The Fruits Of Their Labours

by The Apple Zed

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released December 24, 2014

Eric Michaels :: 1/3/5/7/10
Matthew Scarborough :: 2/4/6/8/9

Jim Mattingly :: drums
Eric Michaels :: bass; guitar; vocals (1/3/5/7/10)
Matthew Scarborough :: keyboards; vocals (2/4/6/8/9)

Eric Michaels :: mix; master; artwork



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Track Name: I. An Intrepid Explorer
The last of the truly great explorers
I’ve seen all that the world has to show me
But now, the dream grows cold
My life needs a new goal
And I feel something that’s calling me deep in my soul

I feel the pull of the engine, and I hear the clack of the wheels
I see the train as it flows over miles of steel

I could be a truly great conductor
Make sure that the trains run on time
I’ve wandered the world. Now, my path lies before me
In contoured, parallel lines
Track Name: II. An Unknown Soldier
"Johnny Boy's A Hero," all my hometown papers read
I was frightened all that fuss would go straight to my head
Never wanted guts or glory. I had always said,
"Let me serve my country unbeknownst"

Gave it time and sure enough, my neighbors grew distracted
By the trials and tribulations normalcy reenacted
All I dwelled upon was one small victory exacted
I made the Reaper tremble in his bones

Did I stare Death down? I damn well emptied out his pockets
Told him where to stick that scythe, and spat in his eye sockets
To this day, I'm even-keeled while his contempt skyrockets
That's the only victory I craved

Many years have gone, and I've grown older all the while
Proud to blend into a crowd, I'm merely rank and file
To maintain my namelessness, I'll go the extra mile
And from death my spirit will be saved

Did I stare Death down? Didn't I? Can't I?
Was it just a wet dream? So much for swimming upstream
Has he gotten the best of me?

Did I stare Death down? Didn't I? Can't I?
I damn well stood my ground, relentless
No shame in that. I won't repent this
There must be some way to prevent this
The doctor says it's mostly hopeless

Lord, how can this be? Dear God, why me?
"Johnny Boy's A Hero," all my hometown papers read
Now my hometown papers all will read that Johnny's dead
Track Name: III. Gross Misconduct
Lighting flashes as the storm gathers round. I know the tracks will be slick
Can’t let the train get out of control; I gotta think quick
See the red lights burning, and I fly right by them, screaming engine tempting fate
Passengers depending on me - can’t be late!

Off in the distance, a shadowy form emerges from out of the rain
Blinded by the storm, oblivious to the oncoming train
I hit the brakes, and they screech a futile song into the night sky
I swear I see engine number 144 reflected in terrified eyes
And so an innocent dies

“Trial of the century!” screams the newsman on TV
Justice turned to vengeance in The People vs. Me
Jury turns and glares with hatred when they see the widow cry
I know the truth can’t set me free, and so I lie

I swear I never saw the shadowy form emerging from out of the rain
I was blinded by the storm and I couldn’t stop the train
If I could go back and change things I would, but there’s no way to turn back time
This railway of life is a one-way express, from birth to the end of the line
He reached his, and someday I’ll reach mine

My heart’s pounding, and I hope that no one sees I’m drenched in sweat
I told my tale, tried to stay outta jail, but I’m not safe yet
The time has come to deliberate. I watch the jury as they stand
And file from the courtroom with my future in their hands

"We the jury find that you are guilty to the core
Of gross incompetence and vile murder. Furthermore,
Your lies bespeak remorselessness beyond all absolution
And so, we sentence you to death by electrocution"
Track Name: IV. Last Desserts
Guess it's finally time to go
Greet the Reaper, my old foe
Wish him well, stand at his side
Take his victory in stride

He's been gracious in defeat
Humoring such stark conceit
It should be time to meet my fate
Yet in mercy he abates

How shall I use the clemency the Reaper gives?
What shall I do with only two more weeks to live?
Have I regrets or wanderlust to gratify?

How could I forget those days? A young man, stationed overseas
Came upon a small cafe, its perfume wafting in the breeze
He walked inside and took a seat. The waitress smiled and cocked her head
He craved a pastry, rich and sweet. Her blue eyes glistened and she said,

"Brave soldier, I know just the thing you're hungry for
And I guarantee you'll hunger for it evermore
But when you do, remember even the smallest slice will satisfy you"

Placed before me was a beacon
Of golden light. My hunger weakened
Before I even had to take a bite

Guess it's finally time to go and find the land I left behind
Greet the Reaper, my old foe, and thank my stars he is so kind
Wish him well, stand at his side, soon as I've ordered my affairs
Take his victory in stride, once I've managed to ensnare

That Golden Apple pie
I will taste its flesh again. I will taste its crust again
I will taste it one more time before I --
Track Name: V. The Golden Apple
“The time has come,” the warden said, “for tomorrow, you will die
So choose your last meal. We’ll sauté anything before you fry”
I’d like a pizza, extra cheese, a good Merlot, and for dessert
The rarest fruit I ever found in all my travels on this earth

The Golden Apple

I’ll tell you of the quest to find this fruit
On which I went and on which you must go
How after years of futile pursuit
I found a secret place that few men know
High atop the slopes of Kilimanjaro

There is a cave facing the western sky
Its entrance buried underneath the snow
And as the rays of evening sun go by
The cave is lit with an unearthly glow
And on the walls, strange maps appear
That make the journey’s next step clear

And so I go! Follow the map to a
Small island in the South Pacific Sea
And down below, there is a labyrinth
Beneath the waves. Oh, how it calls to me
Hold my breath and start to swim
And let the current pull me in

Turning left and turning right
Guided by an eerie light
‘Til at last I reach the island's core
And surface in a blue lagoon
And all around me
Trees of Golden Apples bloom
Track Name: VI. Burial At Sea
All my possessions finally behind me
There's nothing left that's tying me down
The clicking of the train tracks reminds me
Of that tiny, bustling town and its people
And how they did welcome our ranks

And the hissing of the engine's a godsend
Reminiscent of the town's re-emergence
When it dusted off the remnants of bloodshed
And started steaming back into a resurgence
Its camaraderie and industry besting those bombers and tanks

Not to mention the pie, that succulent dish
Why has it taken this long to recall my one wish?
That waitress clearly understood the treasure she served

And then, she joined me for another slice. This surprised me
I started salivating for her beauty and charm
Blues of soft eyes and reds of flowing hair mesmerized me
Her gentle manner overwhelming, she did disarm my defenses
She offered her company. I could only offer thanks

On the ship home, what should I receive
But a letter from my wife, who decided to leave?
Was this a turn of events I deserved?

How I do wish I'd acted on this infatuation
With this young woman in this lovely oceanfront town
I never ventured back amidst my humiliation
Cowardice turning any chance of happiness down

Click of tracks gives way to cracks of thunder
Storm derails my happy trails asunder
Though I crash into a splashing ocean
I'll swim to shore with ever forward motion

I know I'll never have another chance at us
My coming back was only bound to be in vain
I was so foolish not to take a chance on us
Only the Golden Apple pie will ease my pain
Johnny Boy will not disembark this derailed train
Track Name: VII. Flawless Execution
I awake from a dreamless sleep
The Golden Apple still rich on my tongue
And oh, it tastes just as sweet
Here at the end as when I was young

The last day I’ll ever see is dawning
And I rise to meet my fate

I walk with head held high toward the chair
I’ve made my peace with what’s in store
I know that I have lived as few men dare
Just one last horizon to explore

The last sun I’ll ever see has risen
I’m on time for being late

Strap me down
Plug me in
Let the end begin
Track Name: VIII. Highlight Reel
Staring down Death in the hell that was war
I'd seen no memories, flashbacks, or visions
I only saw myself cowering in fear

Gasping for breath, seeking only safe shore
I glimpse the images one sees before dying
As well as myself, suddenly resolute and clear

Why give me such a reprieve two weeks out
Only to cash in as I thrash about?
What of my odyssey? Has it no clout?
Have you no honor or shame?

You took my parents in the prime of their lives
And I never even had the chance to say goodbye
You took my best friend, and left me to comfort
His devastated, would-be bride

Why give me warning when others had none
Only to whisk it away and then run?
I've no intention of ceding this one
Two can play at this war game

And I revel at the love I saw firsthand
And how it shattered in the face of fates unplanned
Now this boy in blue is finally going to take a stand
Against your malfeasance, against your malpractice
Against your iniquity

You overtook them. No chance of appeal
Amnesty, pardon, or even last meal
But you exempted me from this ordeal
Don't you remember?

You made this deal. It's not yours to subvert
I am entitled to my last dessert
Cross me, my friend, and hit the dirt
I will not stand aside. This deceit I'll defy
Until I taste my Golden Apple pie
Track Name: IX. Johnny Gets His
Sanctuary on the shore I departed years before
Waves are dousing, but the rising sun helps dry me in the dawn
Staggering aboard a bus along the road that guided us
To a town rebounding from a time of war and pressing on

And I marvel at the passing scenery
How it's barely changed, as far as I can see
All I've done in life is aged. This natural majesty leaves me upstaged

Civilization rears its head. There's the marketplace I fled
As a foolish youth, never guessing life back home was gone

And I marvel at that little, quaint cafe
How it's standing, still, with no sign of decay
Dare I take a step inside? Hasn't my past fortune died?

Suddenly, I'm greeted by a waitress fine and fair
And her eyes are sparkling blue, and fiery red's her hair
She looks so much like the maiden I did once forswear
Have I traveled back in time somehow?

Finally, I clear my throat and ask her for a slice
Of her Golden Apple pie, no matter what the price
And a tear comes to her eyes. She says, sadly, no dice
They're all out. She has none for me now

Guess it's finally time to go greet the Reaper, my old foe
Holding back tears of my own, feeling wretchedly alone
I meet her gaze and nod my head
"I guess I'll have the cherry pie instead"
Track Name: X. Billy Shocks Them All
I open my eyes, and I rise with no pain
This shouldn’t be possible. It can’t be explained away
A million volts - it should have cooked me like a side of bacon
Yet here I am. Here I have awakened

How did this happen to me?
How did I survive?
There’s no conceivable explanation
For how I am alive

A heated debate
This is unprecedented
The warden demands
That they throw the switch again!

Again I’m unharmed, and their fear begins to show
They ask what my secret is, and I tell them I don’t know
I’ve circled the globe, and I’ve seen things you could only dream
And even I have no clue what this means

Why did this happen to me?
Why do I still stand?
No Golden Apple can change who I am
I’m just a mortal man
Who lived my life as best I can

I look back
On the life I’ve lived
From blazing a trail
To riding the rails
To spending my last days in jail

And as the current
Goes screaming through my brain
The meaning of it all
Becomes so clear and plain:
I guess I’m just
A truly bad