Me and Bobby McGee

Previously with Soul to Body:

Violet chatted with Mallory near the gas pumps while he paid for their sandwiches. He watched Violet, through smudged windows, laughing with her acquaintance of less than thirty minutes. His dark, sad eyes caught a familiar image next to the candy bars and chapstick. It was a Janis Joplin Greatest Hits CD. The cashier appeared from a back room carrying dollar bills and loose change. Wearing dirty, blue coveralls and a red University of Georgia baseball cap, the attendant’s tooth-challenged grin widened as his customer spoke.

“I’d like to get this CD so take another five dollars out of that.”

Violet and Mallory walked into the station as he took his white sack full of sandwiches and cokes. He tried to hide the CD in the back waistband of his jeans.

“Dad, you got me a surprise didn’t you?”

He looked at the red gas can in Violet’s left hand then turned to Mallory.

“If my daughter talked you into the mindset of not driving us back to our car, I’d understand.”

Mallory pulled long strands of striking red hair around her ears and chuckled.

“Violet’s great. Apparently my niece plays volleyball for a rival high school. It wouldn’t surprise me if we saw each other at a game, soon.”

He smiled and led the three of them toward the door. The CD fell out of his jeans. The awkward clunking sound startled everyone. Mallory picked it up and remarked.

“I love Janis. I’ve been known to wail Me and Bobby McGee in the car. I pick up cool stuff like this at random too.”

Neither he nor Violet responded. As they reached Mallory’s car, Violet leaned into him.

“I loved when mom sang that song to you on your birthdays. Now we can hear it all the time.”

 ****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode of Soul To Body about sixteen-year-old Violet and her widowed father. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: 

In honor of Davy Jones and the other artists who enhance our lives, this week’s Red Writing Hood prompt draws inspiration from music.

Go to This Day In Music, and discover what was number 1 on the charts in the United States, England or Australia the day you or your character was born, or any other special day in your/their life, if you prefer.

Listen to the song(s) and let it inspire you. In 300 words or less.

Violet’s dad was born in March 1971, when Me and Bobby McGee topped the charts.

Here’s the inspiration, written by the legendary Kris Kristofferson and immortalized by the late great Janis Joplin

Twenty Killer Hurts

He grimaces as he plants his fingers into the ground and mud oozes over his purpled knuckles. Out of the three point stance he listens for the third “hut” and bounds towards the football, held by his teammate. Two larger boys in uniforms of a different color than his, meet him violently. He thuds into the ground. Hurt surges over his band and shoulders. A timeout is called.

He refuses to take a knee like his teammates because getting up would be too painful. Someone hands him a waterbottle. He pours warm liquid in his mouth and spits it aout, along with blood from his cut lips. He glances at the blue and black bruises on his arms. Someone next to him speaks.

“This is it. The last play of our football lives. Thank God it’s over.”

He smirks at the mixture of sentiment and sarcasm, then assumes the position. His hand in the ground, eyes straight ahead, the hut sounds and he takes a pitched football a few feet from his teammate. He sees the stadium lights dance between players and runs toward it with reckless abandon. An opponent hits him in his left thigh with their helmet. He cringes but stays upright. Everything begins to move in slow motion as jerseys blur, body parts merge, and he’s hit again. He falls to the grass in a heap of hurt.

It’s over. His vision is dazed by pain. He sees the scoreboard clock tick to zero. His team lost 14-7. No one helps him up. He rolls to his right side and slowly rises.

Cold November air chills the warm sweat streaking his face. Blood trickles from a wound below his right bicep and collects inside his elbow. The roar of thousands of small town high school football fans is muffled by the stark reality that he would never do this again. He went through the motions of shaking hands with his celebrating opponents. Deliberately, he walks off the field, and heads up the field house corridor. He turns around, takes off his helmet and looks over everything he’s leaving. In a perverse sense of relief and wonder, he accepts he’s a football player, no longer.

****blogger’s note****

This is a fictionalized version of my last night playing high school football in 1987. It is part of the writing assignment from Write On Edge’s Red Writing Hood: 400 words or less where athleticism features prominently.

Today’s song was one of my favorites in November 1987. I had a thing for the group Gene Love Jezebel in the late 80s. This song leapt to mind when I saw the Write On Edge prompt. Here’s Twenty Killer Hurts.