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To My Parents, For allowing me to pursue the mad dream Of becoming a writer and accepting the Insanity that tags along with it. - Geoff

“A man who won’t die for something Is not fit to live.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. “Music is my religion.” – Jimi Hendrix

Introduction Ahhh... Death. Many a soul fear this unknown side-effect of life. Could it be the end or just the mere beginning? In the music industry, death is just the beginning. The entrance to a goldmine awaiting the avarice record companies. Where the death of an artist is more valuable than their actual lives. That would explain the legend to why a select few of artists choose to sell their souls to the devil, Dear Old Lucifer, the former Angel of Worship, who had been exiled to the land of fire and brimstone. Angel of Worship? Is that the reason for people believing that if you signed a deal with the devil, then you would become a maestro virtuoso after he had tweaked around with your guitar? Well that notion circulates the concept of The 27 Club. Ah yes, The 27 Club, an elite group of phenomenal musical talent that had died at the unadorned age of 27. An elite group that I, myself had considered joining. The legend went as follows: “If an aspiring bluesman waited by the side of a deserted country crossroads in the dark of a moonless night, then Satan himself might come and tune his guitar, sealing a pact for the bluesman’s soul and guaranteeing a lifetime of easy money, women, and fame.” WELL SIGN ME UP!!! There is no need to procrastinate when you have an opportunity like that, at your fingertips. I recalled that there was a dusty, isolated crossroads in the next town, but that meant that a roadtrip was in order to legalise this contract. I had to make a deal with the devil. I shoved an extra white T-shirt into a drawstring bag, inserted my wallet into my worn-out beat jean’s front-left pocket and grabbed my Gibson Les Paul by its fret board. I sauntered towards the ride that was going to get me places, before I tossed the bag onto the back seat, and placed my Les Paul onto the passenger seat of my pride and joy, a midnight-black Chevrolet Chevelle SS. I turned the ignition key and the engine roared like a pride of lions, anticipating the start of the hunt. With a screech of my white-walled tyres, I was on a hot pursuit to discover whether the legend was a bust or not.

♫ I had been on the road for 2 hours, 2 hours seems like a fucking long time when you are cruising down the highway to hell with a hangover. I drove past a barely-surviving sign that had a Las Vegas feel to it, which was suppose to say: “Welcome to Forever 27”, it clearly meant that I was on the right track, although the sign seemed to be screaming “Go back, the residents are fucked up here!” due to the missing letters and the “7” hanging by a piece of frayed cord. I mean, if that was the welcome sign then it is a clarion call to what I should expect next. I don’t know if it was last night’s drinking binge or the fact that I just didn’t care anymore, but my foot pressed down on the accelerator and I continued down the long meandering road. I came to the thought that this road trip was lacking soul, it was missing a soundtrack. I pushed the power button with a forceful thumb (being that it was an old radio and all), the radio scanned for the nearest radio tower signal and found an old-school Blues station. Was that Robert Johnson? The melody did have a tragic disturbance to it. “I went down to the crossroads and fell down on my knees, asked the Lord up above for mercy, save poor Bob if you please.” An overwhelming sensation started to occur, the muscles in my neck and head started to spasm, I assumed from the non-stop 2 hours on the road. Then I felt a convulsion starting to occur, as though every muscle in my body was vibrating, my energy was being drained and the most bizarre symptom was a metallic taste that had been marinated in my saliva and coated my whole mouth. Fortunately, I had half-a-bottle of whiskey left. Nothing gets rid of a metallic taste like a swig of sour mash Tennessee whiskey with aromatic notes of vanilla, caramel and toasted oak. I swerved into the parking lot of a life-saving motel with one hand on the wheel and the other hand grasping the bottle neck. “Fuck, that was a close one”, I gasped while sprinkling the whiskey droplets on my lips before I wiped the residual droplets away.

I looked up to the signboard of the establishment, “Alexandre Levy Motel”. It seemed like a decent place to stay, decent as in not nice enough to take your lady there (well unless she was a prostitute), but trustworthy enough to know that if you were to leave your stuff there, that it will still be there by the time that you got back. I picked up a box of tablets that were loitering on the floor of my Chevelle. The label read: “ZOPICLONE 7,5MG TAKE ONE TABLET TWICE A DAY Prescribed by: Dr. Edirp Eikcid.” The doctor was some back-door experimental psychiatrist (a man that I could organise any kind of mind-altering Schedule 7 drug with the simple pack of bank notes that was equivalent to bail money if he ever got caught), who shared an office space with a podiatrist. It was one of those situations when you know that they are both qualified practitioners but you are oblivious to why they are sharing the same corrugated-iron roof. So since it was a simple box of sleeping pills, I didn’t think twice before snatching a box from his cold latex hands, even though it was clear that I was in turmoil after he showed his recently whitened crocodile teeth with a sinister Dr. Frankenstein smirk. I continued reading the label: “May cause drowsiness and mild headaches.” Well they are sleeping tablets, I would be pissed off if it would send a bolt of energy surging through my nervous system. I popped two tablets out of the blister pack and washed them down with another swig of whiskey. SHIT! I had to admit that they were potent drugs, not even 5 minutes down the line, and I was already sedated as if I were darted by a tranquilizer gun. My mind was slowing down, retarding, my worries fading away, I could taste peace. BAM!!! It felt like I was hit at the back of my head with a baseball bat, the metal one. Blunt force trauma at its best. I started to hallucinate, imagining the sound of my hair being sheared off and an angle-grinder cutting through metal bursted into my tympanic membrane. An excruciating sharp pain entered my head as if that quack doctor was drilling into my skull, bits of bone and brainmatter splattering everywhere. The side-effects were supposed to be “Drowsiness and mild headaches”, not an illusion of a neurosurgical procedure known as a lobotomy.

I climbed out of the Chevelle to get some fresh air into my lungs, but that made no impact. I wasn’t about to suffer the whole day with a debilitating headache such as this one that I had encountered. My right hand nose-dived into my inner-left leather jacket pocket like a police-trained hound sniffing for contraband, and pulled out desiccated marijuana wrapped up neatly in a measured sheet of Rizla paper, complete with a twist at each end. I placed one end at the edge of my lip and lit the other end with my petroleum-spirit-filled Zippo lighter. I inhaled the incriminating, illegal ingredient and exhaled with a sigh. I pictured Jimi Hendrix with his Fender Stratocaster. “Purple Haze was in my brain, lately things don’t seem the same, actin’ funny but I don’t know why, ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.” As that verse faded away, my breathing became abrupt. Phantom coarse hands had a tight grip around my neck, asphyxiation was soon to follow. Tighter and tighter it squeezed until the joint fell from my fingers and tumbled to the tarmac. My right boot extinguished the flame as if cutting the strings of a puppet. The choke-hold had been released, my lungs filled with oxygen, I was no longer manipulated by that involuntary habit.

I approached the car. I swung the drawstring bag over my left shoulder and grabbed my Les Paul. The rubber soles of my boots percussioned against the tar while I welcomed myself to the reception area of the motel. I filled in the necessary details and booked myself into a room with a view, a room on the second floor. Room No. 27, great, why not add anymore fucking clichés to this road trip, next I will be visited by three ghosts, with Charles Dickens snickering backstage, the bastard. I snatched the key off the desk and ascended by the concrete stairway, guiding myself up with the iron-wrought railing. A scent of chlorine bleached my nasal-passageways and the gleam of a clear swimming pool glistened in the corner of my eye. I was possessed by my childhood and my love for the water. I unlocked the door and peppered the bed with the drawstring bag, the Les Paul, my leather jacket, my rubber-soled boots and other miscellaneous items and receipt papers that were stashed in my jean’s pockets. I jolted out of the room and climbed to the top of the railing that bordered the balcony. I inhaled deeply and performed a dive into the pool. Hydrating the concrete paving and parched grass. While swimming underwater, I heard a gurgling sound that I had recognised as music. I resurfaced to replenish my oxygen levels before submerging in search for the mysterious noise. I discovered a waterproof radio on the marbelite-bed of the deep end. I retrieved the radio and returned to the blue sky, which was blurred by the water at that point. I placed the radio onto the concrete paving that had surrounded the pool, in order to let it “air out” a bit while I continued to enjoy the tranquil effect of the water. A song had just started after its musical introduction. “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste, I’ve been around for a long, long year, stole many a man’s soul and faith.” It was Sympathy for the Devil, a song written by Brian Jones, a man whom had passed away at the tender age of 27-years-old, found lifeless in a swimming pool, and is a deceased member of The Rolling Stones. Chills went down my spine, and it wasn’t because of a breeze that blew by and cooled the moisture on my neck.

My biceps began to spasm as I lifted myself out of the pool. I decided to air dry myself for a moment before heading back up to the room, with the newly found radio. I entered the room and performed an inspection, inspecting the bed, the bathroom, the bar fridge (packed to the brim with miniature liquor bottles), and detecting a Greeting card on a cup-stained, varnished ligneous coffee table in the so-called “Living room”, which was actually an open-plan space that consisted of the living-room, dining-room, kitchen and bedroom. The Greeting card was unique, it had a tie-dye pattern but instead of spiky circles, it was in the formation of hearts, and had contrasting wording that read: “Take another little piece of my heart now, baby!” Wait a second... isn’t that a line from a Janis Joplin song? But more importantly, am I in the fucking “Honeymoon” suite? I swear it was clear that I was alone; at least it wasn’t a Valentine’s Day cliché like I would have imagined. Before I could have thought of a second insult about the lack of effort put into a room that was supposed to be oozing with soppy romance for the innocent virgins (or incognito sluts). I heard the waterproof radio turn on and scan for a radio station. I won’t lie, that fucking scared the shit out of me! Then the realisation that the radio could be faulty due to spending hours underwater and the sudden oxidation of the elements calmed my freaked-out mind and made my tense muscles relax. The radio-scanning paused on a station. The song began with a psychedelic interpretation of an electronic keyboard which introduced Jim Morrison, who was once the lead singer of The Doors. “The time to hesitate is through, no time to wallow in the mire, try now we can only lose, and our love become a funeral pyre.” Something was wrong, there were bad vibes entering the room, something diabolical. I felt an infernal clasp, crushing my heart, and it was heating up. A conflagration charring my aorta, ventricles and atria. I could hardly breathe. Was I having a heart attack? At my age? A fist was made as I clenched my chest with my right hand. Staggering, I used side tables, chairs as crutches to get myself closer to the possessed radio. I tripped over an outstretched leg of the table, knocking the table over and the radio onto the mud-stained carpet, with myself landing on my side. “Come on baby, light my fire, come on baby, light my fire, try to set the night on fire, yeah.” I dragged my temporarily-paralysed body with my left arm while my right hand was still clenched into a fist. Edging closer to the demonic boombox. With one last stretch, I turned the radio off. Instant relief. It was as though a crop plane had released water in order to extinguish a veld fire.

♫ I had to get out of that room, too many strange things were happening all at once, besides I needed a drink that didn’t come out of a sample bottle. I guided my feet into my rubber-soled boots and secured them by stamping the ground; I slid my arms into the sleeves of my leather jacket before adjusting the collar. I was ready to get lost. I thumped down the stairway and wandered into the reception. A man with a greasy bowl-cut hairstyle and looked like the financial constraints of the motel kept him from attaining 6 hours of sleep, assisted me with road directions to find the nearest pub. He sauntered out the entrance of the motel. His nail-bitten finger pointed down a long stretch of tar that appeared to be flowing into the horizon. “Fuck”, I sighed. Patting the bottom of a pack of Roger Lee Durham cigarettes, placing the butt on my bottom lip, igniting it, and inhaling a cloud of toxic smoke, I started to tread this long walk just for a pint. Louis Chauvin Avenue was occupied with numerous run-down boutiques: Pete Ham Butchery, D. Boon Electronics, Pete de Freitas’ Green-grocer, Fat Pat Bakery, the Jacob Miller Liquor-store, and between Kristen Pfaff Jewellers and Chris Bell’s Antiques was an Arlester Christian Chapel. This place was a ghost town. After walking past a few “closed” signs, I paused to the sound of a cluttering twin-propelled engine plane screeching through the sound barriers. What the fuck? I searched the skies. The plane was a Piper Twin Comanche with C.H.A.S.E. painted in red on the tail of the plane. It was heading for a crash landing towards the Mia Zapata Mountains, a place where there are no survivors. The Mia Zapata Mountains were situated behind Jesse Belvin Boulevard, which was accessed by a dingy and polluted by-way known as Rudy Lewis Road. The area reeked of murder and suicide, a place that I wasn’t keen to visit. I scratched my head, interjected a “Fuck!”, wondered if that was a daily occurrence since no one seemed phased by what had just happened, and moved right on towards the Blind Owl Pub.

The pub had the ambience of a biker’s bar; it was poorly illuminated, had a pungent stench of booze and burgers, and owned a stage to host live bands. As I roamed towards a dining booth and sat down, I overheard the manager dehumanising the maintenance guy (whom was wearing a black Stone the Crows T-shirt and rearranging the wires of the microphone cable so that it became earthed) with embarrassment by bellowing: “We don’t need another fucking lawsuit because singers are being electrocuted by this piece of shit! Hurry the fuck up, we have a show starting in 10 minutes and I’m not going to lose customers because of this shit!” When the waitress arrived, I ordered a greasy Dagwood burger and a bottle of their cheapest whiskey. I couldn’t help but notice that there was something different about her; she possessed a burning soul that elated a genuine smile onto her soft-contoured face. Although, she would be regarded as an outcast and a rebel in my home town; due to her raven-black hair; piercings on her bottom lip and left-side of her nose; midnight make-up that gave her a mask of hidden secrets; and a tattoo on the lower part of her back (that I had glimpsed between the hemline of her black polo shirt and beige chino’s as she walked away), she still had the essence of being a saint in this town of sinners. The band of misfits started to play and performed a cover song. “I said death don’t have no mercy in this land. Death will leave you standing and crying in this land, death will leave you standing and crying in this land, in this land, yeah!” I felt an odd sensation, a sharp pain by the area associated with my liver. I assumed that it was linked to all the alcohol that I consumed on an empty stomach. I was saved by the Seductress of Darkness when she arrived with a burger overflowing with bacon, cheese and other toppings, and a 750ml bottle of their in-house whiskey. I poured half-a-glass of whiskey so that the ice cubes could float and read the fingerprint-stained label of the bottle. The Stooges’ twice-mellowed whiskey? Fuck, I have never heard or read of that brand before. I chugged the glass of whiskey, but felt as though it had gushed down my trachea instead of my oesophagus, filling my lungs up with the disinfectant liquid. I coughed while gasping for air.

Finally, I was relieved to find oxygen and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon’s proceedings. The band took a 5-minute break before continuing with a second cover song. The room was full of depression, people who have lived a tough life and were just surviving the days that they had left in this dead-end town. Across the room, I noticed a round table, not of valiant knights in shining armour, but of teenagers wearing hoodies with nothing to lose. Instead of the snapping of fingers, the room was filled with snapping of elastic bands, all finding the main vein to bring instant euphoria while mumbling the lyrics to the song: “Waiting by the window, staring at my shadow, not believing what I’d seen, touching but not feeling, and wondering in what I was dealing, and not knowing where I’d been.” I had to get out of this black hole that was slowly sucking me into the abyss of drug abuse and misery. I begged the waitress for the bill. She returned, handed me the bill, and in a tender tone of voice, as if she cared about me, said: “Don’t get lost out there, you hear.” I penned my number on a serviette, handed it to her before giving her a peck on her supple cheek and responded: “Don’t let this place suck you in.” She blushed and hid her Mona Lisa smile before wishing me a safe travel. I raised my hand as a symbol of bidding farewell before pushing the swing door open. Hoping that it wouldn’t kick my ass on the way out, unlike how my conventional life did when I decided to become a musician in a family full of logic and reason, mainly surgeons and advocates, but you catch my drift. I lit a cigarette and did the iconic James Dean walk, another legend that had died before his time. I estranged myself from society and turned down Linda Jones Alley. I saw an apartment building in the surrounding landscape and headed towards it, in hope to find solitude or perhaps happiness in the form of ambitious residents. I located the over-towering apartment building that had a signboard, indicating that it was the Bashlachev Apartments and was bordered by lightbulbs turning on and off in a melodic pattern as if it were advertising an old Hollywood movie. The apartment building was situated on the corner of Malcolm Hale Drive and Nat Jaffe Street.

As I trudged closer through the sludge of old newspapers and rain water, I heard the smashing of a window. I looked up and saw the silhouette of a body, from the 9th floor, plummet to the cobblestone street accompanied with shards of glass. The cigarette fell from my bottom lip and tumbled toward the ground before it sizzled in the marshland as the rain water extinguished the burning power of the cigarette. My hand covered my mouth in awe. What the fuck is up with this place?! I jogged towards the scene of the crime, don’t ask what came over me, but there was an instinct to go and make sure that the person didn’t have any last words. I cringed as I got closer, expecting to see a massacre of a body all over the grooves of the cobblestone, but was astonished to find a glossy black, out-of-the-morgue duffel bag instead. My curiosity was overwhelming. I crouched towards the duffel bag and unzipped it to the end of the zip. To my amazement and relief, I did not find a decaying cadaver, but instead found a collection of miscellaneous items. I pulled them out one by one: there was a cassette tape that had Helmut Köllen’s Recordings written on it with a permanent marker and had a distinct smell of Carbon Monoxide on it; there was a MISSING PERSON poster with a portrait of the person and the name Richey Edwards; there was a cut-out of a newspaper article - it was titled “Crossair Flight 3597 crashes into forest” and had a photograph of a plane with Passion Fruit in orange letters painted on its tail; there was a painting - a combination of blues, oranges, yellows, blacks and browns forming an abstract skull with a signature that read Basquiat (I flipped the painting over and discovered a syringe of heroin taped to the wooden canvas frame); there was a shotgun that had Cobain carved into its wooden handle by a knife and had droplets of blood on its cold, metallic barrel; and finally, there was a black leather jacket - it had a badge of the Lost Boyz sewn onto the back and dripping down in streams was blood on the back of the jacket, as if the previous owner of this jacket was shot in the back of their head. Fuck! I dropped the jacket onto the pile of items. What have I gotten myself into?! Right here in this bag was all the evidence needed to close a homicide case. A jacket linked to the victim, a syringe as the motive to a drug war, and the shotgun was a murder weapon, which I had now replaced the fingerprints with my own.

What do I do now? If I give this to the police then I will be involved in a crime that I didn’t even commit. I will be the main suspect and be given a prison sentence, proving my family right, that being a rebel will reserve a jail cell for me, and that I am destined for failure by rejecting science and law for the pursuit of the arts. Well I guess they will get their vengeance in the form of forensics. There was only one thing that I could do. I had to get out of here before someone noticed me or worse, be described as a suspect fleeing the scene. I shoved all the incriminating objects back into the duffel bag and attempted to avoid getting any of the blood onto my hands or clothes. It felt like it took forever trying to zip up the duffel bag but I guess when you have adrenalin pumping through your veins and your mind is moving faster than the world around you, then everything seems retarded and played in slow-motion. I yanked the duffel bag up and carried it over my left shoulder. I glanced around, searching for any witnesses before striding back towards Linda Jones Alley. I was aiming on getting out of the light and staying out of sight. The alley was reaching its end. I snuck behind the corner of the building so I could look out for pedestrians while remaining invisible to the stoned-drunk world. Louis Chauvin Avenue was loitered with empty vessels, it seemed that their mind and soul had abandoned their bodies for that moment in time. But still, a guy wearing a black leather jacket and carrying a duffel bag would still bring unwanted attention and I couldn’t prepare myself enough for that. I spotted a detour, but the location was an unsavoury one. It was the Rudy Lewis Road; the one that I mentioned reeked of murder and suicide? It was the only alternative that I had. I lit a cigarette and decided that this was it; the only obstacle in the way was a staggering drunkard. I started to walk casually, he noticed me straightaway, shit. He swayed while he waved to get my attention and mumbled “Hey there stranger, what do you have hiding in that big bag?” under hiccups and belches. A puff of smoke escaped my tense jaw as I responded with a hostile “Fuck off”. He bowed his head in rejection and whispered “alright” in a neglected tone.

I felt bad. Here was a man looking for attention, looking for someone to talk to him. No one cared in this world, no one wanted to listen, they were either escaping with the highs of heroin or were obsessed with their own solo career. No one gave a fuck for those who cared. No one could spare their time for a 5minute chat. It wasn’t intentional sir. My harshness is to protect you from the darkness in this bag. To protect you from my own darkness, my regrets, my self-doubt, my self-loathing, you don’t need that in your life, especially not from a stranger that you have just met. You don’t need the burden that I am carrying.

The sun was starting to set, and the town was starting to take its true dark form, unleashing the evils of the night. The beating of the rubber soles of my boots increased in tempo as I darted across the asphalt and headed down Rudy Lewis Road. I arrived at a 3-way fork in the road. The first route led towards Jesse Belvin Boulevard, a place that I didn’t want to wander through during the day, never mind after an eventful afternoon. The two remaining options were a tar road leading towards an unknown location or a dirt trail that curved behind the buildings of Louis Chauvin Avenue. I chose the tar road since a dirt trail can be quite treacherous during the twilight hours. I flicked my cigarette butt into the nearby gutter and started to prepare myself for a tranquil amble. I journeyed up the highway, a concrete Route 27 towards what I assumed would be the concrete jungle. A light silhouette of myself had formed in front of me. The light became brighter and my shadow became darker. What the fuck? I dived towards the pavement, duffel bag and all. I rolled onto my side towards the direction the car was travelling and raised my right fist in an “I oughtta!” gesture. It was a Ford Explorer SUV with Rodrigo Bueno on its number plate. It appeared that the Ford was trading paint with another mysterious poltergeist of car. The battle ended in a crunching sound of metal as the Ford Explorer SUV crashed into the guard-rails of a toll booth, while its challenger fled the scene unscathed. The Good Samaritan in me wanted to rush over there to make sure that the driver and passengers were in a stable condition while waiting for the emergency services. But it was a matter of time before the boys in blue would arrive, and there is nothing more suspicious than a man carrying a duffel bag, even if I was an innocent by-stander. They would find a way to involve me into the statement somehow, make me stand in front of the jury and testify a story that my arranged attorney had written for me to repeat. Just like in my hometown, I could have been suffering in bed with the influenza virus, yet somehow I landed up in the headline of the newspapers, robbing banks with the scoundrels that my community automatically associated me with, just because I looked like that sort of guy, troubled with dark secrets and acting them out in a controversial manner, cursing in public and speaking my mind, or perhaps it could be because I dressed the same way that they did. Did it not occur to society that I was trying to gain the attention of the women that had sexual fantasies about those scumbags? I would have treated them better too, giving them the love that they spoke to me about, but they weren’t interested in giving me a chance. So I changed.

I headed back down the short length of highway that I had travelled, and headed down the dirt trail. My rubber soles grinded against the grains of sand as I ran. I ran from the scene, I ran from my past, away from prejudices, the prejudice of being referred to as a vandal instead of a rebel, a rebel with a cause, a cause to inspire the hopeless and feed the homeless. To give my hometown an icon that they can be proud of; an icon that grandparents can tell their children and grandchildren stories about his rise from the ashes. My mind was side-tracked as an A5 pamphlet caught the front of my boot. I bent down to retrieve it and examined the glossy piece of paper. It was headlined Ink & Dagger and had a photo of one of the band members dressed up as a vampire accompanied with the caption: “It will leave you breathless.” Great, vampires, that’s all this fucking town needs, as if this town wasn’t crawling with the living dead already. The trail was becoming darker, and I could barely distinguish the difference between a stick and a snare. A bright glow came from the distance ahead. It was the buzzing neon sign of the Alexandre Levy Motel. A smile and warm sensation possessed my body, I was finally at a place that I could temporarily call my home. It wasn’t a lavish abode that you would find in a lifestyle magazine, but it was safe and the sponge mattress didn’t judge my actions. The rubber soles of my boots pounded the steps with exhaustion as I made my way to my allocated suite. I unlocked the door, dropped the duffel bag behind the worn-out sofa and collapsed onto the bed.

♫ I stared relentlessly at the peeling paint on the ceiling, hoping that boredom would kick in and that I could close my eyes, preparing myself for the moment of a lifetime, the moment where I sign my soul away in return for fame, fortune and the females. Could it be possible? Could I be the next notch on the 27 Club post? Would I make the cut or would I just be a one-hit-wonder like most musicians in this day and age? My mind was restless, I couldn’t sleep. I sat up, climbed off the bed, snatched an orange from the fruit bowl that was presented on the coffee table in the lounge area, and sunk into the crevices of the worn-out sofa. I bit a chunk out of the flesh of the orange and wedged my thumbs between the skin and the membranes of the segments, peeling off the zest of the fruit and catapulting it into the trashcan as if a basketball player was hoping to score a 3-pointer. I separated the segments and bit one of them in half. It was warm and had disturbed my appetite, but I was hungry and I needed to eat. I popped them, one by one, cringing every time I bit into them, expecting an ooze of lukewarm orange juice. The citric acid coated my tongue like enamel varnish applied to protect the wooden furniture from being weathered away. Now I could tick one thing off the to-do checklist. All I had to do now was to find a way to tranquilise my wild thoughts and get some shut eye. I thought about the sleeping remedies. I remembered that I still had the remaining sleeping tablets from the quack doctor under the passenger seat of my car. I soon recalled the sensation of the lobotomy experience that occurs minutes after you consume them and I definitely didn’t want to repeat that splitting headache again.

A question then embodied my mind. What is the Rockstar’s philosophy?

Sex, drugs and rock n roll ?


Hmmm... Sex would be the perfect choice. The rush of dopamine; the taste of her black cherry lipstick on my lips; the tingle of her warm breath on my neck; her tender hands pressing my shoulders down while she rides me; to a faraway place; a place of no return. The ecstatic gasps for air turn into irresistible moans as she climbs higher and higher; towards the apex; towards her climax; and as she reaches the top; she lets go of her worries; setting the caged animal free; releasing herself; the sigh of an orgasm; the sound of satisfaction. I thought about the waitress at the pub. Her sapphire-blue eyes and raven-black hair, perfumed with edgy femininity. Her supple body and perky breasts liberated from her stringent uniform. Two untamed souls finally unleashed from the chains of society into our au naturel environment. But I couldn’t drag her along with me, not to where I was going, not to the soulless hell that I was about to enter, with abundant alcohol and drugs to comatose your conscience or any lingering regrets. To abandon her hopes, her ambitions, her identity. The world would dispose her name and re-title her as my girlfriend. The world would forget that she is a breathing soul too, interrogating her with questions concerning me, they won’t even consider about asking how she is feeling or what her plans are for the future. She would just become a reference to me. I couldn’t allow that to happen, so I scratched Sex off the list.

Rock n roll

I wasn’t too keen on Drugs so I skipped to Rock ‘n Roll. I glared towards my Gibson Les Paul and had a premonition. Crowds were chanting my name, banging on fences in anticipation for the show to start. Blinded by an array of coloured lights, sweating under the spotlight, and feeling the heat of the pyrotechnics, increasing the temperature to a level where one would faint and wake up with a dry mouth. Spending eternity being a bitch to the music, being a bitch to the public, being a bitch to my own devices. Being compressed by immense pressure to attend signings, be interrogated by interviewers, assaulted by the paparazzi (which I would naturally fuck up as self-defence like all rockstars do), be pushed onto charted private jets to do tours (even when it’s your parent’s anniversary or child’s 1st birthday), all while trying to acquire a maximum of 3 hours sleep on a cramped bunk bed inside a sponsored tour bus. Ahhh... the life of a fucking rockstar, a dream come true to those on the outside but a never-ending, torturous nightmare to the victim on the inside. But it is not by choice, I don’t want it, I need it, I need to prove my critics wrong. I’m also broke, I spent the last change in my back pocket, rent is due and the landlord is knocking at my door, eviction is the next form of action. I am fucked.


I look away from the Gibson Les Paul with a shudder. There is only one option left – Drugs. But how would I even ask for it? I have never done it before, I don’t even know the lingo. If I try too hard then I will look like an officer from the narcotics bureau, and worst-case-scenario, what happens if I unknowingly ask one? Bam! Handcuffs and a jail cell, thank you very much. I bet the gruel won’t taste as bad as that warm orange did. Suddenly, a spark ignited my neurons. I recollected seeing a syringe with heroin in it, somewhere. I mentally retraced my steps: I remembered seeing the teenagers at the pub using them; but the image in my head appeared much closer than that, as if I was nearly touching it; I imagined myself walking down Linda Jones Alley, I re-witnessed the body fall which ended up to be a duffel bag. Aha! That’s it! I remember seeing the syringe on an item that I found in the duffel bag. I ran and slid onto my knees towards the bag. I unzipped it and examined each object again. It was taped on the wooden frame of the canvas painting. I gently removed the tape and steadily held the syringe. I had paid involuntary attention to how the teenagers in the pub did it. I walked and took a steak knife out of the kitchen cutlery drawer. I sliced a length of string from my drawstring bag, walked into the lounge area and placed the steak knife on top of the coffee table. I tied the string tightly around my left bicep, found the recipient vein, and held the syringe of diacetylmorphine like a doctor that was about to administer an anaesthetic.

I leant against the back of the sofa and quoted the lyrics of De Facto. “My how these tricks turn themselves, in the wake of the inquisition limbless answers inoculated, I’ve caught mono bobbing for barbed wire, these nasty sores of ataxia will feel the sting of the opiate copulation.” The hypodermic needle pierced my skin and then my vein in an undisturbed motion. My thumb gradually pushed the plunger down past three marked lines. I felt untouched by the narcotic, and continued past another three marked lines. My cheeks felt warm as if I were blushing but nothing what I expected from something that you would have to serve jail time, and preventing yourself from becoming someone’s bitch, if you were ever caught with it in your possession. I pushed the plunger past another three marked lines. A rush of blood and chemicals went to my head. A sharp dreamlike response of euphoria coated my mind, everything felt fuzzy and good for that moment, while the diacetylmorphine metabolised into 6-Monoacetylmorphine and morphine inside my cerebral cortex. I pushed the plunger to allow the rest of the heroin to run its course through my veins. A peculiar taste of penicillin took hostage of my taste-buds, could it may have been an aftertaste from the decaying juices of the orange that I ate? Lyrics then occupied the air space like an American Head Charge. “Shut my eyes only once, brought me back up for nothing, yet it always seems like, I’m drawn into it, I can’t belong, such a perfect fit, I won’t be wrong, holding on in vain, telling me you’re scared, of me when I’m god, of me when I’m dead.” My eyelids slammed shut like aluminium roller-shutters of flea market stalls when it’s closing time. I heard a faint bump as the empty syringe ricocheted off the loveseat and onto the physical abused carpet. My head crash-landed onto the arm of the sofa. There was silence. It had all faded to black. My mind had been settled. There were no psychedelic dreams like I would imagine after viewing various cinematographers’ perceptions of a stoner’s dream or discovering a green fairy from an Absinthe hallucination. It was peaceful, maybe too peaceful. I needed a moment of silence before the noise of: the beating drums, squeaking beds, strumming guitars, plucking basses, echoing microphones and pounding hearts. A moment where I owned myself before I became property of the stalkers and groupies.

♫ My body slowly started to awaken. My hands rubbed my eyes, divorcing my eyelids from each other, and scooping the handful of sand that the Sandman had left in the wells of my eyes. I stretched my arms into a tense position and appearing as if I were Atlas, holding the world on my shoulders, before I roared a yawn. Perhaps this wasn’t too much of an exaggeration as the burden of my future was on my shoulders and any stumble could fuck up the balance of things. I scoped the room for any sort of timepiece, be it an alarm clock, a pocket watch, a sundial, even a Mayan calendar. I spotted a round wall clock, accompanied with Roman numerals and fleurs-de-lys as hands, something that you may find in the antique shop situated on Louis Chauvin Avenue. The long hand had made its way to the third line past VII and the short hand was resting on IX. It was time for me to leave, time to check-out this motel and to continue the journey. I climbed into my boots; slid my leather jacket on; swung the onestring drawstring bag over my left shoulder, before hauling the duffel bag and resting it on top of my left shoulder; held the demonic radio in my left hand; shoved the keys into my right jean’s pocket and grabbed my Gibson Les Paul by its fret board. This was it, this was goodbye. The curtain call, the final round, the last dance, the dramatic end. I settled the Les Paul down outside the “Honeymoon” suite; locked the door; this time I stuck my right index finger through the keyring and picked up the Les Paul again. The rubber soles of my boots did a drum roll as I descended the stairs and entered the reception area. I leant the Les Paul against the reception desk. I slammed the keys onto the desk like a judge would with their gavel, finalising my departure and destiny.

I shook the hand of the owner, who still had suicidal thoughts on his mind, and bid him farewell. I travelled across the parking lot to my Chevy Chevelle SS. I rambled to the rear and unlatched the trunk before swinging it open and offloading the emotional burden of the duffel bag. I slammed the trunk shut and prayed that it would disappear down a worm-hole before I had to open it again. I laid the Gibson Les Paul on the passenger seat; discarded the drawstring bag and demonic radio onto the back seat; lit up a cigarette, and turned the ignition key to hear the rumbling of the Chevelle’s engine. I exited the motel’s parking lot and turned left onto Louis Chauvin Avenue. I made a quick-stop to purchase a 6-pack of bottle-cap beer; a packet of peanuts; two packs of Roger Lee Durham cigarettes and a portable alarm clock from Jacob Miller Liquor-store before continuing the journey. I turned right down Rudy Lewis Road and followed the middle tarred-pathway. The car that I had witnessed crash into the guard-rails of a toll booth had been towed away to the police compound. Perhaps this path was cursed or something because a few blinks after the previous crime scene, I had noticed a car with the number plate Valentin which was peppered with bullet holes and yellow ballistic markers. The car was surrounded by a swarm of squad cars and paramedics pushing occupied gurneys to the back of their ambulances. I focused on the road before me and kept on cruising. It was dark, a moonless night, just like the legend had required for the attendance of the devil. I could barely see the diamond sign on the side of the highway that indicated that I was travelling on Route 27. The crackling sound of course sand crunching underneath the tyres had awakened the silent skies as the asphalt highway had degraded to a dirt road. I was on a hot trail to hell. Street lights morphed into sycamores, and the only thing civilised in the area was a pair of zoot shoes hanging on the telephone wire that ran adjacent to the road. The area started to look like the one described in the legend. I had arrived. I decided to park the Chevelle on the side of the dirt road, a walking distance away from The Crossroads. I still had time to kill. I tore the cardboard casing of the 6-pack open. I grabbed two bottles, one to drink and the other to wedge the bottle-cap off like a bottle-opener. I placed the second bottle next to the Les Paul and took a swig from the first bottle. I examined the quartz glass and sticky label of the lager distilled from Winehouse Breweries while I tantalised my tastebuds with the cocktail of barley malt, maize, hops and water. I could sense a belch bubbling after the third swig.

I turned on the car radio, but it seemed to have a mind of its own. Skipping sounds and warping blurts of frequencies before staying stationary on a station. I felt an abnormal uncomfortable pain in my chest once the song had started. “Don’t hold your breath too long, for white diamonds in the snow, hold back and kiss slow, oh the lights out in your cold heart now.” The beating of my heart increased with a burst of speed like the paws of greyhounds against the gravelled racecourse at the sound of the starting gun. Pounding so hard, I was losing consciousness and could have sworn that I heard the screeching of a trumpet echoing in my ears. I needed to turn that radio off. My muscles were contracted due to the excruciating pain, I could barely reach, all I knew was that I was not going to let myself die before my own time. I clasped the left side of my chest with my right hand, and stretched my left arm as far as it could go, stretching my index finger as far as possible without snapping it. My heart pounded more abusively, I could feel a lump in my throat, a choking sensation. Fortunately, my finger pressed the button by its very tip. The music stopped, the pounding regulated to a resting point beat, I could breathe again. Shit! That was close. I wiped the sweat off my forehead, my skin was on fire. It felt as though I was in a sauna longer than the recommended time. I realised that could have been it, that could have been the end of me, no retakes, restarts, no second chances, The End. I ripped the plastic wrapping off a new box of Roger Lee Durham cigarettes, placed the filter of a cigarette on my bottom lip, and lit it up. Fuck! Am I so troubled that I have to resort to such measures? A breeze started to pick up, a gust of wind rustled the docile sand. A whirlwind had formed and remained stationary in the centre of The Crossroads. I removed the portable alarm clock from my leather jacket pocket. My eyes were introduced to the crimson glow of 00:00. It was now midnight. The time stated in the legend.

With the bad habit of my curiosity, I climbed out of the Chevelle and approached the natural phenomenon. The mercury level had dropped drastically, I don’t know if The Crossroads were situated in a cold pocket or if the winds of the mountains had condensed and dropped to ground level, but it felt as though I was walking in a freezer. I felt frost bite on my lips and mist flowed out of my mouth in puffs of smoke. I started to shiver uncontrollably, the closer I got, the more severe it became. My eyes slowing shutting close from the exhaustion of forcing my body to move in this Everest of a sub-zero climate. The whirlwind disintegrated gradually, and left behind a cloaked figure. A cloaked figure with sinister, crimson eyes that scorched through the darkness; with the demeanour of death and devastation. I was footsteps away from this Diablo. I could smell his cologne of gunpowder and blood oranges. Oh shit! I had forgotten my Gibson Les Paul in the car, but with a snap of his seeminglyodd fully-fleshed fingers, the guitar transported from the passenger seat of the Chevelle into the palms of his hands. I felt light-headed as if I were about to faint, as if the strings that attached my soul to my body were about to be snipped by stainless steel scissors. A silent film started to play in my head. All the deaths of the 27 Club members flashed past my eyes like light through the reels of a film projector. The asphyxiations, the suicides, the drugs. Is it really worth it? Drowning myself in alcohol and liquid narcotics to make the inner demons shut the fuck up. I then envisioned my own death. I tasted the cold steel barrel of a 12-gauge shotgun on my tongue; my left hand held the barrel sturdy; my right thumb pushed the trigger back, while the remaining fingers held the stock of the shotgun sturdy; blowing myself out of existence like a lit candle in the wind. A greedy way to steal myself from my family, to make my future wife a widow and my future children - bastards. I looked down at the demon’s hands while he was finetuning my guitar, they looked familiar. He had a ring on his right index finger just like I did, and a scar on his left hand in the exact same spot where I had obtained mine from a knife fight. Wait a second... I ripped the hood of his cloak back. What the fuck?! I was intrigued why he smelt of gunpowder and not the rotten egg smell of sulphur, I had found my answer. It was a doppelganger! It was a version of me after the destruction of a suicidal gunshot. I gagged, before slapping my hand over my mouth and nose to prevent any unpleasantries. WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I DONE???!!!

It wasn’t worth it. I was born to be different. Born to make a change in this world of destitute. I was meant to have a family; to leave a legacy; to raise children with respect, values and give them at least two brain cells for them to rub together and come up with their own ideas instead of regurgitating the shit that celebrities try to force feed the youth with their empty lives in extravagant houses, saying: “You only live once”. Well if you fucking continue life the way you are then I wouldn’t be surprised to see your eulogy in the morning paper. I was meant to love my wife, and not to allow our marriage to decay and become another statistic of the high divorce rate. This world needed a new role model, one that actually made a difference behind the cameras. Now was the time for change! I snatched the Les Paul right out of his fingers, making him strum an empty chord. “What the fuck?” he said in a damnable, baritone voice. “What the fuck are you doing?” he sneered viciously. “I’m getting the fuck out of here!” I responded as I closed the gap between myself and my Chevrolet Chevelle SS. “You fucking lucky bastard! Good luck in the REAL Hell!” he retorted before belting out a sinister laugh and disappearing with a snap of his finger, leaving behind a waft of cigarette smoke. I opened the driver’s door, this time I placed the Gibson Les Paul gently on the floor behind the passenger seat. I ignited the engine, lit a cigarette, and made a U-turn back down the dirt road. The speedometer climbed at a constant rate as I lowered my foot, pressing down the accelerator. The purring engine increased its crescendo to a boisterous growl, leaving behind a smokescreen in my past. The tyres screeched when the rubber was reintroduced to the asphalt. I past the diamond sign in the rough and kept my eyes focused on the road ahead of me. I had one more pit-stop left before I could fly out of here like a bat out of hell. I parked outside the Blind Owl Pub. I found parking space that was allocated for designated drivers, even though no one ever left there sober enough to drive, well definitely not sober enough to drive and survive the blurred vision of the permanently drunk.

I kicked the door open like a desperado ready to tear the place apart unless his demands were met. I eyed the waitress with her sapphire-blue eyes and ravenblack hair; her facial expression indicated that she didn’t expect to see me again. Her face was then lit up by her smile, for she knew that I had returned for her. I remained speechless and held out my left hand as a gesture for her to accompany me on my adventure. The surrounding crowd seemed too fixated on their own conversations; their own devouring of cholesterol-contaminated burgers, hoping that a heart attack from clogged arteries would help them escape the black hole and bring them towards the light. They appeared untouched by my entrance as if I had not even entered in the first place. She untied her apron, tossed it towards an empty chair, walked towards me at a pace that indicated that we had our entire lives to pursue our dreams, and grabbed my hand with her warm, self-manicured hand. I escorted her out and opened the door with a sturdy push from my right hand. I showcased some chivalry by opening the passenger door for her. I sauntered past the bonnet of the Chevrolet Chevelle SS, climbed into the driver’s seat, and revved the engine thrice before pulling off onto Louis Chauvin Avenue. The engine neighed with horsepower and accelerated towards the horizon. “I don’t know where I’m going” I confessed. She fluffed her hair; crossed her arms behind her head; placed her bare feet on the dashboard, and with a smile she sighed, “Join the Club”.

The end

Firstly, I would like to send my love and support To the families and friends whom have lost loved ones To the exclusive 27 Club.

To the Reader, Thank you for taking the time to read my story; It looks like I made it out alive, So now would be the right time for a toast. May there be many more stories to come. - Geoff

ŠGeoffrey Raven, 2012 ŽAll Rights (be it words or pictures) are reserved to Geoffrey Raven.

27 Strings  

A story about a young musician who pursues the dream of joining the exclusive "27 Club".

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