Johnny Rock had been “spinning discs”, as they used to call it, for several years. Over that span, he had seen the profession take nearly as many turns as his personal life.
Today would be his final show, as WDKR would switch to an automated format at the end of Johnny’s show. He’d been given time to prepare. Thirty days was enough notice to plot the next course of his life.
Johnny had done many things during his career, often skirting on the fringe of success. It was much the same with his personal life. But, during the past ten years, Johnny saw himself in “free-fall”, as he described it.
Two divorces, numerous relationships, friendships lost, and several failed entrepreneurial ventures had left Johnny a bit more than cynical. He just didn’t want to be around people. His number of residences, over those years of “free-fall”, exceeded the number of dresses most fashion conscious women own.
But today, when he would walk away from WDKR, his thought would be that he had finally found the perfect place of escape. A couple miles outside tiny Montezuma, IA, was a recently failed antique shop building for sale. The building was small, and was more than a mile from the nearest neighbors. The owner had been eager to dump the property, and Johnny felt it calling to him.
A few pieces of second hand furniture, his books, and his bicycle. Those would be all the comforts he would need. Having abandoned any would be friends, Johnny was ready to finish out his years in solitude.
At 56, his remaining years seemed less than for most people his age. Recently contracted health conditions, and an inability to afford health care coverage—or a visit to a doctor—made the remaining years seemingly few. Johnny wasn’t upset by his plight. He actually embraced it. It’s not as if life had been a pleasant journey for him. When his time would come, Johnny wouldn’t lose time looking back.
Today, his final show was now winding down. He’d thought of this day often during the past week or so. He’d chosen two songs with which to end his show. Both were songs of the 70’s. They each held meaning for Johnny. He’d decided to begin his final sign-off with Smokey Robinson’s, “Tears of a Clown”. Before he closed, he would say a few things he’d written the other day. As he finished his final words, he would pan over to Steely Dan. He found “Deacon Blues” an appropriate final song of his career.
The “on-air” farewell came off much as expected. Johnny dropped his keys on the console as he headed to the door. He paused at the door, giving a final silent farewell salute to the receptionist at the window. Whatever the next stage of life held, in passing through the studio door, Johnny would step onto that stage, lights shining on him.
The sun was bright as Johnny stepped out into the parking lot. He hadn’t seen the hooded figure approach, nor had he seen the gun that had been drawn. The bullet pierced his neck, exiting the back of his head. This stage had proved to be Johnny’s last.
Somewhere in rural Iowa, a “For Sale” sign hangs in the window of an empty old antique shop. Once again, a man’s dreams had been lost at its steps.