Rubber Soul

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 19 (v.1) - Cooper

Submitted: August 02, 2016

Reads: 61

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Submitted: August 02, 2016

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Our road trip, as most people would call it, was characterized, not by the fact that 4/5 of the passengers were dead, nor that our driver had very minimal driving experience, but by the music blaring from the car speakers as we shot down route 90 in the middle of the night.

Rubber Soul had been, and always will be, my favorite Beatles album of all time. Being able to listen to it, all the way through, without interruptions, for the first time since it’s release in 1965, was priceless, and I considered myself pretty damn lucky. Especially because, this time, I wasn’t alone.

I would’ve made Eleanora listen to it that day I had introduced her to the Beatles, but I don’t know. The timing just hadn’t been right, that’s all.

But now, cruising down the highway at a steady 72 miles per hour with only distant headlights in front of us, it was the right time. So I had Eleanora turn it up all the way and let the audio shake the car. Sure, half of the songs were weird pitches and “Think For Yourself” was sped up enough to make Paul sound even more like a chipmunk, but they were the same old songs. She hadn’t brought her phone either, so we had to balance her laptop computer in between our two seats. We almost drove off the road a couple of times when she was trying to change the song. That wouldn’t have been good; I didn’t have any intentions of dying for a second time.

We had to stop at a gas station about fifteen minutes in. That dumbass Diana’s glue was still stuck in Eleanora’s hair and we had to pull over at the closest drugstore to buy a pair of scissors. Bree and Eleanora went inside while me, Toby and Porter stayed with the car. Not that we needed to, no one in their right mind would want to steal that piece of junk.

“I don’t like this,” Porter was cowering near one of the gas pumps, beside an unemptied, overflowing barrel of trash, “I have a bad feeling about all this.”

“Porter, you really got to loosen up,” Toby was twirling around that parking lot, spinning around some girl with a cigarette between her fingers out in the snow, “this is exciting shit.” He screamed the curse word in that smoking girl’s face. She blew a cloud at grey smoke into his, but not because she noticed. She hadn’t heard him. Toby danced back towards us, “we’re leaving town for the first time since we’ve been dead. Think of the possibilities!”

“I think we all have different definitions of possibilities,” I joked, watching him gleefully leap onto the hood of a van and bang on his chest like some crazy ape.

“I’M IMMORTAL AND THERE AIN’T A DAMN THING NOBODY CAN DO ABOUT IT!”

I heard Porter shudder and suppress a “shh” before the tinkle of the bell above the store’s door.

Bree, followed by a newly-styled Eleanora marched out into the cold. Eleanora’s brown curly hair was noticeably shorter, and she was swinging a plastic bag around in inverted circles as she walked. She had done a pretty decent job with the -do, but I sort of missed her long hair.

“Looking sharp,” Toby called as he clambered down from the top of the van, sliding down the front of the windshield.

Eleanora ruffled her hair a bit as she strode to the car. She seemed uncomfortable about it but didn’t say much. She climbed back into the front seat and peered into the rearview mirror, I called shotgun and leaped through the door of the car, slumping into the center cubby thing. I still don’t know what the hell they’re called.

Eleanora was still fluffing up her hair. She had cut it right up to her chin, just enough so it just barely brushed the tips of her shoulders.

“It looks good!” I lied. It didn’t look bad—nothing could look bad on Eleanora—it was just different. And I hate different.

“Eh,” Eleanora moved the little joystick embedded in the center cubby thing so that the car started to move. I really know nothing about cars. Not shit. “It will be fine, I just hope my dad recognizes me.”

“You’d have to do a hell lot more than a hair cut for him not to,” I said.

“It’s been eight years Cooper. We haven’t seen each other for eight years,” I didn’t really say anything back to her. My answer was, luckily, cut off by Porter, Bree and Toby scrambling into the back seat. Porter was getting squashed in the middle, his fatty stomach pressed Bree and Toby up against the windows.

“Porter! Why. Are. You. So. Fat,” Toby was shimming around trying to get comfortable. It was no use. Bree had realized that from square one.

The car jerked forward and sped out of the parking lot of the gas station. Eleanora almost hit that smoking girl before pulling out back onto the highway.

“Careful, Eleanor,” I heeded as the car accelerated to a couple miles above the speed limit, “we don’t want to have to squeeze another ghost into the backseat.”

“I’m thinking about taking the truck instead,” Bree said stiffly as the two boys beside her tussled for sitting space.

Eleanora laughed out loud, throwing her head back like they do in those Indie movies. She reached down to her laptop and Googled—damn that’s a great word, kudos to Larry Page— “Nowhere Man” like I told her.

That tune came on and I sang it as loudly as I could. I would’ve opened the windows, but it was snowing pretty hard now, and Eleanora still had skin cells that weren’t in favor of the cold. She may have had a jacket, but I couldn’t press the little button anyways.

Near the end of the song, Eleanora twisted her head towards me a little, “it’s like you.”

I didn’t get it, “huh?”

“The song,” Eleanora pointed to the radio, “it’s talking about someone like you.”

I hadn’t really thought about it that way, “really?

“Yeah, here, we’ll listen to it again.” Eleanora hit a key on her computer and the song looped again.

I listened more carefully this time.

“It’s like what I told you guys a couple weeks ago,” Eleanora started to say during the heart of the chorus, “you don’t know what you’re missing, you’ve got the whole world open to you but you refuse to see it cause you’re stuck in your own little bubble of self-pity and-” She broke into song at that point. I was impressed she had gotten a hang of the lyrics so quickly. I broke out with her. I guess maybe she was right, about how I was sort of blind to the world. But I don’t know, that stuff was just too deep for me to think about. All I knew was that John Lennon’s voice was audible to me once again, and I was going to take advantage of that.

“You know, what you said about being able to travel around the world is actually why we left,” I said suddenly. It was true, thinking back on it. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, but it’s funny the way stuff like that works.

Eleanora smiled but didn’t take her eyes off the road, “I figured as much.”

The song began to fade out.

Eleanora laughed out loud as I told her the next two songs to play, “‘You Won’t See Me’ and “I’m Looking Through You’? Are you sure this album wasn’t written for you all?”

I snorted, it was a real ugly, gross sounding sound. I hoped no one had heard it.

“Oh! I love that one!” someone said from the back seat. I wasn’t surprised to see who it was, but Eleanora was.

“Bree? I didn’t take you as a Beatles person,” Eleanora said back to her. Bree had been quiet for a majority of the ride. But I think she was just trying not to flip out since the other people sitting back there with her were rowdy as hell; Toby was freaking Porter out with his constant poking.

“Oh, I wasn’t,” Bree replied bitterly; yup, she was straining to keep her cool. “But after hearing Mr.Junior-John-Lennon play each song on repeat for 42 hours straight, you get pretty familiar with them.”

I shrugged, “you chose to stay in that house and listen. You could’ve left.”

“I said I like this song,” Bree argued, “I never said I had any problem with it. The Beatles are cool.”

“Not as cool as Pelvis Boy!” Toby shouted as he jabbed a bit of Porter’s flab.

Bree scowled, “oh, shut up.”

“We all know you made out with your Elvis posters during the prime of your life,” Toby mocked.

“Yeah,” Bree leaned up against the glass of the door to avoid Porter’s flailing arms as he tried to smack Toby, with very little success. She could’ve fallen out if she wanted to. “It was better than breathing in the smell of pot for one thing.”

Nobody said anything until the next song came on.

About twenty minutes later, we finished off Jesus’ Album with “Run For Your Life”, not my personal favorite but still a hit. Weren’t they all?

“And that, Eleanor, concludes our wonderful journey through the mystical world of my favorite band of all time,” I said valiantly, “you have heard all the albums up to the point in time in which I passed and the Fab Four deteriorated into the world of multicolored sugar cubes of LSD.”

“You know, they were practically on drugs their entire career,” Eleanora said, matter-of-factly.

I pretended like I hadn’t heard her.

She turned real fast towards me, like she was checking to make sure I hadn’t imploded or something.

“What do you-”

“Don’t be hating on the Beatles please,” I said sweetly, trying really hard to be funny to hide my pissed-off-ness, “it’s not appreciated.”

I think Eleanora was smarter than that though, “oh, I’m sorry.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said.

“Well, it’s a pretty good album, definitely swear-upon worthy,” Eleanora smirked.

“Told you so.”

Eleanora was still smiling as she reached down with one hand to type something into her laptop. The thing swayed a bit and fell off onto the floor near my non-existent feet. She swore. Reaching down, her other hand still on the rim of the steering wheel, she tried to grab the laptop laying at my feet. She had it in between her fingers when-

“WATCH OUT!”

The car swiveled and jerked violently as Eleanora lost control of the wheel. I tried to grab that dumb handle that has no purpose except for in these exact situations above my head but my hand went right through it. What a surprise.

Porter, Bree and Toby were screaming bloody murder back there. Porter had curled up into a little ball at the base of the seat. I think Toby was kind of enjoying himself, he was strange like that. You’d think a car crash would get him emotional, that is how he died after all. But then again, I guess I don’t break down sobbing every time I see a flight of stairs.

Eleanora got finally got the car steadied, but not after we had made our mark in the fresh coat of snow trailing behind. The wheel tracks of our little Civic had torn up that layer of white; at least we hadn’t gone off road.

Eleanora was staring wide-eyed straight out the windshield. Damn, we were lucky there hadn’t been any other cars out at this hour. That could’ve been a disaster.

“Who screamed?” Eleanora shot back to the back seat. Porter raised a timid hand from his place on the floor of the car, “Porter! Don’t do that!”

“I’m sorry!” Porter yelped, “I thought I saw a deer!”

Everyone let out annoyed sighs.

“Well next time, please don’t scream like you’ve been-”

I saw the blue and red lights before I heard the sirens. They weren’t very hard to miss, reflecting off all the mirrors and illuminating the cabin of the car. The blaring that followed was pretty loud too, couldn’t have drowned it out even with the Beatles blasting at full volume.

“Oh, shit.”

“Oh no,”

“The fuck?”

“The police love to show up at the worst time don’t they. We’ve been driving fine for the past hour!”

Eleanora had turned a horrible white color. She looked more like a ghost than I did.

“Pull over Eleanora,” I said. She didn’t. “I said pull over.”

“I can’t Cooper,” Eleanora replied hastily, “I don’t have a license.”

“Then make a run for it!” Toby shouted, “we don’t stop for nobody!”

That stupid siren sound was getting louder.

“Just pull over.”

“Floor it!”

“Shut up, Toby!”

“Guys, I don’t like car chases. I don’t like cops. I’m too young for jail!”

“Porter, they can’t see you, you fat ass, they can’t put you in jail!”

“Full throttle, we can lose them in the city!”

Pull over!

“You guys aren’t helping me!”

“Cross over into the other lane! Smash into the little bastard’s car!”

“I don’t like this guys, I don’t like this.”

“Shut up, Porter!”

“What do I do! I don’t-”

“Pull over, Elle,” Bree’s voice stood out in the chaos. Everyone turned to her.

“What?”

“Pull over, Eleanora, it’s fine,” Bree spoke really calmly. It was a scary calm. There was no way this situation was going to turn out “fine”.

But Eleanora trusted her, I think. And, as much as it hurt me to say, I think she trusted her more than the rest of us combined. Or maybe it was just because she sounded so certain. But either way, Eleanora did what Bree said, turning the car and putting her foot on the break as soon as we were parallel to the side of the road.

Eleanora had gone stiff.

So much for Nevada.

“Oh no, no, no, no,” Porter was saying, still coiled in on himself in a pudgy ball on the floor, “we’re going to the slammer. Oh, no, no, no.”

“What do I do Bree?” Eleanora said, wringing her hands against the steering wheel, “I don’t have a-”

“Just stay here,” Bree replied patiently, “I’ll handle it.”

“Bree, what the-” Bree disappeared from her seat as she stepped outside into the snow. It was so dark out now, though. I couldn’t see her.

Eleanora winced when she heard the car door slam from behind us.

C’mon Bree.

The policeman, who wasn’t your stereotypical donut dude with the potbelly and mustache, marched up to the front window. Eleanora rolled it down with shaking hands. He had a flashlight that he shone into the car.

The officer’s voice was amusingly high pitched, “can I see your ID, please.”

Eleanora’s voice was too, but I didn’t find it nearly as funny, “of course.” She started sorting through the center compartment thing to stall time. Where was Bree?

“Ma’am, how old are you?” The officer asked, leaning into the window and peeking into the back, shining his torch right across Porter and Toby. I swear I heard Porter squeal like some pink, pudgy pig.

“Not old enough to be called ma’am,” I said. Eleanora didn’t even crack a smile, but I don’t think she could if she wanted to.

“I’m, uh-”

Then something weird happened. The guy’s mustacheless face went sort of dazed, his eyes drooping and his mouth falling numb, like he was under some sort of spell.

Oh, shit Bree.

Without another word, that poor, befuddled policeman stumbled away. As soon as his body was away from the window, Bree came back into view.

She had her hands outstretched all eerie-like, twitching the tips of her fingers just a tad. Her eyes were wild. Controlling this unfortunate little man like her own personal marionette doll, Bree made him wobble back over to his car, slamming the door—as we heard quite distinctly—and, after a short moment, making him drive away, his taillights shrinking off into black.

In our own car, no one said a thing.

Bree had just manipulated that guy, made him into a puppet. She had just done the unthinkable. She had done what I had done only hours ago, but I suppose not nearly as brutal. Bree had pulled a Brodie.

And she jumped back into the car, as if she had just ordered herself a double cheeseburger with extra pickles and a side of fries. Damn, that would’ve been good right then. But what I mean by that is that she didn’t seemed fazed or anything by the fact that she had, literally, just tapped into her inner demon.

Everyone sort of awkwardly stared at her. This is gonna sound strange but Bree actually seemed, lighter. I don’t know how to describe it, but something about her had shifted; she didn’t seemed so.....dark.

“Thanks, Bree,” Eleanora managed, her voice barely a squeak. I don’t know what had freaked her out more; the cop, or Bree and her kooky voodoo magic.

The boys in the back scootched away from her as she took her seat. Poor, unfortunate Toby was getting suffocated against the window as Porter tried to make the gap between him and Bree as large as possible.

“You-you,” Porter stuttered, “you just-”

“Two of you in one day,” Toby said under his breath, “this has got to be a new record.”

I’m going to take a quick moment to tell you how frickin’ berserk Toby went when I told him about what I did to Diana at Clifton. He was so angry, he didn’t even comment on the fact that I had stepped foot into the girl’s bathroom. That’s when you know he’s really pissed, when his mind doesn’t immediately go to sex. Hoa boy though did he flip. And now Bree was in on it too; I was sure he would get out and beat the living crap out of her. But he didn’t really sound all that mad this time. He seemed more sad than anything, probably because it reminded him of Brodie. He had really liked Brodie, bringing it up around him always bummed him out.

“What?” Bree was actually startled.

“You just pulled a Brodie! Or should we start calling it a ‘Cooper’ now that it’s been sucked into the mainstream,” Toby shot me a look.

“You mean that?” Bree threw a lame, slouching thumb over her shoulder, “oh, that was nothing.”

“I thought you had to be angry to do that to someone,” I added, twisting my back so I could see the others.

Bree, Ms. Brianna Sterling who killed herself at seventeen, smiled. For the first time in over sixty years, Bree smiled. Not a phony one, but a real, sincere, little grin. Sure, the circumstances made it a bit gothic and she still wasn’t showing her teeth, but I could tell it wasn’t a fake. I could see right through this one, and there just so happened to be nothing behind it. It was just a stupid smile. That’s what they should be.

It was out of place, not only with her face, but with her words, “I’m always angry.”

Baby steps, I told myself, baby steps. She’d be happy one of these days.

Eleanora had finally been able to snatch her laptop from my feet. She was typing with a purpose her eyes narrowed on the screen.

Toby, Bree and Porter had started up a conversation, so I looked to Eleanora, “You good?”

“I am not going to go through that again,” her voice was shaking like a leaf.

“So what now?” I asked, “Are we just going to give up?”

“Of course not!” Eleanora didn’t look up from the keys, “there’s a train station down in Springfield. That’s less than twenty minutes away.”

“You’re going to take a train?” I was astounded, “those things are still around?”

Now Eleanora looked up, “yeah. Why wouldn’t they be?”

“I don’t know, I thought maybe the new world scrapped it or something.”

Eleanora pursed her lips and shook her head, “nope.”

I leaned myself back, pretending to be reclining in the seat, “there’s one thing that hasn’t been lost in the fast-paced progression of civilization.”

“Those are some big words, Einstein,” Toby called forward to me. Whatever he had needed to say to Bree, he had said it. Otherwise, I don’t think he would’ve come across as so untroubled. And Bree wouldn’t have been looking so happy. Porter was pouting between them. Oh god, I would kill to have a recording of that exchange; I still don’t know what they had said.

“Thanks, Toby, I try. But Einstein was a scientist, not a writer.”

“Whatever, nerd. Is that better? Nerd’s universal.”

“Perfect,” Eleanora cut into our banter as she slammed her laptop shut and placed it in my lap. Well, more like through it. “A train leaves for Chicago in a half hour, and if we can make it, we’ll be on it.”

“Chicago or bust!” Toby shouted as the car began moving forward, “I can’t believe we didn’t get into a car chase. Would’ve been dope.”

Eleanora drove a lot slower this time around. We listened to as much of “Hard Day’s Night” as we could, but only at a low hum. I think Eleanora was spooked. I sort of was too. I’d never been to Chicago, it seemed so far away. So far away from my little home town, from the big field, from the blue house.

From the old mossy grave with my name on it.


© Copyright 2017 Emerson Grey. All rights reserved.

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