Johnny Faa – He’s In This One

David found Faa locked up in the room that had previously held the rift opening equipment. It had been returned to its austere beginnings: bare metal walls, floor and ceiling, with nothing inside but a surly Gypsy King. It was just as David had first seen it. Johnny, however, was not as David had first seen him. His hair was not quite as wild, his beard not that large, but he seemed more dangerous now than ever. He was rough, wild, like a caged animal. David had seen him at his most misanthropic and callous, and he thought that was the worst he would ever see. But this… this was feral. The guards, armed to the teeth, gave him an uncomfortable look  as he waved them off.
“Hey, man…” David said as he tried to enter as if nothing was wrong. Johnny promptly ripped off one of his fingers and, snarling, threw it at him.
“You know,’ David cleared his throat, “I wonder if you’ll run out of body parts to throw at me before the blood loss makes you pass out.”
He growled again. The guards took a step forward, rifles at the ready.
“No need for that, guys,” David held up a hand to stop them, “In fact… just get out of here, all right?”
“You got a problem with it, take it up with Tate!” David barked back at them, not in the mood to obey protocol. They left, no doubt to get on he radio to the General. David squatted down a few feet from Faa, trying to get at eye level as the Gypsy sat on the floor, still in a local football t shirt.
“You know,” David said after a long breath, “you know things have gotten bad in here, right?”
No answer.
“I mean, not just us… that sucks a fat one, I’ll admit… but things outside of this room are getting even worse. Like, end-of-the-universe kind of worse.”
Johnny snorted with absolute derision. David noted with some surprise that his smallest finger already seemed to be growing back from a nubbin.
“I’m serious, man… do you think I’d rot in a cell for a few days eating bread from a tube just so I could come here and lie to you.”
“Huh,” Faa finally spoke, his voice gruff and hoarse, “Depends. Maybe your buddy Tate set up a little plan for you.”
“”He’s not my buddy,” David replied, then added, thoughtfully, “he did just kiss me, though…”
Johnny’s eyes widened from their darkened sockets that hasn’t seen decent sleep in days.
“…Are you gay?”
David giggled in response, shaking his head and looking at the ceiling.
“I don’t know.”
“I hadn’t had you pegged for that,” Faa grunted, “Not that there’s anything wrong with it. I saw Ancient Greece, you know. They called me Archimedes back then.”
“I’m sure they did,” David was glad that conversation had finally opened up, “So does that mean you trust me?”
“Fuck no.”
For some reason, that seemed to make David feel more at ease, and he sat on the cold floor next to Johnny.
“Well, I’m glad to hear that. If you had said yes, I’d know you were either lying or crazy.”
“Ha ha ha,” Faa laughed drily, still not making eye contact, “I wouldn’t be surprised if you were in on this, too, just to fuck with me. Seems like everything good that’s ever happened in my life ultimately turns to shit. Y’know, Verdun used to be this cute little river town. Japan used to be this backwards little rock of polite people. Hell, even Ronnie Reagan wasn’t a prick at one point. Humanity… I swear, you guys ruin everything.”
“You make it sound like you’re not one of us.”
“I’m not,” Faa replied, his voice obviously pained, “I haven’t been for a long time. Anyone here can tell you that; it’s one of the reasons I could survive in the rift.”
David sighed and leaned back on his arms, letting his feet go out straight in front of him.
“They told you, huh?”
“Not they,” Johnny replied, still hunched over, “THAT group. Their little buddies, y’know? Boy, were they pissed. When  I heard what happened, I told them that their pals would be better off with a bullet in their heads… they did not like that.”
He drew out those last five words, skipping the contraction entirely. It was then David knew that he knew… he thought.
“So you can guess what’s going on, then?”
“And ace-high shit fit from the Clubhouse Gang? Oh yeah, I figured. How bad is it?”
“They commandeered the Rift Manipulator and a fuck-ton of ordnance,” David said, “And they want you.”
“Fat lot of good I’ll be to them.”
“Maybe you will be. They’re hoping to use you to turn the Rift in on itself and create some sort of universe-destroying paradox.”
Johnny waiting for a second before replying.
“Can they do that?”
“Theoretically, yes,” David nodded, “It’s like feedback on a microphone, except that sound you hear is existence crumbling.”
“And they want me, huh?” Johnny’s voice was dripping with disdain, “or else they’ll blow up everything?”
“Pretty much.”
“Huh,” Faa scoffed again, “Babies.”
“So are you gonna come with me and fix this?” David asked cautiously, “I figure you’re the person they want, and you’re the only person…”
He stopped for a moment and thought before he continued.
“The only human being who can get in there and stop this whole fuckin’ mess. We need you. I need you.”
“Great, now you’re quoting Star Trek at me,” Faa said with a roll of his eyes, “It ain’t gonna work, Tiberius. Let it all come crashing down. If this is all existence has for me, constant disappointment, then let it burn.”
It was at that moment that David realized how similar they were, and because of that he knew he could turn Johnny’s heart. All these years, all he needed was a friend… and it was at that moment that David’s cell phone buzzed in his pocket. He couldn’t see his face, but David knew Johnny was paying attention?
“They let you keep your phone?” He asked, incredulously, “I’m lucky they let me keep my underwear.”
“I picked it up from the guards on my way down here,” David replied, checking the message, “And I think this information is more for me than for you.”
“I don’t know what you’ve heard, chump, but I don’t need anything to grow my Johnson.”
“Johnny,” David said with some exasperation, “Just look at it, will you?”
“Oh, all right,” said the Gypsy King and, reciprocating, saw the picture of two Idaho driver’s licenses on David’s phone. Immediately, the Immortal’s eyes welled up with tears.
“How did you find this.”
He didn’t say it like a question, the ending was blunt, like the wrong side of an axe.
“It’s a perk of being in a top secret government agency,” David replied, smiling. He handed the phone to Johnny, who cradled it like it was a baby kitten.
“Go ahead and look through,” David said, standing up, “Dottie and Herm Olsen, 104 S Elder street, Nampa, Idaho. She’s seventy-eight years old, but she’s in good health. Still drives, knows the postal carrier by name… they even pay their taxes on the same day, every year.”
He looked down and saw Faa still cradling the phone like it was the only source of heat in the entire Tundra.
‘We could go see them,” David said softly, “After this is all done. You and me: no guards, no cameras. Road Trip. I’ll even buy a VW minibus. Sound like a deal?”
“You son of a bitch,” David heard him say from the floor.
“Maybe,” David shrugged dismissively, “Knowing you, you probably went and paid a visit to my parents at one point so… you tell me.”
“I told ’em I was your third grade art teacher,” his voice was cracking now, but seemed a little happier, “and your Mom is kind of a bitch. Here, catch.”
He tossed the phone back to David, who caught it awkwardly on the third bobble. Johnny held up his hand for David to grasp, and he hauled the Gypsy to his feet, looking into the bloodshot eyes that were now awash with tears.
“You got yourself a deal,” Faa said, “And you’d better keep it, or I’ll kill ya.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything else from you—hey!”
The Gypsy King wrapped him in a massive hug, and for the second time today David was completely poleaxed and stymied by a show of emotion.
“Hey,” he tried to play it off with a joke, “I thought I told you it was a strict ‘I don’t know’ on the subject…”
“Just shut up and hug me, fag.”
And they stood there, supporting each other, knowing that in the next few minutes they could very well face oblivion.

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