Friday, January 15, 2010

8/4/76 - 7

When we got to JC we sat in traffic on Route 440 for about half an hour. Finally we pulled into the looping driveway around Roosevelt Stadium, ringed with parking lots. We drove a full counterclockwise lap, slowly, taking the measure of the place. Along the sidewalks, and spilling out into our path, were boisterous streams of people: Some freaks, tie-dyed and bandanna'd; some kids like us. Some older people. Many of the guys were shirtless. Practically every single man and woman wore blue jeans.

The stadium itself was a forbidding monstrosity, a hulking and ominous presence, somber in the summer light. It looked like a prison or some Soviet ministry.

"That place freaks me out," said Rick.

"Yeah," I agreed. "Don't tell me we have to go inside of that thing."

"Ooh!" Jenny exclaimed. "I don't want to go inside!"

"There doesn't even seem to be a door," Rick noted, his voice full of dread.

"We are going inside," Jim stated. "Everyone is going inside."

The right front wheel ran over a beer bottle, crushing it with a muffled pop. A man in overalls and a green tie-dyed shirt turned toward us.

"Fuck you!" he exclaimed.

I leaned my head out the window and stared dully at him. He punctuated his insult with a defiant nod.

"Wow," said Jim.

We parked deep in one of the lots, beside a red-and-white VW bus. As soon as I got out a man in the driver's seat passed a burning pipe to me through his window. I took a big hit and held it as a spark ascended from the bowl into the sky. My lungs convulsed against the hot, raw smoke.

"What's your name, man?" he asked.

I exhaled a glorious, sweet white plume. "Alex."

"Cool, cool. I'm Doug. This is Magic Girl," he said, indicating a drowsy blonde in the passenger seat. "Cerberus is sleeping."

I peered into the back of the bus to find a German shepherd coiled on a dirty mattress, sheets and crocheted blankets in a tangle. It smelled of sweat, dog and patchouli.

Doug and Magic Girl got out and said hello to everybody else. He wore a poncho and a floppy leather hat; she wore a peasant dress with little red flowers. We passed the pipe around.

"We were in Hartford the other day. We been on the road all summer," said Doug.

"This is the last show," said Magic Girl.

"Then where you gonna go?" asked Jim.

"Anywhere but home, man," said Doug.

"Anywhere but home," Magic Girl repeated.

Cylinders of purple light extended above their heads.

"Why you called that?" Rick asked Magic Girl.

"'Cause she can tell your future," Doug said. Magic Girl was silent.

"Tell it then."

"OK. You," she said, pointing at me. "You're afraid."


"You're afraid something's gonna happen tonight."

"Happen? Like what?"

"Like something." She shrugged. "Anything."

"Something bad?"

"Good-bad doesn't matter, man. You just need to let it happen."

Doug nodded in assent as he relit the bowl and took a hit. "Don't recoil from experience, man," he said, holding his breath. Little wisps of smoke emerged with every word.

"It's all there is," continued Magic Girl. "Whatever's gonna happen, you need to let it."

I felt like my entire body was vibrating.

"I don't think I'm afraid," I protested.

"That's because you are," she said.