This is a short, just some writing exercise really. It’s about Tom Jones, a bit part character from Blood Flow. I wanted to feel him out a little bit. Explore who he was. The Ballad of Tom Jones looks at Tom Jones’s last hour alive. I’ll be doing about 500 words at a time on this. So, watch this space.
If you haven’t already read Blood Flow, Tom Jones appears in the first chapter, which you can read here. He has a brief part in another chapter, but that’s not necessary to get full value out of this piece.
The Ballad of Tom Jones, Part 1
By David A Hill Jr
“I hear hurricanes a-blowin’.”
The radio stops.
Damn it. That one’s my favorite.
My phone lights up. The caller ID says Mercy Medical. I hit the button to put it on speaker.
“Hey Tom. This is Murphy. Can you come in an hour early tonight? It’s a madhouse in here. I’m sure you’ve seen the news.”
“Yeah.” I say. “I’m already on my way anyway. I saw the news. Seven drive-by killings today? The cops aren’t sayin’ it, but everyone knows they’re related.”
“Yeah. So far, the kill count’s at eight, with twenty two in critical condition. Everyone’s coming to pay their respects, to ask if their cousin was one of the victims, or to say it’s because of gay marriage. A ton of people want to volunteer, but we just don’t have the space to move. So, we need to manage the flow. To get people in and out as quickly and as cleanly as we can.”
“Well, say no more. Like I said, I’m on my way.”
“Thanks. I knew we could count on you. See you soon, Tom.”
He wasn’t lying. As I pull up, I see some protesters. Slimeballs, each and everyone one of them. They’re trying to blame gay people or liberals or black people or whatever for an act of violence. Terrorism even, committed by a handful of bad seeds. These people aren’t protesting that any kid with a grudge can get a goddamned assault rifle on the street. They’re not protesting the poverty most of these people live in. The first thing I learned as an adult was, there’s not really limited wealth in the world. When people say we have limited resources, that’s because the wealthy people decided to not let the others have their share. If these kids weren’t shooting each other in the streets, they’d be out in Afghanistan shooting poor people there. Nobody’s protesting that.
I look down as I pass through the protest. They shout at me. Threaten me. I do my best to just not listen to it. It’s nonsense, and no amount of arguing is going to change their minds. They’re gonna feel what they’re gonna feel, and letting it get to me means letting them win. I’m here to do a job. Mercy Hospital is a good place, full of good people. They’re saving lives. They deserve to do that in peace.
I look around for Murphy. I see him in the distance, down the hall as I enter. He notices me and nods. That man couldn’t miss a needle in a haystack. He was a Marine back in the day. I wave him down and head that direction. He’s surrounded by people demanding his attention with microphones and cameras. Press. Great.
“Glad you could come so quick, Tom. This group here…” He motioned to the press. “They’ve got to meet with the chairman. The chairman isn’t here yet. Can you take them to meeting room C and tell them to kindly wait while the chairman comes? And that’s it, not a word aside from that?”
I nod. This isn’t my usual job, but there’s not usually press at the hospital. I slick my hair back and sigh. I wasn’t expecting to play PR. Guess tonight’s my lucky night. “Alright guys. Come with me. I’ll take you to where you can meet the chairman once he gets here.”