Our third place winner in the Middle School category is Shannon Fitzpatrick, who attends the Belmonte Middle School in Saugus.
Mitch Brand was a guitar roadie; he worked for Jared Perry, the lead guitarist and front man of an underground rock band with a huge following. He treated Jared's guitars as if they were his children and he could play them just as well as Jared could. He was a gem of the music industry, a gem that had yet to be found. He lived off of the crowd's excitement, he knew that the crowd had no idea that he even existed, but that was all about to change.
One night a week before Halloween Mitch was browsing through a local guitar shop where he happened upon a particularly strange looking piece of music, The Jimi Hendrix Blues.
"People say that Hendrix himself wrote that piece right before he died, they say it was found right next to his dead body. Of course that's just some crazy legend. Hendrix couldn't even read sheet music never mind write it. Besides it's sloppy, look at this here there's a return to coda at the beginning and the end, it's just and endless loop. Those nut jobs also say that Hendrix himself would appear for anyone that played the music perfectly on Halloween night and give that person anything he or she wanted, for a price," explained the man behind the counter.
"I'll give you fifty bucks for it," said Mitch. "Even if it is just a stupid legend it looks like a challenge and I'd like to try and learn it."
"All right," said the man behind the counter. "I'm not going to talk you out of a sale like that."
One week later, Halloween night, Mitch was backstage with Jared and the rest of the band. They were joined by Linda; Jared's girlfriend. It was time for the pre-show drink. Each member of the band took a shot of Vodka and smashed the glass against a wall. That's when something went terribly wrong, a large piece of glass left a huge gash in Jared's right hand. It was clear that Jared would not be able to perform tonight, but this was a huge gig, representatives from some top labels were there along with thousands of fans chanting Jared's name waiting for him to take the stage. This wasn't an opportunity they could pass up. Mitch offered to go on in Jared's place and having no other alternative the other members of the band agreed.
Mitch took the stage and rocked the house. He played all of the band's songs perfectly, much to the surprise of Jared's band mates. When the crowd demanded an encore he played the Jimi Hendrix Blues without missing one note. The fans went wild; the night was an undeniable success. When Mitch left the stage he was almost immediately approached by the representative of a small record label called Coda records (Mitch had suspicions that this was the incarnation of Hendrix that the man at the music store had talked about). He said that he could give him anything he wanted; fame, money, women. Of course, Mitch was interested in fame and money, but there was only one woman on Mitch's mind, and that was Jared's girlfriend, Linda. Mitch signed a contract that said that he would have fame, fortune and Linda's affection, among other things until the end of his life. (At which point his soul would go to Jimi) Life lesson: always read the fine print.
Later on that night Mitch went for a walk with Linda in the park and was immediately inundated by a flood of screaming fans, cutting him off from Linda. Soon Mitch realized the downsides of fame. He couldn't leave his house without being met by a mob of fans, therefore making going out with Linda impossible. He was becoming careless with money and got into money troubles. He simply didn't enjoy the music as much as he once did, he lost that rush that he used to get when he heard the fans screaming, now chanting his name. He started to get into drinking and then into increasingly dangerous drugs. It seemed that Mitch's life was entering a downward spiral.
Finally Mitch could not take it any more, he went back to the store where he bought the Jimi Hendrix Blues. He asked the man, the same man that had sold him the music, how he could stop the affects of the Jimi Hendrix Blues.
"Now why would I want to help you? The way you're going it won't be long before I get your soul, that's right, before I get your soul, I am merely another manifestation of Hendrix in this plot to gain your soul and free myself from this earth, but you know what? I'm a compassionate person, I'll give you one more chance double or nothing.
"What's the catch," said Mitch.
"If you can play this music flawlessly the first time through..." he said motioning to another piece of sheet music behind the counter, "I'll set you free from all parts of the contract and you will return to life as it was before Halloween night"
"That's all I want," said Mitch.
"BUT if you make one mistake then I get your soul tonight," said Hendrix.
"O.K." said Mitch, perhaps a little too quickly. The sheet of music had only two lines and looked fairly simple.
He picked a guitar off the wall and started playing. When he was finished with the first line the bottom and coincidentally the sharpest string broke, cutting Mitch's hand. He started to bleed onto the sheet music, and amazingly the drops of blood turned into more notes on the page, but Mitch was determined. Slowly one by one the strings of the guitar snapped under the pressure of the increasingly difficult notes. Each time a string snapped it inflicted a wound more severe than the last causing more blood to spill onto the music, forming more notes. But Mitch refused to snap under the mounting pressure as the strings had, he successfully completed the song with only a single string left. He was shaking and undoubtedly in an incomprehensible amount of pain. Then the unthinkable happened, from his pinkie dripped a single drop of blood which quickly morphed into a return to coda.
"I'll just keep playing," said Mitch.
And it's funny, that's what Hendrix said. Mitch's body dropped to the floor and next to it dropped the music he had been playing "The Mitch Brand Blues."