Johnny B. Goode lay on his back, in a puddle of muddy water, by the side of the road, at three oâ€™clock on an autumn Sunday morning. Just as he rolled over to lift himself up, a beat up old guitar case came hurtling from the side of a van, hitting him on the behind, and sending him back into the mudâ€”this time face forward. His stream of cursing was lost in the screeching of the vanâ€™s tires. He staggered to his feet muttering slurred profanities into the night.
For a moment he stood unsteadily, looking in both directions. There wasnâ€™t a single light, except for the stars and the moon.
â€śGo on with you, the bunch of you. I donâ€™t need you.â€ť He shouted in the direction the van had disappeared. â€śI donâ€™t need anybody. I can still walk.â€ť
He slung his guitar over his shoulder and started purposefully down the roadâ€”as purposefully as a man can, who is drunk and wet and dirty and cold.
Half a mile down the road, he muttered to no one in particular, â€śTrees, trees, and more trees. I know my feet are moving. I just donâ€™t see anything changing. Where the heck am I anyway?â€ť
Coyotes howled in the distance. Johnny shivered. Something moved in the bushes beside him. He jumped and lost his balance. He went rolling over the bank and down the steep hill, crashing into bushes and trees, sliding on long muddy grass.
Several hours later, he came to in the early morning sunshine. He muttered an oath as he tried to shield his eyes from the sun. Using a nearby tree for support, he pulled himself to a standing position. His left leg buckled under his weight. He looked down in horror at the mixture of blood and mud caked all over his body.
With a shaky hand, he picked up his guitar case and slung it over his shoulder. Weaving from tree to tree, he finally came to a clearing. Off in the distance was a farmhouse. He sat on a stump and stared at it. Long ago he had read a description of hell where the thing you wanted most was forever just out of reach. Johnny was sure he had arrived.
He lowered his throbbing head onto his knees just before he passed out and toppled over. Some time later, he awoke to panting breath, sloppy kisses, and bad breath. He found himself nose to nose with a brown and white medium sized mutt. The little dog seemed to be laughing at Johnny, and Johnny could not abide being laughed at.
â€śYou stupid mutt,â€ť he snapped reaching for something to throw. The dog retreated a short distance, then eyed Johnny cautiously with head cocked to one side and dipstick tail circling furiously behind him.
Johnny perched himself back on the stump and stared back. â€śAll right, all right, I guess you didnâ€™t mean any harm. Somebody should teach you not to come sneaking up on a guy though.â€ť Johnny looked from the farmhouse back to the dog. â€śYou must belong to that farm over there. Donâ€™t suppose youâ€™d like to drag me home would you?â€ť
The dog approached and licked his hand as if to say, â€śIâ€™d be happy to try.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s all right, mutt. Iâ€™ll manage.â€ť Johnny gave the dog a few pats on the head and stared at the house across the large open field. â€śItâ€™s a crying shame there arenâ€™t any trees in that fieldâ€”give a guy something to hold onto.â€ť He straightened his back and reached for his guitar, then changed his mind. Reluctantly, he laid it behind some bushes. It would be hard enough to get himself across the field. Heâ€™d have to come back for the guitar later. Setting his sight on the house, he started out.
The trek across that forty-acre field was the longest hike of Johnnyâ€™s life. Every so often heâ€™d stumble, only to receive an encouraging lick from his new friend. Once he stopped to puke. Even that brought a sympathizing lick to the bald spot on the top of his head. Eventually, he collapsed on the front steps.
â€śPhew, I guess this place really is real. I was half scared I was only seeing one of those mirage things. Youâ€™re not a DT are you, little buddy. If you are, youâ€™re kind of a nice one. Man, am I a sight! Hope I donâ€™t scare whoever comes to that door. Oh, what the heck, here goes.â€ť
He used the verandah post to hoist himself to a standing position, then hugged it tightly for a few minutes with eyes closed to give the world a chance to stop spinning and the hammer in his head to stop pounding quite so heavily. Finally, he half-stumbled, half-walked across the verandah to the front door. He fell against the doorbell, and then held both hands to his head to try to stop the ringing. At last he turned around and grabbed hold of the knocker. Leaning against the door, he lifted his hand holding the knocker and let it fall several times. Silence.
He didnâ€™t think he could stand up any longer, so he started yelling curses to whoever was inside. When that didnâ€™t work, he tried the knob. It turned. The door opened.
A gush of warm air hit him as he fell inside. â€śHello! Hello! Where are you? Can you give a guy a hand?â€ť Silence. Johnny wondered once more if he were just imagining the house. Maybe heâ€™d come to and realize he was just leaning against a tree in the woods. He closed his eyes and opened them again. He was still in the house.
He felt that familiar churning in his gut and knew he was going to hurl any minute. He figured it was best to find a bathroom quickly without waiting for an invitation. So, he stumbled down the hall, and luckily, the first door