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Hey Joe (Lucciola's song challenge.)

Short story By: PaulChafer
Young adult

Tags: Tragedy, Love, Death

A story based around the song 'Hey Joe' by Jimmy Hendrix, written as a challenge from Lucciola. I always liked this song, this is how I imagine what could have happened.

Submitted:Feb 1, 2010    Reads: 143    Comments: 12    Likes: 11   

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His gliding rhythm finally slowing, Joe could hardly believe his good fortune as he admired his woman, her hair spread out on the pillow like a river of living bronze, her eyes were burnished green with copper spreading out from the core, a colour of their own unlike anything he had ever seen before. Such breath-taking beauty as she returned his gaze; her nails gently raking his broad shoulders; her heart-shaped face smiling with pleasure. "I love you Joe," she whispered.

Joe had never spoken the 'L' word in his whole life, he tried, his mouth opened, but only a yawn came fourth and he rubbed sleep from his eyes, sitting up suddenly in the dim light of the room, a guttering candle on the bedside table revealing his surroundings as he came fully awake. "What a lady," he murmured under his breath, knowing he had never felt happier than he did at that very moment as the remnants of his dream slipped from his mind. He rolled over to caress Jodie, his new bride, married only hours ago and drew in a deep breath; she was gone!

"What the hell?" he mumbled, sitting up, swinging his feet to the cold bare boards of the hotel bedroom floor. "Jodie?" he shouted, throwing back the covers as if she could be somehow hiding beneath the rumpled linen. "Where the hell are you girl?"

In no time at all he was up and dressed, falling back on the bed as he pulled his leather boots up, still shiny from the chapel service, wondering if she was in the saloon bar downstairs as it was the only explanation for her absence: wasn't it?

Still fastening his shirt buttons, the shirt Jodie had eagerly pulled from his back only hours before; he stepped onto the balustraded landing that circumnavigated the bar of the hotel to be greeted by several upturned faces. "Anybody seen my woman?" he asked, striding to the stairs. There was no reply, most people were fearful of Joe, not a mean man by nature, but he possessed a raging temper if riled and he tended to hit first and ask questions later. In a frontier town like Reno, it was a good survival instinct that could mean the difference between life and death. "I asked, has-"

"She went out just a few minutes ago," said Hank the bartender, cutting off Joe's words as he came down the wooden stairs two at a time.

Joe acknowledged Hank with a curt nod as he strode through the batwing doors and out into the street, the louvered wood clattering behind him as he stood on the sidewalk, his eyes adjusting to the darkness of the night. The street was deserted, he knew it must be late, they had partied until gone midnight before turning in and he guessed it must be way past 3 am, probably nearer to 4 am, so where the hell was his wife?

On the verge of stepping into the dusty road his hand instinctively went to his hip and he cursed. In his haste he had neglected to strap on his side-arm, remembering his oath to Jodie that he was giving up his old way of life. His promise that they were buying a farm on the edge of town, settling down and starting a family, echoed in his mind, knowing he would have to get used to not wearing a gun.

He scanned the dark buildings across from him, blank eyeless windows stared back, then he saw movement at the far end of the street, two figures caught in the lantern glow of the Stagecoach rooming-lodge, a man and a woman. "Jodie," he murmured, dodging back into the shadows, moving down the street, never taking his eyes from the couple.

Hell, it sure looked like Jodie, she was wearing her best dress, had to be her or some damn woman had stolen her clothes. Then he halted and stared, slack-jawed, unable to believe what he was seeing. Jodie, his wife, not yet married for twenty-four hours, had thrown her arms around the stranger and kissed him. Joe clenched and unclenched his fists as he watched them walk hand in hand towards the darkened door of the coaching station. "Son of a bitch!" he silently mouthed turning for the hotel at a run, his pent up rage fuelling his charge back through the saloon, up the stairs and into their honeymoon suite.

In a matter of moments he remerged, pushing the second of two hastily loaded bullets into the chambers of his six-gun before snapping it closed and cocking the trigger while negotiating the stairs in a stumbling rush.

"Hey Joe," shouted the barkeep, "where you going with that gun in your hand?"

A deep growl rumbled in Joe's throat. "I caught my old lady messing around with another man," he said, kicking a chair from his path as he slammed through the batwing doors.

Still growling he ran down the street, the only light coming from the uncaring stars that were fading as another day edged nearer, and the kerosene lamp hung outside the door of the Stagecoach's rooming-lodge. He paid the clerk at the desk no heed as he barged into the sparse foyer. They only had four small rooms specifically for the comfort of overnight travellers waiting to change to a different coach and only one room had light spilling under the door.

He ran forward and smashed through the flimsy wood with one kick, Jodie was seated on the bed, a look of outright shock spread across her pretty face, the man was leaning over a sink, naked from the waist up, braces dangling around his hips in swinging loops, water dripping from his soap covered face. With one quick stride Joe crossed the room, kicking the door closed with his heel as he socked the half dressed man in the jaw sending him sprawling.

Jodie leapt to her feet. "Joe what are you doing?" she yelled, her face now a mask of terror.

He felt like smashing in her face with the barrel of his gun as he stared into her beautiful eyes. He thought of her kissing the guy now writhing at his feet and his rage soared to hitherto unchartered levels. He shot her before he knew what he was doing, the bullet punching though her chest, ripping out her heart as it exited; spraying the wall behind her with blood. He saw the flicker of life leave her beautiful face, the lips he had kissed as they made love appeared to mouth his name; then Jodie slumped back on the bed and was no more.

Joe stepped back as the man grabbed the edge of the sink and climbed to his feet. "What have you done," he asked; his voice groggy, his head swaying as he took in the blood spattered horror of the room.

"I shot her," said Joe. "I shot my old lady down." He raised the gun and aimed it straight between the stranger's eyes, but the barrel wavered. The eyes looked familiar somehow, a burnished green with copper spreading out from the core, his wife's eyes! "What the . . . ."

The man scraped his hand over his short cropped red hair and peered at Joe from those familiar eyes that were now brimming with tears. "I was late for the wedding, the stage lost a wheel; my arrival was to be a surprise for you Joe." He sat down on the bed. "I was going to give away the bride; I'm Sam, Jodie's brother." He gently closed her staring eyes with his fingers. "Jodie had come to the station to see if there was any news on the delayed coach. She said you had a temper, but she loved you so much, she loved you more than anything in the whole world." He cradled his sister in his arms and rocked her back and forth, ignoring the blood smearing his arm and bare chest. "I didn't realise you was a murderer Joe, a cold blooded killer."

Joe wailed, fell to his knees. "No, no, no!" he shouted, tears now welling in his own eyes. He glanced up at Sam. "I am so sorry, so very sorry." He wept as he looked at Jodie, now lifeless, her bronze hair shimmering in pale light from the un-shuttered window. He took in a deep breath then got to his feet. "I loved Jodie too." He wanted to reach out and touch her one last time, but knew he deserved no such comfort.

He staggered out into the street, the sun painting the sky orange in the east, high raftering clouds swirling with red and gold. Joe had never been an early riser, but Jodie had, how she had loved the mornings and chided him for being such a lazy bones; lying in bed half the day. "So this is what dawn looks like," he said, placing the barrel of his pistol beneath chin. "You were right Jodie, best part of the day." Then he pulled the trigger.


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