to agree with that.

Along with us were a couple of pretty ladies who were looking for some after show fun and Johnny Devil was more than happy to provide it for them. I had been watching them shake and wiggle their fine bodies and backsides all night when me and the boys were tearin’ up the stage. They were watching us from the side of the stage. When the set was over, I headed their way. One was blonde, the other a red head and I swear I could smell her pussy when I was sweatin’and rockin’ on stage. Goddamn, there ain’t nothin’ like the smell of woman who is achin’ beneath her panties. Shit!

So, we found ourselves sittin’ with these two beautiful beauties at the bar, just relaxing, drinking and flirting. We all knew what was comin’; the big encore in the airstream. But, as much as I wanted to bury my face in between those blondes legs and the red head too, I was really feelin’ the road on my shoulders. I was a bit amazed at myself just wanting to chill with these ladies and take it easy. But of course, the blonde whispered a dirty secret in my ear. I stood up, tipped the bartender and bid him and his fine establishment farewell and walked out with a girl on each arm. And damn did they smell nice.

The airstream was parked around back. The cold December air sliced through us as we walked through an alley to get to the back parking lot.

I was trying to decide who I wanted to fuck first when I saw a man with a gun step out of the shadows in the alley. His face was a shadowy shape of pure blackness. That’s all I could see was his dark shape and then the bright silver of his gun pointing right at me.

The girls screamed and I think that scared me more than the shock of being mugged in an alley. Everyone stopped dead in their tracks. The intruder yelled something but the ringing in my ears kept me from hearing what he said. He moved a shade closer and I could see his features a little better. His eyes were wide and alert. His mouth was an angry grimace of crooked, clenched teeth. There was a certain look about him. For all I knew he could have been drugged out or a prison escapee. Hell, I don’t know. I was just walking to my airstream with pussy on my mind. Then a coldness fell over me.

This man was desperate.

And I knew then we were in real danger.

A desperate man with a gun and a look of agony on his face is the worst it can get.

I still couldn’t hear anything going on around me because of that ringing in my ears. And I knew it wasn’t from playing rock and roll that night. It was the sudden, extreme stress of the situation.

The man waved his gun at us. Pointing it at Rat and Elroy and then the girls and then me. He was yellin’ too but I couldn’t hear him. I only saw his mouth moving. I saw both Rat and Elroy’s arms go up in surrender. The girls kneeled on the ground and covered their heads. That left just me, standing almost head to head with the desperate man. His thumb pulled back on the trigger. The click was loud enough to kill that ringing in my ears; almost like it woke me up and was bringing me to the realization that I was going to die.

With the ringing gone the sound of the night came rushing at me. It was damn loud, bright and brash, kind of like wearing earplugs for a long time and then taking them out and being overwhelmed with loud, sudden clarity. I wasn’t ready to die.

Without even thinking, my left hand reached for his gun but what I really grabbed ahold of was his wrist. The gun aimed at the cold, night sky and fired one single loud shot. The girls screamed. A couple of stray, city dogs barked in the distance. Our shoes scudded and scraped across the ground as we wrestled with the gun; each of us trying to overpower one another. He kneed me in the stomach and I bent over, out of breath. Then I felt the attack of his gun piercing the back of my head.

I fell to the ground, on my knees.

I saw a shoe flying at my face but I snatched it before it collided into me. I yanked the man’s leg, where he fell onto his back, hitting his head hard on the black asphalt. I dove for him, landing with my knees on his chest. I thought I heard something snap. Maybe a rib or two or it could have been my mind playing tricks on me. Hell, I don’t know.

I just wanted it all to be over and knew it was going to be me or him. He reached up still with the gun in his hand. I put my hands on his. Our arms leaned together making a steeple of limbs with the gun at the very top; four hands fighting for its cold, steel touch. Our hands lowered. The gun was covered by our fighting hands. Neither knew which way the barrel was pointing and whose finger was on the trigger.

Grunting, wrestling, sweating, screaming and then, BANG!

That long hissing ring returned to my ears. I smelled sulphur and gunsmoke. Both his and my eyes were open wide. Wondering and fearing. The ringing in my ears was subsiding. Those city dogs began to bark again.

And then I saw blood on my hands. It wasn’t mine.

Slowly, I pulled myself off of him. I stood up, almost losing my balance. In the near pitch black of the alley I could see an even blacker shape sitting upon his chest. The blood pouring out of the bullet hole in his chest looked like black ink.

I shuddered.

The girls were crying and holding each other on the ground; their makeup and eyeliner running down their faces. Rat and Elroy gathered behind me. No one said a word. That was until the man on the ground started stuttering something incoherent. The blood popping and oozing from his mouth made it harder to understand him. I don’t what made me kneel down and put my ear to his bloody mouth to hear possibly his last words. I guess it was that desperate aura of his.

He spit and sputtered out his words.

“Tell….tell….my son….I….I tried…..daddy tried….tell Michael I tried.”

That was the last thing I was expecting to hear from a dying man on the street at two a.m.

I stood up.

In the distance I heard the wail of police sirens in the night. Rat and Elroy’s pleas for us to get the fuck out of there fell on deaf ears. I couldn’t move. I could not take my eyes off of the dying man. I suppose it was shock keeping me glued to the asphalt. Blood was spilling out over both sides of his mouth. He grinned in the dark and I shuddered again, knowing the words he spoke to me of his son were his last.

He died.


When the police arrived, there were no guns drawn or angry sergeants yelling into some megaphone. We all were up against the brick wall of the club when they arrived. To my horror the police told me that I was a hero. They had been on the desperate man’s trail for a week and a half. He had held up a couple of gas stations and one liquor store. Indeed, he was desperate for money.

I wouldn’t know the true facts until two weeks later when I was at home back in Indiana, listening to Bill Bridgeway talking in my living room, telling me what the detectives had told him about the case.

He wanted to make damn sure I wouldn’t find myself behind bars. No charges were filed. It was self-defense. Like them cops said, I helped stop this guy from doing any more harm. But what Bill told me was that this guy, Allan Donner, had lost his job and was desperate to find money to get medical supplies for his son Michael who has the diabetes.

Damn shame.

This Allan had kept a journal, writing all kinds of crazy stuff in it about how he’s losing his mind and how he lost his job. He even mentioned my name when he wrote that he planned to rob Elvis and then me. Ol’ Elvis got lucky. Better security I guess.

Bill told me however that Allan’s son is doing fine and has everything he needs for his condition. That was great to hear. If only he still had his daddy.

Some folks go off on the fringes sometimes, I suppose. Hell, we all go a little crazy at one point or another in our lives.

Before the paramedics laid a white sheet over Allan, who was lying on a stretcher in the alley, I finally did get to see his face. It was a death shade of blue that I never want to see again.

It began to snow.














Friday, August 13^th^, 1979





Jack knocked on the front door of the airstream around two in the afternoon. A far off rumble of thunder vibrated the earth under his feet. He couldn’t help but think of Johnny’s song, Rumble Thunder; a fast and rebellious anthem of rock and roll greasers fighting pinhead jocks during a thunderstorm. It was one of Jack’s favorites, along with Mary Mary Jane, Devils Due and of course the title track, Helldust.

He knocked again and heard muffled curses coming from inside. Jack laughed to himself. He’s either drunk or stoned or both. Probably both.

The door swung open. The horrid stench of stale beer and marijuana trailed out, finding its way towards Jack’s nostrils.

“Goddamn! What the hell!” John scowled.

“Sorry, did I wake you from your mary jane nap?”

Jack didn’t find the humor in Jack’s joke. He only stared at him like he was some alien life form.

“Boy, what in the hell are you wearin’?”

“What? My clothes?” Jack did a quick view of his ugly brown jacket, along with his corduroy pants, blue dress shirt and red tie, which was loose and undone around his neck.

“If that’s what you wanna call it.”

“Lovely aren’t they. It’s cuz of my old man. He told me to go look for a job today or else.”

“Or else what? Give ya the boot?”

“Pretty much,” Jack said sounding tired and defeated. “So that explains the get up. Anyway, you got any more of that mary jane?”

“Yeah, yeah, get on in. Quick, boy!”

John looked up at the sky, eyeing it with fear and remembrance. He pulled Jack in by his arm.

“Hey, man!”

“Storm is a comin’, boy. Don’t ya know?”

“Chill, John,” Jack said once he was inside the airstream. “It’s just a summer thunderstorm, that’s all.”

John gawked at the kid. His look of shock gave Jack a feeling of slight unease. John waved his hand at him like he was crazy and left it at that.

Jack took off his ugly, brown jacket and plopped down on the leather sofa. He leaned his head back and released a stress reducing sigh, letting out the pain of job hunting all day long in ninety degree heat.

Another boom of thunder drifted towards the airstream. John gazed up at the ceiling as if his haunted, scared eyes could see through the airstream, scanning the death-black thunder clouds heading their way.

He was nervous and fidgety with a preoccupied look in his eyes. Jack noticed.

“You all right Johnny?”

“Me? Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t I be all right?” He was quick to answer Jack. A little too quick, Jack thought.

“Man, if you’re nervous about the storm, we can….”

“Boy, I ain’t nervous about nothin’. Now quit badgering me!”

“Okay, okay. Sorry.”

An awkward silence then followed. Jack thought maybe he should just get up, and leave John to his paranoia. Besides, he wasn’t sure anyway if being in the confines of the airstream was the safest or smartest thing to do, according to the weatherman’s report yesterday of a nasty thunderstorm enroute to the area. That weatherman could have been full of crap beings how it didn’t look threatening at the moment. But, he figured Jack has been through many a storm while taking refuge inside the airstream. His eyes are all knowing, Jack thought. Something’s going to happen. I can feel it.

However, Jack didn’t really didn’t feel like going home. His dad would be all over him about not finding a job.

“How about that mary jane,” he finally said to John, who was now sitting in his recliner with his eyes wide and alert.

He forced a smile anyway. “Now you’re talkin’ boy.”

He stood and walked over to his stereo where a tin can was sitting on top of the plastic record player lid.

“Well, hello mary.”

He smiled and put the joint under his nose. He slid it slowly across, inhaling the aroma of the sweet leaf. Jack was glad to see he was in a better mood now, but the feeling that it was just a facade couldn’t be ignored. Jack went with it anyway.

John returned to his recliner. He plopped down and tossed the joint to Jack.

“We sharing this?” Jack asked.

“Hell no.” John waved another joint at him. “This’ns mine. That’ns yours. Light’em up.”

They smoked for about a minute, listening to the relaxing rumble of a distant, summer thunder.

“We need tunes,” John said and got up. He went to the stereo and picked up a stack of old 45 records. He sifted through them, calling off the names of the groups under his breath. “Here we go. This’ll hit the spot.”

Jack didn’t ask who it was.

John put on the record. An ancient static hissed through the speakers, and then there was music.

“This here is The Rumble by my buddy, good ol’ Link Wray. You like the blues, boy?”

Jack thought about that for a moment.

“You know, I haven’t listened to that much blues.”

“Well, listen up.”

John’s joint had diffused itself. He struck a match and a flame was born, only to die mere seconds after it touching the joint. The crackling of burning rolling papers complimented the rough, scratchy hiss of vinyl spinning around on the record player. John leaned back in his recliner again, resting his head on the soft leather. He took a long hit and then blew out ghost white smoke that filled the airstream with heavenly thc.

He said, “The only thing I like better than the smell of marijuana is the smell of pussy. Shit.”

Jack felt his face burning and turning red with embarrassment, even with a few hits of dope in him. Girls and sex were foreign subjects. He was just glad to see John finally relaxing and not worrying about the damn thunderstorm. He took another hit. The smoke felt good going down his throat and then fogging up his lungs. He began to feel drowsy; his eyelids heavy with sleep. He saw John sitting in the recliner across the living room, smoking his joint. Dark, back alley blues played in the background.

And then he fell asleep.


A loud rumbling woke him.

The vibration of the thunder’s after effect surged throughout his body as well as the airstream. His eyes still felt heavy when they came open. His vision was blurry but he could see John standing by the record player with his back turned. Jack rubbed his eyes. Another boom of close by thunder shook the trailer. John shot a fast look at the ceiling. His paranoia was back.

“Ya hear that, boy? I wasn’t lyin’!”

Jack’s mouth was cottony with leftover pot. He rubbed his eyes again.

“What the hell. How long was I sleeping?”

“You were out for about an hour,” John said.

“What time is it?”

“Five thirty.”

Jack stood and a wave of dizziness overtook him and he went back down.

“Whoa. That was some good pot.”

“Only the best,” John said quietly with his back still turned.

“What are you doing?” Jack asked and then music came pouring out of the speakers. It was a sound he’s never heard before but knew all too well at the same time. The dissonant, rusty chaos of Johnny Devil’s guitar tone fell in line with the backbeat of the drums playing a surf rhythm. Then the deep, low end thump of a stand-up bass followed in line.

The fogginess in Jack’s mind cleared, making his auditory reception more precise and he knew now what he was hearing; the only known recording of The Devil’s Season.

It spun around on John’s turntable. The needle scraped along the pure black vinyl, emitting scorching soundwaves of the bleakest, darkest surf style rock as if birthed on a beach with black sand and an ocean of blood.

Jack sat up. He was more attentive now.

“Is this….”

John turned his head to the left slightly.

“It is.”

“Why? I thought you….”

“Just listen, boy.”

Jack swallowed nervously. His cotton mouth was subsiding.

Eerie choruses and dark verses bellowed out from the speakers. The thunder boomed again. John, with terror in his eyes, looked up at the ceiling. The airstream began to shake. The wind hissed outside in the hot August air.

With bravery, Jack asked, “Why are you letting me hear this, John?”

John lowered his head. He shook it slowly back and forth. His hands balled up into fists. He reached up and put them to the sides of his head. They stayed there for a few moments and then he lowered them.

“Because I need to know if it was real.”

Jack scrunched his eyebrows in confusion.

“What are you talking about John?”

A hard rain began to fall outside. It was loud as it attacked the metal surface of the airstream.

Still with his back turned, John said, “I need to know if what I saw was real or not.”

Jack sighed. “Man, I’m really confused. Maybe it’s the pot or….”

“It ain’t that, boy!”

He faced Jack.

“I saw something a long time ago. I ain’t ever told anyone about it either.”

“What did you see, John?”

Their eyes were locked on each other. And then a flash of lighting lit up the darkness through the window in the airstream. Thunder followed and the trailer shook some more.

“Look, John, let’s just take it easy. Why don’t you tell another story.”

John looked at him in dumbfounded terror.


“Some stories. Just have a seat and talk to me.” Jack hoped this would calm John.

“That’s all they are, boy, is just stories.”

Lighting flashed again. It knocked out the lights in the trailer but only for a few seconds. When they came back on John shrieked in horror when he saw an empty spot where Jack was sitting.


He was just sitting there. Or was he? What’s happening to me?

The world began spinning in John’s vision. Lighting flashed again, making the lights in the trailer flicker. Then they were back on. All the lights buzzed loudly with hot, electrical cacophony. It was deafening. John, in extreme pain, put his hands over his ears and screamed. When it ceased, he fell to his knees.

Jack was nowhere in sight.

A scratching came from behind John. Like a little boy who is afraid to turn around and face the beast in his nightmares, John did just that and howled out loud in unbelievable horror at the sight of two gaunt, skeletal hands ripping the through the speakers of his stereo, reaching for him, eager to take him back into hell once again.















Hell Night ’59 Revisited





He was standing in a dark void. A hollow blank space of nothingness. Then from somewhere in that void, or possibly his mind, the low end growl and rumble of a jacked up engine belched its grit tone toward him. Two small dots of white light from out in the void came into his view. The closer it became the more intense and bright they were and John had to cover his eyes. The searing, hot white light was painful. Adding to that, the devil black, guttural roar of the engine pounded his eardrums, making them buzz and bleed.

John screamed out in agony when the giant, shark like beast of a midnight black hot rod roared up next to him. Idling, the mammoth machine shook the ground beneath John’s feet.

The earth split open.

John looked down and saw his legs spreading open. Beneath his feet he saw bright orange fire spewing upward at him. He jumped to safety to one side of the giant gouge in the earth. From inside the car a voice sounding like nails being ground up blew forth on black dust vomiting out the passenger side window.

“What are you afraid of Johnny? It’s only fire!”

Maniacal, chaotic laughter followed, sounding like demons and hyenas in an orgy of mockery of all that is sane.

A giant flame in the shape of a serpent erupted from the split in the earth. It threw John backwards where he landed on his back. The demon fire moved in on him, slipping its evil tongue of fire in and out of its mouth. Fire crackled and threatened John with its waves of deadly heat.

“No, no! Make it go away! Please!” John screamed.

The fire demon loomed over him. Carnage was in its soul.

“I love the sound of begging,” said the blackened voice from within the car. “Now beg some more!”

Demon laughter roared. Sick and full of blood.

John screamed in terror when the serpent blew fire from its angry maw; the flames reaching higher into the dark void. Twisting and hissing snakes the color of sin apple green sprouted out from the serpent’s flames. The high pitched screech of a million serpents blasted throughout the vast nothingness. All John could do was hide himself with shaking hands.

And then it was over.

The dead silence of the nothing void reigned once again. Johnny lay trembling still covering his face.

“Whoo! Hot damn! Did ya see that, Johnny?”

John moaned in response. It sounded pathetic.

“Oh, now I was just playin’. Ain’t no monster made of fire that’s gonna burn your ass!”

The stranger’s voice broke out into a laugh; a non-demon laugh.

Despite John’s current condition, he thought the voice sounded familiar.

“Shit, well I guess we should get movin’. Come on rockstar. We got a lot to see!”

John removed his hands from his face like a scared child. He looked over at the beast black car. It was still idling out its vicious growl, but the rumble was low and steady.

“C’mon, Johnny,” the voice said from inside the car. They sounded bored and annoyed. John crawled to the passenger door. He was still trembling. He felt a wet spot in the middle of his pants.

The door popped open.

“Get in,” the man behind the wheel said with a wicked grin. He resembled a much darker and demonic version of the real life Johnny Stryker. Slick, grease coated, black hair combed back, black leather jacket, same devilish pointed chin and most notably two fire red pupils in his eyes.

John got in.

“I never did like serpents myself,” the man said. “You sure look like you was gonna piss your pants!” He laughed out loud but his grin slowly melted into a look of disgust and mild embarrassment when he saw that John had indeed pissed himself.

“Anyways, how ya been Johnny?”

He gave him a hearty slap on the back. John flinched. He was sitting up against the door as if to distance himself from this strange other version of himself. John looked at the man in a horrified gaze.

“What? You mean you don’t remember me? Try August, 1959. You were writhing on the floor at Bridgeway Studios, all cryin’ and screamin’ to yourself and then I showed up.”

John shook his head in disbelief. His eyes darted around meaninglessly. “What the hell is goin’ on? Where am I?”

“Shoot, I can’t believe you don’t remember me.” The man acted a little hurt as he looked through the windshield out into the black nothing.

“Oh well.” He shrugged. His wicked grin returned.

“Now, let me reintroduce myself. The names Jerry and I’ll be your guide for this most wondrous trip down memory lane.”

Jerry extended his hand to John but he didn’t accept it. Jerry shrugged again. “Oh, well.”

He turned on the radio.

“Now I know you like rock and roll!”

He turned it up. Helldust by Johnny and the Roadside Devils was playing.

“Let’s ride!”

He revved the monster engine. It vibrated and shook the car.

And then they were off.



The machine drove through the void, riding smoothly, like a jet with no turbulence. A creepy green light pulsed from the radio as the music of John’s glory days spewed out its raunchy anthem of teenage lust. Jerry’s pale, green complexion stuck out among the dark gloom inside the car. The thick stench of leather hung heavy throughout. Steam rose from Jerry’s leather jacket on his shoulders. It looked eerie and toxic from the green light.

John was still leaning against the door. Blind courage is what made him ask the next question on his mind.

“Where are we going?”

“Hot damn, I’d thought you’d never ask!” Jerry hit the steering wheel with his fist. John flinched. “Well, like I said before, we’re gonna take a trip down memory lane just like last time, remember? Just out of curiosity, why you comin’ to visit me again?”

“This isn’t real.” John writhed in terror. “It’s all a bad dream.”

“Well, devilman, maybe it is or maybe it isn’t. We won’t know until the end, now will we. So let’s get goin’!” Jerry stepped on the gas and howled into the void.


The car sped along, moving much faster now. On the horizon, John saw the birth of a black sun rising. It emitted charcoal colored rays that highlighted a vast, dark landscape of rundown houses with broken windows and gnarled trees without leaves. It was a gloomy wasteland colored black.

John thought, I’m in hell.

“You are correct Mr. Devilman rock star!” Jerry said loudly like a game show host. “But we’re not here to explore the nine circles of hell, and what a sight those are let me tell ya. NO! We are here to reveal some truths, devilman, just like last time.” Jerry cocked his head and grinned his wicked grin at John. “And I know you remember.”

“No, no. Please, not again!”

“But that’s why you’re here devilman. Am I right?’

“No, no, no!”

“Yes, yes, yes, devilman!”


“Oh, oh, oh, quit your blubberin’ and hang on tight! Hey, how about some company!”

Jerry snapped his long, bony fingers together. Duel, female voices floated into John’s ears from the backseat.

“Hiiii, Johnny.”

Girlish laughter and the overpowering scent of perfume, cherry cola and bubblegum ran wild in the car.

“Well, hello ladies.” Jerry said. “Feel like goin’ for a ride?”

“Oh, Jerry,” they said in unison.

They wore tight sweaters and form fitting colored slacks. One had black hair, the other red. Polka dot scarves were around their necks. Their eyes were pure red.

“I always like me some female companionship when I got hellridin’.”

He nudged at John’s elbow. John gave him a sick look. Then, Jerry’s attention turned to the rearview mirror. “Well look at that! We got company!”

“What? What is it?” John cried; the fear rising in his voice.

Jerry smiled his most sinister grin yet upon seeing a fast speeding car coming up behind them.

“Why, those are your demons, Johnny. And by demons be driven!”

Jerry’s foot slammed on the gas pedal and the beast car shot upward at a steep angle like a roller coaster. He threw his head back and let out a roaring laugh that echoed in the car.

The radio volume suddenly went up ten notches. Johnny screamed and covered his ears at the distorted, heavily reverbed rendition of Helldust. It sounded like it was coming out of cheap, megaphone speakers at a football game, blaring obnoxiously.

John screamed.

The girls laughed incessantly.

Then, the headlights on the car behind them turned red, looking like an angry demon.

“Oh, shit!” Jerry said. No laughing. He looked at John with a serious, concerned look. “You’re demons are pissed!” Now laughing.

Jerry’s car kept reaching higher and higher into the black void until it slowed and came to a stop; the front end almost straight up.

The beefy engine rumbled as if in anticipation of Jerry’s led foot. He licked his lips and raised his eyebrows at John.

“You ready for this?”

The car started tilting forward until the front end was positioned straight down. John fell on the dashboard; his face touching the glass windshield. The black void in front of him then turned bright orange as it was now a bubbling, molten river of lava and fire.

Welcome to hell, Johnny!” Jerry laughed maniacally.

The girls in back giggled on.

John screamed and the car shot straight down, blazing violently fast towards the fire liquid below. Hot, devil wind blew hell’s breath throughout the car. Demon screams became more audible. But as they descended, Jerry was no longer Jerry. He was now a hideous form. The one that produced the nail voice John heard when first entered his personal hell. A rotted, blackened skull face with a fixed hell grin, lay beneath a hooded robe. Charred, bony fingers gripped the steering wheel. John gasped and tried to shut his eyes but he couldn’t. He could not look away from the skeletal being. Hell’s thunder crashed all around the falling car. Everything in John’s vision had turned to a morbid, black and white hue, like some silent horror film from the 1920’s. Black static and fuzz surrounded him. The hooded menace turned, facing John. Its head bobbed up and down. Its nail voice ripped through the car.

“Almost there Johnny!”

Johnny stared through the windshield. Hot vomit threatened to rip his throat apart upon seeing a monstrous creature so vile lurking down in the fire. The massive demon, fifty feet high, bore a million razor sharp teeth, ready to mangle all that enter its mouth. They were speeding right towards it.

Just as they were about to be swallowed up whole by the hellish opening of the creature and when John couldn’t scream any louder, the scene suddenly switched on them to a dark, country road. The car swooped down, back into a straight position.

“Whooo! Hell yeah!”

Jerry had returned to his former self. He whooped and hollered.

The girls laughed wildly and fanned their pretty faces.

John cried out pathetically.

“That’s my favorite part! That ol’ bastard gets me every time! Hot damn!”

John wore a grimace of disgust and terror on his face once he stopped crying. He moaned quietly to himself.

“Oh now, you’re all right devilman.” Jerry assured him. “Ain’t nothin’ you haven’t seen before.”

Just then the car of demons that was chasing them sped up and was now riding parallel to Jerry’s car. He rested his elbow on the door and waved at them.

“Howdy,” he said heartily. “Look Johnny, your friends are here.”

John braved a look. He didn’t like what he saw. It was a motley gang of misfits, looking dead, bloody and angry.

“Look familiar?” Jerry asked.

John covered his face not wanting to look at the hideous group. He didn’t want to see the nightmares of his past. Them being a blood soaked young girl in the back seat, sitting next to an older girl who was smoking a joint and had remnants of rhubarb pie on her mouth, a riot victim sitting up front with a bloody bandage wrapped around his head and of course a dead man behind the wheel; his face a pale blue hue of murder.

“Hi, Johnny,” the driver said. “We’re your demons and we’ve caught up with you.”

Mad laughter echoed as the car full of John’s demons sped away into the nothing void.

“Time to face the music, Johnny,” Jerry said and drove on.


They had returned to the country road, riding smoothly with that jet feeling as they drove past darkened cornfields. The radio was playing some fifties rock tune at a low volume. It’s eerie green light shining dimly in the car.

“Now, to the matters at hand,” Jerry said firmly, being more straightforward. “Do you know where you are Johnny?”

John peered out the window only to see black stalks of corn, swaying in the dark wind of the void. Nothing looked familiar until the darkness receded and a caramel, sepia hue took over the landscape. The car lifted up, still at its steady pace, and flew through thick, brown cumulus clouds.

“Have a look,” Jerry said once they cleared the cloud mass.

Down far below was a white farmhouse. John tried to focus on it. Then, two small dark spots caught his eye. They were coming from the porch.

“Well, ladies. I think Mr. Devilman finally recognizes.”

And John did. It was him and Carrie Sue sitting on the porch, smoking a joint, and her eating her mama’s sweet rhubarb pie.

“Look closer,” Jerry said.

John did. “It’s me. I was sixteen.’

“Wrong! Devilman!” Jerry roared. “Let me ask you somethin’. Do you look sixteen?”

John looked away. Ashamed.

“That’s what I thought.” Jerry told him. “I do believe you were fourteen the first time you got your dick wet. That makes lie number one. Shall we move on? Oh shit! Lookout, here comes that tornado!”

John screamed at the sight of the devil tornado coming at him. His childhood terror had come back to haunt, taunt and terrorize him in all its spinning black nightmare glory. He looked down below and could see the twister ripping up his boyhood home. A hellish debris cloud sprouted out around the base of the tornado. One thousand freight trains roared inside the car. Jerry howled along. Johnny put his hands to his ears to block out the loud, chaotic wind.

“Please, make it stop!” He begged.

A face of hell formed within the twister. A horrible monster just like John remembered when he was down in the cellar with Carrie Sue. The cyclone beast opened its bastard mouth and the car was sucked into it. Debris and brown dust enshrouded the car. It spun like mad inside the twister and then John opened his eyes and saw the familiar black cornfields on each side of the country road they were now on once again.

“That was fun!” Jerry hooted. “Wanna see some more? C’mon, let’s go!”

They drove along the dark road. John sunk down low in the seat, covering his face, crying, not wanting to see any more of this horrid dream. Jerry smacked his hands away. “Can’t block out what’s right in front of you.”

In the distance, tall, black shapes rose into the void. A city.

“Look familiar,” Jerry said once again.

John turned his head.

“Let’s get a little closer.”

Jerry stepped on the gas. The car shot forward like a rocket, trailing fire behind it. It sped through the streets of the nameless city, zipping past bums on the street, night burglars, and whores in black skirts.


“I believe you had everything to do with this hot mess right here,” Jerry said coming to a stop; the car in front of a bowling alley.

John looked away again in shame.

“Don’t look away from what you did, Johnny!’

He finally looked and felt a deep sickness inside him. Through the windshield, he saw a wild melee of people being punched, kicked and stabbed in the parking lot of Mavericks Bar and Bowl.

“Now if I recall correctly,” Jerry said thoughtfully, “I do believe you insulted that nice man by saying you were going to fuck his wife. That right devilman? And now look.”

John covered his mouth in disbelief.

“Yep, that old boy sure did knock you out, but you got right back up and that’s when all hell broke loose!”

The scene dissolved away and then they were standing inside the nite club.

“Front row seats right here,” Jerry said. “Shit, watch out for that chair!”

Tables and chairs were being tossed and thrown around the dance area of the club like toys in a child’s toy box. Glass shattered, women screamed, men grunted and fought. Jaws were broken, fingers too.

Jerry started clapping his hands and had a big smile on his face.

“Congratulations, devilman! You started a fucking riot! And oh what a party that was. Two people died you know. But you probably forgot that to didn’t ya. Just like every bad decision you’ve made. C’mon, let’s take it outside!” Jerry laughed at his own bad joke and slapped John on the back.

They were back in the car now, watching the anarchy unfold.

“”Yeah, you were lucky good ol’ Mr. Bridgeway smooth talked the judge and kept your ass out of prison.”

John watched in horror at the rumble in the parking lot; a deadly riot that he instigated. Police sirens sounded off in the distance. A pair of drunk, grappling men exchanged brutal punches in front of the car.

“I’m bettin’ on the taller one,” Jerry said.

The punches stopped.

The two men stood head to head, bloody and bruised and staring at each other.

Jerry saw the men through the windshield just standing there, almost looking like they might kiss each other.

“What the fuck?”

Then the men slowly turned their heads, aiming their gaze at John. Their mouths opened wide and let out a brash scream. Their clothes melted away. Red, burnt bodies lay underneath. Their facial features turned demonic. Red eyes and fangs and blood coated lips.

One of them jumped up on the car, landing hard on the hood. John drew back and gasped. The demon man then squatted down. Thick, heavy waste dispersed from its rectum. Steam rose from the mound.

“Oh what the hell!” Jerry scowled. “C’mon, not on my car! Dammit!”

The demon scooped up his inner offering and smeared the prize on the windshield, obscuring John’s view.

Behind the demon, other men stopped fighting as well and morphed into their own hellish demons. Soon, an army of red eyes and red bodies stalked towards Jerry’s car.

They ransacked it, jumping wildly on top of it, beating their fists on the hood and window.

“Shit!” Jerry yelled. “We better split. Lot’s more to see. Fuck these demons!”

He hit the gas and collided into a group of them, running them over, not giving a fuck.

And then this particular nightmare ended and they were back on the country road, blazing past the corn. John knew there would be more nightmares.

“Damn, that was messed up,” Jerry laughed. “Well, at least the car is fine.”

The damage done by the demons had reversed itself. No broken windows or shit on the hood.

Jerry yelled behind his shoulder, “You ladies doin’ all right back there?” He looked in the rearview mirror. “Hey, where did they go? Women, always leavin’ ya. Oh well. Guys night out I guess.”

And the car sped forward into the night void.


This isn’t real John. None of it is. You’re just having a real bad, whacked out dream. I think that storm is knocking me around in the trailer and I bumped my head. Yeah, that’s it. I hope Jack is all right. Jack….Jack….

In the dreamy, grey black horizon, new shapes were birthed. They were tall, twisting and pointy. A playful music sounding like a giant windup music box, echoed throughout the shapes. It was a sound only heard in the dead of summer on blacktop midways.

The fair.

John covered his face, but more in shame than fear. Jerry explained this new world as they got closer. Shadowy tents leaning in the void were in their view.

“Oh yeah, you and your buddies had a rendezvous of sorts that night with them pretty girls all fever red in the face from seein’ the man in their dirty dreams; dreams that their mommies and daddies knew nothin’ about, right?”

John moaned.

“Now, how old was the pretty little thing you stuck your dick in all them years ago inside your grand ol’ airtstream?”

John moaned again, not wanting to play along with his other self’s games. “I don’t know,” he muttered.

“Well, shit! Let’s go see, shall we?”

“No, please,” John begged.

“C’mon, it’ll be one hell of a ride!”

Sick, other worldly laugher echoed.

The car took off, racing straight towards the dark carnival full of dark rides and tents and screaming females and the overpowering stench of cotton candy and buttered popcorn. The car zigzagged all throughout the fair, blazing up and down blood black roller coasters, blasting through funhouses, and circling wildly around the midway.

When it was over, John was dizzy and nauseous.

“You throw up in my car and I will kill you, devilman!” Jerry gave him a death glare and then laughed. “I’m just messin’ with ya. I’ll just rub your face in it!”

A different and very loud kind of music began playing, knocking out the demented carnival tune.

“Whoa!’ Jerry slammed on the brakes and put his hand to his ear. “Do you hear that? I do believe that’s the sound of rock and roll!”

The car took off down the midway, following the sound of a fast paced back beat and a roaring crowd.

They came upon a large group of people standing in front of a giant stage. Johnny and the Roadside Devils were up there destroying it.

“Man, you had that crowd pumped up!” Jerry said pounding his fist on the steering wheel to the rocking rhythm.

A strange look of pride and sadness filled John’s eyes.

“Ain’t got time to reminisce. Let’s get to the after show party!”

They took off, leaving behind the roar of the crowd. They entered a big, open field, driving slowly past rows of airstream trailers. Jerry pulled up to John’s old trailer. “There she is. I can smell the pussy from here.”

John sunk down in his seat once again, covering his face, not wanting to see the acts of depravity from his past. When he uncovered his face he was no longer in the car, staring at his old airstream. He was standing in the airstream. It was hot, stuffy and reeked of aroused female parts. Sounds of sex filled the trailer. John saw his younger self fucking May Ann.

“Take a long look, Johnny,” Jerry said. “Notice anything about that girl you’re fuckin’?” When he didn’t get a response he said, “Here let me help you out.” He cupped his hands over his mouth and yelled, “She’s sixteen! Not twenty like she told ya!”

John covered his mouth. Tears of shame ran down his face.

“But you knew that though, didn’t ya! And you fucked her anyway. Who do you think you are, Goddamn Jerry Lee Lewis? Shit!”

May Ann looked at John, who was watching his younger self thrust into her underage body.

She said, “Oh, Hi, Johnny. Remember me? Look at you fuckin’ me real good.” She threw her head back and laughed. “You like my little pussy? You like the way it bleeds?”

She laughed girlishly and blood began to pour out from in between her legs. “Look, you made me start my monthly, Johnny.”

Then, May Ann’s eyes beamed red and she let out a never ending scream. Blood exploded from her vagina like a bomb. It splattered all over the inside of the airstream, covering everyone in it with her menstrual blood. Warm and with a tinge of iron and a slight fragrance of something candy sweet, a continuous gush of fountaining blood shot out of her. She laughed again and fanned her blood soaked face.


John hacked out a gasp of disbelieving horror. The blood scene in front of him was too much. He pushed past Jerry and bolted out the door. He fell to his knees on the soggy, humidity soaked grass and threw up. Giant white spotlights beamed across the sky, crisscrossing one another. The sensual sounds of a female orgasm coming from inside the trailer made him cover his ears and then his gut which threatened him with bowel ripping cramps.

He looked up at the trailer.

The small oval, hazy window by the door was streaked with blood on the inside.

“But don’t you like me, Johnny?” May Ann’s bloody form was suddenly standing in the doorway of the airstream. Her white dress dripped with blood in the muggy, hot night.

“Oh, God, make it stop!” John screamed.

May Ann said, “I ran away from home just to be with you Johnny. And it was such a wonderful birthday present you gave me.”


Bloody May Ann lifted up her blood wet, white dress, revealing her bloody stomach, hips and dyed pubic thatch.

“You help me become a woman.”

John wretched out in agony.

Jerry was standing next to him, his hand on John’s shoulder. “C’mon, get up. It’s almost over.”

“Watch, Johnny,” May Ann said devilishly.

“Nope, we gotta go,” Jerry said pulling John up. But John had to see what sweet May Ann wanted to show him. She lifted up her dress once more, now taking it off completely. Female hourglass, filled with blood.

She reached deep into her womanhood. Her hand moved as if digging in a bag of goodies. Her face contorted into an opened mouth expression of shock and joy when she pulled out a screaming, bloody infant from her womb. She held it upside down by its chubby leg.

“Look what you gave me Johnny,” she said with tears of blood streaking down her face. John screamed like a man who has lost his mind completely. And he has.

“Pay no attention to that freaky shit, Johnny. She never was pregnant,” Jerry said. “It’s all in your mind. Let’s git!”

They were in the car again, and pulling away from the blood drenched airstream. The last thing John saw before heading out was the baby’s tiny buttocks going up and down in a fast motion. It’s small, bloody form in between May Ann’s legs giving it to her hard. And then it crawled back into her womb.

“Well ain’t that lovely!” Jerry said.

The car bolted away.

They came upon the stage again, but it wasn’t the same stage, band or crowd they had seen before.

“Well, would ya look at this!”

A red light cast down on the stage, coloring the skeletal remains of a once human rock and roll band the color red. Johnny and the Roadside Devils were now skeletons with guitars but still in their usual attire of dark blue jeans, western style shirts, and black cowboy boots. The crowd was a living graveyard of skulls and skeletons. Dead girls in long pink skirts rolled over their dead boyfriends backs and those same dead boyfriends would throw their dead girlfriends high into the air, watching them spin like unhuman tornados and then land in their bony arms, all while feeling the fast rhythm of dead Johnny and his band of misfits.

“Looks like fun don’t it,” Jerry grinned. “I like girls in skirts real well. Although thems a little too long for me. Let’s git!”

And the car sped away.


Somehow, John felt it was getting close to the end of this hell driven nightmare. They drove along the now familiar country back road with the dark corn all around them just like before.

Quietly and very tired sounding, John asked Jerry, “Where are we going?”

Jerry’s demeanor had changed. He was no longer the loud, cocky misfit, cracking jokes and driving like a demon. He was reserved and quiet, like he had something on his mind. John asked again, a little firmer this time. “Where are we going?”

Jerry turned his eyes away from the road and stared at John. His glare was hard and piercing, all knowing. He said nothing and returned his concentration back to the road. Jerry’s look sent a chill through John’s already cold and trembling body.

John stared straight ahead through the windshield, noticing that the landscape had changed. No tall, dark buildings or old farms or dark carnivals. Just one long stretch of road.

Then, the cornfields began to dissolve away. They were morphing into a flat, square shape, as if the car was driving in between two brick walls. In the horizon, John saw small, round shapes falling to the ground. It looked like snow.

It was. And it was black.

Also in the distance was a shape of some sort on the ground. John couldn’t make out what it was because of the distance, but had the sinking feeling that it was a person.

The car got closer and the black snow came down harder. The reality of the mystery shaped screamed its truth at John.

A dead body was lying on the ground.

Jerry stopped a few feet in front of the deceased body. They got out. A horrendous, cold biting wind scraped across their faces. Black snow fell all around, soft and eerily silent. The sky was a dead, ash grey color, nearly black but not totally. Jerry said not a word as he and John watched the scene from years ago play out in front of them like a morbid play. Bright spotlights cast down on the characters.

And then the black curtain opened.


Take 1:

Johnny was standing over the dead man just as he remembered it. Elroy and Rat were behind him. The girls huddled on the cold ground crying and holding each other. Then, both Elroy and Rat dissolved away from the scene, as did the girls. Now, it was only Johnny and the dead man on center stage with the spotlight on them.

John standing by the car asked, “What am I doing? What’s happening?”

Jerry gave him that serious, all knowing and now quite sad look again.

As if the director of this dark play didn’t like this scene and wanted to scrap it and re-do it, the cast began to rewind.

Johnny from years ago began walking backwards and away from the dead man. The dead man miraculously stood up and walked away backwards as well.

Take 2:

In some back alley on a cold January night around 2 a.m. Johnny is seen walking through the dark alley. He pulls at his coat collar to keep his neck and face warm. He also looks younger. That’s because he is. It’s 1954. Three years before the Roadside Devils. He had just gotten off of work at the gas station. His boss asked him if he could stay after to clean the garage.

As he’s walking down the alley, a man in his early forties, wearing nothing but a plain black sweatshirt and black pants, runs at Johnny, pointing a gun at his head. Shocked and out of instinct, Johnny grabs the man’s other wrist and they begin to grapple and fight and slip and slide over the black snow. Both men’s hands and arms connect. They are raised above their heads. A shot is fired into the night. No one is hurt. A city dog barks from a neighboring alley. Johnny knees the man in the stomach. He hunches over, out of breath by the hard blow. Johnny kicks him in the jaw and the man almost goes down but they connect again. Both men desperate but for different reasons.

They kick around the dark snow. It looks like black dust rolling over their shoes. And then another shot is fired.

Both men freeze.

They stare at each other in disbelief. Slowly, the attacker slides down to the ground. Johnny looking scared and wide eyed as the man falls. The man’s blood smears down Johnny’s jacket. Johnny gazes at the blood with unbelieving eyes. He puts his hands to his head, not grasping the fact that he accidentally shot the man.

Shock has consumed him.

The man lay on his back. His legs were twisted in an uncomfortable looking position. Johnny hears the man stuttering words from his bloody mouth. He twitches as he speaks. Johnny bends down and puts his face close to the dying man. Barely audible, incoherent speech is pouring out of his mouth as well as a good dose of blood. He had been shot in the chest.

After listening to the man, Johnny rises. He’s in a confused and dazed state. He looks around. They are alone. No sirens wailing in the distance with the promise of life. No dogs barking. No witnesses. He runs away.

Jerry was sitting on the hood of the car with John. He turned and gave him another silent stare.

Take 3:

Johnny had ran away. Scared and not sure what to do. He had been attacked and the slip of the gun had made the decision of whose life it was going to be.

And then he came back.

Johnny stood above the dying man who was still twitching in his slow death. Johnny’s eyes burned deep into the man. He kicked away the gun that was lying in the black snow next to the man.

John frowned at his younger self. His eyes filled with tears. No, no, no, he said over and over to himself.

Then, Johnny looked directly at his older self, John, sitting on the car with Jerry. Young Johnny smiled a wicked grin and put his boot on the neck of the dying man and firmly pressed down.

John covered his eyes. He heard Jerry’s voice echoing in his mind.

You killed a man, John. You were scared and ran away but you came back and you killed him. Closed his throat shut so he couldn’t even breathe just a little, even though he was dying anyway. You killed a man, John, and you liked it.

“Noooo!” John screamed and fell to the ground.

His younger self was still glaring and smiling at him in the gloom; his boot still on the dying man’s neck.

“Why did you do it? Why, why, why!” John screamed at his younger self.

He laid on the ground, to frail and defeated to get up or move or keep on living. He raised his head anyway and relived that night over again. As he watched his younger self take the life of another human being, the young Johnny’s body became a see through shell of skin. Veins and arteries glowed a vibrant red and were pumping cold blood to a pure black heart.

He heard Jerry’s voice inside him again.

You wanted to know what if felt like to kill a man, Johnny. You didn’t know it until that very minute. You could have stayed away, but you didn’t. Look how black your heart is and that smile of satisfaction and pure lust on your face.

“You’re a bad man devilman.”

Real voice.

Johnny looked up and saw Jerry blocking his view of the murder scene.

“C’mon. Let’s get the hell outta here.”

Jerry helped him up and they got back in the car.

And then the black curtain closed.


“So,” Jerry said, back to his old chipper, marvelous self. “Let’s add all this up devilman.”

They were back on the country road again but driving much faster. A blazing, orange glow lay ahead in the distance.

“You lost your virginity when you were fourteen to a twenty year old gal who just loves the shit outta her momma’s rhubarb pie and of course that reefer too. You instigated a riot that left two people dead. You fucked an underage, runaway girl on her sixteenth birthday who was on her period, eewww devilman. And to top it all off you killed a man and liked it. That’s some track record, devilman. Shit!”

“What now?” John said.

“What now?” Jerry repeated as if John was insane for asking. “Redemption, devilman!”

John looked in the rearview mirror. A black car was coming up on them fast. It was full of demons. John’s demons.

“Now see that car,?” Jerry said. “The only way to get rid of those demons is to stop lyin’ to yourself like you have been all these years, and to the kid, yeah I know all about your friend. He’s a good kid.” A feeling of amazing relief washed over John. He’s real. “Stop pretending like everything is just hunky fucking dory when you know deep down that it ain’t!”

The car was getting closer.

“Own it, John. Own what you did and those demons shall be driven!”

It was right up on them now on John’s side.

Jerry leaned over the steering wheel and looked through John’s window. “Hi, guys. Devilman here really fucked you over, didn’t he.”

The car of demons swerved and slammed into Jerry’s car, jolting John in his seat.

‘Hi, Johnny, remember me?” The dead man said from behind the wheel, his hand mockingly around his neck.

“Own it John! Go on! Before they drag you down and keep you down for eternity. Own it!”

John released a soul stirring scream that had been locked away in him since he had his breakdown in 1959 at Bridgeway Studios, where he was drunk and alone, and where there were no demons reaching through glass to take him on a hell ride; only the demons inside him that he could no longer ignore or live with, especially after Bill Bridgeway told him his music was shit and decided to drop him from his label right then and there.

My whole life is shit, Mr. Bridgeway!

The car of John’s demons began losing their course at the sound of John’s despair.

They fell behind and John kept on screaming.



“It’s all fucking true! I fucked a sixteen year old runaway! I started a riot that killed two people! I lost my virginity when I was fourteen and I fucking killed a man and liked it, because I’m the fucking DEVIL MAN!”


Jack was standing in the middle of the living room as the airstream shook and rocked from the storm. The chaotic wind was rattling the twenty one year old road warrior that had been to California and back.

The Devil’s Season was still playing. Somehow it withstood the brutality of the storm. And Jack somehow endured John’s meltdown, watching him scream like a mental patient who had forgotten to take their meds. John was on his knees with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, sobbing at the ceiling, babbling and revealing the truths of his life for the past ten minutes. Now it had all come to a head and he was melting down again, just like in 1959. At least he wasn’t alone this time.

“John!” Jack yelled over the wind.

The sad, long howl of treachery that John had belted out was now simmering. His body shook with sobs. He covered his face.

The rain outside was settling as well. The thunder wasn’t quite as loud and booming.

John lowered his hands from his face. Jack’s heart ached at the sight of him. He almost wanted to turn away, but didn’t.

“You can’t be friends with someone like me, boy. I’m a bad man. I’ve done bad things.”

Jack didn’t know what to say. He felt sick after hearing all the things that John had done, especially the runaway girl and the man in the alley.

John was breathing heavily with his head drooped down into his chest. He was weeping quietly to himself.

Should I try and console him? Should I put my arm around him and tell him hollow words of hope? Things like, ‘you’ll be all right’ and ‘it’s okay’.

He knew he had just witnessed the complete breakdown of his hero. He wanted to stay and leave at the same time. Leave because he was freaked out. Stay because he wanted to help his friend.

The Devil’s Season had ended.

Jack stayed.





































After the Storm





The inside of the trailer looked like a war zone. The storm had rocked the airstream, making it turn nearly all the way around.

Jack and John however didn’t feel the movement. Either because of fear, pot induced lethargy or a mindfuck trip to the center of hell.

Johnny covered his face and cried some more. He cried like he just saw his dog get shot right in front of him. Jack went to him and put his hand on his shoulder.

“Hey, man. It’s over. The storm is over, Johnny.”

John looked up with eyes red and beaten with grief.

“Is it boy? Is the storm really over?”

“Yeah, Johnny, it is. Out there and in here.”

He tapped at his head.

A sad frown formed on John’s face. He shook his head.

“We can’t be friends anymore.”

“Why not? Because of all that stuff?” Jack said.

“I’m a bad man. I’ve done bad things. I’m not your hero, boy.”

Jack stood up, his face a mask of anger.

“You know something John?”

John looked at him with a childlike glare. He was slumped down on the floor, still with the blanket around his shoulders.

“You’re right. You’re not my hero.”

Jack lowered his head and cried some more, fully prepared to see his weeklong pal walk out the door and never come back.

“You’re not my hero, John. You’re my friend. My friend dammit!”

He kneeled down again and put his hand on the broken man’s shoulder, hoping that his friendship would somehow repair him.

Throughout the violent storm and John’s meltdown, the front door had swung open. There was a trail of debris leading outside.

Jack smiled.

“Come on you crazy fucker. Let’s get this place picked up.”

He helped up the old washed up fifties punk rocker that time had forgotten. John bowed his head to Jack as if to say thank you for helping him but really for him staying. He felt embarrassed. Jack looked in amazement at all the shit thrown around the trailer.

“Jesus, we gotta clean this up. Hey, did you know the door was open?”

John shook his head at him but a wind of panic blew through him when he looked around the living room and didn’t see Suzy anywhere.

“Oh no! Please God, no!”

“What John?”

Please, no more meltdowns. Jack thought.

“Where’s Suzy?”

Their eyes locked on each other and then they ran outside. Jack was younger and more agile than John who hobbled slowly out of the trailer because of his bad leg.

Soaking wet debris lay scattered about on the small yard. The table and lawn chairs were laying upside down. People were coming out of their trailers, looking around, stunned and bug eyed at seeing the damage. Someone called out to John, asking him if he was okay. He waved and said he was.

“Found it!” He heard Jack say.

He watched the kid run over to a large pile of debris, within it was a reddish, brown object. John could feel pangs of sadness rise in him as he watched Jack pull the old instrument from the wet rubble.

Please, God, don’t take my Suzy away from me, please.

Jack turned around and was holding the guitar.

It wasn’t broken.

John sighed in relief and Jack smiled, hoping this would get rid of some of those demons John had in him.

“Johnny, are you okay? Everything still runnin’?”

He turned around at the sound of Ms. Mable’s voice.

“You all right, Ms. Mable?”

“Oh, I think so. Look at all this mess. Trailer is still standin’ though. Oh, my God. That was terrifyin’ Johnny. You think a tornado came through?”

“Well, I reckon it was possible. But it looks like we’re all okay.”

“I’m just glad you’re friend was with you during the storm, Johnny.”

He turned and looked at Jack standing there with the guitar in his hand. “Yeah, me too Mable.”

He smiled.


It was six in the evening and the massive downpour of rain only made things hotter. Steam rose up from the ground. The organic, heavy odor of rain was all around. The sun began to peak through a mass of lingering grey storm clouds. It gave everything a yellowish, green hue.

John limped over to the lawn chairs. He bent and flipped them over. He half assed inspected them and plopped down in one.

Jack brought over Suzy.

“It seems okay. Ain’t broke or anything,” he said handing John the old guitar. He closed his eyes and held it close to him as if it were a frightened child. Then he strummed it and cringed at how out of tune it was. He adjusted the tuning pegs and strummed again.

“Ah, that’s better. Ain’t she sweet.”

“Sure is, Johnny,” Jack said.

John nodded to Jack’s car.

“You want me to go?” Jack said in a serious tone. He thought maybe John wanted some time alone.

John threw his head back and laughed.

“No, shithead. Go get yours.” And then he patted the lawn chair next to him, the same one Jack had sat in for a week, listening to John’s stories.

“You mean it?” Jack said in honest surprise.

“Go on boy. Daylights wastin’.”

Jack went to his crappy Datsun and got his guitar. He walked over and sat next to John.

“Well” John said, still strumming his guitar. “I guess it’s about time I show ya a thing or two. That cool with you?”

“Yeah, sure, but it just stormed really bad, and you know…..are you okay with it?”

They both had been through something traumatizing. John had put on one hell of a show when he was on his knees, writhing and screaming at the ceiling during the storm, wallowing in his fucked up past. Jack was his audience. He just wanted to make sure John was fine and wasn’t going to have any more meltdowns. John could tell that his friend was still a little freaked out by what happened.

“Boy,” he said with the most genuine, warm smile Jack has seen on him all week. “Do you wanna jam or not?”

And then Jack knew they were both going to be okay. Maybe the music would help get them through it. At least Jack hoped so.

Like an overly eager student, Jack said, “Yeah, sure!”

“Well, all right. I’m gonna play a C chord. You know a C chord?”

“Yeah, I think so.” Jack put his fingers on the proper frets.

“There ya go. Now, I’m gonna play a song I wrote back in ’56, about that bad reefer called mary jane. I’ll start and you just try following along, okay?”

Jack with a big, uncontrollable grin on his face shook his head. “All right, here we go now. One. Two. One. Two. Three…….






































About the author


Joe Zito has been writing short stories and novellas in the horror genre since 2011. His first novel, The Garage, was released in March of 2014. The follow up, The Garage 2: Deep in the Corn, was released in May of 2016. He recently launched his own imprint, Rotting Barn Press, exclusively for his future independent releases.

Joe enjoys spending time with his wife and kids. He is also a drummer and has been since age seven. Joe reads every day and drinks ridiculous amounts of coffee. Black, two Splenda.






















































Johnny Stryker was a rock and roll misfit, fronting his band Johnny and the Roadside Devils at the height of the 1950’s rock and roll explosion. But in the summer of 1959 he found himself sitting alone one night in an empty studio listening to his masterpiece, The Devils Season, battling his demons and hanging on for dear life. He bowed out of the music scene soon after and joined the where are they now club. Then, twenty years later in 1979, a kid with a guitar on his back and no future and a love of Johnny’s old band, shows up at Johnny’s roadside business of selling useless junk. The two become friends and Johnny is more than happy to tell the kid stories of the glory days of rock and roll. But the demons are still lurking inside Johnny, screaming to get out and take him back into hell.

  • ISBN: 9781370093199
  • Author: Joe Zito
  • Published: 2017-02-15 20:05:12
  • Words: 31499
Roadside Roadside