'Will you walk into my parlor?'


Chapter One

It had never been his intention to tell Reverend Meat that he was leaving. He had though, Johnny mentioned it in an off-hand comment about something or other before he could stop himself. Little thoughts about important things tended to crawl out of his mouth and slide off of his tongue. If he thought about it hard enough he could probably figure out why.

"I'm going away for awhile."

May I inquire as to where?

"No, you may not." biting words edged in thorns. They ripped up his throat as he spoke them.

He'd already said goodbye to Squee, and looking up from his front door he could see all the lights in his little friend's house were off and the window he'd crawled down from only moments ago was still open.

Perhaps if he paid enough attention he would have realized that deep down Reverend knew more about certain things than he let on. Johnny had no intention of coming back despite what he told Squee. One last attempt at doing something for someone else, for someone who mattered. For someone who had a chance.

I'll be here when you get back.

Speaking of discomforting goodbyes.

Reverend didn't say anything else, the smile on his cheap plastic mouth spoke enough. The look on Nny's face suggested he might know this if he really admitted it to himself. All roads eventually lead you back the way you came if you follow them long enough.

The door slammed shut behind him. The sound was unnaturally loud and the air around his house disturbingly quiet. He looked up and down the street once before walking to his car. As he opened the door he caught sight of the look out point just outside of the city. Johnny paused and considered stopping there on his way out of town. It was already dark and the moon was high, it would be a good night to look out on the town before he left.

"It wouldn't take too long." A light coming down the road distracted him. A car drove by slowly and eventually pulled to a stop right in front of his house. A head could be seen sticking out of the passenger side window and a hand stuck out to wave at him from inside.

"Hey mister!" The passenger called out, "Do you know how we can get to Perkins Street from here?" An urge made Johnny's right hand twitch. Very slowly he shook his head no and climbed into his own car, not trusting himself to speak. He wanted to, oh how he wanted to give into that urge but testing was needed. Was he really free, or was Reverend right?




Johnny sighed and rested his forehead against the steering wheel, being free didn't mean he had to allow abuse like that. A tiny smile followed by a happy giggle and he peeled out of the driveway, turned and slammed forward into the back of the other car. He kept going until the other car was stretched across the width of the road.

"OH Shit!"

"This fucker's bat-shit crazy, dude!"

"Go! Just Go!"

But his car slammed into the passenger side before they could right their car. Dickhead was crushed and the driver's head slammed through the left-side window. Thank goodness for old cars. Nny's was an older model and much sturdier than the expensive fiberglass one the other boys had been driving in. So other than a broken headlight and smashed grill there was no damage he could pinpoint when he got out to see what he'd done.

Love is a burning thing

and it makes a fiery ring

Someone had phoned the police and he waved at them as they drove past, their lights blinking.

bound by wild desire

I fell into a ring of fire

Blood leaking from the driver's head, glass sticking out at odd angles, blond hair dripping red. His eyes were blue and his name was Steve. Dickhead's right shoulder was in his mouth, teeth ripping his own skin, his right knee had shattered his left one on impact. The police found no identification on him but later, a friend of Steve's told the police his name was Terry.

I fell into a burning ring of fire

What place would there be for him, then? Where would he go when all was said and done? Heaven wasn't an option and from what Senior Diablo said neither was Hell.

I went down down down

and the flames went higher

and it burns burns burns

the ring of fire

Maybe he would just disappear, vanish like smoke, or maybe he would just keep being brought back.

the ring of fire

Or maybe he should just stop thinking about it and take it for what it is, some idiot's fucking-funny idea of a really old joke.

More police cars flashed by, none noticing the front of his car or the tiny splatters of red on his windshield from 'Dickhead' Terry's teeth tearing through his own flesh.

The taste of love is sweet

when hearts like ours meet

I fell for you like a child

Oh, but the fire went wild

I fell into a burning ring of fire

I went down down down

and the flames went higher

and it burns burns burns

the ring of fire

the ring of fire

The look out point was empty when he pulled up, almost hitting the 'no parking' sign as he did. He grabbed his die-ary and wrote what he almost thought, wanted to believe, would not be his last entry.

. . . and admire. To feel contempt . . . is a vulgar thing. Too often . . . admirable compulsions . . . that I can do without – desires and urges . . . I hope to be cold . . .

So very, very cold . . .

"If I leave it behind, it will be." Getting out of the car, Johnny noticed that the temperature was dropping the further he got out of town.

And it burns burns burns

the ring of fire

the ring of fire

It really was very quiet, inside of his own head now. Quiet and maybe, if he was lucky, empty of all other things besides himself. Reverend's voice still twittered in his memories.



He sat on the hood of his car for as long as he could allow himself to. The air around him was frigid and he wondered, if he sat out here long enough, would he freeze? No, it wasn't even cold enough to see his breath, he wouldn't turn blue from it. Nny shook his head. Maybe this vacation would do him some good after all. Maybe when he came back . . . No, he would not. If he had any choice in the matter he would stay gone.

Johnny got back in his car.

Everyone is a slave to something.

'I am free now.'

"I am free now." and just saying the words left a bitter taste in his mouth, the taste of something rehearsed too often for a moment like this only to find the freedom lacked many of the ideals it had promised. Free from what, exactly?

Johnny remembered, and hated himself for what he could and couldn't dredge up from the 'freed' confines of his head. So many questions, what price had he paid to be the way he was?

His arms moved without his provocation to start the car and he forced them to stop. Looking at them now he could see scars littered across the skin tightly stretched over his hands. The white and pale yellow marks weren't amazingly interesting at first glance but he could, if he tried hard enough, remember where some of the bigger expansions of scar-tissue came from.

The old engine roared to life and Johnny pulled out and started down the well worn dirt road down to the main highway and into the city. He passed shop after shop, cafe after cafe, until finally the last gas station was a speck of light in his rear view mirror.

How lovely would it be to escape from these emotions . . . incapable of ridding myself of their . . .


"I want you to pay close attention, Todd. Do you see this jar?" There is silence from the small boy sitting in the chair, "Do you? I need some sign you understand what I'm talking about." Todd looks up from his knees and those soulful brown eyes can still startle the good doctor, no matter how many times he sees them.

"This jar Todd, I want you to look at it and concentrate." They look away from him and he can breathe again. Sometimes he forgets to. "All of that hurt you feel, all of those bad memories, Todd, I want you to put them in this jar." Dr. Manning places the jar on the table between them, it is empty.

"Tell me Todd, are they inside?" Todd looks up at him again and nods. Dr. Manning smiles gently at him.

"Alright, that's good. Now I want you to tell me this, Todd. What do they look like?" Todd looks at the jar again, his big eyes squinting at the glass. He leans forward, sitting at the edge of his seat. The good doctor waits patiently.

"What do you see, Todd?" He looks away from the jar, to the ground and then looks up at Dr. Manning. He says nothing.

"What do you see, Todd?"

"What do you see?"


End Chapter One

A/N: Sorry this took months longer than it should have. I ended up rewriting this and chapters two and three after rereading my previous stories and the two comics. Not much changed, just little insignificant things.

Song: 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash.

Please review, I still need to know if people are interested in this continuing on to the end.