Author : Jake Christie
“Hundred and fifty bucks.”
Harry looked at the tiny vial in the clerk’s hand, filled with a slightly opaque purple liquid, then back at his face. “For that much?” he asked.
The clerk nodded. “This is the top of the line stuff, man,” he says. “The Jimi Hendrix. Nothing like it.” The door chimed, another customer coming in. There was a line starting to form. “If you don’t want it…”
“No, no, I do,” said Harry. He pulled his cash from his pocket and started peeling off bills. “How many, ah…”
The clerk held the vial close to his face and squinted in. “Three hits, I’d say. Unless you want, you know, an experience.”
Harry handed over the money and thanked the clerk. The vial felt cool in his fingertips, colder than the rest of the room, maybe colder than it should have been. Like it wanted out of that vial. “Is there a place here?”
“Sure,” said the clerk, jerking his thumb over his shoulder. “In the back.”
The back room was like the other side of a coin, the complete inverse of the front. Where the front was all antiseptic and shiny, counters and vials and hard corners, the back room was soft and inviting. Lots of colors, lots of curves, and a lots of people in chairs and on mattresses, their heads lolled back, their eyes closed or looking at something that wasn’t there. There was no music, just the rhythmic sound of breathing.
Harry found a comfortable spot and rolled up his sleeve. He took out his syringe and poked it into the vial, then slowly pulled out the plunger. A third of the purple liquid disappeared from the vial. Then half. Then all of it. He tapped his finger against the needle, took a deep breath, and stuck it in his arm.
He leaned back and closed his eyes. Blackness enveloped him. He listened to the sound of his breathing – in and out, in and out. Then, even that faded away. He was left in darkness and silence, floating out of this specific place in space and time. No longer sitting in the back room. No longer himself.
It started as a dull rumble, like a highway off in the distance, then grew louder and louder. It wasn’t a highway, it wasn’t an earthquake. The rumbling became more distinct, into voices – a sea of voices, all screaming.
In the darkness and the roar, Harry suddenly felt that he was no longer lying down. He was standing, there was a warm breeze blowing on his face. And there was something in his hands – left handed, even though he was a righty.
He opened his eyes and looked out over the crowd. Thousands of people, hundreds of thousands. All staring right at the stage, right at him, and cheering. He heard one voice, close to the stage, say his name: “We love you, Jimi!”
Harry plucked the pick from his mouth and stretched his fingers around the neck of the guitar. He’d never learned how to play, but it had always been his dream to be a rock star. He always wondered what it would feel like. And now, he knew how to play. He knew how to play everything.
Somebody in the back room was playing a Stradivarius at the Met. Somebody else was playing trumpet with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley. Harry was holding Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, in Jimi Hendrix’s hands.
“I love you too,” he said. “We are the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This next one is called ‘Purple Haze.’”