Rocking Into Jericho

by Alex Gordon

ROCKING INTO JERICHO a short story by Zandy Alexander By far the most affected of my friends was a dark, joyfullyscheming Armenian called Ezra H--------. Slightlyunbalanced, and satisfyingly unstable, he was alwayspleasurable company.He would prance in gaily, chortling to himself under hisbreath, childish, loveable, intellectual and outrageous to thecore.With his long dark hair, delicate glasses, perpetual girlishsimper and gurgling croak of a laugh, he cut an extraordinaryfigure.Today he stumbled inside, kissed Daisy on the hand in anirritatingly fake and past-century style, spied my copy ofMein Kampf' and uttered a high girl-like scream."Oh my God, you're reading THAT!" Another screamfollowed by a gurgle then a mysterious croak to affirm."You've finally cracked! ""It was well known, in the era of Socrates, that everyviewpoint must be aired," I reminded him pompously."Socrates sucks! "Daisy smirked in apprehension."Ezra," she asked curiously, "What's that on yourglasses?" Closer inspection revealed that the wreckedframes had been precariously patched together withSelotape and Elastoplast.Ezra whinneyed out some mumbo-jumbo of anexplanation. No-one was listening. Meanwhile there hadbeen a knock and Red strutted in. The two glared at eachother like Chinese boxers. I groaned inwardly. We had longknown how much they hated each other."My dear Ezra," started out Red with enormouscondescension, after the initial greetings had beenexchanged..... "Do you not have any girlfriend yet?" Ezraglared and sweated, blinking furiously."What's it to you," he replied calmly?"And do you know how patronising you sound?" I hatedthis."For Christ's sake calm down," I said."Anyway I do," Ezra said..... "What about you? ""Well this girl came round to my flat a few weeks ago,"Red announced blandly..... "and asked me to f--- her up thea----! "Everyone laughed. Daisy was outraged."Red!" I was enjoying this."Well, why not," Red reasoned, in an oily tone."Oh God I can't stand it," Daisy said...... "Why don't you alljust leave! Really!" She was quite excited. Ezra, lookingdisgusted, was leaning out the window."So I did it," Red continued mildly. "It was OK, butnothing special."The Notting Hill Gate Carnival was on, and in full swing,with audible crowds right outside and beneath our windows.We could hear shouts, laughter and music."Are you a hippy, Daisy," Red suddenly asked?This crude, analytical probe had clearly unsettled her, andshe became rageful. It was certainly the worst insultimaginable."I don't know what I am. No, I don't think so, I'm just aperson," she replied coldly, shooting a poisonous glance inhis direction. "And why do you have to use that word? ""I think you are", Red said.There was an icy silence. I felt uncomfortable.My nerves were hopelessly jarred. I felt disgusted andrepelled by something I didn't understand.Ezra, on an impulse, picked up the guitar and startedsinging a protest song in an awful fake American accent. Ijoined in."Do the two of you know how stupid you sound," Daisysuddenly demanded, pinning us with her eye..... "Why do youhave to put on those utterly fake American accents?" Whycan't you be real? Or normal or honest? Just shut up andput it away if it has to be that bad! She snatched the guitarout of Ezra's hands. He shrieked and his glasses flew ontothe floor destroying all their intricate bonding."My glasses, you've smashed my glasses," he howled -making frenzied attempts to claw at Daisy, who easily sidesteppedhim, grinning broadly and sadistically."Now CALM DOWN", I bellowed! "Half an hour later we were all engrossed in a cowboy filmon TV. I'd been sent out for milk, pasta and at least six beersfor Red. When I returned they were deep in conversationonce more."Art is about fighting," Red was saying, between clenchedteeth - "Picasso knew that - he always said that he wasfighting the bull - and that's how he defined the creativeprocess ! ""F--- art, let's dance," interjected Ezra, moodily...... addingenigmatically - "You may think you know what you think IT'Sabout - but I think that it's not even about what YOU think it'sabout! "Red shuddered wearily and drew some fingers throughhis matted hair."You know when I was in mental hospital," he began, butEzra broke in, witheringly :"You should have stayed there!" The two glared at eachother with evil expressions."Children," chimed Daisy - "Manners please! "The phone rang. Daisy picked it up. "It's Wolf," shescreamed joyfully!"No more loonies," I shouted - "Not here in my flat - theshop's closed!" But I couldn't resist picking up the phone."Is that my saviour," came a gravelly voice, distant andsomehow unsettling."This is the voice of the accursed," he continued."I know," I said....."Talk to me! ""What's happening? ""What's happening over there? ""Nothing's happening over here..... we're just watchingsome film.""You and who? ""Me and Daisy, and Red and Ezra.""Red! Is he still painting nudes in Gaughinesquepostures? ""Look how do I know? Listen I really have to go - thisphone costs money! ""Money? You're filthy with money. And - hey - I'M PAYINGthis call! Listen, can you lend me twenty quid? Just till nextweek? ""Are you crazy? I'm in debt! ""Are you my a---! Just a fiver...... I'll GIVE you a painting!I've still got one that the deacon didn't rip up! "We cackled. After mental hospital Wolf had stayed at thehouse of a church deacon who had lectured him on theuprightedness of the Lord, and had eventually destroyedmost of Wolf's oil paintings to illustrate this point."Is that Wolf," Red ventured, incredulously, starting towake."No, no," I waved him away."God he's insane," Ezra chortled, whilst munching a largepeanut butter sandwich that had somehow smeared itself allaround his mouth.Daisy wiped his face in matronly fashion with a towel.Brando was strutting around the screen, unseen by all."Listen, fear rules the universe," Red boomed outsuddenly, cornering Ezra insidiously. Ezra twitchednervously."Well if that's what you put out," he said quickly andurgently, as though trying to calm a naughty child ..... "thenthat's what you'll get back..... but if you ever stopped tothink..... you know, about maybe sending out a differentsignal .....""HO," roared Red suddenly in a huge, terrible voicecausing Daisy to screech and the TV to flicker and Kiya tostart crying."Red you've made Kiya cry - you ARE awful," ragedDaisy, and picking up the baby, stormed out of the room."The Shout," exclaimed Red triumphantly, eyesglowing..... "That's my shout. I just wanted to show it to you!"Daisy called me outside frantically."He's going to have to go," she announced withdetermination....." all of them - get them all out, now - I simplycannot stand it for one second longer! "It took me fifteen minutes to get them all out. Protestingstrongly, they were shepherded en masse down the stairs,and into the street.A good while later I noticed that the phone was still off thehook. I picked it up."He is the way - the life - and the truth," Wolf was stillrambling on, in an insane stupor."Behold, verily, I say unto ye - that we shall rock intoJericho - and there mayest be found GROUPIES , and GIGS- and it was done - and lo and behold a shining light appeared- as it had been writ - that JAZZ is verily the STUFF of LIFE- and all heareth - and all shalt JAM - and righteously shall welead our bebop brethren into the PROMISED LAND of RCA......!""Who shall," I cut in?" What," he croaked?"Who shall lead us to Jazzland, the Promised Land? ""To the Neverending Groove! ""To Birdland! ""To the Hall of the Phrygian Mode! ""To Xanadu! ""Yea! ""And thrice Yea! ""Yea Brother Yea! ""I love you, man," he said."I love you too," I said."I think it's just shit, the world," he said....."the people, the laws, the money....." "I know," I said."It is," he said."I know," I said."There's got to be something better! ""I forgive you," I said."For what? ""For f---ing Daisy.""Oh, that", he said, "That was nothing...... thanks forforgiving me.""Bye, man," he said, "See you in Jazzville!"I put the receiver down."I think you're utterly pathetic ", said Daisy..... "Can't youfind something better to do - like washing up? ""I'm going out," she said. In a moment she returnedclasping chips in newspaper and a bar of chocolate and satdown in front of the TV with it all."It's sad," I said."What." She wasn't listening."Wolf ," I said."I know,' she said.Ten minutes later Wolf phoned again. In an eerie,outworldly voice, he said very slowly and definitively:" Youknow my brother - thinks that your brother - is absolutelyinsane.""Well he is," I said. "That's obvious.""Are you happy," I asked?"I think that there's us and them," he said ....."And they're closing in on us."A pause for a moment. I understood that he wasn't talkingabout brothers any more."It's really awful, the way they are," he went on. I agreed."I don't think there's much hope," he said."You know, I'm just trying to show them....." he faltered....."that there might just be something else - a new way oflooking at things.""I know what you mean." I said."I think we are the last ones." he said."I don't think that there will be any more. The others, theyjust don't understand! And they're not going anywhere.""No, they're not going anywhere at all," I said."And when we get to where we're going, we'll just lookback, and be amazed," he said! I agreed."Where are you," I asked?"I'm in this place," he said ...... "I don't really know whereI am.""Is it a good place," I asked?"I may not be here tomorrow," he said."Zand, man," he said."Yes? ""I think you're a great piano-player," he said."And you're a good singer," I said, adding -"You're living it, and you really mean it, and you'll die for it! ""So will you," he said. THE END

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