MICHAEL McMANUS

Jimi Hendrix was a motherfucker

      Juicy Fruit on the bar. A pack of Marlboro Lights. And Jack straight up with a little
ice. A nod here. A grunt there. Chewing gum, smoking, drinking. There was not much
more unless he wanted another drink. Finally, after an hour, he looked at me and said,
“I been lonely all my life.”

      Then the shooting started. He must have had the .9mm tucked in the back of his
jeans, hidden under his shirt. But it was – Bam-Bam-Bam – as the gun waved around.
Shots went everywhere. People screamed and ran for the door. Jenkins just sat at the
end of the bar, staring at everything. Maybe he was too drunk to give a damn. I don’t
know. He got it first. Under the left eye. I watched the back of his head fly off in
a big chunk. He barely moved. It was almost slow motion as his face slumped down on
the bar. Blood pooled around the ashtray. Smoke corkscrewed up from his cigarette.

      Lisa Talbot got it next. A good looking woman, she might sip a single beer all
night. I never saw her drunk. Forty-something going on thirty-something. In shape. Great
big blue eyes. The bluest I ever saw. Hit twice in the back. Bird-like, her arms flew up
and out. After she hit the floor her white blouse turned red. He walked over and kicked
her. What a son-of-a-bitch.

      It was raining outside. A huge electrical storm. Big bright flashes came in through
the street side windows. As he was shooting I believed no one outside could hear a thing.
There were puffs of blue smoke. Bottles were broken behind the bar like a gangster
movie. Then the two of us were left. He stared me down and I saw he was scared. It
didn’t make sense. I was shaking, hoping it would not encourage him.

      He wore a Coors Light tee shirt, blue jeans, and a UPS hat. He had puppy eyes,
which were wide, dark and innocent. But Jenkins was on my left and Lisa was face down
in spilled beer.

      It punched me in the shoulder. I fell back. The bullet went clean through. He was
laughing. “What the fuck,” I cried. “What the fuck.”

      “Jimi Hendrix was a mother-fucker,” he said, waving the gun. “No one understood.
No one.”

      He walked over to the juke box, shoved a dollar in the taker, and selected Purple
Haze. I was bleeding like a son-of-a-bitch, remembering my Uncle Frank who died in
Vietnam.

      After the music started the shooter came back pointing the gun. “Here. I said here.
Take it!” When I didn’t he shot over my head. “Take it,” he screamed.

      And I did and his eyes were no longer innocent and his face was flushed. “Get on
your fucking knees, asshole,” I said.

      That’s when he smiled like Jack in the broken door scene from the Shining. He
reached back and came out with another .9mm. “You’re going to be a hero. A real feel-
good hero.”

      Hendrix was pulling riffs faster than a hummingbird’s wingbeats. The second gun
stayed pointed at my face as he stepped back. I started to feel woozy and believed he
must be fucking with me. What a game. The cable news networks would flash my face
twenty-four hours a day the first week. I thought my pistol was empty. The crazy bastard
must have set me up. He had counted his shots.

      Another shot and a bottle of Crown Royal exploded off to my right. The building
shook and the windows rattled from the thunder. I steadied the gun on him. He grinned
like a devious kid. The guy had perfect teeth.

      “Yeah, you got it now. I can see it. Get it over with.”

      I heard sirens in the distance. Were they coming? The phone started ringing.
Hendrix continued jamming. Only the bar separated us now. He was crying as he leaned
across the bar and put the pistol in his mouth. One, two, and then three inches. His thin
lips wrapped around the barrel. There were tiny sucking noises. In and out. In and out.
Saliva ran down the blue steel.

      “Baby.” He mumbled. “Baby, daddy’s come home.”

      I hit him hard on the temple with the pistol butt. He fell back. I walked around the
bar and took his gun. Squad car lights flashed outside. Men took defensive positions
behind opened car doors. I grinned as I pulled down his jeans and underwear. It was the
grin from that devious kid. The Buck Knife blade glinted as I thumbed it open. I grabbed
him between the legs with my free hand. I felt free and alive. It was the most effortless
thing I had done in my life and I wondered if it would bring much blood. Mine was
already covering him there.

      Outside the bar a voice came through an amplified speaker. “We have you
surrounded,” it commanded. “Put down the knife. I repeat. Put down the knife!”

I've published here, there, and just around the corner, places like Atlanta Review,
Contrary Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Euphony, Square Lake, Louisiana Literature,
Louisiana Review, Wind, Texas Review, Rattle, blah, blah, blah. And one night when
the selection committee was drunk, I was awarded a Fellowship from the Louisiana
Division of the Arts. It was the easiest five grand I ever made. I have a short
forthcoming in Lichen.







© 2006 Underground Voices