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3 A.M. Magazine

Joining the Club


Tom Waltz

Copyright © 1999
All Rights Reserved


Somewhere. . .

"Hey, Johnny! Come here, you gotta see this!"

John Lennon slowly lifts his head from the notebook he has been fervently scribbling in and adjusts his glasses as he speaks. "What is it, Janis? I'm a bit busy here."

"I'm telling you, man, you don't wanna miss this!"

John sighs and reluctantly stands up. The entire time he has known Janis Joplin she has proven to be stubborn and unrelenting, and for this reason he knows it is useless to ignore her invitation. He walks across the cloud to where his beckoning friend waits for him.

"All right, Janis," he says. "But, do please make it quick."

"Oh, I think this is gonna be quick all right, Johnny Boy. Look down there." She points through a break in the clouds over Seattle. In a large house, a young, blonde-haired man is putting the finishing touches on what appears to be a note. A shotgun is leaning against the wall closest to him.

John sees nothing out of the ordinary with the scene. "Nice, Janis." He says as he turns to leave.

"Wait, man! Don't you recognize that boy?" Janis has a hold of John's wing, pulling him back toward her.

"Janis, are you daft?" He is quite irritated now. "I really do not have the time for such games! Now please let me g."

"Time? Ha! You have plenty of time, man! At least an eternity's worth, my friend." As she speaks, she turns his head in the direction of the young man in Seattle once again, who is now busy loading the shotgun. "Look again."

He does as he is told and suddenly realizes whom he is seeing. "Blimey! Isn't that that 'gunge' rocker.? Oh, what's his name? Ah, yes, Cobain. That's it. Kurt Cobain."

"I think you mean 'grunge' rock there, Johnny," Janis replies, "and, yeah, you're right. That's definitely Kurt Cobain from that band Nirvana, and I don't think he's busy composing a new song right now."

"Well, it's always sounded like 'gunge' to me, and. Wait! What do you mean not compos. Bloody hel. um. I mean to say, you don't think he's planning to."

"Yeah, man," she interrupts. "That's exactly what I think that there boy is up to. He ain't been in the best of sorts lately, and it seems like the typical thing for a fellow like him to do." She lets go of her grip on John.

"Oh. " he says. "Doesn't he have a wife and kid?"

"I believe so, Johnny. I don't know much 'bout his marriage but I can tell you he does have a little baby girl."

"Idiot! Doesn't he know what a mistake he is making? Imagine! I would never have deliberately left Yoko and Sean! Bloody guns!" He turns to look at Janis and notices Freddie Mercury lovingly shining his new halo behind her. "Freddie, ol' mate, would you please join us for moment?"

Freddie puts his gleaming halo back in its proper place and struts over to his fellow angels. "Yes, John, dear boy, what is it?" he asks.

"Look down there." John points toward Seattle. "It's that fellow Kurt Cobain. Janis and I believe he is about to end his life with that shotgun he is holding."

"Bloody fool!" exclaims Freddie. "What does he think he is doing? Is he off his bloody head?"

"It's like Johnny here said, Freds," responds Janis. "We think he is gonna blow his own brains out..."


Without warning, a deafening explosion rips through the clouds, resonating loudly through the Heavens. The three friends jump, startled by the unexpected blast.

"BLIMEY!" yells Freddie. "Did he.?"

The three quickly look down and find that Kurt is still busy loading the shotgun, very much alive. A puzzled look spreads across each of their faces. But before any of them can ask where the noise had come from, John "Bonzo" Bonham appears in their midst.

"Don't worry, mates. Keith is just having a go with his explosive drum kit again," he says.

"Oy, that bloody Keith Moon!" shouts Freddie. "That bloke is bloody loony! A complete nutter if you ask me! Why must he insist on creating such havoc? Always making a big noise playing with his drums! Why, just the other day he nearly destroyed Cloud Nine with his antics! What a big disgrace! Somebody better bloody put him back into his place."

Janis puts a hand on his shoulder. "Don't worry, Freddie Boy," she says, "you'll get used to it." She turns to look at John Bonham. "Bonzo, we may have a new member in our club here soon. We think that boy from Seattle-Kurt Cobain-is about to do himself in."

"Suicide?" Bonzo asks. "You know how the Big Guy feels about that. If the chap commits suicide I don't think e'll be joinin' us 'ere, mates. Instead of buying a stairway to Heaven that bloke might just be pavin' imself a highway to hell like the lad from that Australian group, AC/DC. You remember 'em, don't you, mateys? That Bon Scott geezer. Right, I think Mr. Cobain would be better off lettin' things work themselves out a bit more naturally."

"His poor daughter," John quietly moans. "Who on Earth does he think he is?"

"Well, either way," Janis continues, "maybe we should get the rest of the club in on this here predicament. Where is everybody, anyways?"

"Well," Bonzo replies, "we all know what Keith is up to; I think that Belushi fellow is with 'im. I seem to remember that ol' Hendrix and Stevie Vaughn were scheduled for harp practice today. Elvis and Mama Cass are picnicking over on Cloud Nine-or, at least what's left of it-as usual, if I ain't mistaken. Buddy and his mate, that Valens chap, are takin' their flying lessons from that lad Icarus. Marvin G. is helpin' young Cupid out, and I last saw Jimmy M. headin' in this very direction. He should arrive 'ere shortly. The rest are over at Brian Jones' swimmin' party. " He pauses. "By the way, what makes you all so certain that Cobain is about to end his life, mates? A lot o' Americans keep guns these days."

"You're right, mate," says Freddie. "Perhaps he's going hunting."

"In the middle of Seattle?" Janis says with a sarcastic chuckle. "I highly doubt that! Besides, I'm way ahead of you. I took a look at his note and it is full of the stupidest, self-pitying, hope-I-die-before-I-get-old cliches' you all can think of. He says his life is just one never-ending tummy ache. He even put in there that 'it's better to burn out than to fade away'! Don't he know ol' Neil Young wrote that? Chri. oops. I mean, cripes! Neil must be fifty-some years old now, and he don't look like he's in any hurry to stop rockin'. Matter of fact, he kicked all those young 'uns butts at that last MTV awards show!" She glances back toward the note. "Oh, and he mentions you in there too, Freddie."

"Ah, the ignorance of youth," sighs Freddie. "Our friend Cobain should have done a bit more research. He would have found out Peter Townshend was the bloke who originally wanted to avoid the aging process, and ol' Pete is still going strong, doing better than ever. It's a wonder he's lasted as long as he has, though, having to be around that psycho Keith Moon when the loon was still living." He rolls his eyes, then continues: "And, as for me: There's no denying you folks are grand, but I would have loved to have been able to hang around down there a bit longer. My days with the boys from Queen were fantastic, to say the least-not to mention irreplaceable."

"Right, I'll agree with Freddie on that one," pipes in Bonzo. "It's been such a long time since I rock and rolled! I'd give me left wing to be on the road again with Led Zeppelin. This bloke from Seattle obviously doesn't realize what e'll be giving up if he pulls that trigger. Pity." He shakes his head.

"Quite," agrees Freddie. "These young rockers are angrier and more confused than ever it seems, and a bit too self-destructive for their own good. I'm sure most of them have had their share of sand kicked in their faces. They've just got to find a way to pull through, to keep themselves alive."

"Still," John Lennon says. "Maybe a suicide isn't a damning offense. You know, I said some regrettable things about the Big Guy's Son once, things that caused quite the bleedin' uproar down there for awhile." A small, sardonic smile crosses his face. "Yet it didn't keep me from this place. Like Cobain, I was younger, so much younger than today, and-as Freddie put it-ignorant. This choice he is considering isn't bloody wise, to be sure, but maybe his youth and his inexperience will be taken into consideration."

"You know what, Johnny," Janis replies, "maybe you're right. Lord, I really hope you are. Or maybe the truth is that the Big Guy don't like a quitter. Look at all of us here. There's no doubt we all made downright dumb decisions in our time, decisions that cost us dearly. Yeah, maybe we were young or maybe we weren't so young, or."

"Or just plain mad!" interjects Freddie, cocking his thumb back in the direction of Keith Moon.

"Yeah, or just coo-coo," continues Janis. "But I know you all, and y'all know me, and not one of us was quitters. Maybe some candles are supposed to burn a lot quicker than others; it's just the way they're made and there ain't nothing no one else can do to change it. But, tell me, what good is a candle, fast or slow, that puts itself out? What's the point of that? When it's your true time, you should just come as you are."

At that moment, a misty-eyed Jim Morrison joins their gathering. He says nothing, but follows their gazes toward Seattle. Kurt has the shotgun pointed at his head. Janis Joplin continues to speak, her voice shaky, a tear in her eye.

"Even the Big Guy's Kid wanted to quit more than once, but he didn't." She wipes her eye. "People make choices they regret later on, that's true. But most choices can be un-made; it just takes some will and a little old fashioned effort. You know, people call us legends now. But I'll tell you what, I don't think there's nothing wrong with being a living legend, especially when you got family that loves and needs you. Man, there's plenty of time to play this gig up here." She shakes her head. "But maybe people just don't see that 'till it's too late. People are blind, I guess. People are. are." She stops as she sees Kurt Cobain close his eyes.

He fires the gun.

The eruption that follows is loud, terrible. deadly. Unlike Keith Moon's fireworks, however, the sound from Seattle does not echo through the Heavens. Rather, the vulgar din from the gun seems to move elsewhere, away from the clouds, trailing down like a signal, like an announcement, down to. . .to. . .

They all stare. . .speechless.

Then, quietly, Jim Morrison turns to leave. But after he has gone a few steps, he stops and turns to face his angelic comrades. He is silent for what seems like hours, like days, like years. Like forever.

"People are strange," he finally says.

Tom Waltz is a thirty year old native of Clinton, Michigan who now makes his home in San Diego, California. He has a wife and daughter and works for Science Applications International Corporation as an Electronic Commerce Analyst. He is a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, having served with the U.S. Marines during the conflict. His short stories have appeared in Mesa Visions, Underworld Magazine, The Harrow Magazine, Alternate Realities Webzine, Purpleprose Magazine, ReggieJackson.com, and will soon be featured at Blue Fiction Magazine and Quantum Muse. This is his debut at 3 A.M. Publishing.Com.

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