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The True Great Depression
The 1920’s in America was booming, at least until 1929. On "Black Tuesday", October 29, 1929, the stock market crashed, marking the beginning of the Great Depression. To many, these were the worst times in their lives, to others, they have never experienced such a catastrophe but they fear of one. Then there are others who don’t even care that it happened, and wasn’t even interested in it in history class.
That was the case for Steven Johnson as well. Most things in his life he didn’t have to work for. When he was growing up his family wasn’t rich but they could afford to buy him and his sister Makayla nice clothes and belongings.
Steven was born in Illinois and raised just south of Chicago until he was 10. After that he moved to Pataskala, Ohio and stayed there until he finished high school. In his senior year he met the love oh his life at a party that his band “West Park Nightmare”
was playing at.
Steven was a great guitar player and wrote his own songs. Following West Park Nightmare, he formed a band called “Swords” but left them shortly after. He then became the lead guitarist and songwriter for a band called “Set for the Kill”. They became known for their songs “Alone” “Reborn” and “Who am I”
After success kicked in he left that band as well and became rhythm guitarist/songwriter for a band named “Memories”. Their fist big hit was “Sweet Victory” Steven wrote that song and earned him a spot singing it. Memories released four more albums before taking a break. At this point Steven left memories to form a new group, “Electricity”
Lined up with performers like David Cortez, Tony Lint, John Anderson, Michael Andrews, and Steven Johnson, Electricity was sure to be a big hit. Steven was the frontman and song writer of the group. He got all of his inspiration from his girlfriend Haley Graham. She stood by his side in all the bands and helped him as much as she could while he was forming Electricity.
They lived together in a house in West Virginia. Steven owned over two-hundred acres of woods with three ponds. On clear summer nights he would take her by a pond under the stars and sing her his latest songs. The moon light from the lake combined with the light from their small camp fire made her face shine. She had beautiful light brown hair with glistening blue eyes. And a smile so perfect, that Steven would tell her a joke at random just to see it.
When Electricity put out their first national album it came back with hardly any results. The sells were extremely low. Steven got their label to let them produce a second but final album. The album was set to say good bye, but at 4 o’clock in the morning Steven got a call from his manager saying it was already topping charts. After that album took off so did the first one and Electricity made three follow up albums, and was scheduled for the “Monsters of Rock” festival at a park in Colorado.
Steven entered the dressing room that night with his new cockiness that he had gained from being a superstar for the past two years. The fame had changed him, he had forgotten who he was and where he had came from. He worked so hard to get to the top, and now days he took it for granted.
He could hear the low rumble of the crowd, and the music was sometimes able to be pieced out. The band that was playing was the only real competition that Steven felt. The band was a group of punk rockers from Kansas called “the Plains”. They had four chart toping song in the past year and had released two albums.
“Ten minutes Mr. Johnson” said one of the crewmen.
“Thank you” replied Steven.
“You’re welcome sir.”
Steven got out of his chair and made the walk down the long corridor to the stage. There he met up with David, his lead guitarist. They didn’t speak, they just sighed a nervous sigh and then David began to climb the stairs to his position on the stage. He could hear his drummer begin to tap the opening beat, and then the crowd screamed with excitement.
Steven stepped on the stage and began to scream out the lyrics. The crowd sang along and chanted with the band. Steven was having fun and throughout their performance he watched the sun sink over the mountains in the distance, and it reminded him of his beloved Haley at home in West Virginia.
After the concert Steven walked out the stage door into a black room where, to his surprise, he found Haley, sitting in a chair texting on her phone. He looked at her with excitement but he had a gut feeling about why she showed up.
“What did ya’ think?” he asked.
“Great, just great” Haley stood up and looked at him for the first time since he walked in. Her eyes began to water and that’s when he knew some thing was wrong. ‘I can’t do this anymore.” She said as the tears began to pour from her eyes. “It’s too much Steven. You’ve changed and I can’t take this anymore. I’m going home to Ohio; I’ll call you when I get there.
She turned, and walked out a door and down the steps and into a taxi. Steven stood at the top of the steps speechless, and on the verge of tears. As the car began to pull away, Steven realized that he had to get her back. He ran down the steps as fast as he could, but even his fastest wasn’t fast enough. The car pulled onto the highway just as it started to rain.
Steven fell to his knees and began to cry. At the beginning of the night he was on the top of the world but now, within five minutes he was the lowest man on the planet. He looked up hoping to see the car pulling back into the parking lot, but all he seen was the headlights of other cars as they whizzed by.
He picked himself up and entered the building again and walked the longest walk he ever had to walk, in that long, empty, black corridor. His eyes were blood shot from the tears and his clothes were drenched from the rain. The hall was silent, but at the same time it was crowded, with all the memories of days and nights spent with Haley, memories that would now be reminisced, not just remembered.
Steven returned home to find his house empty of her stuff, there was not a trace of her presence, not even a picture left on the walls, just two wine glasses, one full and one empty. And the bottle of wine was tucked into the corner as if it had been flung there on the night it had been opened.
Steven e-mailed the band and told them he was done, and that was the day Electricity went out. Steven stopped writing songs like he used to, now all he wrote was poems about Haley and how he felt when she left. Sometimes when he got bored he would add music just to see how it sounded.
After a couple of years money began to run out, and Steven found himself in debt. He filed for bankruptcy, and somehow the press found out. Steven was in the media again but not on good terms.
Steven got lost his house and everything he owned, right down to his guitars. He got a job working on a loading dock for barges on the Ohio River. He moved into a small apartment but was still too poor to afford nice things. He could barely pay the gas and electric and his TV got shut off. He was living in poverty and killing himself at a dead-end job that was barely paying him enough to eat.
One day Steven was walking home from work when he seen a stray dog shuffling though some trash cans. He stopped to admire the dog, and then called it closer hoping to make a new friend. Friends were rare to him now; he didn’t have a phone and people considered themselves better than him.
The dog was a big dog with grey with black splotches covering it. It was extremely skinny, and Steven could count every bone in its body. It looked like the dog he had as a child. He began to pet it and it rolled over, and began to wine.
Aw you’re a good girl aintcha? Steven whispered to it. He had a soft spot in his heart for animals and he needed the company. He got up and signaled for the dog to follow him, and together the two walked home.
Steven loved his new friend and often talked to her when he was home. Pretty soon he could see she was getting bigger, she was still a puppy when he found her. She was constantly eating and soon Steven could no longer see her bones through her pitiful skin. “Mica” he said one day. The dogs ears perked up and she looked at him with a cute curious face. “That’s it,” he said, “that’s your new name.”
She would walk with Steven to work and lay at the gate until he got off from work and then she’d walk him home again. Then one day after passing by a pawn shop, that he had passed by a million times before, a guitar caught Stevens eye. It was a white Les Paul Gibson with a black pick-guard and gold trim.
It was his, he knew it as soon as he seen it. “Stay here girl” he whispered as he walked in the door. He grabbed the guitar and held it as he began to play. It was out of tune, but it still sounded good. The manager walked out and startled Steven. He quickly laid the guitar down and hurried out of the store.
Day after day, he walked by the pawn shop and admired his former beauty. It brought back a lot of memories of Haley and the fun times they had. He thought about her a lot. He was still in love and there was no denying that he would never get over her.
He often found himself reminiscing of the time they spent together. He remembered all of his mistakes and he looked back and thought of what he should have done different. He was ashamed of himself, of his behavior and his cocky rude attitude that he had to the people around him.
Other than the loss of Haley, his only other big regret was the dismay of the band he made famous. Looking back, he now realized the friendship him and everyone involved shared. He overlooked so much in his life and now that he was a normal person again he knew that if he ever had his chance he would do it all again.
One day he was in an old corner store when he heard a familiar voice coming out of a small TV the owner was watching. It was David, his old lead guitarist; he was talking about the “old days”. Steven stopped to listen but to hear how David and the band felt about how Steven left. David referred to him as just, Johnson.
Steven left the store and returned to the pawn shop. He went straight to his guitar and began to play. So many memories, so many mistakes, how could this happen to someone like him? He was a god, people worshiped him. Tears began to form in his eyes when he heard a young voice behind him.
“You still got it” said the voice. Steven turned around to see a young man standing behind the counter smiling.
“I guess so?” He replied hesitantly.
“I know who you are. I saw your picture on TV.” He said.
“You do?” asked Steven. It was the first time since the bankruptcy that anyone had recognized him. He was astonished that someone could recognize such a raggedy man as a former rock star.
“Yes sir. You were the lead singer of Electricity. That was my favorite band ever.” The young man was shuffled through an old box then pulled out a smaller box filled with stuff about Electricity. “I’ve bought all of this stuff since I began working here. I’m saving up for that guitar there.” Steven was amazed that someone still cared about the group.
“Well young man, I’m interested in this guitar but I don’t have the money to purchase it. I tell ya’ what” He said, “Meet me in the middle and I’ll use the guitar and whatever fortunes I make from it I will share with you.”
What do you mean?” He asked.
“I mean that once I get the band back together I’ll give ya’ whatever ya’ want. Money, cars, women, a new house. Just help me out. I’ll even make ya’ the new crew manager.”
The young mans face was filled with enthusiasm and joy. “”yes sir yes sir. It’s a deal” The shook hands and Steven gave the man the 300 dollars that he saved from the old days. Steven walked out of the store and down to the docks where he worked.
He walked into the office and called Sarah, His old assistant. He assured her that he had thought things through and he invited the band to come practice in the privacy of his hometown. The band stayed out of the public and didn’t release any information of their return.
The met at a small airport on the outskirts of Charleston and drove back to the river. They rented an apartment and began to rehearse. They all got caught up and then after just three months they all agreed it was time for the comeback.
It was in early June when they released to the press that they were preparing a comeback tour and it was late August when the tour kicked off. The had dates set up all around the world, and after the first couple packed stadiums it was obvious that Electricity was officially “back”.
It was early January when Haley stepped outside to check her mail. She had been following the Electricity story but she lost her breath when she opened a blank envelope to find a concert ticket with a backstage pass, and a letter from Steven. She dropped the envelope to the floor and she began to cry. As it turns out she had been thinking of him too.
It was a cold day in Columbus, and the snow had just began to pile up. There was a long line of fans stretched across two blocks waiting for tickets to the concert. When Steven pulled up in his old beat up truck and when he got out he was overwhelmed with the screams of the fans. He entered the building and as the door shut he heard nothing but silence.
He walked the long walk back to his dressing room. The light in the corridor was dim and it made the walls seem dark and gloomy. He wondered if Haley would show up or not. His stomach was in knots and he was as nervous as the night of his first concert.
As Haley walked into the building she began to question if this was the right thing to do. She took a deep breath and continued her walk to her seat. She sat and waited looking around nervous of how the night would end.
Just like before, Steven stood by the stage entrance and listened as the band began to play. As he entered the stage the screams got even louder. He seen Haley setting in the first row and he knew it would all be o.k. He began to sing and tease the crowd, it was an awesome show, and then to end the concert he began to sing one of the songs he wrote for Haley.
As she sat listening to the lyrics, she could no longer fight back the tears. As Steven was on the stage saying goodnight and taking bows, she ran backstage to meet him. As he came through the stage door she embraced him in a hug. He told her he was sorry and that he needed her back. She was crying in his arms and as he said his apologies, she looked at him in his eyes, and kissed his lips.
For the first time in years, Steve’s life was right. He was once again a world famous rock star, and he won back the one thing that meant more to him than anything in the world. Haley, Steven, and Mica moved into a farm house in southern Ohio, Steven kept his promise to the young man from the pawn shop and made him crew manager. He now lives in Beverly Hills with his wife and two sons.
Steven now understands the great depression and all of the hardships that the people of the time had to face. Steven has kept his good character and has donated over 2 million dollars into different charity organizations. Electricity had become worldwide phenomena and has released three more albums and toured the world multiple times. This proves that night is always darkest before the dawn.