Author Note: House of the Moon is written in first-person, present tense to increase the reader’s involvement with the times and events. I don’t use quotations around dialog to further place the reader inside the action and events. This vignette takes place just after I turned fifteen.
February 10, 1968
Album—Are You Experienced, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
How’s this look? I ask Peggy and turn around, trying not to slouch.
I shoplifted the red and yellow paisley outfit yesterday. I didn’t know the hip-huggers were cut so low, the halter-top so skimpy.
Man! I wish I were tall and skinny, Peggy sighs.
I’m not skinny. Geesh, look at this! I pinch a bit of skin on my belly and look down in disgust. I hate seeing any bulges or curves. I sigh, I’ll never get thin.
Oh shut up! Look at this. Peggy pulls her t-shirt up and grabs a couple fingers width of fat on her belly. Now this is fat. That is skinny. She drops her t-shirt and falls back on her bed.
So your Mom really knows Jimi Hendrix? I ask for the tenth time.
She shakes her head and tells me, Don’t know. But she has tickets to the concert and back stage passes. I saw them.
But why would she take us?
’Cause she’s cool and we’re cool. And she doesn’t know any adults around here who even know who Jimi Hendrix is. This town is so square!
Yeah. I know.
Peggy’s new in town; started Charter Oak High in September. I was really surprised when she asked me if I wanted to see Hendrix. I really dig his music. But I could never afford concert tickets on my allowance
So, whadda ya think? I ask. It has a matching head band. I lay the thick strap of material against my forehead, flip my hair up and tie it low against the back my neck.
She nods her head. Groovy. Definitely groovy.
* * * * * *
Halfway through the concert I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to hear again. Jimi Hendrix’s blasting the crowd with guitar licks I can’t even imagine. His fingers race up and down the frets, his other hand plucking like a mad man. He turns to face the giant wall of amplifiers, runs his guitar up and down, in and out. The amplifiers screech and moan and scream.
He’s fucking the amp! Peggy yells in my ear, then yells at the stage, Yeah, man, fuck’um Jimi!
I feel my face flush and look away. I hadn’t thought about his playing like that, but now I can’t think of anything else. I glance back and see his hips humping and grinding against the amplifiers and look away. I pull my pants up and my halter down, but neither one moves much. I wrap my arms around my waist feeling almost naked.
The song screeches to a finish. The crowd explodes! I plug my ears and think I really won’t be able to ever hear again. He starts right in with another song.
Peggy’s pulling on my arm, pointing to her mom with her other hand. Her mom’s standing on the stairs to the stage and I feel my face flush again. She doesn’t have her blouse on. Her tits are enormous, bouncing up and down in time with the music. She’s waving at us. Peggy drags me by the arm through the dancing, shouting crowd towards her mom.
We finally make it to the stage and Peggy’s mom yells, Lose the tops girls. Flash ’em!
Foxy Lady. Here I come, coming to get you! Hendrix coos into the mike and breaks into another wild guitar lick.
Peggy pulls her tank top off over her head. She’s almost as big as her mom, though her tits don’t bounce as much. I keep my halter top on, feeling absolutely flat next to the two of them.
Her mom flashes me the peace sign and then gives me the thumbs up and pantomimes taking my halter off. I shake my head no and look away.
The auditorium is packed with people, thick puffs of smoke float across the rabble. I smell pot and hash and something else I don’t know. Peggy hands me a joint. The end is sucked flat and sticky. I look at it a minute, not knowing who sucked it before me. Peggy slaps my arm and motions for me to take a hit. I close my eyes and try not to think about all the other mouths.
It’s good weed, goes right to my head without a single cough, tickles the edges of an acid rush I’ve been waiting for, pushes me into the haze.
Purple Haze all in my mind …
I look up at Hendrix, not believing what he’s saying. He looks over and for an instant our eyes meet.
Acting funny and I don’t know why …
I look away and wonder if he’s talking to me, wonder why he’s not singing. Excuse me while I kiss the sky. His guitar whines and the band joins him. I blink and look around. Everyone is dancing, waving their hands in the air, some are singing along and I wonder how they know the words, thought Jimi was talking to me.
Way out! Peggy shouts in my ear. Way far out!!! I see her mom being lead backstage by a burly, tattooed dude that looks like a biker. Peggy smacks her hands together and follows up the stairs. I take a last look, try to figure out if I could make it back through the crowd on my own, then realize we’re going backstage with Jimi Hendrix. I take another hit and hand the joint to the biker dude and pass behind the curtains—pass into a cool, almost silent world of electrical cords and amps and guys that all look the same, sitting on steamer trunks playing cards, drinking whisky and smoking.
They slap Peggy’s mom on the butt as she walks past, do the same to Peggy. I swerve out of reach. They laugh almost silently at me and I wonder how it can be so quiet here when on the other side of the curtain the sound is deafening.
Peggy’s mom is buttoning up her sleeveless red blouse. Peggy grabs her tank top from where she stuffed it under her belt and pulls it back on. We’re lead down more stairs and piled into a limo already filled with girls. I step in and the door closes, pushing me head first across Peggy and her mother’s laps.
Let the party begin, Peggy’s mom whoops and all the other girls take up the cry. The limo lurches forward and I fall on the floor. There’s a wide space between the seats and I think about staying put, but hands are grabbing at me, pulling me off the floor, stuffing me between Peggy and the door.
There’s a loud pop and I jump. Chill, dude, Peggy tells me and points to a girl holding a foaming bottle of champagne across from us. She starts pouring the golden liquid into tall thin glasses held by another girl. A third starts passing the filled glasses around the Limo. Purple Haze blasts from the stereo and all the girls start singing along. I shake my head at Peggy who’s offering me a glass of champagne.
Don’t be a downer, she shouts over the music and the shrill sing along.
I’m not. I just don’t like the stuff.
Hey, got any beers in there? Peggy kicks at the girl across from her and I notice there’s a sunken box directly across from me. The girl lifts the lid and pulls out an amber bottle, pops the top and hands it to me.
Ask and ye shall receive! Peggy tells me and downs her champagne. A bottle floats across the divide and refills her glass.
The acid starts peaking and I scoot onto one hip and look out the window, try to ignore the raucous choir inside, single out Hendrix’s voice from the stereo, watch the streets flashing by through the darkened windows.
I down the beer and suddenly it’s full again and the bottle has changed color and shape. I giggle and take a big drink. It tastes like apples and cinnamon. I’m game for anything, have learned to take whatever acid hands me and go with it. You know you’re going to trip—may even stub a toe or two—but you’ll never fall … never fall down.
The houses vanish, so do the streetlights and then the curbs. I pull my head back away from the window and wonder if everything outside the car is being dissolved. Peggy kisses my bare back and gives it a little scratch.
You tripping? She asks.
I nod my head and look back out the window. We’re climbing now. There are houses every once in a while, nestled in shadow, their yellow sunburst lights glowing and dimming, trying to keep up with the limo, not able to for very long.
We make a hard left and all the girls are thrown together. I hang on tight to the leather strap above the door, keep to myself, don’t want to be one of the chickies clucking and chirping over champagne. I look over at Peggy and her mom. They both have their tops off again. Peggy’s mom is holding her tit in her hands, twisting it so the other girls can see a wavy blue black line. I realize it’s a tattoo. I let go and slide over. I’ve never seen a real tattoo up close.
A dolphin leaps from the whitecaps and clears the mound, dives back under on the other side. I blink and look away. I look again just as the dolphin breaks the surface, soars, and dives back underwater.
How does it do that? I ask Peggy’s mom.
Jump like that and land on the other side.
I hate acidheads, she says. An ice cold wave hits me in the face and I scoot back against the door.
Hey be cool, she’s my friend, Peggy tells her.
Then you need new friends. The bitch won’t even take her top off. Not that she’s got any reason too! Flat as a board and never been nailed. Peggy’s mom bursts out cackling like a witch out of Shakespeare. I click a button in my mind and a window rises between us, shuts her and her laugh out—leaves me alone with the passing shadows and light.
* * * * * *
I’m the last out of the limo. Follow the herd through enormous doors into a foyer as big as my whole house. Music is blaring, people are laughing and screaming and racing around, some without any clothes on.
I grab Peggy’s arm. Where are we?
She hands me a joint. Mom says it’s Peter Torc’s house and he’s always having a party.
Peter Torc. You know the Monkee.
Peggy’s mom dances past leaving a trail of clothes on the floor.
A Monkee? No way.
Yeah. Pretty cool, huh?
This can’t be a Monkee’s pad. They’re so fucking square.
That’s what she said. Peggy takes the joint and walks off sucking hard. She waves for me to follow.
* * * * * *
I can’t find a place to light. Every time I stop someone hands me a joint and tries to get me to take my top off, tries to get me to get naked. I never get naked except to shower, I tell them and they take the joint away. One guy offers to show me the shower. He’s plenty cute, but old, probably at least twenty-five. It’s all disgusting, all the naked bodies, couples having sex right in front of everyone. One woman has her mouth around a guy’s dick and is pumping up and down. She’s in the pool, he’s sitting with his legs in the water. I turn away and walk back into the house.
It’s not much better there. I find a corner in the big front room and sit crossed-legged on the floor. I can’t give in to the acid, don’t trust anyone around me, don’t want a bad trip. So I ignore the flying Monkees and bright yellow halos that float by, ignore the pounding music and the tits and dicks that flap past me, ignore the butts and hairy legs and shrieks and howls and moans.
I’m fine where I am. I only hope Peggy finds me when it’s time to leave. I don’t count on it though. The last I saw, she was standing naked in a second story window taking dares to dive into the crowded pool. I didn’t know she wasn’t a natural redhead.
I decide it would be best if I were invisible. The air flickers around me, the music and the lights dim, and everyone looks hazy and distant. They pass by without even seeing me. I relax my guard, play with the light show that surrounds people. Think, I’m in a Monkee’s house. This could be my best trip yet.
* * * * * *
Young thang. The words are the first I’ve heard since I became invisible. Young thang, there. I look over and see a black man with giant hair and greenish-gold lights flashing all around him.
You do not belong in this house with these men, he says to me from his high-backed chair, only an arm’s length away.
He looks over his shoulder, snaps his fingers, and says, Allen. Take her out of here. Keep her safe.
A tall, terribly thin man reaches for me. There are the most beautiful amber and lavender lights flashing all around him. I trust him for some reason—take his hand. I stand up and look down at the black man, realize it’s Jimi Hendrix—almost lose my footing. Allen holds me up as the room swirls.
It’s cool, he tells me and leads me out a side door, away from Hendrix.
Where you from?
I shrug not able to find my voice after being invisible for so long.
How’d you get here?
We’re walking along a long driveway and I nod at the jet-black limo.
Fuck. They brought you here? How old are you?
My legs give out and I drop to the ground. He hauls me up and half drags me to a metal bench. Hey be cool. Don’t cry. It’s all cool.
I hadn’t realized I was crying, but now I can feel hot tears running down my face. Is my eyeliner running? I ask. My voice sounds squeaky.
It’s fine, he laughs. Glad you can talk. Had me worried for a minute there.
I’ll take it Allen, a deep voice comes out of nowhere. I jump and feel the tears rolling again.
Sure, Boss. She’s cool. Allen steps aside and there’s Jimi Hendrix standing right in front of me.
You came in the limo? Hendrix asks and his voice is so smooth, so calm that I know I can trust him.
You don’t belong here. He sits next to me and I scoot all the way over, nearly fall off the end of the bench.
I don’t bite, he tells me.
I look at him from under my lowered eyelashes. His face is like milk chocolate, only pitted and faintly yellow. I chance it and look at his eyes. They’re kind and soft and not at all like the other men in the house.
Is it a good trip?
I smile and nod again.
Do you know where you live?
I blink and wonder why he wants to know.
I’ll have someone safe take you home.
I back up on the bench, not wanting to leave; not wanting to go home while I’m tripping.
He grabs me just as I’m about to fall. Hey, hey there. It’s all groovy. You’re just too young to be here is all. You should go home.
I want to tell him that Peggy’s my age and she’s jumping out of a window into the pool, naked. But I can’t find the words.
If she’s doing that, then she’s not as young as you are, he tells me and I wonder if he can read minds.
No, he says. It’s all cool. But I wouldn’t mind some of what you’re on. He looks back at the house. All this going down and you’re having a groovy trip. Now that has to be some fine acid.
He stands and looks down at me. Don’t go getting in any more cars unless you know the dudes, and even then you still got to be careful.
I smile up at him and nod, but can’t find my voice.
And don’t go tryin’ to grow up too fast. You don’t need to be like that friend of yours. Just be yourself. He turns and walks back to the house, stops next to Allen and tells him, Find out where she lives and get her home. No messing round now …
Not a problem, Boss. She’s too young for me. I like my women seasoned.
That’s why I keep you close Allen, Hendrix tells him and smiles at me before opening the front door, then adds, Get Stone Free over there home safe and come pick me up around dawn. I’ll be down by then.