I Won’t Back Down


I don’t know why it happened. I know that alcohol was involved, or at least that’s the scapegoat I’m going to pin it on. It’s convenient like that, and as with most good stories it has at least some role to play.

I’m not a Tom Petty fan. Something about his voice tends to make my butthole pucker. Maybe it’s because I’m getting the vibe that he wants to give me candy in an unmarked white van. Maybe its because deep down I’m jealous that I’m not an American icon. I figure it doesn’t really matter one way or another. People are allowed to like and dislike what they want.

So there I am at a Tom Petty concert, of all places. Free tickets are free tickets, after all, and at least I can tell people I was there. The venue was small, “intimate” as the ads say. It was smaller than a high school gymnasium, and at least the sound was good. Not that it helps when a whiny scarecrow gets up and starts singing. Dollars to donuts he wasn’t really the heart breaker he makes himself out to be.

He started playing “I Won’t Back Down.” The crowd was getting into it, swaying along with the little beat that sounds the same as all his other beats. There he is talking about standing his ground at the gates of hell, and the word preposterous kept popping up in my head. “I won’t back down. I’ll stand my ground.” Psssh. Lying turd. I had had just enough alcohol to call him on his bullshit, so I started working my way to the front. There was only one thing to do.


I pushed through the crowd and made my way to the front. There was nothing separating the floor from the stage. The Security guys were all intimidating, but they were also a little bigger. I could get past them. I had to show the fans what a bitch Tom Petty was.

I seized my moment and raced across the small opening, leaping clear onto the stage in mid song. The music stopped abruptly and Tom Petty made one of his classic “I don’t know what’s going on” expressions. Security was slow to react to my daring, so I walked over to Tom and grabbed the microphone from his hand. Before he had a chance to speak, I began my diatribe.

“Shut up!” I said, a little chuckle coming from my voice. I raised myself up like a puffer fish, or one of those frogs that stands on its toes to make itself look bigger. I was going to intimidate that sorry motherfucker. “Back down!” I yelled at him in the microphone. I could see him visually cower. He wasn’t standing his ground, even with security charging at me. I turned to the audience with a smile on my face. I had won. Their hero was vanquished. If I had disproved the lyrics in this song, I had disproved them all. He was never free falling. He danced a lot more with Mary Jane. He was most certainly never a refugee.

My feeling of triumph was short lived, however. Even at 66 the old geezer had some fire left in him. One moment I was smiling, the next moment I felt my world get rocked as he reached out with those long sinewy arms and cold-cocked me right in the side of the face. I wasn’t awake to see it, but I heard the crowd went wild. I also heard that he went right back to playing as security dragged me off the stage. He never even acknowledged it.

Tom Petty won’t back down. No. He’ll stand his ground.


*No harm came to Tom Petty during the envisioning of this flash fiction.


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