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Thread: The legend of Johnny Spade

  1. #1

    The legend of Johnny Spade

    Hey guys, let me know what you think.

    “Grandpa, put that out. You know how bad those are for you.” Eve said as she sipped her ice tea on the porch of her grandparent’s modest cabin. Grandpa chuckled and took a drag on his cigarette. “Funny how all the things that will end up killing you make you feel the most alive.” He said, watching the grey smoke swirl, churn, and dance lethargically up through the warm summer air.
    Eve sighed and rolled her eyes with the faintest hint of a smile playing on her lips. “Grandpa look! Fireflies!” She gasped. Setting her tea down on the arm rest of her lawn chair, Eve ran out onto the grassy backyard.
    Grandpa grinned and leaned back in his chair, taking another long drag on his cigarette. “Still chasing fireflies? Don’t you remember what I told you all those years ago? Back when you just barely came up to my knees.”
    Eve turned around with her hands clasped together, and a large smile on her face. “Of course I do!” She said, running back up to his chair, still holding the captured firefly.
    Grandpa exasperatedly sighed and extinguished his cigarette with a grin; he slowly leaned forward in his chair and enveloped Eve’s hands in his large and calloused mitts.
    “Remember, the beauty of nature is to be appreciated, not possessed.” He said as he slowly opened her small, soft hands. They both watched the lone firefly float up into the air.
    “As soon as you take this from its natural place…” The single speck of yellow light joined the rest of its kind, floating through the air like the lights on a Christmas tree, seen through a frosted window pane.
    “It begins to die.” They finished together. Grandpa laughed and slowly stood up from the lawn chair with the help of his cane. “I remember back when I first told you that, you started crying because you thought you had killed all the fireflies. But then grandma took you buy the hand and went out to dance with you in the moonlight. You both looked so happy, twirling your summer dressed amidst the fireflies…” Grandpa trailed off, he was looking at the small cloud of floating lights, but seeing something very, very far away.
    “C’mon Grandpa, let’s get you to bed.” Eve said, taking her grandfather by the hand, and leading him inside.
    “Do you remember this book?” Grandpa asked as he slipped under the covers.
    “Oh wow, the storybook.” She replied, picking up the small black book from the bedside table, and sitting down on the foot of his bed, “You used to read these to me every night when mom, dad, and I would visit.”
    “You have heard every story in that book except one. I think you are old enough now to appreciate the very last story.” Grandpa said, “Why don’t you read it to me, I would love to hear it out loud again.”
    “How times change, now I’m reading you a bedtime story.” Eve said with a mischievous grin.
    “Yeah, yeah, I’m old, rub it in.” Grandpa said as he closed his eyes and settled down under the covers.
    Eve turned to the last chapter, took a deep breath, and began.

    Now some say Johnny Spade was born under a red moon,
    Others say his mother was taken too soon.
    Whatever the truth is, the facts remain the same,
    This boy was raised without an ounce of shame.
    The alleys of the old French quarter were his playground,
    At the card tables, his face was fixed with a permanent frown.
    Suckled at the teat of the ace of spades,
    Slowly, the mysteries of the cards began to fade.
    Through hands won, hands lost, and leaving grown men irate,
    Johnny learned the nuances of the cruelest mistress: Fate.
    Chance was his specialty, and chances he took,
    Even when his own life lay on the line, he never appeared shook.
    As time passed, his fortune amassed, and the young boys infamy grew.
    But, the older he grew, and the more that he knew, the colder his heart grew too,
    For all the money, booze, and whores in the world, could not fill the hole in his soul.
    Then one day, at around half past noon, an angel strolled into the saloon,
    Her cheekbones as high as Johnny was that day, her skin as fair as the moon.
    The warmth of her rosy lips, contradicted the ice in her eyes,
    With soft hands planted firmly on her hips, she spoke out in a melodious voice that left even the drunkest buffoon speechless in surprise.
    “I, like God, do not deal in fate, nor suffer its consequences,
    Chance is the only almighty I need, hearts, clubs, diamonds, and spades rest easy on my consciousness.
    Now which of you fools will sit across this table, and try to best my iron will.”
    With a chuckle, Johnny stood. ”Your will may be of iron, but mine is of steel. Hand will be dealt until one of us has had our fill”
    He stopped there to look around, “can any intelligent man be found,
    Anyone at all? Who thinks this sweet young thing, could be the catalyst to my fall?”
    Many hands were won that day, and many hands were lost.
    They dealt and grinned, cursed and laughed until the cards were tossed,
    Up into the air; they floated down, like so many paper snowflakes.
    “You know,” Johnny said, whilst sipping his drink, “It has never takes this long for my opponents to break.”
    “Your will is indomitable,” The angel replied,
    “And your confidence is nearly on par with mine.
    I doubt we could settle this with any number of hands, call it a hunch.”
    “Well,” Johnny said, looking her straight in the eyes, “How about lunch?”
    For the first time in her life, the angel then blushed,
    Johnny had a lump in his throat, his face as well, flushed.
    The patrons of the saloon, who had come from near and from far,
    Strained to hear how their conversation differed from the bragging and boasting that had been spewed over the cards.
    The oil lanterns in the tavern began to burn low through the night,
    The laughter and rum continued to flow between the two without respite.
    They talked until the morning light, about the odds they had defeated, the men they had cheated and the expectations they had exceeded.
    The hours turned to days, and the days into weeks, and just like that; Johnny Spade was no more.
    Gone was the cheap booze, and even cheaper women, now there was only an open door,
    That led to wholeness and happiness,
    In the blue eyes of this angelic beauty, lay pure bliss.
    But, like all things, this too must someday end,
    Losing her strength, the angel could no longer pretend,
    That she could rouse her aching bones to see another sunrise.
    Yet through the gradual eventuality, Johnny swore the promises he had made to her, would never be revised.
    “My love, every breath I take whilst thinking of you, has made this life worth living,
    Your soul to the heavens, it is much too soon, for you to be giving.”
    Now, the story goes that Johnny played for her on every one of those warm summer nights,
    He kept his violin a secret, for fear of his reputation, it would blight.
    But those who have heard it, their voices mightily resound,
    That a chorus of angels, could not make a sweeter sound.
    He played for her as she lay in that bed, cold and pale,
    He played through the crowd of doctors he had hailed,
    He played until his fingers bled, and showed through to the bone.
    He played until the last breath of hers was blown.
    As the angel lay lifeless in her bed, Johnny could not comprehend that she was dead.
    Rumor had it that the old hag living on the outskirts of town,
    Had secrets of death, and life, abound.
    Johnny decided to go visit her,
    To try and undo death, the ultimate scourge.
    As Johnny trudged towards the cabin of the old witch,
    He came upon a young boy picking flowers in a ditch.
    “Excuse me sir!” the young boy called out, stopping Johnny in place.
    “Would you help me? These flowers are almost as beautiful as her face.”
    “Ahh,” said Johnny, “What a young lover.
    I’m sure that you two love and care for each other.”
    They spent a few minutes picking forget-me-nots,
    Until Johnny realized there was a lesson that could be taught.
    “Nature is to be appreciated, not possessed.”
    Johnny said as he lay down for a rest.
    “The moment you take this from its natural place.”
    He held up the little blue flower to the young boys face,
    “It, like all things, slowly begins to die.”
    Johnny Spade said with the shadow of pain in his eye.
    “But I don’t know how, other than with this flower,
    To say: ‘I want to be with you every hour.”
    “Luckily for you,” Johnny replied with a smile, “These flowers grow everywhere you look.
    Take one home and put it in between the pages of a book.”
    “Why thank you good sir,” said the young boy, “Now what is your name?
    I like to know who has helped me in life, this crazy game.”
    With a grin he stood, the brim of his hat put his eyes in shade.
    “My name is Johnny, Johnny Spade.”
    When Johnny entered the witch’s cabin, he was ready to fight for the love of his life.
    “I understand that you are going through some strife?”
    The voodoo woman said from across the wooden table,
    “I have heard,” Johnny said, “That to you, death is but a fable.”
    “That is very true,” The witch said with a sparkle in her eye.
    “You are looking for a way to bring her soul back from beyond the endless night?”
    “I am indeed,” Johnny replied. “Now, what is the price?”
    “Well, no sum of gold will suffice.
    I do not believe in material wealth,” She said, her eyes burning like a hot coal,
    “For what could be the true value of a human soul?”
    “I see you in the saloon every so often, and, as you know, I am nothing if not a betting man,
    How about we settle this over a hand?”
    “I am intrigued, but there is still no price.
    What do you have to bet with for her life?”
    “She completes me, makes me whole,”
    Said Johnny with a steely gaze, “I will bet my very soul.”
    The woman slid across the table a large piece of paper.
    “So it shall be, if I win, your soul now. Not later.”
    Johnny signed at the bottom in his own crimson blood,
    As he finished, through the room, an unearthly howl began to flood.
    The witches skin began to melt, twisted horns, from her head, began to sprout.
    Gnarled teeth and red skin appeared as the dark one began to shout,
    “Well Johnny Spade, are you ready to lose?
    You are through the looking glass now, it is too late for my challenge, to refuse.”
    The demon spat these words as flames erupted from his eyes,
    Yet Johnny betrayed not a hint of surprise.
    He calmly took a cigarette from his pocket and lit it from the demons breath.
    “That was an impressive show, I must confess,
    But now can we begin?”
    The cards were dealt; the chips had been placed,
    All Johnny could think of were her lips on his, as if they had been traced.
    They both put two cards away, and took two more,
    Johnny stared down The Dark One, as none had dared to do before.
    “Are you ready for the moment of truth?” The Dark One inquired.
    “I hope you are ready to be bathed eternally by my fire.”
    The demon laid his cards flat, “A straight, beat that mortal.”
    “Well,” Johnny sighed, “I guess you must prepare the soul portal.”
    The demons triumphant laughter was cut short, as Johnny laid his cards down, his gaze forged of steel,
    “Royal straight, now bring her soul back, a deal is a deal.”
    The Dark One scowled from the other side of the cold room.
    “Her soul will return to her body soon.
    Now speak, what will you say that can seal her here in this mortal plane?”
    “I just want to see her smile again, not through any pain.”
    Now in his Jubilation at having her soul won,
    He did not speak clearly, a cardinal sin in dealing with The Dark One.
    “As the sun also rises, she shall return.
    As long as my heart beats, she shall never feel your burn.”
    The Dark One snapped his fingers with a sigh,
    When Johnny opened his eyes, he was back by her side.
    He played his violin until the sun began to rise,
    And with it, so did her eyes.
    As the day wore on, he told her that he loved her.
    Yet as night approached, her health began to falter.
    As the sun dipped below the horizon, she passed on again.
    With this feeling of desolation, Johnny could not contend.
    Seeing her die every night, and live solely in pain,
    The anguish, he could not contain.
    “As long as my heart beats, you are trapped in this hell.
    The extent of my stupidity, inside of me has begun to swell.
    My love, I know now to set you free,
    I just hope one day you can forgive me.”
    The tears flowed down his face as he tightened the rope,
    Cursing himself for not having the strength to cope.
    “Well demon, let your punishment begin.”
    Johnny Spade said as he kicked the chair out from beneath him.

    Eve closed the book, and looked at her grandfather, he was sound asleep, chest rising and falling, the light of the moon reflecting off his silver hair. She reached to put the little black book back on the bedside table, when something fell out of the sleeve on the back cover.
    She reached down and picked up a little blue flower, yellowed and curled from age. Eve smiled, gave her grandfather a kiss on the forehead, then set the book and the flower down on the bedside table next to the picture of her grandparents on their wedding day.
    She got up from his bed and quietly left the room, as she slowly closed the bedroom door, she heard it.
    The beautifully melancholic sounds of a lonely violin, floating gently through the warm summer air.

  2. #2
    Jai Keshava NikolaiI's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    I liked it, but I didn't read it all. It threw me a bit, when I got to the part where you extend the line in the poetry, ending in "surprise." The rest I had read until then was really nice. .

    Earlier, purely grammatically, there are a couple of places I noticed errors; grandparent's should be grandparents', since it's plural the apostrophe ought to be after the s. . . Usually when you have a sentence in dialogue, it should end with a comma, if it would be a period if it weren't in dialogue, so

    “Grandpa, put that out. You know how bad those are for you.” Eve said. . .

    ought to have a comma, reading “Grandpa, put that out. You know how bad those are for you,” Eve said. . .

    About 2/3 the way down the first paragraph, I am assuming that dressed is supposed to be dresses. .

    Anyway - I like it. Usually I read things slowly and carefully, and I enjoy the feel of this one, it's pleasant to read. I like the point of him saying, when you take something out of its natural place, it dies, because I'm fascinated by the inter-woven nature of ecology. . .

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