So, years ago I found myself kind of cast adrift, wandering, you know? I would go from place to place, finding little odd jobs to do, just working. My life hadn’t gone the way I thought it would, not how I’d hoped, so I just decided to do whatever was convenient to do, since I wasn’t ever going to ‘be’ anything anyway. I was never going to paint a beautiful painting, or write stirring symphonies, cure diseases, or climb a mountain or anything like that. I was a working man, living a small life, and that was just dandy.
So I started working for Prince. Yeah, you know, Purple Rain and all that. I was in Minneapolis, went to a temp agency, and I found myself working at Prince’s mansion. I was kind of a gopher, or an odd job man. Whatever Prince needed, I went and got. Nothing weird, mind you. I was just working around the house, getting groceries, running errands, helping out, kind of a ‘Johnny-on-the-spot’ for whatever was required. I really didn’t ever talk to Prince very much, but he was my boss. He’d politely tell me what to do, and I’d politely do it. That was about the extent of our relationship, and mostly I was given instructions by his people, his close people. I lived on the property, in a nice little bungalow, and I was paid pretty well. I saved my money and stayed out of the way until I was called. I think Prince probably appreciated that I never asked him questions or tried to engage him in conversation. I was a servant, and I accepted my place. I got along with my co-workers, the various groundskeepers, drivers, and security guards, and I stayed there for over two years, which was a record for a drifter like me. I stayed until this thing happened.
One of the assistants told me one morning that the boss wanted me to clean and organize this huge storeroom in the basement. Just dust everything, cover stuff up, and stack it around neatly, make it tidy. So I got down there, and I have to tell you, the place was a mess. Stuff all over the place. I knew I’d be working on it all day, but in a way, that was a very good thing. Sometimes it’s nice to know exactly what you have to do and be left to your own devices to do it. They trusted me, and I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about anybody breathing down my neck while I was working.
So the room was about the size of a four car garage, and it was chocked full of Prince. There were boxes of clothes, reel-to reel tapes, memorabilia, odds and ends, and old guitars that I suppose were not worthy of the upstairs collection in Prince’s private rooms. So anyway, I’m organizing all this stuff and I come across what looks like a painting-sized thing under a sheet. I pulled off the sheet and it was a mirror with a really expensive-looking frame. Written on the mirror, in what looked like old lipstick, was a name; Sheila E. Glamorous Life, Love Bizarre, those were a couple of her songs, but you don’t remember that, do you?
Next to the mirror was a box with Sheila E. memorabilia. It was a small box, but I rifled through it, because I always liked her music for the most part, plus I thought she was hot. While I was looking at promotional programs and record jackets, I lost balance and leaned against the mirror. The sleeve of my shirt smudged off some of the lipstick name. Part of the ‘S’, for Sheila. When I looked closer at the smudge, which I hoped wouldn’t get me fired, I noticed something very odd. I’d also wiped off part of the mirrored surface, and behind it, there was a blackness, and emptiness, some kind of nothing. I checked my sleeve, and there was nothing on it, no red smear, no reflective dust, it was just a sleeve.
I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but I was compelled to wipe at the signature again. In one swipe, I rubbed half the name off. There was a star field there, where I’d wiped, a black void with twinkling points of light. I stood up and looked behind the mirror just to make sure, and all that was there was the back of the mirror. I wiped at it again, until the signature was gone, and all the reflective parts of the surface, and there was still nothing on my sleeve, and there was a square of outer space in front of me. It was like a television tuned into the stars. I ran my hand over the surface, and it felt like a mirror, but I got the impression that if I broke it, I would be sucked out into outer space and I would choke on vacuum. I sat and stared at the stars, there in the basement, and I swear that it was the weirdest feeling. It was so unreal. I actually started to get scared because I really didn’t know what I was looking at, and I felt like I shouldn’t be looking at it all, like I was never meant to see it. It gave me an itch in my mind, and I started getting a headache.
I glanced down at the Sheila E. box. All that was in it was blank paper and junk. It had changed while I was sitting there, changed into something completely different than what it was before. But then I noticed something else. All the other little references or pictures of Sheila E. that were in that room, posters, albums, promo stuff; it was all gone. Everything that had anything to do with Sheila E. had disappeared. I threw the sheet back over the mirror and I stumbled backwards into some boxes. I felt sick. You see, I understood before I knew. I understood on some primitive level what I had done, and I felt a horror in me. I’d committed some cosmic crime that I couldn’t understand.
I ran upstairs, frantically asking people if they remembered Sheila E. They just looked at me like I was crazy. I checked the internet and there was nothing. I grabbed my stuff and I got out of there, and I got out of Minneapolis, and I kept going. I wanted to be as far away from that mirror as I could.
Every once in a while I still ask people about her. I didn’t mean to it! How could I have known? Everything she was, gone because of me, my carelessness. I have nothing but questions about that day, questions that will never be answered, but one thing preys on my mind more and more every day. Why do I still remember Sheila E.?