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Category Archives: The Justin

The Justin knows you been done wrong.

Tennessee

“Deploy snowboards!” shouts the Justin, and he and Ptah slam sliding into the side of the black glass pyramid. They cut their chutes away; they slalom down with pink neon in their wake. But the charcoalsuits can afford to land harder, and they’re close behind.

There’s a rosewood Martin at the bottom, plugged right into the building.

“The Justin can’t play guitar!” says the Justin, panicked. “He took pop-and-lock lessons instead!”

“Let go of pop, the Justin,” says Ptah. “Play your soul.

The Justin closes his eyes and hits high B. The suits scream. The pyramid sings the blues.

Minnesota

The Justin and his Martin are weathered, but they fit together now. Ptah is at his side.

“So,” growls Evil Special Interest Man, “you defeated my charcoalsuits. But I wield the power of the monotheism lobby!” He dials a number on his tiny phone. Ptah gasps and turns to dust.

“He’ll be back,” says the Justin. “That’s what Ptah does.

Evil Special Interest Man shrugs. “Regardless, the music industry lobby wants that guitar–”

He reaches out with slithy fingers. Justin grasps the action figure in his pocket and hopes.

“Not so fast!” roars the Body, bebooted and beboaed, springing to life.

The Girl

The girl on the porch swing looks up from her Kate Chopin and blinks. “Mister J. T.?” she asks.

“Don’t have to be formal, the Girl,” he says.

“I suspect I do.” She nods at the long black guitar case. “A new accoutrement?”

“No,” he sighs, “just the only woman I’ll ever love again.”

“Ah.”

“Yes.”

“Why’d you come here, Mister J. T.?” She’s trying not to clench the book.

“I had all this sexy left over,” says the Justin, and hitches up his shirt just enough to pull the red vial from his waistband. “Thought you might want it back.”

The Justin

The Justin rides atop a slow boxcar, transposing a Buddy Holly song to E minor. His Martin leaves notes like tissues in the moonlit wind.

Then there are ninjas.

“Did you really think it was over?” asks their kunoichi. “That you were free?”

“Lord Riaa is dead,” he says gravely.

Does she smile beneath the mask? “Perhaps. But he was only one of a Cartel–none of whom have any interest in seeing you as ronin. Come with us or die.”

The Justin nods. Then he draws the neck of the Martin from its body, and slices them all in half.

The Justin

How did the Justin master guitaidō? There are many stories.

Some say the knowledge was always within him, waiting for the blues to crack his soul and set it free.

Some say it was within the Martin, that it belonged to Nakayama himself; but these are fools.

Some say Jesse the Body taught him, on the long ride from Hennepin to Mendocino. But could they have practiced, with a single axe between them?

Some say the Justin watched a lot of Zatoichi movies.

Some say he is no master, just an onanistic honky with an effusive publicist.

But these are dead.

The Justin

The Justin stands booted and ponchoed in the town’s dusty street, gently playing his own standoff music.

Doors down the strip burst open, and howling varmints blaze their guns. The Justin draws the Martin and assumes Defensive Southern Mantis, blade spinning and sparking; bullets make unlikely noises and bury themselves in facades. His opponents fall flat. They were only cardboard standups.

“Not bad,” says a chuckle behind him. “Ready to duel someone worth your time?”

The Justin turns slowly to look at his opponent. Oily mustaches outline a too-white grin, and the razor teeth of his monstrous accordion bellow wide.

The Justin

The truth of how the Justin became a sensei is simpler than the rumors, and less believable. It begins with his flight to another Memphis, the place called Ineb Hedj, White Walls: the desert city, once home to dead Ptah. He sought his friend’s resurrection. He carried the Martin and two silver dollars.

The ruins were sparse and stripped of stone, but the Justin walked unerringly to a simple hole in the sand. He waited. Memphis was also called Ankh Tawy, That Which Binds the Two Lands.

At twilight, the Justin stepped down into shadows, from this world to the next.

The Justin

The Justin followed the shiver of reedy torchlight to a great stone hall, where in the judge’s seat sat a man garbed in deepest black.

“Anubis?” asked the Justin.

“Perhaps,” said the god. “What do you seek, living man?”

“My friend Ptah.”

“Then you know nothing,” the god said, “but we will judge you all the same.” He gestured, and there were scales, and a feather, and a hungry crocohippolion.

The Justin placed his heart on the scales.

“How can you do that, living man?” asked the god curiously.

“Oh,” said the Justin sadly, “the Girl tore it out years ago.”

The Justin

When the Justin divested himself of material goods, he donated most to the worthy cause of the Teen Choice Awards; but some he had buried. Thus he had a gondola in the next world, and a pole.

He had been pushing down the after-Nile for days, looking for Ptah, when a stringy-haired hermit with a Strat called to him. “Coins for the ferryman,” he cried. “Silver dollars from my blind eyes, for passage across.”

“Wrong river,” said the Justin, “but I’ll take you for free.” He poled in through reeds.

“Bless you!”

“What’s your name?”

“Stevie,” the hermit said.

The Justin

As soon as they touched the opposite shore, Stevie took his shot at stealing the Martin.

“You kutchering punk!” shouted the Justin, and leapt out after him. He got hold of an ankle and the two collapsed in waist-deep river water. “Give her back!”

“You don’t deserve it!” howled Stevie, kicking.

“I earned her from Ptah himself!” The Justin hauled himself up and yanked at his end of the guitar, the neck–which, to his shock, slid out of the body with a steely rasp.

“Prove it,” Stevie grinned. He snapped off a length of cattail reed and assumed kamae.

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