ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER
"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom."- Bob Dylan
He awoke in a cold sweat. Breathing rapidly Spike took in his surroundings: a white-walled hospital room, multi-colored tile floor, and the monitor that he was connected to. Spike dragged his numb legs off the bed and planted his feet to the floor. He fixed his hospital gown, took a breath and attempted to stand up but a sharp pain cut inside his abdomen. He held his stomach to try and control the excruciating pain and continued to walk forward. Spike walked a few inches and suddenly jolted back and fell on the floor; he looked up only to realize that he was handcuffed to the hospital bed. Spike groaned in displeasure. He sat on the tile floor for a minute and recalled the scene with Vicious.
"Julia is dead... let's finish it now."
"As you wish."
The sound of the gun blast and katana slicing ringed in Spike's head. Vicious' body lied there lifelessly, Spike didn't know if it felt right but he knew it had to be done; as the past had caught up with him, it concluded too. The last thing he remembered was collapsing on those huge red steps "Bang." echoed in his head. Spike looked out the hospital window; it was a calm night with a few dark clouds in the sky. The moon was particularly bright, almost like a spotlight. The stars made him think about the Bebop, perhaps it was up in space somewhere? Spike thought about the last moments he shared with Jet and Faye. The painful laughter that the two shared before he left and the loud gunshots Faye fired to keep him from leaving. In Spike's own warped sense of the word he felt guilty; he knew that Jet and Faye were most likely paying for his hospital bills with whatever small-fry bounties they could pick up. Faye and Jet probably had to deal with ISSP too. He shuddered at the thought of putting his comrades in that position, but overall he was just angry. Spike slowly stood up supporting his sore body on the hospital bed but the cold metallic handcuffs constrained him. He hated the idea of going to jail; the hideous orange jumpsuits, the senseless guys that liked to pick a fight (even though Spike knew he could take them on) and worst of all being behind cramped inside a small room for long periods of time. Spike was a feral cat; he can't stay put for long otherwise he'd go insane. Death was a more acceptable outcome than being locked up.
Spike searched the desk next to him to see if he could find something to unlock the handcuffs. He turned and stretched his long arm to the foot of the hospital bed. Spike felt around when he found his files in a manila folder. He grabbed the folder, saw photos of his gruesome injuries and read through the logs; the last entry date was of 2072. How long had he been sleeping? Spike slid a paperclip off the files, lengthened the paper clip out and stuck it in the micro-chip and jiggled it around. The handcuffs short-circuited, giving him a small shock, and it unlocked; he rubbed his irritated wrist and clenched his fist. Spike stretched with difficulty for a minute and then looked through the custodial closet. He found an old blue janitor's uniform and put it on even though it barely fit his long body. He headed toward the window and unlocked it. Spike grabbed onto a cold water pipe and began to slide down it but his body went numb and he fell off. He landed in the bushes which scuffed him up a bit; he stood up and groaned in pain. Spike pushed onward sneaking through the bushes and crawling under the windows so no one inside would see him and ran toward the freeway. Inside the hospital a red-headed nurse walked into Spike's room only to find that no one was in there. She gasped and dropped her clipboard when she realized that the patient was gone. The nurse ran to a guard that was clearly flirting with one of the other nurses.
"So, uh, what type of movies you like?'
"Oh uh I-"
"Guard! Guard! The patient in room 434 is missing!"
"Which one is that one again?"
The guard put his hand on his head in dissatisfaction "Oh damn, they said this job was gonna be easy!" he whined.
Spike kept on running when he passed over a sensor between two trees. An alarm began blaring loudly, alerting everyone inside. "Shit!" said Spike. He was panting heavily as he ran onto the freeway. Each breath he labored sent agony through his ribs and chest and all the way into his shoulders. Spike was sweating profusely; he stopped to bend over and put his hands on his knees and catch his breath. Spike breathed in and out for a good while then a bright flash of light illuminated him. A space craft was speeding toward him; Spike jumped out of the way before it could impact him.
"Damn it! Why is everyone in such a hurry all the time?" said Spike. Spike stood up, dusted himself off and slipped through the concrete dividers of the two lanes and made his way onto the streets.
"I'm still on Tharsis…" said Spike. A fast whooshing sound passed over him that spread dust and litter in all directions; it was an ISSP space craft that was probably looking for him. Spike kept on running until he reached a worn down apartment complex in downtown. The neighborhood wasn't very safe and the apartment complex was made of brick, it was ancient, but to Spike it was a sanctuary. Spike knew someone that lived in the apartment, in suite C2. It had been years but Spike hoped that they were still there. Spike arrived to the wooden door that read " 2" and knocked softly. There was no answer so he knocked again and again and again until finally he heard multiple locks being turned. The door calmly creaked open and a baby-faced man poked his head out.
The man opened the old door completely and extended out his arm to greet Spike and they shook hands.
"I thought you were dead." said Roy
"It feels like I've died a million deaths." said Spike.
"So what's with the get-up they had a mix up at the laundry or something?" Roy chuckled.
"Something like that."
"Hmm. So what'd you need from me?"
"A place to stay the night."
"Yeah yeah man, get in here."
Roy let Spike into the apartment and locked the door behind him; it was battered and grubby, full of soot. The wallpaper was peeling off and there was hardly any furniture but plenty of nudie magazines, ammunition, alcohol, and cigarettes.
"Want some water or anything?" asked Roy. "Yeah water is fine." said Spike.
Roy walked into the kitchen while Spike looked around the living room. On the night stand was a framed photo of Anastasia, Roy's mother. Spike picked up the frame and gazed at it, painfully reminding him of Annie's death. Roy was a bit younger than Spike but a lot shorter and chubbier. At one point the two of them met while they were part of the Red Dragon. Roy entered the room with a glass of water and Spike put the picture frame back down. Roy handed Spike the glass and he chugged the water down.
"Thanks" said Spike.
"Hey, hey it's no problem."
"I really appreciate you letting me stay here."
"Oh c'mon I'd be an asshole to not let you in! It's chilly out there, the cold wind would have frozen ya. I'm just surprised that you remembered where I lived."
"You and me were good pals once, you know that Roy." said Spike with a smile.
"Yeah! Y'know I always felt like you n' me were kinda like brothers, since my mom said she thought of you like a son."
Roy stayed silent and stared at the floor, thinking.
"Have you seen your mother lately, Roy?" asked Spike.
"She died a few months ago." said Roy.
"Eh that's okay, you don't gotta be sorry it wasn't your fault or anything."
Spike stayed silent.
"You know whose fault it was though? That piece of shit crime syndicate. ISSP came to my door telling me they killed her right there in her convenience store and that they had some sort of falling out and killed her for no good reason. I'm glad they kicked me out a long time ago."said Roy.
"They sort of kicked me out a long time ago too."said Spike
"Yeah? Well that's good Spike."
"That's why I faked my death, to get them off my back."
"Huh so that's why you 'died' all of a sudden… but hey they got their just desserts, the tower here in Tharsis got blown up pretty bad. I'm sure you heard about it was all over the news."
" Yeah… did they ever find out who did it?"
"They had a few suspects, but they didn't name any of them. If you ask me I could point out a bunch of guys that didn't like how things were runnin' it coulda been a lot of different guys at once."
"You don't think maybe one guy could've done that?"
"Hell no! There were too many guys dead for one guy to pull all of that off!"
"So what'd you do with yourself after you 'died'?"
"Well, I became a bounty hunter, partnered up with this other guy."
"Yeah? Well hey that must be pretty excitin'! I'm sure you reel in the dough with that line of work!"
"Ha, I wish. The money always goes to paying for damages or the bounty gets away. We never had food on the table, beef and bell peppers without any beef."
"Yeesh never mind, it sounds rough."
"Yeah well… at least there's never a boring moment." Spike continued "What'd you do after you left?" he asked.
"Ah, me? Well I got a couple of odd jobs here and there but nothing too fancy. Right now I'm working as a busboy, it's crap but at least I'm getting paid."
"Food on the table is always a good thing."
"So why did you need a place to stay the night?"
"I had business here in town… it's over now though but I couldn't get back home in time."
"All right then, I won't bother you too much about it. Wanna get some rest then pal?"
"Yeah, thanks again Roy."
"Hey like I said before it's not a problem. You can crash right there on the couch. Sorry if it's hard as brick though."
"I like it. I never liked soft beds."
Roy turned off the lights and retreated to his room. Spike lied there, staring at the ceiling. He thought about Julia and her beautiful features: her red lips and golden silk hair. Her words "It's all just a dream" echoed through his head. Spike wondered if he was dreaming; that he was still lying lifelessly on the red steps and just before dying this was his dream. Julia was never coming back and Vicious was dead. All he had to look forward to, all of his duties were over what was the point in going on? Jet? Faye? Bounty hunting? Spike questioned whether or not these things had meaning to him. Spike didn't sleep at all that night, all he had done for months was sleep; he needed to handle whatever consequences were coming his way. "I'll handle it in the morning." he thought to himself.
It was dawn on the harbor; The Bebop's bones groaned fighting the sound of silence. No one was awake yet, Jet slept in his quarters next to his quaint bonsai trees and Faye slept in her room next to the television still on with buzzing static on the screen and the beta-max right next to it. There was less arguing between the two, without Spike there it felt empty. Faye and Jet just lived everyday as normal as possible: picking up bounty heads, putting food on the table, cleaning, Jet working on their space crafts, reading, watching the TV and so on. Between the two of them they had a small fortune for Spike's bills and in case he needed bail. Without him causing damages they actually got to keep some money. But Spike was still more than welcome back to the ship, even though none of them would say it. Jet's phone rang loudly, echoing throughout the halls of the Bebop. It woke him up almost like an alarm clock was set. Jet rubbed his bald head and grumbled. He answered the phone.
"Yeah Bob what is it?"
"Hey Jet it's about Spiegel."
"What about him?"
"Word from the hospital is that he's gone"
"Gone?! What do you mean gone?!"
"What else am I gonna mean, he's gone like the wind."
"Oh damn it Spike."
"Nurse said he unlocked his handcuffs with a paper clip, stole the janitor's uniform, and climbed out the window."
"A paper clip, huh?"
"Yeah then he set off an alarm outside, ISSP set it up in case he tried to get away."
"Yeah looks like they were right."
"ISSP is out looking for him as we speak, if they don't find him soon I guarantee you they're gonna put a bounty out on him. Your partner's in real trouble Jet."
"Oh what else is new… Got anything else Bob?"
"No that's it. I don't know if I can help you this time Jet; he's a suspect for a pretty big crime."
"Can you at least update me with new information as it comes?"
"I can update you with public info that's given out to bounty hunters… maybe you might wanna catch him yourself? I don't know."
"Well thanks Bob."
"Sure thing Jet."
Jet hung up the phone and set it down on his table. He stared at his bonsai trees; he had a worried expression on his face that quickly turned angry. Faye had been standing beside Jet's door, listening the whole time. She had a worried expression on her too; she didn't wanted Spike to get in any more trouble than he is already. "That damn lunkhead has gotten all of us in enough trouble." She thought to herself.
Jet called out from his room "You got anything to say Faye?" he said.
"What is there to say? The idiot decided to run and we have no clue where he is."
"Well he couldn't have gotten far."
"What if he passed out, laying in the middle of God knows where? We're never gonna find him."
"Don't say things like that Faye."
"It's only wishful thinking."
"You don't really mean that."
"Look, we gotta find him before he does something more stupid. Just go get ready."
Jet stood up and put on his ragged flight suit; Faye took a shower and changed into her regular skimpy attire. They both ate a quick breakfast and headed into the ship bay. Jet climbed aboard his Hammerhead and Faye on her Redtail and they set off into the blue. Jet called Faye on her radio.
"Okay Tharsis isn't too far we'll land there and ask around downtown to see if maybe anybody has seen him."
"Won't be too hard, he has pretty distinct features: a lanky lunkhead with green fuzzy hair."
Spike stood up from the stiff couch; he was still sore but he was surprised that he wasn't in even more pain after lying on that couch all night. Spike stretched and waited for Roy to wake up so he can thank him once again and leave. Spike thought what he might do; hopefully find something other than a short janitor's outfit, maybe try and get in contact with Jet or Faye. Spike needed them to help find out a solution but he dreaded interacting with his comrades; he didn't know quite what to say to them or what they would say to him; probably whining and complaining like usual. Roy came out of his room and greeted Spike.
"Hey buddy how'd you sleep?"
"Fine. Listen Roy, thanks again I really gotta run though."
"No, no I get it. Hey if you need ever anything you know where to find me!"
Spike smiled "Thanks Roy." He said.
"Hopefully we can talk some more one day!" said Roy.
Spike let himself out and walked down the stairs of the apartment. People came up the stairs so Spike lowered the janitor's cap to cover his face, hardly containing his huge amount of hair. He calmly walked the streets with his hands stuffed in his pockets; he was starving but he craved a cigarette more than anything else. He thought about going into some seedy bar but had second thoughts when he thought that there might be bounty hunters in there so he hung around outside instead. Outside the bar Spike found an abandoned carton of cigarettes that he sneakily scooped up. He slumped against the wall and sat on the sidewalk desperately trying to find some way to light one the cigarettes. A homeless man walked up to Spike and left him a few woolongs. Confused, but grateful, Spike bought himself a hotdog from a food cart on the sidewalk.
Spike spent the whole day walking around the city; trying to keep a low profile. He kept trying to figure out ways to contact Jet or Faye. Spike was exhausted; he walked into an alley and leaned against a wall. He managed to light one of his cigarettes with a match he found on the floor by striking it against the wall. In the alley three men were walking toward Spike. He became cautious, clenched his fist and stood up straight. The three men approached him and stopped in front of him. Spike remained calm, his heart wasn't beating fast but his gaze was intense. One of the men threw a punch, narrowly missing Spike, and hit the wall and cried in pain. Spike ran out of the alley, knocking over a couple of garbage cans, and the other two men began chasing him on the streets. As Spike turned the corner of the sidewalk one of the men began shooting; it missed Spike but hit a car, shattering its window and startling the driver enough to make him speed off and crash into a street light. The men continued pursuing after him, as they turned the corner Spike kicked one of them directly in the face knocking him into the middle of the road. The last man pointed his gun, Spike quickly grabbed him by the wrist with one hand and drove his other hand up the man's elbow, breaking his arm. Spike slid the gun with his foot bringing toward him; he picked it up and heard a car revving up behind him. Spike pointed the gun at the car and fired. He hit the driver, making the car lose control, skid and violently roll over. The passenger opened the door, he was injured. He climbed out of the car and stumbled forward, Spike punched him right in the jaw. He picked the man up by his tie and pointed the heated hand gun at his forehead.
"Who are you? Who sent you?!" asked Spike.
"I'm just a pawn in an elaborate game my friend." said the injured man with a smirk.
"You guys aren't ISSP! Are you guys Red Dragon?!"
"You're table's getting the check Spike, better not skip out on it." The man succumbed to his injuries and breathed out his last. The sun was setting; Spike gazed intensely at the heavens, listening to the approaching police sirens. Spike fled the scene, running through filthy alleys and back ways. Spike stopped when it was night; he found an abandoned house so he made it home for a while.
In that time Spike practiced his Jeet Kune Do, his high kicks and punches, and meditated. He thought about Julia a lot; she was a haunting memory to him. He was filthy; his beard grew and his hair was a mess. Spike was miserable; he was dying in there and that's how he wanted it. Maybe he should have turned himself in after all.
Author's Note: I hope you guys enjoyed the beginning to the story! I won't be posting a lot of author's notes but I just wanted to iron out a few details:
1. This story won't be incredibly long, but not too short either. I'm trying to write this fiction almost as if it's movie that they put out.
2. I'm doing all I can to stay true to these well-written characters!
3. The pacing may seem a little fast but I do that to keep the flow going. I don't spend too much time on some things because I want to keep adding more to the plot.
4. If you have any constructive criticisms, I am open to hearing you out I'm always looking for ways to better myself and my writing!
5. If you see any missing words or words that seem out of place, please forgive me sometimes I don't notice these little blemishes. But I usually change them as I am constantly re-reading it.
6. I tried to tap deep into the the mythology of the Cowboy Bebop universe. I researched a lot and watched through the series; but if you see anything that doesn't compute with the universe, please tell me and I will be quick to change it.
7. The title is named after a Bob Dylan song (And Jimi Hendrix, I think it's really his song now), the lyrics don't have to do much with the story but I liked the way it sounded. Kind of like how all the sessions are music related.
Thank you for reading!
See you Space Cowboys and Cowgirls!