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Meeting the Ghost of Jimi Hendrix on the 5 Freeway on Christmas Eve

"I'm a grown man but don't know how to change a flat tire."

Published onOct 18, 2023
Meeting the Ghost of Jimi Hendrix on the 5 Freeway on Christmas Eve

Photo by: Вениамин Курочкин -

I was driving to my tio’s house on the other side of town on Christmas Eve. It was chilly and misty, but this is southern California, and I knew folks in the rest of the country were dealing with actual freezing weather. Anyway, I got on the freeway and headed to my tio’s house, my exit 25 minutes away. I was playing Christmas music, thinking about the tamales I was going to devour. That’s when one of my tires suddenly blew out. I swerved but managed to pull over to the side of the freeway. I’m a grown man but don’t know how to change a flat tire. I don’t have full coverage insurance, either. I began to panic. It was finally catching up with me. All those years of avoiding adult responsibilities like knowing how to cook or how to change a flat.

But that’s when a man on a silver motorcycle arrived in the dwindling moonlight. It was the ghost of Jimi Hendrix. He didn’t have a helmet on so I could tell it was him. He mumbled, “hello, friend,” and quickly fixed the tire in a matter of minutes. I was in shock. I thanked him profusely. I asked where he was going. “To a secret concert of dead rock stars up in the sky,” he said. “That’s amazing!” I said. “It sure is, brother!” he said, as he jumped back onto his bike. I asked him to autograph my Dodger’s hat. He wrote: “Stay safe. With Love, Jimi Hendrix.” I got back into my car dumbstruck. You really can’t beat the holiday season, I mumbled to myself.

Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is the author of The Fire Eater (Texas Review Press, 2020) Bad Mexican, Bad American (Acre Books, 2024) and The Parachutist (Sundress Publications, 2025). He teaches for various writing organizations including The Writer's Center, Hugo House, and Lighthouse Writers Workshops. Additionally, he serves as a poetry mentor in The Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program.

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