Jimi: The ComebackPublié
A short story by Marc Villard translated from the French by Brad Spurgeon
That your name? Hubert Dupont-Laval? What do you mean, no? It’s written on your ID card. Don’t act like I’m some kind of dolt, Hubert-my-balls, you’re not dealing with just any old thief here. I’m not surprised that with such a stinking moniker as that you shack up in Neuilly. This burb’s really worrying. Not a single McDonald’s, no Virgin Megastore, the local bistrots don’t know who the hell you are, and you gotta take a helicopter to buy a baguette. Don’t you get a little depressed evenings, being way out in the middle of nowhere like this? If you keep moving around, I’ll tighten that cord around your wrists and tape your eyes shut. Ever seen a guy with no eyebrows? So cool down already.
I had a lot of hope invested in your joint, Hubert, but you’re letting me down horribly. First of all, your fucking music collection: Mussorgsky, Beethoven, Mahler, a bunch of foreigners. Make the old hag wet listening to that shit at night before the final battle? Then there’s the library - you’ve never heard of Castaneda, Frank Herbert and Westlake. What do you mean by these rows of hollow books with only a cover around them and nothing inside? You want to give off airs, but you don’t have any airs at all. Not to mention that you lose valuable space that way - you could’ve put up a dartboard instead. You know what you need Hubert? You need an art director for your conscience. Hey guy, I’m trying to help you. Jesus, as for the clothes, I was hoping to stock up. Your pinstriped suits would look okay down south at a peasants’ marriage reception, but up here in the City of Lights, I don’t want to be taken for a yokel. You notice my getup: skin-tight velvet, wine-red pants and Mexican lizard-leather cowboy boots. That’s class, knot head. You have before you an exceptional being: the compleat thief. When I’m at home I wear Marlboro Classics - except on Fridays, naturally, because of the meeting at the clubhouse. Not a gay men’s club, Hubert, the FTROJ club: For The Reincarnation Of Jimi. Hey man, is that your Jaguar out front? Indicate "yes" or "no" with your head. No? Good, that means it’s yours. I’ll treat myself to it before I go because my old lady got knocked over by a Jag in ’78. The guy didn’t stop, and now she rolls along in a wheelchair. I don’t much like Jags.
Don’t get excited, Hubert, you’ll make your chair fall over. And anyway, a big fat producer like you, you’re not going to lose anything, your insurance will pay for it all. Promise me you’ll get yourself a Porsche. Whatever, as you like. Don’t twist your neck around to see if the old lady’s coming back. She’s playing bridge until 7 o’clock, I read her note in the hall. And Carmela’s on holiday in Portugal. You’re facing your destiny alone, Hubert, and your destiny is me, Tijuana Killer. That sounds a bit cooler than Hubert Thingamajig, doesn’t it?
I checked out the whole joint, mate, and the verdict is in: you’re a case. First, I can’t figure out how I could make a single bill out of all the crap you’ve got piled up in your living room. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an antique dealer. But having said that, you can still save yourself if you pass a little oral test, okay? All right, if I say "Jimi," what do you answer? I know you can’t speak, asshole, express yourself some other way, be creative, Hubert. What are you pointing at? The poster? Ah, I get it, the poster of "Giant," starring Jimmy Dean. You got it all wrong, Dupont-Laval, but I admire the effort. Now, I’ll help you because you make me pity you: Voodoo Chile, Purple Haze, Wild Thing. Mean anything to you, dear? I sense a kind of enormous existential emptiness in your head, Hubert. The answer is Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix, get it? No? Okay, here’s something you’ll understand...and that! That’ll teach you. Mr. Dupont-Laval has never heard breathed the name of Jimi Hendrix, the biggest guitar hero of the entire history of rock music. While every night I go to sleep to the sounds of Jimi at Berkeley, you get all flushed listening to that faggot Beethoven. Can you imagine the divide of cultures there? You weren’t born in the streets, Hubert, and you’re going to pay for that. Okay, I’ll fill you in on Jimi. His group was called The Jimi Hendrix Experience and his first single, Hey Joe, came out in ’66. All sorts of people were influenced by Hendrix, even Clapton. During the night of 17 September 1970, in London, Jimi fed himself a pack of barbiturates. The next morning he died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital, smothering on his own vomit. Don’t worry, Hubert, that kind of thing never happens in Neuilly. So to finish the Jimi story, here’s a few lines from the master: "Purple haze all in my brain/Lately things just don’t seem the same/Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why/’scuse me while I kiss the sky." The second one is shorter, but it changed my life: "With the power of soul anything is possible."
The important word there is "soul." It was just after hearing it that I got into reincarnation. You find that amusing, Hubert? No? Good, I’d prefer not. Right, so anyway, I set out to study the teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Yeah, I know, you don’t know it but a lot of people believe in and propagate reincarnation. Take Gauguin. He said: "When the organism disappears, the soul survives. It takes on another body, degenerating or moving up the ladder according to whether or not it performed good deeds or bad." Just blows you away, right? So that’s how, with a few friends - fans of Jimi, naturally - we founded our club For The Reincarnation Of Jimi. The problem, obviously, was to figure out exactly what body the soul of Jimi had migrated to. So we resorted to spiritualism, with seances, the whole deal. Then, one night Jimi spoke to us. He said: "Hey guys, don’t be fooled by appearances. Watch Channel 2 on April 4th at 8:30 P.M. and you’ll see my other body." Shit, Hubert, I’m not making this up. So we looked in the TV Guide for April 4th at 8:30 and we found Intervilles, presented by Guy Lux. I couldn’t believe it. Our Jimi in the body of that dumb klutz of a worm? So we celebrated with an evening of television at the club with beer and sandwiches and we made fun of all the idiocies that nit let out. Well, man, you won’t believe this, Hubert, but at one point Guy Lux made fun of one of the guests by calling him a "Wild Thing." It destroyed me. I almost had a nervous breakdown. I had to see a psychiatrist and he got me hooked on lithium. It’s a medication that puts your mind back in the right order. Little by little I put my head back together and I understood how I could help Jimi to get out of Guy Lux’s rotten body. I bet you figured it out, right, Hubert? Go ahead; I’ll give you ten seconds...now! You lose. The solution was to kill Guy Lux. He’s got a lot upstairs, does Tijuana, doesn’t he? Once Guy Lux is taken out, Jimi’s soul can penetrate a body a little more to his style. I could see him going for Joe Satriani, or maybe Alvin Lee, who has started going on the bottle a little too much, but at least on the side of his achievements, it’s a little better than Guy Lux. This morning I called up the rotten piece of crud’s secretary pretending I was a journalist from Le Figaro doing an article on the life of the stars in the fast lane of network TV. So she gave me our wonderful Mr. Lux’s schedule, with at 6:30 P.M., a meeting at the home of his favorite producer: Hubert Dupont-Laval in Neuilly. The rest was easy: fill myself in on the house’s state of isolation, the absence of the maid, the old lady’s bridge game. So I said to myself, "Tijuana, you’ll hit two birds with one stone." One, bring Jimi out of the darkness, and two, make an easy break-in on a TV guy rolling in dough. I’m a little disappointed on that level.
It’s now 6:20, Hubert, which leaves us only ten minutes before the star arrives, and you know what? I just realized that you can’t be allowed to run loose after this, you’d be capable of telling the story, handing me over to the cops and then going and making a fucking mini-series out of it. You’re condemned, old man. What do you mean, no? You won’t say anything? Come on, Hubert dear, let’s be reasonable. Try being a little dignified; to die a hero, pretend you’re a contestant in Intervilles, that’ll help you. Okay, I’ll let you pick the weapon: a Beretta, a razor, or piano wire. Come on, make your choice and don’t dodder.