The kid has a voice. That voice, they say, can carry a tune, can carry a seventh grade choir singing ‘Joy to the World’. The voice carries home news of all A’s, and with that news a report to attach to the fridge. The voice carries dreams of stardom, a life on stage. The voice carries confusion about the god-damned pointlessness of that life on stage, the dream only wanting to carry a boy closer to his father. One day, the voice carries news of a ‘63 Stratocaster in the pawnshop downtown. That guitar, he says, was carried by Hendrix himself. His father, carrying a responsibility like all fathers do, gently explains to his son that not only was that guitar not carried by Hendrix, it was a lousy piece of garbage that no one needs. The voice carries a note of pleading now, carries a note of desperation for that baby blue Stratocaster downtown. His mother carries sympathy, as all mothers do, for her son’s innocent dream, and slips the kid a check. The voice carries with it excitement as it drags the guitar home one Thursday afternoon. The father, seeing that ‘63 Stratocaster (baby blue), carries with him a belt, and proceeds to beat the living shit out of his son. The voice carries frustration. The voice carries complaints of blisters, broken strings, and a temperamental father. The voice carries home friends, punks and scum, who lend him music. The voice carries the lyrics of a dozen perfect songs, which carry with them the heart and soul of artists long past. The mother, carrying a certain burden of guilt, tries to console the father when the kid styles his hair into a tall, black Mohawk. The father carries a nine-volt electric razor and shaves that shit right off. The voice carries talk of rebellion, of a pushover mother and a judgmental father. The voice carries a poem, a lyric, and a song that express that extra, added, carried weight of adolescence. The voice carries teenage angst. The voice carries a tune, again, in the cramped basement of a house down the street. The house, he says, smelled like cats and cabbage. The voice carries home news of a gig, a one-night show at a punk rock club downtown, where the pawnshop used to be. The father, carrying with him a slow-boiling anger, tells the kid not in your dreams. The mother, always carrying her maternal sympathy, simply smiles weakly and shrugs. The voice, carrying hatred now, tells his mother and father that the flea infested pit is his first chance to be on stage. The voice carries instruction to be waiting in the van at 10:25 P.M. The van carries the band, a half-cab Marshall amplifier, and a rusted old paint job. The voice carries joy when, at exactly 10:38 P.M., that van rolls up to the curb. The voice carries silence as it slides open the window and hops down onto the azaleas. The van now carries the band, a half-cab Marshall amplifier, a rusted old paint job, and the voice. The voice carries a perfect show while the band carries the rhythm. The voice carries thanks, gratitude, when told they could play the club again sometime. The father’s anger, carried to the boiling point by that disrespectful little punk, carries consequences, a black eye and a vow to never speak to the father again. The voice carries regret, poorly masked, as it gets expelled from school for underage drinking. The voice carries a yellow plastic alarm clock, a tweed jacket, a toothbrush, an assortment of records, and a ‘63 Stratocaster (baby blue) out of his house, after his father orders him to leave. The voice carries pride, months later, when retelling the story for a group of friends. The voice is scratchy now, raspy, from carrying the weight of too many packs of Camels. The voice still carries a tune, carries a blond girl upstairs to an unfurnished apartment to spend the night. The voice carries her back down again in the morning, guitar in hand, ready for the start of a cross-country tour. The father carries a hidden remorse for the alienation of his son. The mother carries a memory of her son at a younger age, five years old and playing on the jungle gym. The voice carries the band across America. The voice carries talk of a record deal, of a manager and a producer. The band, however, carries doubt about that deal. The voice carries anger, drunken anger, when screaming at the band because the long carried dream is so close to coming true. The voice carries doubt as the band tells him, in a dingy bar, that the dream will have to be abandoned. The band carries their own responsibilities, of friends and family back home. The voice carries rage. The voice carries emptiness. The voice carries a handful of Xanax and a bottle of Jack Daniels up to a motel room. The voice is muffled now, a mangled shadow of its former self, as he dials his mother and his father and he tells them what he has done. The father carries fear now: hopeless, terrifying, vivid, real. The mother carries an absolute sense of guilt, always torn between her husband and her son. The voice is weaker now, fading, as he struggles to stay awake, and tries not to fucking die. The paramedics crash through the door, carrying an armful of tubes and a ticket outta hell, carrying the kid to the ambulance after his stomach is sucked free of that shit. The voice, weaker now, babbles about a ‘63 Stratocaster, baby blue. The guitar, he repeats insistently, was carried by Hendrix himself. The ambulance carries the kid, the paramedics, and the driver to St. Joseph’s Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona, where doctors carry smiles about the numbers on the charts, a steady heartbeat and normal breathing. The father carries relief, carries tears in his eyes as he sees his son in a white hospital bed. The mother carries flowers, balloons, and a cheap ‘Get Well!’ card to her son’s room, trying her best to avoid the guilt. The voice mumbles, cloudy, hard to hear. The voice rests. Days pass, weeks pass, until the voice is released on a Thursday. The voice carries thanks to his father and his mother, who in return carry their son back home to stay. The voice carries a resume to stores around town, hoping to gain a job. The voice, silently hating his life as a Kroger cashier, asks the customer if it will be cash or credit. The voice, remembering, eyes a cheap acoustic in the mall. The voice drags home the acoustic, no longer able to carry a tune, and tries in vain to recall a perfect song. The father carries a responsibility, like all fathers do, and tells his son to cut that shit out. The mother, always carrying her maternal sympathy, tells her son, gently, that his voice just isn’t what it used to be. The voice, remembering a dream long past, puts on a starched white shirt and heads to work.