And there is discord in the garden tonight.
Song Without A Name
Shot Number 16
Administered by Lady Yate-xel
Edgar did not truly remember when he first heard the songs, but he was amazed when they appeared. Of course, at first, they were just in those few people he knew best, but it wasn’t long until he began hearing songs emanating from strangers. They weren’t strong, and they didn’t happen all the time and they often came in when he wasn’t meaning for them too, but they came.
In addition to music having drifted to people’s consciousness over time, songs also found new places to originate. Most of them were mediocre, nothing to burn to a mix tape or anything, but they didn’t have to be. Part of what attracted all people (not just him, he realized with some relief) to others was their inner song. Great personality and an upbeat song, let’s hook up.
Of course, when anything can be called mediocre, this means that something else has to be special. Something else has to set the standard. Edgar felt bad thinking about it that way, and he felt worse saying that he knew the people with the best songs. It was sort of like the kids in the neighboring elementary school arguing over whose dad would beat up whose – no one was going to say, “Oh, you know, you’re right; my dad would totally lose.”
“Yeah, my friends do have shitty inner songs, you totally called that.”
But they didn’t. Edgar knew. He fancied himself as some kind of authority on the level of suck in a song now – he was in a band. ‘In a band’ meant ‘cannot be contradicted’ to the type of people who frequented the Homicides’ tiny shows. Everyone thought the magical reveal was fun the first time, but after that, you had to like the twisted songs to continue enjoying it, and the people who loved them were not the picture of well adjusted.
Johnny never seemed to mind those people. Edgar didn’t know what it was, but something just drove Johnny to continue making these songs. He’d said that soon, when they were good enough, everyone would come just because they couldn’t get the songs in their heads. He was right about that part. The songs were in Edgar’s mind as the notes he had to play, as the make-up he had to wear, but when he was trying to put himself to sleep at night, they didn’t play like the songs on Johnny’s old CDs. They didn’t appear there in his head, behind his eyes, and play like everything else, back up tracks and all, like even his friends’ personal songs.
He’d been outside, in the parking lot by the funeral home, when he first heard Jimmy’s song.
It was just after they started the Homicides. Jimmy’s trailer had sat there in that parking lot for many years. For some reason, the funeral directors had never had it removed, and the mourners over the years never thought much of it but occasionally wondering if the shack was somehow disrespectful to the dead. Jimmy had assured the group that his home was very disrespectful to the dead, thus assuring that Edgar wanted to enter it even less.
There had been an argument about whether or not someone’s cat had died under the trailer, and if it had, if it was Jimmy’s fault. Edgar had not been sure how Devi and the others figured Jimmy would have just killed a cat with his mere presence on the lot, but he’d kept quiet.
Something about his guitar came up, and Jimmy seemed to take great offence. Edgar wasn’t paying much attention, and later on, felt a little guilty about it, for whatever happened next sparked the song.
“…Edgar does it just fine!” Johnny had just finished saying. Edgar had opened his mouth to ask what it was he did, but Jimmy wanted to argue the point. “It’s all about him! You never just – never been hot enough but – me!”
Edgar had shaken his head and looked around at the others. No one looked confused, and the argument seemed to progress as though some of Jimmy’s essence didn’t just explode into song over his voice.
“Some day, you’ll see – I aim to start – than him!” Jimmy had kept yelling, and didn’t seem to notice the blips in his speech either. When Edgar listened closer, he could hear the song. It was just that, a song. A song that had originated in Jimmy, and somehow managed to reach Edgar when he felt enough rage. The oddest part was that Edgar could not understand how he hadn’t heard the song before – it seemed almost constant. Edgar had been able to hear Jimmy’s speech over it then, instead of the song breaking through his words. While Jimmy argued about his ability to cope with demands made of him as well as Edgar could, part of him had sung loudly about where he was going and who he was.
“When I was twelve
I sold my soul
for a sack of coal”
In one brief flash, Edgar had realized that everyone had to have these songs.
“cuz I never been hot enough
but I aim to start”
Because if Jimmy was special enough for it, the rest of them surely were. And then he felt horrible for thinking that way.
“So we got it,” Johnny’s voice interrupted Edgar’s thoughts.
“Huh?” Edgar looked up from the television, which had somehow started his thoughts on inner songs.
“The van,” Johnny said as though he’d repeated it several times already.
“Oh, oh, sorry. Yeah, how- how did that go?”
Johnny laughed and dropped into the ugly pink chair, legs dangling over the arm. “Tenna,” he said, “apparently can drive. And she and Devi saw that thing outside their apartment when that guy came to see if they could demolish the place, remember?”
“Sure, they brought it up back at the choir room, and you decided we had to have one for some reason.” Edgar rolled his eyes, but was smiling regardless.
“Right, well, the guy came back, and as he’s checking out the back of the house, Tenna sneaks out, and moves the guy’s van. He hears it, of course and goes running. Course he can’t see Tenna - cause he hasn’t heard us play-,” he added, shaking his head as though the poor man with the possessed van was sorely lacking something, “and he’s chasing the damn thing around the parking lot.”
“Where was Devi in all this?” Edgar asked.
“Oh, upstairs, watching from the window. Same as always, you know? She makes a joke, and Tenna jumps on it literally.”
“Was she okay with this?”
“Seemed to think it was funny afterwards.”
“Alright, go on. So then what?” Edgar took a drink of his lukewarm ramen broth.
“So he’s chasing this thing,” Johnny continued, “and Tenna turns it on him, and starts howling about the burial grounds of her ancestors.” Johnny had to stop and laugh for a moment before he could continue. “The guy – the guy just took off running. He brought somebody back later, and Tenna’s in the yard doin’ donuts. There’s caution tape all around the house now.”
Edgar bit his lip. “Don’t you think the news’ll be there soon? Or they’ll shoot out the tires or something?”
“Nah, it’ll be fine.”
“What makes you so sure?”
Johnny grinned and slid off the chair. He slinked over to the tray Edgar had set his bowl on, picked up the bowl, chugged down the remaining broth, slurped a single noodle, and in a dramatic motion that he’d likely practiced for the stage, set the bowl back on the table with a bow. “Because,” he said, inches from Edgar’s face, “it belongs to me.”
And for some reason, he was right. No one approached the van, no one approached the house. Even Pepito’s Trenchcoat stalker made no appearances. Jimmy watched his stolen internet all night for news about it, but there was nothing. Johnny and Edgar scoured the channels for it over a bowl of macaroni and cheese, but there was nothing on but another outrageous cleaning product and re-runs of detective shows.
“Fuck, that guy is never gonna make it out of there with that bag on his head,” Johnny had said when Edgar clicked through the crime channel for the third time.
“Would you have done otherwise?” Edgar asked, jokingly.
“Well, sure, stab the guys, knock out the cameras-,” he stopped abruptly when he looked from the television to Edgar. Edgar wasn’t aware of doing anything differently, but Johnny’s expression seemed to mean he had. Edgar glanced around nervously.
“What?” he asked.
Johnny didn’t say anything. For a moment, an expression of disgust crossed his face. Then he closed his eyes, stood up, and walked with his bowl to the kitchen. Edgar remained on the couch, confused. A few minutes later, just before the sirens sounded from the television, Johnny’s voice came from the kitchen.
“Told you he wouldn’t make it.”
“You did what to that van?”
“I made it ours,” Pepito said, scanning the channels. He took bites out of some kind of sandwich.
“Oh. What are you eating?”
Pepito looked as though he was surprised that he was eating something, and looked over at the thing in his hand. “Hmm. What indeed,” he said, regarding it as though he’d never seen it before. “Roadkill, perhaps.”
“It looks like it’s from D-“
“Shh! Don’t say that.”
“But that’s the place that gives me that horrible rash, and I’m itchy for days and-“
“Don’t talk about it.”
“Jeez, you act like the place is your dad or something.”
”Jimmy called - he’s been looking online and he hasn’t seen anything either.”
“How does Jimmy get a signal?”
“He says there’s a Pringles can on his roof that lets him steal from the neighbors.”
“The funeral home has internet?”
Edgar shrugged. Johnny looked half uncomfortable and half amused. “What would you need internet for at a funeral home?” he asked. “They bury guys by wireless now?”
Edgar shook his head. “I really have no idea,” he answered. “I’m just going by what Jimmy said.”
“‘Hang on, Grandma, I’ll pay my respects to Gramps in a minute –I just got mail,’”, Johnny chanted, making a face almost as soon as he said it. “Ugh,” he said seconds later. “When even I think it’s tasteless, there’s something wrong.”
Edgar thought he would say something about all the random high school girls that Jimmy had had in his trailer in the funeral home’s parking lot, but decided he didn’t really want to talk about what Jimmy did in his spare time. Luckily, Johnny didn’t look inclined to continue the conversation at all and Edgar watched him drop into the pink recliner with a satisfied smile.
“It doesn’t matter anyhow,” Johnny said, waving his hand. “I knew no one would go after it. It’s my van.”
“You know, about that,” Edgar started. “How exactly did you decide that?”
Johnny held up his hands in a grand gesture, and Edgar flinched in the face of what he felt was going to be an epic story of only mildly comprehensible proportions. Then Johnny’s hands fell down into his lap. “It just…,” Johnny frowned as he tried to find the right words, “…was. Is. It just is. I can’t really say why. I just know it’s mine. I thought, when I saw it there, even when I heard it was there, ‘That’s my van,’ and now it is.”
“People are supposed to sell their souls to Satan for bigger things,” Edgar said without thinking.
“I didn’t sell my soul,” Johnny snapped, glaring at Edgar. “It was sold for me. And if I get a van out of it, then that’s fucking fine.”
“I didn’t really mean it that way.”
“What would you sell out for?” Johnny asked quickly.
Edgar stared at the thin guy in his recliner for a moment. “I’ve done it already,” he answered. Johnny opened his mouth to say something, but didn’t get to. “For you,” Edgar finished.
Johnny bit his lip and looked a little lost for the first time that Edgar could recall, but he pretended not to notice. Later on, Edgar would pat himself on the back for rendering Johnny argument-less, but at that moment it felt a bit – more than a bit ,who was he kidding – awkward.
Johnny regarded Edgar, who had caught himself staring. It looked as though Johnny would say something, but the moment never seemed to come. Just when Edgar wanted to dismiss everything, Johnny smiled crookedly. “At least I’m better than a van.”
Edgar laughed awkwardly. “Yeah. Considerably,” he managed. Something fuzzed in the back of his brain. He tried to focus on it, but as soon as he blinked, it was gone.
“Nny?” he asked when he couldn’t call the fuzz back for investigation.
“Do you like Jimmy’s song?”
Johnny, King of NonSequitorpolis, tilted his head to one side and squinted at Edgar. “Where did that come from?” he asked.
“No where, really,” Edgar said, rubbing his temple. “I just remembered it a minute ago, and wondered.”
“Do I what?”
“I…think so?” Edgar sat on the arm of the couch. “It comes through so randomly for me, and it’s really hard to concentrate when it just…BAM, like that.”
Johnny looked surprised. “That’s what it’s like for you?”
“You get weirder and weirder every time we have these little bonding times, Edgar.”
“Well, what’s it like for you?”
“I hear them all,” Johnny answered. “All the songs, I mean. Pretty much all the time. But they don’t cut over things like that. It’s like music that plays in a mall or something. It’s there, but you just tune it out like it isn’t. It gets louder sometimes when you get close to the speaker and if you like the song enough, you stand there under the speaker, looking at it, because that helps somehow.”
“I hear them like I’m tuning a radio,” Edgar said. “Sometimes there’s nothing, and it’s whatever songs I want to call up, or it’s half there, and other times… Other times it just overpowers everything.”
“Ever think you’re trying too hard?” Johnny asked, shifting position on the recliner.
“Trying too hard to hear voices in my head? Great.”
“That’s not what I mean,” Johnny said. “I mean, you remember, clearly, from what you’ve told me, what it’s like not to have the songs all there in your head.” He tapped on the side of his head for emphasis.
“So,” Johnny continued, “Maybe you’re trying too hard to hear things because you don’t remember it being natural. Instead of getting used to it early and being able to functionally ignore it, you’re subconsciously trying really hard to hear it, and sorta… backwardsly fucking yourself over. Mentally. Musically. Men-myuus-”
“I get it.”
“I guess that’s possible,” Edgar answered. “I think I just… Maybe I’m not as mystical as you guys or something.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s nothing mystical about any of us, Edgar.”
“Says the guy with the key to Hell and a magical possessed van, who gets people to see him and his friends by singing at them.”
Johnny opened his mouth to form a counter argument, but came up empty. “I… damn,” he said. “Well, fine, I guess when you put it like that…”
“So, do you like his song?” Edgar asked again, steering the conversation away from dangerous Satan and specialness-related territory.
“Yeah, I do,” Johnny said, smiling.
“I think that surprises me,” Edgar said. He adjusted his balance on the arm of the couch.
“Well, you… don’t really seem to like Jimmy, so, it seems to sort of follow that-”
“I keep him around, don’t I?” Johnny shrugged. “Though I like him less and less lately, it started out being pretty neat having a personal fan club. It’s when the fan club wants to tie you up and drag you back to their evil lair and slather you with Cheez-Whiz that it starts getting out of hand.”
“Please tell me this didn’t happen.”
Johnny smirked. “Cheeeezzzzzzzzzz, Whizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz,” he buzzed, grinning wider with each second.
“Ugh, ugh, guch.” Edgar slid off the arm of the couch and half-buried himself in a cushion. “God, that’s horrible,” he said to the upholstery.
“Heh,” Johnny smiled, satisfied and pulled the recliner lever. “So do you like it?” he asked.
“Do I…?” Edgar looked up from the cushion and blinked. “Oh, the song. I don’t know, I think so. I just said all this. It’s really – well for me, it’s obtrusive, you know? But I haven’t heard too many other songs, so maybe they’re all like that.”
“You haven’t heard any others? You can’t tell me that Tenna’s song is obtrusive, seriously.”
“I don’t know if I’ve heard-”
Johnny started humming before Edgar could really finish.
“She's got technicolor shoes
Untied, laces trailing
But that's okay, I'm with the band, baby
I'll follow you anyway.”
Devi had to admit that she felt better any time Tenna’s song got louder. Tenna’s song wasn’t completely Devi’s style, but it felt good. It was the kind of song people liked, even if it wasn’t usually their thing, even if they hated everything else the artist ever did, even if they publicly said the song was stupid and then listened to it on repeat with the doors closed and blinds down as soon as they got home.
I don't believe we've met before
But it doesn't matter
Just let your belt buckle do the talking
We'll be together in no time.”
Tenna seemed to know her song did this to people. Debates still raged in the scientific communities if a person’s song influenced their personality or if the personality shaped the song, but either way, Tenna milked it. That song, or that personality, could get her anything she wanted. It was why she was the one they sent for the Chinese, it was how she was invisible and totally there at the same time.
“My finger's on her lips
We were laughing
Slip off that pretty thing, sweetheart
We can play dress-up later.
What can I say?
You and me both
It's gonna be beautiful, isn't it?
Leave your shoes on.”
“Devi, have you been outside today?”
Devi didn’t want to go. But she knew she’d end up out there anyway.
“She’s got technicolor shoes.”
“It doesn’t sound like something intrusive…”
“You’ve never heard it?”
“I don’t really know.”
“Damn, Edgar, what the hell. Everybody’s got songs and everyone can hear them bu-”
Edgar looked up suddenly. “Nny, do I have a song?”
Johnny gave Edgar a look, but what that look was, Edgar wasn’t sure. “You don’t know your own song?”
“No… should I?”
Johnny didn’t say anything immediately. He appeared to be thinking something over rapidly, but Edgar really couldn’t point out what, specifically. “It’s a good song,” Johnny finally said, “Don’t worry.”
“Does it have a name?”
“I’m pretty sure they all do, Edgar.”
The group spent the next weekend cleaning out the van that Johnny and Tenna’s combined efforts had given them. The man who’d owned it before had been fond of candy and beer, if the tsunami of wrappers and cans that nearly killed Devi when she pried the door open was any indication. She regarded the whole operation as completely foul from that moment on.
Edgar had to admit to himself that he was not entirely there. He was focusing on not focusing on the songs around him. Jimmy’s kept jumping in at times and blocking out anything else, Tenna’s floated in the background rather nicely, and Devi’s occasionally made him grasp his head in pain.
Never Been Hot Enough.
She’s Got Technicolor Shoes.
Work In Progress.
He could hear them all, and they meshed maybe not well or harmonically, but fit together in some way that he suspected he couldn’t hear. That didn’t occupy his thoughts for terribly long.
What bothered him was his own song. He could hear nothing from inside his own head except things he kept trying to force. Some songs he vainly hoped were really his and not just the stuff he had floating in his subconscious, and some he knew couldn’t be his, but were fun to pretend to own anyway.
Johnny had refused to tell Edgar the name of his song, or even hum a snatch of it for him as a hint.
“Some people say that you’re not fully a person until you’re familiar with your own song,” Johnny had told him. This was not exactly encouraging, but Johnny had refused to cooperate completely and had even stopped speaking to Edgar until he’d changed the subject. It made Edgar feel as though he was three years old, and that he’d just crossed an angry housewife at the same time.
And then he’d spent the whole night staring at his ceiling unable to think of anything but Johnny’s ‘Fuck You, I’m Not Telling’ expression.
“Hey, Edgar, you looking to get run over or what?”
Devi, leaning out of the driver’s side window of the van, stared at him, eyebrow raised.
“Sorry, sorry,” Edgar said, jumping out of the way.
“And she’s pretty sure it’s you
and you’re pretty sure it’s her
but no one will say a word
because it’s all a work in progress.”
Devi’s song surged in Edgar’s head as she pulled the van over the spot where he’d just been standing. There was a lot of yelling, but it still had a melody he could appreciate. He had been worried that his feelings about everyone’s songs would reveal some sort of deep seated issue with their friendship, but he found he liked all the songs to a degree, even Jimmy’s.
“There was that time at the King Buffet
And the other in the drive thru,
When she said, ‘I can take him’
And you were pretty sure it wasn’t you.
And the idiots surround her
And she tells them all to go to hell
Because they’re in her space now
And they can’t even fucking know.
Cry ‘blasphemy’, cry ‘fuck you’
But don’t bother to change
Because it’s all a work in progress, dear
And we’re all bound to be a little strange.”
When he stopped listening, Edgar realized the others had moved, and went to join them while conjuring some excuse as to why he’d spaced out. He didn’t want to risk being seen as ‘not complete’ to anyone, so no one but Johnny was going to hear about his inability to process his own song.
He didn’t need his well rehearsed story of seeing Pepito’s face in the concrete and then seeing Trenchcoat Kid in the bushes – no one even noticed when Edgar approached.
“The door’s shot,” Tenna said.
“I’m telling you, if you’d just let me in there, I could-”
“Tenna, let Jimmy try the door,” Devi said when she saw Tenna prepare to argue. Jimmy gave Tenna a toothy grin and went about trying to get the door to lock in place when it was shut.
Edgar watched as Jimmy slammed the door repeatedly, and his triumphant pose when it finally stayed.
“That’s great, MacGyver, but now I can’t get it open,” Johnny said from inside the van.
Devi sighed and thumped her forehead on the steering wheel. Edgar stood near her window, poking at the side view mirror. “Call me when it’s time to paint it,” Devi said into the wheel.
“Devi?” Edgar ventured.
“Are we painting it now?”
“Then we’re not talking now.”
At that second the whole van rocked back and forth, there was a giant clang, and Johnny made a noise from inside. The door was open now, and Johnny was lying on the floor of the van sounding dazed. Jimmy practically pounced on him.
“What happened, what happened? Are you okay? Do we need to call someone?” He asked as he scrambled into the van.
“Not unless you wanna sing for them first,” Tenna pointed out.
Johnny sat up, and shook his head. “Whew,” he managed. “No, I’m good. Just hit my head on that, that, thing. Guess there should have been a chair there once or something.”
“Shit, Nny, you’re bleeding,” Devi said, looking through her pockets for something to give him. Edgar was pretty sure she’d made the same conclusion he had – the van was far too filthy to trust anything in it as a bandage.
“I’ve got it,” Jimmy said, with a hint of mockery. He pulled a small rag out of a pocket and handed it to Johnny, who eyed it warily, despite persistent bleeding from the cut above his eye.
“Thanks,” Johnny said when he determined the cloth not to be covered in questionable substances.
Edgar felt bad about it, initially, but afterwards, it was all he could think of. In his struggle to find his own song, he’d neglected something equally important, if not more so. And he strained to find it while all this happened - it was the perfect opportunity, after all. But there was nothing.
He listened desperately for Johnny’s song, but could hear absolutely nothing.
It didn’t make sense, Edgar thought as he walked through the door and into the living room that evening. It just didn’t add up. Nny. The most musically obsessed person he knew, the person he’d found because something had been so strong in him music-wise, had no song that Edgar could hear.
That of course was a limiting factor – Edgar couldn’t hear a lot of songs in other people. According to Johnny, everyone else could hear the songs of total strangers, and it was only Edgar who had trouble with even his own. Sure, Edgar could hear some strangers, and some friends, but still.
Johnny had to have one that out volumed Devi’s and Jimmy’s. He had to have the strongest song of anyone in town, at the very least. Edgar really didn’t want to admit that he was sure that Johnny’s would be the strongest on Earth – there were certain fanboy things he desperately wanted to remain in Jimmy’s court. If anyone had a song that Edgar would be able to hear, it really should have been Johnny.
Johnny himself strolled by with some sort of cherry fruit snack package just as Edgar was going to call for him.
“Nny!” Edgar said, a little too enthusiastically.
“I-sorry, sorry. Um, I wanted to ask about your song.”
Johnny turned on the television. “What about it?” he asked, sounding bored.
“I can’t hear it.”
“I just wondered what I was missing, I guess.”
“I think it’d be cheating if I told you,” Johnny answered with his mouth full of fruit snack.
“Nny, why is this such a big secretive deal to you?”
“It just is.” Still staring at the television.
“Nny, come on. I feel like some kinda freak or something. Of all people, I can’t hear yours? Or even my own?”
“‘Of all people?’”Johnny echoed, turning his head slowly to look at Edgar.
“Well- Well, yeah. You’re my best friend. I guess I want to see if I like yours better than everyone else’s or…” Edgar realized he was sounding dumber by the syllable, so he just let it trail off. There was an awkward silence for several seconds.
“I like yours best,” Johnny said, with his standard lack of eye contact. “You should work on not trying to hear it so hard. If it’s so important to you that I value my own existence this time around, I’d appreciate it if you valued that song.”
Edgar the Lame-Ass.
“I’m gonna make some fishsticks,” Johnny said, and he walked out of the room.
And that was that.
He’d been spending considerable time with Devi lately. Devi was Edgar’s little island of sanity, his insider’s look into the stuff Johnny did when Edgar wasn’t watching. They were in the choir room together after a chain of shows over the course of the week. Weekends made it safe to use as a base of operation while not teeming with highschoolers.
The longer they remained a band, the more complicated the show or the costumes or the something else got. Tenna had Johnny and Jimmy off in one of the bathrooms to study where slash marks on Jimmy would go if Johnny had made them, so Devi and Edgar stood by in the choir room waiting their turns. Edgar wasted no time.
“He was so strange about his song when I asked about it.”
“Asked what about it?” Devi asked.
“Oh, just… you know, something. I don’t really remember,” Edgar lied. Devi clearly didn’t believe him, but let him continue.
“Alright, so what about that has got you all…” she waved her hand to indicate the general vicinity of Edgar. “…weird?”
“Well, he said he liked mine best. My song, I mean. I don’t know, it was just so nice feeling. I kinda got all warm and gooey inside, I jus-“
“Ugh, Edgar, too much information, thanks.”
“Wha- No! No, God, I didn’t mean it that way. Jeez.”
“Are you sure?”
“So what would you say if I told you yours was my favorite too, hmm?” She asked, sliding down in her seat.
“I’d be flattered, I guess.”
“But not ‘gooey’?”
“Eww. Dammit, Devi, it just sounds horrible when you say it now.”
Devi grinned at him, and he found that after he got over the initial horrible, he could grin back.
“No,” Edgar replied, finally. “Not gooey.”
“I figured as much. How long?”
“How long what?”
Devi gave him a look. “How long have you been seeing him differently than ‘best friend’?”
Edgar figured he’d always been seeing Johnny as ‘differently than best friend’, but only because the circumstances were so bizarre. Johnny was someone he owed, someone he was brought here to be useful to, to make happy. He was a little more than a best friend, really. Edgar had always thought that, hadn’t he? He was fairly sure.
“For… ever, I guess,” Edgar answered. Devi looked skeptical.
“I’ll leave you to figure that out then,” she said, and disappeared into the ‘office.’
“Bu- what?” Edgar was honestly sure he had no idea what that had been about. The more he sat there in the old chair, the more he was confused. She’d probably meant to tease him, or mock him or do some kind of twisted match making, but Edgar wasn’t Jimmy – he never felt the need to drag Johnny off into a trailer and do horrible Cheez-Whiz things to him. Edgar was just a bit more devoted than most.
Considering that Satan’s son was readily involved in the whole thing, Edgar didn’t understand why his own assessments of his relationship with Johnny were anything to get all cryptic over.
“Devi suspects, Edgar. Kiss me, before it’s too late!”
Tenna dropped herself into Edgar’s lap, sending both of them, plus the chair, to the floor.
“What the hell was that about?!” Edgar yelled, pulling his legs out from under Tenna after a shocked moment on the floor. Tenna gave him a look she probably learned from Devi.
“She thinks you’re after Johnny – we need to throw her off the trail,” Tenna said when Devi-Face vanished.
“Because kissing you and having her want to skin me alive as a result is definitely an improvement over cryptic conversations.”
“Hmm, you have a point,” Tenna replied, tapping her chin.
“Do I look like I’m after him?”
“You look like you already got him to me, but I don’t know anything,” she answered, rolling her eyes.
“Is this some sort of really big deal all of a sudden? Do I have some kind of ‘fucks his best friend’ pheromone that no one is telling me about?”
Tenna snorted. “Maybe,” she said, trying to hide giggles.
“Wha- NO! There’s nothing going on! What is wrong with you guys, lately?”
“You know, Edgar, I don’t think we’re close enough friends for me to be the person who makes you contemplate your feelings – it’s the law of teenage after school specials. I could say so much here, but I’m just gonna let it go. Do you want to come do the make-up test with me and the offending best friend?”
“Sure. Sure, that’s fine.”
It was not fine. It was not fine at all. Johnny had rigged up a collection of knives from the cafeteria, some broken trays and scary pieces of glass and metal he picked up from various playgrounds and parking lots to resemble something Edgar would rather not have recalled.
“Did it look like this? I mean, if you sorta squint?” Johnny asked, contemplating the mess.
Edgar felt sick.
“What? This is it, right? I killed you in some kinda machine, yeah?”
Edgar felt his brain liquefy and he wanted desperately to fall on the floor. Then he felt hands on his shoulder, and was led to the center of the gruesome display.
“There, does it look better from there?”
“Nny, he looks like he might blow some chunks…” Tenna said warily.
“Edgar?” Johnny asked.
“It’s fine,” Edgar managed, holding his stomach. He wasn’t sure what to be more sickened by – the machine thing, or that Johnny was making so light of it. It was about the moment that Tenna traced the path of a single broken tray onto Edgar’s torso that he vomited, and sank to his knees.
“She's got technicolor shoes
Untied, laces trailing-”
Tenna’s song flared up as Edgar fell, but calmed down after only a few lines. He heard something foreign for just a moment, and cursed that he was finally hearing Johnny’s song when he couldn’t attempt to memorize it. Then he felt that it wasn’t Johnny’s at all.
“They once said I glittered
they once said I shone
but nothin’ ever happens here
as I’m sure you already know.”
On the bathroom floor, partially covered in vomit, Edgar heard the first strains of his own song.
“If happiness is all we have
then how am I here today?
Say ‘hush’ and take a picture
But you can’t see me anyway.”
Edgar looked up to see that Tenna had gone, presumably for help, and that Johnny was kneeling on the floor beside him, mouthing the words to Edgar’s song.
“Sorry,” Johnny said in the middle of a verse about broken bones. “I think sometimes he gets a little too excited about the Homicides.”
Edgar was afraid to open his mouth, but tried to give Johnny as questioning a look as he could.
“The other me,” Johnny said. “Don’t worry, though. He likes your song, too.”
Tenna shuffled in with the janitor’s giant rolling bucket just then and got to cleaning. Edgar was given a new shirt and several drinks of water and was generally shuffled around and fussed over as much as his companions could be expected to. In his daze, though, he could still hear (and still see Johnny mouthing the words of) the tune in his head.
“Sticks and stones could break my bones
if they were really there
as it is now, I’m immortal
cuz until I find happy
I have nothing to fear.
If happiness if all we have
Then how I am here today?
I exist without a world
Track all my time without a day.
If happiness is all we have…”
Edgar realized several things in that last strain of lyric, least important of all, but most pressing in his mind, was that he really liked his song.
The songs featured in this chapter don’t really exist. I mean, I can’t share them with you as an Mp3.
Jimmy’s Song, Never Been Hot Enough, was written by Crow.
Tenna’s Song, She’s Got Technicolor Shoes, was written by Lana.
Devi’s Song, Work In Progress, and Edgar’s Song, If Happiness, were written by me.
The song quoted at the top, though, which is close to how I imagine the meshing of all these songs will FEEL, is ‘Wine Red(Tommie Sunshine’s Brooklyn Fire Retouch)’ by The Hush Sound. The remix part is important, because otherwise, you'll think I'm on crack.