His first realization was that time had stopped. Or at least that’s what it felt like. The eerie
sensation of paralysis encompassed his body and he wanted to move, but felt thwarted in the attempt. It was then he realized
that his body was drifting at a very slow speed through a tunnel of white, blue, purple and crimson. He wasn’t sure
if he was moving down, up or sideways, but as he fell like a feather, there was no gush of air surrounding him, no sense of
physical laws at all. It felt more like a weightless trounce through a dreamlike state. He could breathe, his heart was still
beating, but the sense of anything tangible was out of reach on a literal level.
This went on for what he considered
a few hours, but in all actuality may only have been a few minutes, until he finally came to rest within a room of solid white.
His booted feet touched down on some spongy substance made to look like floor tile. But, when he tried to walk, it was as
though he were pulling against the suction of the floor, and the sensation forced him to lose his balance. Waving his arms
out, he managed to steady himself once again and took a look around him.
All he could ascertain at the moment was that
he was alive, and that he was standing on a sticky floor that acted more like glue.
There was nothing but white everywhere.
Illumination from some unidentified source helped him to see, but he could not detect any movement or physical objects within
his range of vision.
He felt as though he had landed in some type of vacuum. Sound had ceased. He could hear his breathing,
and his heartbeat pounded in his ears, but no other sound existed.
He knew he was in hell, but he saw no fires, no
brimstone. No scent of anything like sulfur assaulted his nose. Not that he minded not smelling that god-awful shit. It just
seemed odd that traditional views of ‘hell’ were not nearly so ‘written in stone’ as the saying went.
Perhaps, if those views were wrong, then other views were wrong, as well. Mike decided to investigate those other views as
he was down here; then, when he got Davy safe once again, and they returned to the world above (or was it below or sideways?)
he would investigate them again.
Wandering thoughts, he knew, but he needed to keep his mind active, otherwise focusing
too much on this situation would possibly prove more detrimental to his goal.
Looking down he saw his body was still
clothed in jeans, boots and the white buttoned down shirt he had been wearing when Zero had first come to claim Peter’s
soul. But his beloved wool hat was missing. He looked at his watch and saw the face was blurred.
He put it to his
ears but heard no ticking from within the metal casing. He sighed and looked around. “Davy?” he spoke to test
the acoustics of the place. He could hear his voice, but it echoed around him, mocking his desire for an answer.
Michael Nesmith. I believe you have challenged me for the soul of one David Jones.”
Zero popped up in front of
him, still dressed in the gray suit and fedora hat he had been wearing in the store.
Undaunted by the devil’s
presence, Mike was determined not to reveal weakness of any kind. He crossed his arms over his chest. “Where is he?”
Zero laughed. “My dear boy, the consequences of challenging me are that I make up the rules of the
challenge. As a result, I have decided that you…must find what you are looking for. You can’t expect me to simply
hand him over to you and pretend that none of this happened.”
Mike glared at him. “Fine. State the rules.”
clapped his hands three times and Mike found himself in a lengthy corridor lined with doors on either side.
behind one of these. But you must find the right one, Michael. You must find the true David Jones. Beware of those who look,
sound or even act like him. If you truly love David…you’ll know which one he is.”
and voice faded away leaving Mike alone with the choices set before him.
He studied the doors, each one an exact duplicate
of the others. The corridor stretched down as far as he could see and would perhaps stretch even further the more he traveled
Well, if time had stopped here…then he had time to search.
He turned to his left and opened
the first door. But he was not prepared for what lay in wait for him on the other side.
A young man stood
on the other side of the door, dressed in black breeches and a billowy white shirt, the sleeves gathered at the wrists. His
brown hair was longer, past his shoulders. He held a rapier in his hand, and his thigh-high boots, rolled to the knees, told
Mike he was dealing with a pirate persona. But the face was Davy’s.
“Hello, scoundrel. So have you come
to pillage my ship?” Davy took on a fighting stance, rapier held out and high. “I shall cut you with the first
step you take.”
“The name is Reginald, Captain of this vessel, and you, sir,
will soon be my prisoner.”
Mike looked down at his empty hands. “I, uh, I have no sword…Captain Reginald,”
he wondered why Davy was imitating a pirate captain. “Davy, it’s me, will you stop with all this?”
tip of the rapier went to Mike’s throat, and he felt its cold steel against his skin. He swallowed. This was beginning
to look real.
“Enter my quarters upon pain of death, Captain…what was your name again?”
the USS Beach Port.”
“USS? Don’t you mean the HMSS?” The rapier tip pushed even deeper. Mike
backed up against the corridor wall.
“Captain Reginald, with all due respect, if I am to be your prisoner then
please realize, I am unarmed and will not fight you.”
Davy examined Mike carefully. He eased his stance, but kept the rapier tip brandished neck level. Mike studied his younger friend and
wondered what Davy would do in the next few moments.
A grin cracked the deceptively angelic face. “So, tell me
Captain Michael of this supposed USS Beach Port, of which I have never heard mentioned in the annals of modern sea-faring
ships. Have you ever been captured by pirates before?”
“No, sir, I can honestly say that this is my first
Davy waved him through with the rapier. “Then come in and we will sit a spell.”
was doubtful about the invitation. This entire setting could have been a trap to keep him from reaching the real Davy Jones.
“Sir, perhaps it would be best if I walked the plank instead?”
Davy burst out laughing, slapping his leather-clad
knee as he did so. “By all that’s holy, man, you are a marvel. Come in, we will share a brandy the two of us,
and I shall tell you what I plan to do with you and your gallant crew.”
He pulled Mike’s arm and in a second
Mike was inside the cabin and the door closed and locked behind him.
Davy stood before him, arms crossed over his chest.
The round brown eyes raked over Mike’s form. “What kind of clothing do you call this?” he asked, gesturing
to Mike’s jeans and shirt.
Mike cleared his throat. “Pants and shirt.”
seen the like before. Take them off, let us get a look at you. You seem too skinny to be commanding a ship. One small wave
could knock you down in a storm; maybe even cast you into the sea.”
Mike was not at all comfortable with these
instructions. He tried to back up to the door. If he could just get the lock to open he could be out of this room and onto
the next one in seconds.
But Davy approached him, a seductive grin covering his beautiful face and Mike swallowed.
“What’s the matter, Captain, a bit prudish for the likes of me?”
“Davy, this isn’t funny,”
Mike countered, backing up and away from Davy’s advances.
“Why do you keep using that name when addressing
me? My name is Reginald.”
“No, you’re name is David
Jones and I’m your closest friend, Mike Nesmith. I’ve come here to get you out of this place.”
place, my home?”
Mike sagged. “This is not your home, Davy. It’s an illusion, a dream.”
snorted and let out another gale of laughter. “You’re mad! Absolutely daft!”
He advanced on Mike
and ripped open his shirt, pulling it down to the elbows. He pushed Mike against the wall and pressed into the slender body
with his surprisingly strong one.
Mike felt the air gush out of his lungs at the impact. The surprise of David’s
decisive control overwhelmed him and he breathed in deeply. “Davy,” he whispered.
Davy’s eyes looked
up at him with wanton lust. “You may be skinny, Michael, but you are a beauty to my eyes.”
to bathe Mike’s nipples with a very talented tongue, sneaking in nips and bites around the hardening flesh.
pushed his head back against the wall and gasped. “Davy, please. Don’t.”
Davy grabbed his arms and
pulled them behind Mike’s back, locking them. “Shall I bind you, precious beauty? Make you submit to me? Or can
you still deny the passion between us? For there is passion. I can feel it in your response.” Davy held Mike’s
wrist with one hand and reached down to Mike’s crotch with the other. He
gave a squeeze, emphasizing his point.
Mike groaned. “Davy, please…I don’t want to have to hurt
“Hurt me?” Davy chuckled merrily. “Dear heart, your desire for passion with me far outweighs
your desire to hurt me. Tell me that I am wrong. Tell me!” He squeezed Mike once again and the guitarist stiffened under
“Davy,” he whispered, looking down into the lust that screamed up at him through Davy’s
face with those luscious full lips and chocolate brown eyes; the beautiful features that Mike indeed found both captivating
As he grew even harder in his jeans, he cursed himself for a fool and broke free of Davy’s hold,
using his hands to rip off Davy’s shirt and to pull the small but muscular body against him. His need surged through
his body with wave after wave of heat and desire mixed to form a tsunami of lust that engulfed him and pulled him into its
Before he knew it, Davy was on top of him on the bed and stripping him naked. “This is what
I like. My prisoners can never resist me.”
Mike caved in to the demands of his body and could not focus on anything
but the image before him.
Davy Jones – a young man who was small but strong and in control. Mike lost himself
in the touch of Davy’s hands, in the allure of Davy’s lips that sucked and kissed his skin, and mauled his receptive
body with continuous bites and nips.
Mike closed his eyes, wrapping his fingers through Davy’s soft and silky
hair. If this was hell, then let him burn.
The illusion of nighttime filled the cabin and
the illusion of a sleeping, warm body next to his pulled Mike from his fitful dozing.
The sex had been passionate
and an adventure unlike Mike had ever experienced. Not just because it was with a man, but because it had been a man he only
recently realized he was in love with.
It had been appropriate to place this scenario within the image of pirates and
the high seas, the voyage of discovery into uncharted waters.
It would be the most perfect of scenarios except for
one major flaw.
The body beside him was not Davy.
It looked like Davy, spoke like Davy, but it was not Davy.
knew it in his heart as surely as he knew what he’d had passionate sex with was nothing more than an illusion, a figment
of his imagination.
He looked down at the soft brown hair that settled over his flesh like a velvet blanket. “You’re
not real,” he whispered and kissed the head tenderly. “And I need to find my Davy, the real Davy.” He sat
up from the bed and proceeded to get dressed.
When he turned to get one last look at this image of Davy Jones, he
wasn’t at all surprised to see the image fade into nothing, as though it had never been there.
And to Mike, that
may as well have been the case.
He sighed and left the room, closing that door behind him.
Walking down to
the next door, he placed his hand on the knob and braced himself for the image behind the barrier.
How would Davy appear
to him this time?
He opened the door and stepped into a jungle.
Okay, this was different. Not really unexpected,
but not exactly what he had hoped for.
He slapped away at the bugs already attacking his skin.
him, he wasn’t sure where to go, what to look for. “Davy!” he shouted. “Davy, it’s Mike! Where
are you, babe?”
The sobriquet, ‘babe’, was always used amongst the four of them, a term of friendly
endearment, nothing else. It slipped off his tongue as easily as always, yet this time the endearment was more meaningful.
‘Babe’, ‘heart’, ‘soul’, ‘life’, all of them could apply now. And it would
be in the implication given that would determine how Davy would be found. If he could be found at all.
over his head and he dropped to the ground, uncertain what had passed him at such close range. He lifted his eyes to see a
man in a leopard skin swinging on a vine.
The man landed in a tree and turned to look down at him, squatting on the
branch to wait and see what Mike would do.
Mike got to his feet. “Davy?”
Davy’s head tilted.
Long hair still, but wilder. And the eyes were unreal to Mike. They held a sinister expression, more based on fear than a
desire to conquer. The pirate Davy had been confident, passionate; this one would be a bit more difficult – a wild beast
to be tamed.
Mike held out his hands in supplication. “It’s me, Davy. Mike. Do you know me?”
tilted his head further, curious, uncertain.
Mike stepped forward and Davy let out a howl of excited fear that forced
Mike to stop.
“Davy, can you understand me? Do you understand my language?”
Davy took the vine and
snarled at Mike then leapt off into the air.
Mike took off after him, trying to keep the swinging ‘jungle-man’
in sight. “Davy! Wait! Please! I won’t hurt you!”
But Davy was gone, like a lightning bolt flashing
through the sky and then instantly disappearing.
Mike slammed his fist against his knee. “Damn it! Now where
do I go?”
Exasperated, he took off in the direction he had last seen Davy swing and hoped he would find some
traces of his friend.
As he went through the brush, he found himself wishing for some kind of machete’ to cut
a path through the strangling branches and leaves of bushes.
But he only had his arms.
The heat was thick and
moist as any tropical weather would initiate. He was going to have to find some water soon, or risk dehydration in this suffocating
Finally deciding to rest, he took a seat at the base of a huge palm tree and gazed up through the branches
of the trees that surrounded him.
“I’ve heard of chasing after the one you love, but I never took the saying
A golden image blurred past his eyes, and he looked up to see Davy landing in front of him, not ten
feet away, in a crouch.
No words came from that frowning mouth. No joy of recognition formed in the clouded eyes.
Only confusion, curiosity and the insatiable caution that Davy would sometimes express when both confused and curious.
sat perfectly still. One wrong move could set Davy swinging away again, and this heat was just too difficult to muddle through
to give chase.
He gazed into Davy’s eyes, hoping this image of his friend would see that there was nothing to
be afraid of.
Mike could easily decide that this was not the real Davy either and leave the jungle to find a more suitable
and comfortable scenario, but that thought was quickly struck down. It would be just like Zero to wipe Davy’s mind clean,
put him in a situation that Mike would surely believe was false, thus leave the real Davy behind.
The jungle image
of Davy scooted closer, sniffing the air around Mike.
Animal instincts. How quaint. Guess we’ll be rutting in
the dirt, this time.
Mike made no move to startle Davy away from him. Even
his breathing was tempered. He forced his mind into calm, though he desperately
wanted to communicate with Davy. To communicate with him in a way that he could understand.
but the act of physical contact. Would that be enough to assure Davy that Mike would not hurt him?
Mike closed his
eyes and waited for Davy to make the next move.
He felt Davy’s body move closer, felt the moist heat of Davy’s
breath wash over his cheek as the smaller man leaned forward to sniff Mike’s hair.
Focus, damn it! Don’t
move. Don’t let him think you’re some threat.
Davy eased back and lifted a hand to run his fingers
through Mike’s hair.
Mike remained stone.
Chimp sounds elicited from Davy’s throat; questioning,
Tarzan scenario. Okay, I can deal with that. Don’t think you can get me to abandon him just
because you’ve done something to his mind, Zero. I can bring him back. I just need a chance.
//Perhaps, dear boy.
If this is indeed the real David Jones//
Mike would have jerked away from the offending thoughts volleying
his mind if not for the fact that Davy was fingering his face, then slapping him gently, emitting more chimp sounds. Did he
want Mike to open his eyes?
But even though Davy flinched back when Mike slowly opened his eyes, the good news was
he did not run away. Mike grasped what little hope he could find to help guide
him through this encounter.
They gazed at each other.
Davy tilted his head and sniffed. He lifted Mike’s
hand and petted it, examining it like the curious chimpanzees would examine something of interest at the zoo. He put his hand
to Mike’s and compared the two, furrowing a brow.
Mike had to smile. How many times had he seen such curiosity
issuing from Davy’s small frame when faced with unknown situations or devices? Many times, when shopping in music stores,
Davy would marvel at all the new instruments brought in from other parts of the world. He would pluck at them, or caress the
bodies of the horns or stringed instruments, smiling with delight at the sounds they made.
In many respects Davy’s
childlike wonder was exhibited in this image of him.
But…was it the real Davy?
It was, but it wasn’t.
game was getting more difficult. How well did Mike really know his Davy? How well did he know Davy at all? Mike
had to be sure. Davy’s soul was on the line. He could not just accept any
representation, any image, any imposter as the real thing. It had to be the right Davy, but could Mike find him, know him
if he saw him?
This was the fear that galloped over his heart like wild horses over desert terrain. It left just such
a taste in his mouth, dry and uncertain.
He looked at Davy, this Davy, and saw the younger man lean even closer. “Davy,”
Mike whispered. “Tell me you can understand me.”
Davy pulled back and gazed at him with uncertain eyes.
Then, a fire smoldered under the brown, a fire that gleamed of anger.
In seconds Mike was on the ground, beneath
the lithe body of his friend and Davy was holding his arms over his head by the wrists.
Mike did not struggle. He
did not want to hurt this one, imposter or not, it was still Davy’s uncertainty that drove this image.
me, then. I won’t fight you.”
Davy rolled off of him. Yelping in rage, beating his chest like a mad gorilla
furious over being challenged.
Mike got to his knees and held out his hands. “Here!” he shouted. “I’m
right here! Whatever you need from me, take it!”
Davy stopped, glaring at him from his crouched position. Would
he attack, and if so would he draw blood?
Mike held that gaze. He refused
to look away. Davy would run if he didn’t act. His heart pounded in his chest. His hands shook. “I’m here!” he spoke out firmly and
gestured to his hands. “Take them!”
Davy cautiously crawled forward and Mike eased his hands around that
soft looking face. Davy tensed, but did not pull away, even though Mike gave him opportunity to do so.
The heat of
the day poured over them as the sun blistered their skin, forcing sweat to seep out of their pores, but within Mike a greater
He pulled Davy to his mouth and felt the smaller man stiffen.
“No,” he whispered. “Do
not fear me,” he urged.
Davy closed his eyes and allowed Mike to pull him into the kiss.
A moan, full
of questioning, spilled into Mike’s ears and he held Davy’s face gently as he pushed his tongue inside the uncertain
Another moan, this one of contentment. Mike slowed his breathing,
eased his body to where his heart beat a more confident rhythm. He wrapped his
arms around Davy and pulled him tight against him, feeling the younger man’s arousal through the garments that kept
their skin-on-skin contact.
He gently lowered this stranger who looked like Davy onto his back; this Davy who was willing
to follow Mike’s lead in this dance of the wild.
Mike spread Davy’s legs and pushed down, brushing his
own hardness against Davy’s. Arching his back, bracing his hands beside
Davy’s arms, Mike felt the friction build, the slightest heat spurring the need within his own groin for release. He hardened even more and fell into the ache, craving what Davy’s presence did
to him both in body and soul. “God, Davy,” Mike moaned, pulling up
and then pressing down again. Davy did not move under him. He did nothing but allow the intimate connection.
Reflex pushed Mike into a humping rhythm that increased his ache. His
balls filled, and his cock yearned for release. If this wasn’t his Davy,
mind wiped clean, if this was a trick, it was a damned good one, because it felt real.
Like the pirate had felt real. Physical pleasure wrapped up in a small
Englishman with chocolate eyes and a caring heart.
Mike chanced a glance and his heart leapt at their eyes meeting.
It was so surreal; Mike needing to connect with a possible illusion that needed to understand the connection.
grunt, a buck into Mike’s thrusts and Davy’s eyes widened, surprised at the feel of another’s hardness against
Whimpering with confusion his eyes took on the look of one lost. Mike
gentled his thrusts, willing his body to slow down in order to give this image of Davy a chance to let his body respond. “You’ve never done this, have you, Davy? Never knew something like this
could be done. I know. I can see it in your eyes.”
Mike moved over Davy like a wave, slow, but with force.
gasped and Mike could feel him harden even more.
“Yes, that’s it, babe. Feel it. Feel it!”
thrust against Davy again.
Davy shut his eyes, his whimpering lulling into needful grunts and groans.
this. This would be Davy if Davy would only allow himself to give in to his wild side.
The pirate was an imposter.
This one could easily be the real Davy…if…if it wasn’t for the mind alteration.
The ape-man image
was too stereotypical for the sex angle – too much jungle, too much animal.
But in seconds the ape-man image
changed to that of a Jockey and Mike found he was on top of Davy inside a horse’s stall, minus the horse.
it took you long enough to get here,” Davy said, pushing himself against Mike, wrapping his legs around the guitarist’s
back and pulling him down, urging him to continue. “Don’t stop!” he gasped.
Mike was too far into
the need to pull back and ponder what had happened. “Davy?”
“Tha’s right,” Davy replied,
his crisp Manchester accent harsh and wanton. “You forget where you
Mike was pulled into a bruising kiss and Davy’s tongue violently warred against his own.
what are you…”
Another bruising of the lips and Mike could not remember what his question was.
but Davy was a good kisser!
“Shut up and let’s get to it. The trainer is gonna come back straight away.
We need to finish.”
Davy started pulling off his satin Jockey pants and Mike, both delirious with need and intoxicated
with confusion just rolled off to the side into the hay and stared at the smaller man.
Davy scoffed. “Don’t
just lay there, mate, let’s get this over with. It’s what you wanted, in’t it?”
I wanted?” Mike asked, uncertain he heard correctly.
Davy’s pants were off and he was working on his shirt.
Mike sat up. “Davy, where are we?”
“Riding stable, you twit, wha’s gotten into that
brain o’ yours, eh? We come ‘ere everyday for practice.”
“Davy, what day is this?”
Davy scoffed some more. “What year?” he chuckled. “Man,
that horse must have walloped you a good one across the head. Can’t even remember what year this is. It’s 1964.
What are you, daft?”
Mike could not believe this. “1964? It can’t be. It’s 1968.”
is not, now stop with the jokes and come on.” Davy pulled Mike over and began to undo his shirt buttons.
who do you think I am?”
“You’re Terry. The stable boy who’s been eyein’ me for over three
weeks, now. You have gone daft, haven’t ya’, mate?”
“No. I mean. No, I haven’t. Just…you’re
right, the horse…”
“Well, no worries. Come on.”
Davy pulled Mike’s shirt off;
then started in on his jeans. “Damn trainer is gonna have your ‘ead if we don’t get you lookin’ like
you’re supposed to. Can’t train unless you have the proper gear.”
Mike grabbed Davy’s wrists.
“Stop!” he ordered. “Just stop.”
“Stop what? This is what you wanted, in’t it?”
studied this Davy. “No. Not like this. No.”
Davy, frustrated and frazzled, pulled his clothes to him. “Well,
that’s just fine, then,” he said, sharply. “Fine and goddamn dandy.”
He turned and started
out of the stall when Mike grabbed his arm. “Davy, it’s not that I don’t want to. It’s just that I
can’t waste my time this way.”
Davy smiled. “Waste your time? Spending time with me is wasting your
time? That’s a load of hogs wollop, mate.”
Mike tightened his grip. He pulled Davy against him. “Is
this hogs wollop, Davy?” He pressed his lips against the younger man’s and though there was heat and electricity,
though there was something there…this was not the real Davy.
A fake—a rendering of a fantasy within Mike’s
mind that manifested as all too real in the physical.
Mike reluctantly pulled away. “You’re not him,”
And the image before him faded away, leaving Mike standing within the white corridor filled with more
doors than he could see.
Zero appeared before him, smoking his cigar, haughty and arrogant. “Give up?”
he asked, a twinkle of delight in his eyes.
Mike fought the urge to ram his fist against Zero’s face. “You’re
making this a game,” he said.
“But, dear boy, that’s the point. You play the game, you find the
real Davy and the game is won. It’s a game you must play if you’re going to get your David Jones back.”
Zero snapped his fingers and a copy of the contract appeared in his hand. “See? His signature. The contract is binding
unless you win this game.”
Mike grabbed the contract and looked it over. It was the same one that Peter had
signed for the harp. The only difference was the sig…nature. What the hell?
Mike studied Davy’s
signature closely and a warning cymbal went off in his brain. He kept his reaction to himself, though, as he folded up the
contract and handed it back to Zero. “Yes, so it appears.”
“Ah, then you are in agreement?”
Zero snatched the contract from Mike’s hands and quickly put it in his suite coat pocket.
“I said that
it ‘appears’ binding. But I know you, Zero, or I know of you and rumor has it that you’re a conniving son-of-a-bitch
who twists things around to make them appear true. But, when I find the real David Jones, I will prove that contract null
and void and then we’ll see who wins the game.”
Zero bowed and waved Mike on. “The doors are open,
dear Mister Nesmith. Have fun. Enjoy the encounters. I will anxiously see how far you get in this game before you realize
how fruitless it is.”
Zero was gone in an instant, leaving Mike once again alone with the random choices of which
room housed the real David Jones.
“Davy, when I find you, babe, you best be ready to do some heavy explaining.”
It was the next incarnation of David Jones that pulled Mike up short, uncertain what to make of the image before
The room was dark, with very little light coming from a source unseen above, cascading down like a cone over a
solitary form on a stool. Davy sat, shivering as though sitting in snow, but there was no snow, only a trembling body beneath
a cold and harsh light.
“Davy?” Mike asked.
“Hi, Mike,” Davy answered. The force behind the greeting was weak at best. “What – what took you so long?”
entered the room completely, stepping into the light, but Davy didn’t look up at him, as though he were ashamed...scared. Davy Jones? Scared? Mike almost laughed at the apparent ruse. Zero must think
the guitarist a complete idiot for not knowing something about the real David Jones.
Davy was anything but scared. Small of stature, Davy had always needed
to stand up for himself, to call people’s bluffs...but then...there was the letter he had written. Davy could not face Mike in person with his confession. He
had hidden behind a mass of words, woven like a curtain to partition him off from his own hidden desires. That part of Davy’s heart had been shielded, closed off, not allowed to step into the light. Was this that scared part of Davy that he had refused anyone to see, even the man
who had stolen his heart? Mike understood.
Love was a harsh temptress, making the soul vulnerable in the wake of boldness, opening it to rejection and the bleeding
wounds rejection left behind.
“Sorry,” Mike said, trying
to smile. “I’ve been looking for you, but Zero’s made this a game. I have to find the real you if I’m
going to take you back, so each image of you I see, I have to determine if it’s a fake. If I make the wrong choice,
my Davy will be stuck here forever.”
Davy glanced up quickly, then back down again. “Your Davy?”
right, the one I came to bring back.”
“And don’t you know who I really am, Mike? Can’t you
look at me and know?”
Mike gazed upon him with sorrow. “No. I’m sorry, but, I guess I never bothered
to look at the real David Jones before.” And he hadn’t. He had seen bits and pieces, but never really took the time to fit those pieces into the full picture. Bits and pieces...pieces...angles of the whole...
He thought he had known Davy...now he wasn’t so sure. All of these
images...the others, some being pushed on forward and some being inhibited, uncertain...this one was full of fear, beyond
that of uncertainty, beyond that of rejection...this Davy was the culmination of all of it, but was it all there was to him? Was there more that Mike couldn’t see, didn’t know how to see?
so you’re forced to pick me out of a line-up is that it?” Davy still
would not look at him. It unnerved Mike that this image of Davy showed the younger
man’s childlike soul, unable to reach outside the comfort zone...unable to face his fear.
“So it would seem,” Mike replied, apologetically. He
looked around for any way out of this darkened pit. “And exactly where are we?”
“I don’t know.
I woke up here and haven’t been able to find a way out. How did you get in?”
“Some door led me in
here. But it’s gone now. I don’t think I can leave either until I make a decision about…you,” he looked
at Davy, studying him close.
Davy cringed under the scrutiny. “What are you looking at?”
won’t you look at me, Davy? What are you terrified of?”
Davy shrugged, tried to grin, but it was a poor
attempt. “A lot of things. So many, really.”
Davy was aghast. “And
be the way you think I am?”
“In what way do I think of you, Davy?”
“Weak, an annoyance,
someone you can discard if I get in the way.”
“That’s not true, Davy. Not true at all. You know I’ve
always been there for you.”
Davy turned in on himself as though he was going to get hit. “I don’t
know. I just…am constantly afraid.” He lifted his head, startled. “Did you hear that?”
“Something…in the shadows.” He pointed and ran behind Mike. “I don’t like
the dark, Mike. It’s like my dreams. I don’t like the dark at all.”
“Tell me about your dreams,
Davy.” Mike reached around and pulled Davy close to his side, protectively. “I don’t see any danger, but
stay close to me if it makes you feel better.”
“I’m not a kid,” Davy leered and pulled out
of Mike’s hold. “Just because I’m short, everyone thinks I need protecting.”
Mike simply looked
“What?” Davy demanded.
“You’re acting like a scared kid, who’s being
called ‘chicken’ by his pals, Davy. Tell me about your dreams. Why do they frighten you?”
his eyes downward, “Because nobody understands them, and they confuse me.”
“Try me. Let me see if
I’ll understand them.”
Davy turned away. “I’m afraid of failure, Mike. Afraid of failing in
music. Sometimes it paralyzes me so much. I never knew how much I was afraid of it until waking up in this room, forced to
Mike moved forward slowly, unwilling to startle Davy into bolting from his presence. “Davy,
we’re all afraid of the limelight. When our dreams start to become real, it can be very scary.”
not afraid, though.”
“Who says I’m not afraid? I’m afraid of making mistakes. I’m afraid
of losing the ground I’ve gained. I’m afraid of a lot of things, but that doesn’t make us weak, Davy, to
be afraid. It makes us human. And it’s okay to be terrified of these things. I’d be worried if you weren’t
And the more he moved closer to Davy, the more Mike began to see something take shape within the image.
That of a scared little boy trapped within a grown man’s body.
And he knew in that moment, that what he was seeing
was both real and unreal, and everything, everything became clear to him.
Zero could never imitate the innocence of
a child lost within the haze of his own fears.
And though this image of Davy was not real, suddenly Mike understood
who the real Davy was in all the incarnations he had seen.
He looked up into the darkness. “I’m ready,
Zero. I’ve made my decision.”
The image of Davy left him, fading into the darkness, possibly never really
there at all, and Zero came into the light, holding the contract in one hand and a lit and smoky cigar in the other. “So,
you think you’ve found the real David Jones. Pray tell, Mister Nesmith, which one do you think it is?”
crossed his arms over his chest. “Out of all the images of Davy you presented to me there could be only one possible
choice. All of them are Davy. Every single one of them.”
Zero stood very still, his lips plastered on his face
in a frozen smile.
Mike reached out and took the contract. He tore it in half in front of Zero, and then both halves
erupted into flames. “Game over,” he said.
A flash of light blinded Mike, and he threw his arms over his
face to block out the intensity.
And when the light faded, he lowered his arms to see that he was back in the music
store. Amazed at what happened, he wondered if he had made the right decision after all, when he discovered that he was alone…with
no Davy anywhere in sight.
The emptiness of the place filled Mike’s ears, making him
feel he had gone deaf. No stirring of movement other than his own breathing. He took a step towards the counter and saw the
jar of blood-ink and quill still lying there.
His foot kicked against something and he looked down to see his wool
cap on the ground, like a child hurrying to grab the leg of a father long missed.
He bent down and picked it up when
his eyes caught site of a blue shirt and beige pants. His heart skipped a few beats as he recognized the clothing Davy had
worn before Zero took him down into hell.
He slowly stood, letting his cap go and walked around the dusty instrument
cases, stacked to the side.
Davy was lying on the floor, either asleep or unconscious, Mike wasn’t sure. He quickly
knelt beside the younger man and lifted him into his arms. Davy did not stir.
“Davy, come on, babe.” He
put his head down to Davy’s chest and was relieved to find a steady heartbeat, but Davy remained unconscious.
Mike called out, shaking the dead weight in his arms firmly but gently. “Davy, wake up.”
But Davy did not
“Oh, God,” Mike moaned. Was this another one of Zero’s tricks? Was this another illusion?
studied the sleeping face, so soft and peaceful. “Davy, open those brown eyes for me, would you? Come on. I know you’re
in there somewhere. I tore up the contract and it went up in flames. Zero can’t touch you now. He can’t!”
again there was nothing.
And then the scent of sulfur filled his nose and he turned to see Zero leaning against a
harp case, holding a guitar in his hands. Mike’s guitar. “You won the battle, against me, dear boy, but the real
battle wasn’t with me. It is taking place inside of David Jones’ soul as we speak. In a sense, I’ve shown
you the sides of David Jones that you never knew existed. In that you were correct in determining all of the images you saw
were part of him. But the one image you failed to grasp was the entire wholeness of who and what he is. In that, the battle
of wills must be staged.”
Zero held out the guitar. “If you truly love him, as he loves you, then do what
you must to let him know.”
Mike glared at Zero. “You’re helping me? Why should I trust you?”
basic spiritual philosophy, my dear boy. To all things evil there must be an equal quotient of good. Who you dealt with was
the negative aspect of my being. I,” he held out the guitar, “am the positive.”
Mike gazed into Zero’s
eyes and saw the light within them and knew. Suddenly it all made sense to him. “You’re one and the same.”
smiled. “The enlightenment begins.”
Mike reached for the guitar easing Davy’s unresponsive body to
the floor. “What do I do? How do I reach him?”
Zero strummed the strings on the guitar and inclined his
head. “Through his heart, Michael.”
And then he disappeared. Michael gripped the neck of his guitar with
knowing. A familiar hardness but with great and agile beauty, the guitar was his lover, his friend, his mind and soul. He
turned to Davy, strapped the guitar around his shoulders and took the pick from the tuning knobs on top. He began to strum.
The instrument was in tune.
Now to fine tune Davy’s spirit.
Chords soft and alluring formed into a pattern,
creating a flow of sound as smooth as rain and just as cleansing.
Mike felt each note as his fingers formed the gateway
to the sounds on the fret-board and his pick called them forth.
He focused his intent on Davy’s soul, yearning
for the younger man whom he had so recently come to love as his own life, to hear the sounds and find his way back from the
darkness warring inside of him.
Davy’s insecurities, his confusion, all these things were the bars on the gates
keeping him locked away inside.
The music from Mike’s soul would form the keys to unlock those gates and open
them wide. Davy was not really a musician, but he was a muse and it was the muse within him that Mike wanted him to find.
To grasp onto his calling and make it his own.
Davy was as strong as the pirate, as cocky as the jockey, as curious
and uncertain as the ape-man, and as scared and paralyzed as the young man in that dark room, but there was much more to Davy.
There were much more intricate threads within the tapestry of his mind and being. At this moment unraveled, but soon to reform.
Mike stroked the keys, calling from his being the voice of Davy’s spirit.
it said. “Find me and grab on and I’ll bring you back. No uncertain steps. No fear. Take that step to me,
Davy. I promise, you won’t fall.”
And the music continued, and went on into the early hours of the
dawn. Mike did not stop. He did not allow one beat of rest to interfere with what he needed to do.
And when dawn’s
light filtered through the window to the music store, its red and golden tones washing over the dusty interior, it rested
on Davy’s face and he stirred.
Mike kept playing, but his heart beat madly out of time. Excitement filled him,
pulling him into a constant steady stream of notes flowing in and out of each other like currents of water.
his eyes, turned them to Mike…and smiled.
Only then did Mike stop playing. Only then did he put the pick on top
of an instrument case nearby and remove his guitar, leaning it against the wall. “Davy?”
Davy propped himself
onto an elbow and Mike reached down to help him sit up. “Davy?”
“Mike, what…what happened?”
doesn’t matter right now, how are you feeling?”
Davy put a hand to his eyes. He looked weak and tired. “A bit woozy. Where am I?
The last thing I remember was Zero pulling me to his side and you…” he looked up at Mike, his brow creased with
doubt. “You saying something…I’m not sure…” he shook his head and wavered.
him steady. “I said,” Mike started, then swallowed heavily. Davy
stared at him curious. “Said what, Mike?”
Mike caught Davy’s eyes, unwilling to look away, willing for Davy to not look away either. He knew Davy was uncertain, but so was he...now. Faced with
the moment of truth, he shoved past the intrepid lock on his voice and released his heart.
“I said that I love you,” he whispered.
“Davy?” Mike searched the
smaller man’s eyes, suddenly fearful of what this would do to the smaller man. “Davy, did you hear me?”
stared at him, furrowing a brow. “I…heard you. At least, I think
I heard you. I…”
Mike eased him against his body, wrapping strong and determined arms around him. “It’s
alright. I know this is sudden for you. Take some time.”
Davy at first did nothing in response. His reaction was stone,
but though he did not immediately respond in a positive manner, his not pulling away was taken as positive as well. Then, to Mike’s relief, Davy’s arms encircled Mike’s body and the younger man fell into
the embrace. “You...love me?”
Mike closed his eyes. Davy was still so uncertain. “Yes,” he whispered. “I never knew how much
until...until I read your letter and knew what you were planning. Davy, I wish
you could have said something to me sooner.”
“I couldn’t,” Davy said, his voice low with regret.
“Everything inside me said it was wrong, that it wouldn’t be accepted, that pain would be just one word
away...’no’. It felt like my life was slipping through my fingers
and with Peter being threatened, I had to make a choice. I chose.”
Mike eased Davy away, but gripped his shoulders with intense need. “What
happened helped me realize how important you are to me. I don’t know how
it would have gone down any other way, but it’s not worth your soul. Nothing
Davy looked down, biting his bottom lip. “I don’t know
how to make you understand why I did it, Mike. I’m sorry I put you through
“No, I’m sorry, Davy. I’m sorry you felt you
couldn’t come to me with it from the beginning.”
He lifted Davy’s chin, eased in and placed a kiss on those soft and inviting lips. Davy returned it, and Mike could have sworn he felt the fear within the smaller man dissipate.
When they pulled away, Davy looked around them. “But…how
did I get back here? I thought I had signed the contract…”
“You didn’t finish putting your
name, Davy. It was not binding. The last letters of Jones were actually a scratch mark. And in a sense, that was what gave
me the clue to Zero’s riddle.”
“Riddle? Mike, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what you’re
Mike smiled. He stood and helped Davy to his feet,
wrapping his arms around the younger man’s shoulders. “No, I suppose not.
I just knew that you as Zero’s prize were not complete...the scratch was a symbolic way of showing me that you
were not entirely whole...so all Zero had were bits and pieces of you...each one you, but not entirely you.”
Davy shook his head. “That’s incredible. How did you manage to figure that out?”
Mike shook his head, a bit amazed himself. “I have no idea
how it came to me...it just did. And when it did it made complete sense.”
Mike grinned. “Yeah.
Like that. What matters is that Peter is safe, you’re safe…and I’ve come to understand things I never
dreamed of understanding before.”“I
can’t...I can’t believe you came after me,” Davy said, a light of recognition, a tone of awe now rising
behind the mass of darkness.
Mike only nodded. “I couldn’t
Davy noticed the quill and the jar of blood-ink, still on the counter top, forgotten tools used
to accent the moment. He pulled away from Mike and walked over to the items he
had been so certain would be the method of his damnation.
“You came for me before I finished signing my name.”
right.” Mike let Davy process in the only way he could. After all that had happened, there was no guarantee that Davy
would even remember everything, but he was remembering the important things. And that was good enough for Mike.
turned to him. “We reached out and I felt your finger touch mine.” He rubbed the tip of his finger as though trying
to recreate the feel of that slight, but intimate contact between them.
“Yes,” Mike assured. “And
then you were gone.”
“And then, I was gone. And…and I don’t remember anything more. What happened,
Mike walked up to him. “I found out who you really are…to me.”
am I to you?”
Mike put his hand to Davy’s face. “Your David Jones, a muse, a friend, and, I hope
now...a lover and someone I want to get to know even more.”
Davy worked his bottom lip. “It can’t
be that simple. I thought for sure you would…”
“It wasn’t simple, Davy. No. But the result
is real. Listen, I can’t begin to go into details, not right now. I just know one thing. You’re here, I’m
here and both of us need to talk about us. So, let’s just take it one step at a time, alright? Let the blanks get filled
in as we move forward.”
Davy was silent for a moment. He turned to the quill pen again, and flipped it over the
edge with his fingertip. “Then…what is the first step for us?”
Mike turned him around and eased him
into his arms. “This,” he whispered.
And when Davy wrapped his arms around Mike’s waist without hesitation,
he knew he had his Davy back – complete and whole.
“I want to go home, Mike.”
held him close and led him out of the shop. Davy reached down to pick up Mike’s wool hat on the way. “Don’t
Mike took it and draped it over his belt.
All things that were his were back where they
But, then he remembered his guitar and turned to find Zero, the good Zero, standing there, holding it. “I’ll
just put this back where I got it, how’s that?”
Mike nodded. “Thanks.”
you talking to?” Davy asked, glancing over to where Mike was looking.
Mike tightened his hold. “A friend.
The two walked out of the music store and when they reached the bus stop and turned, it was not surprising
to find the store had disappeared, leaving a vacant lot where it had stood.
Zero would not be back. At least not for them.
The bus came to a stop in front of them and Mike looked past it to the sunrise.
“Davy, are you very tired?”
“Not really. Why?”
waved the bus on. As it rolled away, Mike pulled Davy to his side again. “I think I want to walk home. It’s going
to be a beautiful morning.”
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