THE VERY PUBLIC DEATH OF
WITH JIMMY, IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE FANS. PEOPLE OFTEN
say a performer gave everything, but no one ever promised more for a show than he had tonight.
Adam didn't believe it, but he still felt part of something special. Jimmy Earle had been the big thing for years, his shows were legend-ary, but nothing before had ever been like this. People had flown from California and Beijing to be here. This was going to be the concert to end all concerts, the one experience no one could ever repeat.
"Like human sacrifice," said Adam. "They should tear his heart out, like the Aztecs. Now that would be cool."
"You won't be making jokes if he really does it," Lizzie said.
Adam shook his head. It would never happen. Jimmy had every-thing wealth, youth, good looks, talent. You could understand the losers and lowlifes in the projects taking the drug called Death. They had nothing and never would. Why not go for that one crazy week in the blazing light? But Jimmy Earle? No way.
"He wants to join the 27 Club," said Lizzie excitedly. "Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Jimmy Earle. All twenty-seven years old. That's what they're all so scared about it. Look at 'em!"
It was true, Adam thought as they filed into the arena. There were security guards everywhere, big men standing in the aisles. They all looked on edge. "He'll be remembered forever if he dies tonight," Lizzie said.
Adam grinned. "Yeah. And we'll remember this concert forever."
"Gosh, buying tickets something else you're good at!" she teased. Lizzie never let him get away with a thing, but he couldn't help boasting. The glory that was Jimmy Earle was Adam's glory, too, tonight.
"Where were you the night Jimmy Earle died?" he said, acting it out. "I was there. I saw it." He grabbed her hand. She smiled back and squeezed. Adam felt his head go. He fancied her that bad.
Lizzie was out of his league, really. They used to know each other years ago at primary school. They'd been good friends hung out, gone to the same parties. Then his dad had to leave his job, Adam had to change schools, and they'd lost touch until they bumped into each other again in town just a couple of months ago. It was like magic they'd got on in a flash, as if they'd never been apart all those years.
He'd been delighted and amazed when she let him kiss her a week later. In a world where there were so many people and so few jobs, it was serious stuff for someone rich to go out with someone poor. Families hoarded their wealth like dragons. So look at him now! He felt like the King of the World with her at his side. He'd bet not one of her rich friends could have got her a ticket for Jimmy Earle like he had tonight.
Actually, it was his brother Jess who had got the tickets for him. God knows how Jess never went anywhere or did anything. No need for Lizzie to know that, though . . .
They made their way toward their seats. The noise was already deafening. People were shouting at the stage, even though there was no one there to hear them.
"Jimmy, I love you!" "Don't do it, Jimmy!" "No, do it! Off yourself. Save me the price of your next crap album," yelled a bloke near them. He snickered at his mates, who laughed uncomfortably. A tearful girl yelled at him to shut up. A couple of rows down, a man offered to punch his lights out if he spoke up again.
The whole place was too hot, too edgy. Lizzie slipped her hand out of Adam's as they pushed through to their seats. She sat down and stared around her, trying to take it all in."Do you think anyone here's taken it?" she asked.
Excerpted from The Hit by Melvin Burgess. Copyright © 2014 by Melvin Burgess. Excerpted by permission of The Chicken House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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