Crossroad Blues
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A busted-up guitar case in tow, a tarnished artist quickly stumbles down the lantern-lit steps to a local lounge. A slow autumn breeze rustles through the midnight air of the Mississippi Delta. The year is 1930, and the young musician has just bombed his second performance of the night.

"And don' you come back 'round here! Not unless you leavin' yer blasted guitar behind!"

An irate voice yells out behind him, as the door to the establishment slams shut.

The young african-american man sighs, hefting his guitar case onto his back. He's used to this type of treatment. No one in his hometown of Hazlehurst seemed to appreciate his art. No matter how hard he'd practice, it just didn't seem to have an effect on his playing. Fellow artists and listeners alike endlessly mocked and criticized him as he tried to make a name for himself in the lucrative business of the music industry.

Raising his head to the sky, he lets out a few curses into the night air. Not that anyone's around to hear him anyways. It's nearly midnight, and he needs to start making his way back home for the night. He's got a big gig tomorrow, the last chance he'll have to make a good impression somewhere in his town before he'll be forced to move on.

As the gravel from the old road crunches under his worn leather boots, the young man ponders if this is truly what he wants to do with his life. His love for his work knows no bounds, but his skill just can't back it up. He'd been struggling to find his place in life for a while, and he finally thought he'd found it. Unfortunately no one else seemed to see it that way.

Slowing his pace in the darkness, the 20 year old man stops to rest, leaning against a sign at a crossroads as he collects his thoughts.

He only has time to rest for a moment before the sound of a guitar being played startles him back to his senses. Its the middle of the night on an abandoned road, and this sound is as out of place as an alligator in a tutu.

But he doesn't run. Instead, he's intrigued as he turns his head about to seek the source of the noise. He doesn't have to search long. In the middle of the crossroads sitting on a guitar case is a man dressed in a long black coat, playing some of the most masterfully melancholic yet beautiful blues music the young artist has heard in his entire life. With skill like this, he could make it big…

The playing suddenly stops as the man looks up.

"Hello Robert."

Robert takes a step back. He's never seen this man before, and this stranger knows his name? It's all too much.

"Hold on just a moment there— I'm not gonna hurt 'ya. You're trying to make it as a bluesman, are you not? I might be able to help with that."

Robert pauses.

"How do you know my name; my history as a bluesman?"

"I know the stories of everyone in this town. This country. All that is and will ever be. And I know that you're falling on hard times, desperate for a snipbit of talent to send you off into legend."

Robert looks at the man, or rather, being, in front of him. He has an ethereal quality to him, almost as if his body is shining with an unseen light. It all rubs him the wrong way, but he's too desperate to care.

"You can help me become a master? Like Son House or Willie Brown?"

The man stands up, and his guitar case and instrument vanish into the air.

"Robert, I can make your name revered across the Earth as one of the greatest musicians to ever live."

The news sends a shudder down Robert's spine.

"That… that sounds great!"

He says with a nervous laugh.

"But what do I have to do for your help?"

The man smiles a thin smile.

"I don't need much. Just one small favor, that's all."

Robert nods.

"Ok."

He says, his voice barely a whisper.

The man extends a black gloved hand towards Robert.

"Do we have a deal?"

Robert pauses for a moment, before reaching out and shaking the mysterious man's hand.

"Deal."

The man smiles and disappears, seemingly folding into empty space, and vanishing into the handshake itself.

Robert jumps back in surprise, falling on the ground and cutting his hand on the sharp gravel. A deep gash stares back at him as he holds his wounded palm up to his face to examine the injury.

Robert cries out in fright as he looks at his hand… instead of seeing a bloodied hand, what he sees is a black swirl of ink-like fluid bubbling up from his palm.

And that's the last thing he sees before blacking out.


The next morning, Robert wakes up in his bed to his wife standing next to him, with a look of concern.

"Good morning sleepy. I was wondering if you'd ever wake up."

She says.

Robert looks around the room. His guitar is leaning up against the wall, with a noticeable new string as black as night, making a total of 7 strings.

He blinks in confusion, and stares down at his hands. Not a scratch in sight.

"Is everything all right, darling?"

His wife asks.

"Everything's all right dear."

Robert Johnson replies.

"I think everything's going to be just fine."

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