The Dissonant Ballad of Eric Noble: part three

They were almost in Birmingham when Julius finally woke up. A balled-up fast food bag was flung at his head by Shannon, emitting a surprisingly loud “smack” upon impact. Julius began shaking Kevin who was laying on top of him, but got no response. Faces became grim, and panicked as Julius shook harder, this time raising his voice. “Kevin, get up!” he repeated, each time sounding more rattled than before; panic was spreading through the van.

Christine rushed to the back of the van, and pulled Kevin upright. She opened his eyes with her fingers, and yelled at him to wake up, but he was gone. Eric went into a daze, sounds became muffled, and time dragged to a near standstill. Vince was pulling over, and trying to not seem as terrified as he was; all things considered, he did a great job. Shannon sat there, mouth agape as he made eye contact with Eric. Neither had any words for this situation, only disbelief. Eric kept hoping this was just a nightmare, but the empty feeling in his chest was all too real. He felt light-headed, and couldn't focus, so he just closed his eyes, and curled up on his seat.

It was around this time that everyone started to notice the smell. Even by touring van standards, this was ungodly. Kevin's body was starting to become stiff, and his pants were soaked, front, and back. This wasn't the first time Kevin had soiled himself in his sleep, but it would be his last. Everyone still in the realm of the living piled out of the van to collect their thoughts. Christine was pacing, and fighting back tears as Vince stared off into space, eventually breaking the silence with “What the fuck do we do now?!” through a cracked voice.

Eric began asking his own questions, “What were you two doing with that guy in the bathroom last night?” he said, turning to Julius. Visibly startled, Julius stuttered “I was just getting something from him”. “What was it, are you back on that shit again!?” said Christine, seething with rage. “It was just a little, and he insisted!” said Julius, backing away. “I didn't make him do it, he just wanted to try it, I swear!” and with that, Julius sprinted down the road, Christine rushing after him.

She tackled him after thirty yards, and turned him over. She pinned his shoulders to the ground with her knees as she unloaded on his face. Repeatedly, her fists sunk into Julius' head as she screamed at him through tears. Vince came over to pull her off him, and said “That's enough, we don't need two bodies to deal with today.” Eric was dumbfounded, and Shannon was curled up against the van, crying. Julius laid on the ground, wiping his face before standing back up, slumped over in defeat. He walked back over to the van, and got in, pounding on Kevin's chest.

This set both Christine, and Vince off; they both pulled him out of the van with such force he began rolling down the hill. It was at this point, blue lights appeared. An Alabama state trooper parked behind them, and got out with a good ol' boy stroll that signified he would enjoy harassing them to the fullest extent of his abilities. His thick drawl oozed with arrogance as he said “What's going on here?” with his hand displayed on his pistol. “We're just lost, and had a disagreement. No big deal, we've got it straightened out, and we'll be leaving soon.” said Shannon, uncharacteristically on top of things, and suddenly composed.

“I'll let you know when you can leave.” said the officer, as he strolled around the vehicle, giving everyone a look of contempt. “Y'all ain't from around here, are ya?” he said, staring at Eric. “No, we're just passing through.” said Eric, trying desperately to appear calm. “Well, I got word there was a van going around making trouble at rest stops. You wouldn't know anything about that would you?” said the cop, scanning faces for reactions.

Everyone shook their heads as the cop nodded, “Uh huh, I figured that. Well, let me tell you something, today is your lucky day”. The cop smiled, “If it was anybody else, I might have to take y'all in, but I got the complaint from a Miles Baldwin. You know who that is?” Of course, no one had a clue who he was talking about, but thankfully they ran into a very petty, and dumb cop that day. Turns out that Miles Baldwin stole this officer's wife a few months back, and he held a powerful grudge. He noticed their van matched the description of one wanted for vandalism, but wanted to give them a head's up instead of arrest them.

“If y'all pass back through there, shit all over the place! That sumbitch thinks we ain't got nothin better to do than chase after kids all day? Make his life miserable for all I care, just watch out, next guy to pull you over might not feel that way”. The officer walked back towards his car, and said “Y'all have a nice day” as he got inside. He never gave a second glance to the motionless body against the back glass. He never even asked for anyone's identification, it was a thoroughly surreal experience.

Crowding back into the van, Christine asked “What are we supposed to do about Kevin”? No one had any answers, but were relieved to have avoided a potentially deadly encounter with Alabama's finest. “We can't just leave him back there” she said, again getting no response. Everyone was silent as they merged back onto the highway, on to the next show with a dead singer, and no clue of what to do about it. “I can't fucking believe this!” said Shannon, before turning to hit Julius a few times. Julius just took it, feeling as though he deserved that, and so much more. Eric stared out the window, and began quietly sobbing.

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