A day did not go by that Dylan McKenzie did not think about the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall”. His mother had given him nightmares telling him stories about how the large companies were poisoning the environment.
“Someday even the rain will be made up of poisonous, toxic chemicals,” she’d told him. “And it will fall on everyone and cause horrible diseases and painful deaths.”
She spoke of the future violence to come when children carried weapons and fought in the streets. He’d once read the lyrics, but it had been like a Rubik’s cube to his young brain and he’d latched onto his mother’s wisdom and had turned Bob Dylan into his own personal idol and prophet.
As he grew older he began to wonder why nobody stopped the chemical companies, why the people of his mother’s generation were so intent on peaceful solutions, when obviously they didn’t work, and why did they spend so much time smoking pot and wiling away the days when so much work needed to be done?
Flower Power. What a cop out that turned out to be. Fear and intimidation were the only ways to get people to do what you wanted.
He had learned that much from his dad, who’d once been a flower child himself, but had since learned the real ways of the world. He’d seen his dad push people around and noticed how they backed off and let him get his own way. Dylan knew the shame of letting his dad intimidate him. But he’d always just been a kid. The day would come when the old man wouldn’t be pushing on him anymore.
I’ll show you, Dad, like I showed that silly kid, Riley.
He had taken care of her and someday he’d take care of his dad. But – in the meantime, Dylan had other plans. He twisted the band on his wrist, the band he’d made with shoelaces, a strip of leather and a magic marker. He admired the crude letters he’d drawn onto the leather: WWWDD. It had been fashioned after the bracelets at school that were all the rage now. The letters on those had been: WWJD. They stood for What Would Jesus Do. Some marketing genius had come up with the concept that whenever a moral question arose as to what action to take, the bracelet would serve as a reminder to act in accordance with what Jesus had taught.
Dylan had taken it a step further. His stood for: What Would Warrior Dylan Do. His mother thought he’d been referring to her hero, Bob Dylan, but in actuality he’d been referring to himself. And Dylan did not subscribe to the peaceful notions of the hippies.
A warrior does not fear violence or run from confrontations.
Dylan was all about getting revenge. He’d found a way to make the fat cats pay for their rape of the environment. Dylan would plunder their fortunes and be the re-born prophet, this would be his destiny as a son of one of the visionaries of the sixties generation – that visionary being his mother. No more Flower Power. Like the song, Dylan had grown into a child soldier. He would look after his mother. Dylan knew she’d been aimlessly roaming in Europe and crashing in Hostels whenever she’d been able to pan handle some cash.
She is resourceful, but she’s getting older and needs my help.
He revered this woman who had stayed true to her beliefs, who believed the song about the Satisfied Mind, the absence of all worldly gifts and the peace of mind and serenity that follows. She’d been a strong voice during the sixties and Dylan knew that nobody held those concepts dearer than his mother. And she needed his help.
She needs the help of a warrior who knows how to get things done. I will be her protector and we’ll never have to be under anyone’s thumb again.
Occasionally, his mom would borrow a cell phone and text messages to him. It had been three weeks ago he’d gotten the message that the time was drawing near. His mother had been referring to the time of the upheaval, and as she had further explained meant the time right before the end of the world. She told him a group had been joining together to find a safe place to weather out the coming events and she wanted him to be with her. He would find a way to join her. He had to find a way.
And to think that little kid, Riley, had been about to tell her pollution making parents that she’d caught me breaking into their house and rummaging through their bedroom chest of drawers.
How had such a nosy, irritating, dumb kid gotten the better of him? But being the Warrior Dylan, he’d handled it.
And what would the price of that be? Dylan heard pounding at the front door and shrank against the wall at the sight of the police cruiser parked out front.
Have they come for me? Do they know? Will I be put in prison?
After stripping off the leather skull and crossbones jacket he kicked it under his bed. He laid the blue contact lenses in their box and carefully hid that under his T shirts. His large brown eyes matched the color of his hair and he quickly pulled a brush through the gelled mass making the waves and curls fall gently around his face. The horn rimmed glasses completed his appearance as a nerdy, goodie two shoes boy. Even if someone had spotted him at Riley’s they’d never recognize him now, unless of course that nosy old man, Eloy had seen him.
Let him tell, most people think he’s senile or crazy, anyhow.
Dylan glanced in the mirror and nodded at his appearance with approval.
“We’re asking all the neighbors when they last saw Riley,” a babe in a sheriff’s uniform had been saying to his dad when Dylan entered the living room. “You have not been singled out Mr. Mc Kenzie, I assure you.”
At the mention of Riley’s name Dylan felt a flutter in his chest. Be cool, he told himself. Officer Babe wasn’t even looking his way. If they knew what he’d done he’d be handcuffed by now. They knew nothing and he had to keep his emotions under control to avoid arousing suspicion. Although, the way his dad kept acting it would be him packed into the back of the squad car in not too long.
“She’s probably at a friend’s house, she’ll most likely show up at home when it gets dark,” Cort McKenzie railed. “You don’t have enough real crimes to investigate? You gotta come around here fishin’ for somethin’ to justify your salary? A looker like you ought to be dining in a fine restaurant, or dancing the night away. I’ve always said there’s somethin’ not quite right with someone who wants to throw people in jail.”
“And you’re an expert on human behavior?” the babe said with a definite tone and a sneer on her pouty lips. Her gaze traveled to his dad’s wife beater T shirt and lingered on a large hole which his protruding belly had stretched to the size of a tennis ball. The tats his dad had gotten during the sixties had faded into ugly grey blobs running up and down his hairy arms and even from a few feet away Dylan could smell the beery sweat that seemed to stick to his dad even after a shower.
“I know things, Sweetheart,” his dad said, winked at her and smoothed back his greasy dishwater blonde hair.
“My name is Lieutenant Frio,” she said tucking her pen and notepad in her shirt pocket. “Maybe you should accompany me to the station where we can get better acquainted and you can tell me those ‘things’ you know.”
“I ain’t going nowhere and I ain’t wastin’ anymore of my time. That spoiled little rich kid will show up soon enough,” he began shuttling her toward the door, his hand pressing against her back.
“Huh?” his dad said and looked perplexed as she grabbed his arm and spun him around. Before he could react she pushed him against the wall and snapped a pair of handcuffs onto his wrists. He stumbled and landed hard on the wooden bench.
“You had no right to do that,” he sputtered, his face turning red.
“Mr. McKenzie, you just sit right there and the cuffs will ensure you’ll keep your hands to yourself,” she said matter-of-factly. “You touch me again, or make any threatening moves and I won’t hesitate to use my pepper spray,” she laid her hand on a canister tucked into her belt.
“Just kick ‘em in the ass and throw ‘em in jail,” his father said sarcastically, quoting an old Lenny Bruce routine on the job description of a cop.
“That can be arranged,” she said, and a grin tugged at the corners of her mouth when his dad loudly exhaled and looked away.
When Lieutenant Frio glanced in Dylan’s direction he felt his legs begin to shake.
“You’re his son?” she asked and pulled her pen and pad from her pocket. “What’s your name?” She wrote down his name when he answered. “Your dad is going to sit right there real quiet and I will ask you a few questions. Is that okay?”
“Sure ma’m, uh, I mean Lieutenant,” he said not quite able to stop the tremor in his voice.
When she asked him the last time he’d seen Riley the lie slid easily off his tongue. “I guess I saw her at school a few days ago. She’s a couple of grades below me and those kids have their lunch before us. I hardly ever see the smaller kids, you know. I don’t really pay any attention to them.”
She nodded and asked his dad the same question. Dylan could tell he wanted to smart off to her again, but with what seemed a great effort, if the tight lips and bulging eyes were any indication, answered in a civil tone that he hadn’t seen “that kid” in weeks.
“Have you noticed any strangers about, or anyone who doesn’t belong here?”
Both Dylan and his dad simply shook their heads.
“Have you seen any cars in the neighborhood that you didn’t recognize, or anything usual?”
“Look,” Cort said, “these folks around here change cars like they own GMAC. And who knows? Maybe some of ‘em do. They all walk around like they’ve got sticks up their ta tas, each one of ‘em tryin’ to outdo the other. What’s goin’ on, anyway? Someone forget to polish his wingtips this mornin’ or somethin’?”
“Just answer the question, Mr. Mc Kenzie,” Lieutenant Frio said.
“No, no and no,” he stated.
Dylan shook his head, No.
The Lieutenant simply made a note on her pad and then clicked the pen.
“You gonna undo these cuffs?” Cort McKenzie asked in the impatient tone that signaled to Dylan that the old man had been royally pissed. He dreaded the Lieutenant leaving because he knew how his dad liked to take his anger out on him.
“Has something happened to Riley?” he asked.
“I’m sorry,” she said, her eyes softening. “We are investigating some trouble, but I’m not at liberty to disclose what’s happened. You’ll know soon enough.”
That last comment struck him as a thinly veiled threat and he saw the interest in the Lieutenant’s eyes as he felt his own grow large with fright.
“Stay close to home,” she said. “And for the next few days, don’t be outside alone after dark and you should be okay.”
Dylan almost cried out with relief. She’d misinterpreted his fear. Well, after all, no one had any reason to suspect him of anything.
That is, unless I left fingerprints at Riley’s house.
He couldn’t remember if he’d been wearing his gloves the entire time. He’d been so furious by Riley’s threat to tattle on him and the acid he’d taken kept doing strange things to time. It had been as though time had been operating like slides on a projector.
Dylan thought about Riley. His dad had been right when he’d called her a spoiled rich kid. The spawn of her parents, she’d only been interested in money and possessions. In fact, Dylan realized, not many kids were interested in his hippie mother’s cause. No matter, they could rot right along with their establishment parents. The prophecies of Bob Dylan’s song were beginning to come true and thanks to his mom he’d been given a crusade. He’d truly become the blue eyed boy of the song.