VIII. - Saturday
We woke at about the usual time, and hurriedly made love, figuring it might be our last chance for quite a while. Afterwards, sweaty and satisfied, we lay in our jury-rigged bed, gazing at each other, talking softly. Susan lay half on top of me, her lovely breasts mashed against my chest, while I stroked her curly, brown hair, shining in the early morning light. She was upset at having to leave the main gate.
"Why can't I just stay?" she said, pulling at one of my chest hairs. "You're going to stay. I don't have to be in the comm trailer. I can walk around with a walkie-talkie just as good as you. What makes me so special?"
I kissed her forehead, and said softly, "The fact that I love you, and that I don't want there to be any chance at all that you'll get hurt. To me, you're very special. The only way to insure that you're not gonna get hurt, is if you're not here. All the other women are gonna leave too. It's not just you."
She frowned, angry. "That's a bunch of macho bullshit," she said. "Send the women off with the children. That sort of mindset really makes me mad. Why is it that women are always supposed to stay in the homestead, while the men go off and fight the battles? Because we're the weaker sex?" She shook her head, and said, "Well, this woman is not going to leave. If something is going to happen, I want to be with you when it comes down."
I smiled. "I think that's the first time I've ever heard you swear."
Her eyes widened, and still frowning, she said, "I'm angry. Sometimes I swear when I'm angry. Okay? But don't change the subject. I'm not kidding. In a crisis, I can perform just as well as any man. If something is going to happen, I want to be here with you. Absolutely."
She was glaring at me. I sighed. "Look, it's not that you're a woman. I don't have anything against women fighting. In fact, if you really want to know, I think women should be drafted, and sent to the front lines in Viet Nam right with the men. That's the way it is in Israel. Russia too. But here, this is a different situation. What we are talking about is going up against a bunch of fucking lunatics, from what Mitch said. I think all non-essential people, women and men should leave here. It's just not a good idea to be here, okay? What happened, anyway? Yesterday, you said you couldn't deal with something like this."
She shrugged. "I changed my mind."
I smiled. "A woman's prerogative?" She hit me on the arm, hard. I winced, and said, "I'm sorry, you know I didn't really mean that. Look, just go and stay with Dave and them till this blows over. Please? Just humor me this one time. Seriously, if anything happened to you, I'd lose it. Please? Susan, I love you. And there's no reason we should both be placed in jeopardy. This is not macho bullshit. It's because I love you, and couldn't deal with you being hurt. Please? For me?"
She studied the hair she had been pulling on. Finally, she looked up, still frowning, and said with a sigh, "Okay. But I don't like it. What makes you think I could deal with something happening to you? It's no easier for me." She climbed all the way on top of me, pressed her body against mine. We lay there silent, hugging each other tightly.
After several minutes, she rose slightly, propping herself up on her arms, her lush breasts brushing lightly against my chest. Smiling, she said, "You get yourself hurt, I'll kill you. Capisce, paisan? I'll murder you. Dead. So come through this in one piece, or you'll have to deal with me. Right?"
"If it's nice today,” she said as we dressed, "I'd like to go down to the river and wash. I feel really yucky." She pulled on her shirt, then picked up a brush and started brushing her hair. She looked back at me. "If you could get away too, maybe we could visit the place?"
"I'd really like that." I finished pulling on my boots, stepped over to her, and reached under her shirt, cupping her breast with my hand. I kissed her on the cheek, and said, "It looks clear out. They said on the weather yesterday, that it's supposed to be nice again, thank God. What time? Say around two?"
I rolled her nipple between my fingers. She stopped brushing her hair and kissed me.
"Mmmm. Two o'clock is too late, the way I feel." She beamed, smiling with her whole face.
"Jesus Christ, woman," I laughed. "Haven’t you come enough, already? I do love you." I shook my head. "We're so compatible it's scary."
She squeezed me. "Uh huh. Compatible in, and out of bed. But it's not scary. It's great. I love you Gordon. I really, really do."
Someone banged on the door. A voice called out, "You guys up in there, already? I need some goddamn batteries."
We smiled, and I went to open the door. Susan started to brush her hair again.
She left about twenty minutes later, with one of the ticket takers helping her carry our stuff. I made arrangements to have one of Saint's parking workers cover the radios in the communications trailer for the morning, then went to check in with Mitch.
The security trailer was in its usual state of disarray. Mitch was sitting at the table, buried in papers, drinking a cup of coffee. I got a cup from the pot on the stove, then sat down across from him, and sipped the bitter brew.
"So what we got today?" I asked.
He shoved the papers to the side and shrugged. "Usual bullshit, I suppose. Susan get off?"
I nodded. "Yeah, she left a couple minutes ago. One of the ticket takers, you know, Jerry what's his name, helped her carry all the stuff. I'm gonna take off at about one-thirty and meet her down at the river for a bath if it's nice still. I'll be back by three or four."
He sipped his coffee and chuckled. "Amy told me about the baths you guys take down there. Her and Susan been talking. Uh huh. You know Gordon, that's a helluva woman you got there." He smiled.
"Yeah, I know. How I know." I paused. "Mitch?" He looked at me. "Thanks for getting us together. Really. If it hadn't been for you, we probably would have never even met. She told me what you did, giving me a big build-up and all. Thanks."
He looked a little embarrassed and shrugged, staring out the window. "I didn't do that much. I knew she needed someone. You looked right. And you are. You guys fit each other."
"Well thanks anyway."
"Then I guess you're welcome or whatever. Like I said, I think you guys are good for each other." He paused as if thinking, then continued, "You've got a lot of promise, Gordon. You could go a long way. You're what, eighteen years old? I still have trouble believing that. No, you and her together are gonna be a helluva team. Just remember me when you're all rich and famous."
"Yeah, right..." I smiled, then continued, "I ain't looking at being rich and famous. Neither is Susan. Christ, she's gonna be a nurse. They make okay bucks, but it's not rich by any stretch of the imagination."
He shook his head. "Gordon, at eighteen, you're a better manager than most people will ever be. You're a natural organizer, a natural leader. How many people do you have under you right now?"
"Uh, I don't know. Uh, maybe sixty or seventy."
"At least. And parking and inside security are the best run, happiest groups in the whole festival. I never have problems finding volunteers for you. You're a natural. Gordon, I've seen people trained in management, years of training, who couldn't effectively run a group a tenth of that size."
"Well, I've got two really good people handling everything, Saint and Allan. If things are well run and the people are happy, it's their doing, not mine. Mostly, I just walk around and talk to people."
"Yeah, but you picked them. You trained them."
"Ain't no big deal." I had never been comfortable taking praise. Mitch was in a weird mood. I'd never seen him quite like this before, and I wanted to stop talking about myself. I changed the subject. "Enough about me, already. So what about the rip-off? Heard any more news?"
He shook his head, frowning. "No, nothing new, really. But I've got an awful bad feeling about this whole thing."
Me too, I thought. I looked out the window. The bikers had shown up. They were standing next to the burn-barrel, balancing long hunting rifles on the toes of their boots. Everyone, festival staff and people walking in through the gate were avoiding them, making wide detours around where they were standing.
I turned back to Mitch. He glanced at the bikers, and nodded, saying, "It's not gonna be long, now. I can feel it. So before the shit hits the fan, I'm gonna spend the day with Amy, and have some fun. Maybe we'll go down to the river ourselves." He looked back at the bikers. "While I'm gone, I want you to be in charge. If you leave for the river, Jim will be in charge. Okay?"
"Cool. It's for damn sure about time you took a break. Anything I can do to help, just tell me."
He shrugged. "Just what I asked. Cover for me when I'm not here. Make sure everything runs smoothly. I'll be back before it's dark."
"It's gonna happen tonight?"
He sighed. "I wish I knew. I just know it will happen."
"You got new information?"
He shook his head again. "No, like I said, it's just a feeling. You wanna go out and do your rounds, now? Be back by ten or so, so I can split. Cool?"
"Cool." I drained the rest of my coffee, and left.
Traffic coming in through the gate was light. I was standing watching the bikers ogle a pretty girl who was struggling with a heavy cooler, dragging it behind her down the road, when Jackie came over to me.
"Yo, Gordon." She walked up beside me, kinky blonde hair flying behind her and green eyes flashing. She stood with her small fingers in her belt loops, head cocked to the side, and asked, "So you let Susan leave, huh? I saw her and Jerry carrying all that stuff in towards the bowl. You really believe all this shit about the rip-off? I think it's a bunch of bunk!" A young guy, one of her people, came up and handed her a mug of coffee, then left. She took a gulp, then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
I shrugged. "I don't know if it's bunk or what. But it's best that we pretend it's for real, and prepare for it. I'd hate to get caught with my pants down."
We had to step back as a truck bound for the concessions area came through. When it was past, she asked, "So that's why you sent Susan away?"
"More or less. I want to make sure she's okay." She took another gulp of coffee.
"I heard you're gonna be in charge of everything today while Mitch is gone."
I smiled. "Bad news travels fast."
The girl with the cooler was now long gone, and the bikers were studying Jackie with obvious interest. She glanced at them, then moved closer to me. "Those guys give me the fucking creeps," she said, shivering. "They just stand there, drooling at all the ladies. And the fucking guns. We need drooling idiots with guns. I just hope the hell they don't shoot anyone."
We'd spent a good deal of time in the past few days flirting. She liked to tease. So reciprocating, I put my arm around her, and drew her to me, and spoke into her ear. "They're okay. I met them last night. The one on the left is named Shit. The other two are Little Denny, he's the big one, then Dog Breath. Mitch says they'll be alright. And the President of their club, Reb, says they'll all be on their best behavior while they're here. No booze or drugs while they're on duty. They're here to serve as a deterrent. Drooling at ladies may be offensive, but you've gotta admit they do look pretty nasty. And that's why they're here."
"I think I'd rather have Weathermen. Cute longhaired college boys with tight buns turn me on." She reached down and patted my butt. Continuing, she said, "These guys turn my stomach."
I laughed. "Look, nobody said you had to sleep with them. Just coexist. How are your folks handling it? You haven't told them why the bikers are really here?"
She shook her head and leaned against me. "Uh uh. I just said they were here to help, like Jim told me. My guys are a little edgy, but that's all. I got a bigger problem explaining why all the other women were cut loose."
"What'd you tell them?"
"Just that it was time to party, and that the ladies would have first go. But if this goes on tomorrow too, it's gonna be a lot harder to explain. I really don't like this shit, Gordon."
"Me either. Look, I've gotta go make my rounds. Mitch will be here till ten. You have any problems with the bikers, you go see him, straight away. Cool?"
"Yeah. Life is fucking groovy."
"Ain't that the truth."
Smiling, she slapped my ass. I hugged her with my left arm, and coffee sloshed out of her cup. She shook her head. "Bye," then gulped the remains of her coffee and went on, "See you when you get back. Don't be too long, huh?"
We parted and I turned, walking down the muddy road to find Saint.
The people I ran into near the Y told me they thought he was still sleeping, so I decided to go to the security HQ and see Allan instead. It had been a late night and the way he'd been going, Saint had probably had more to drink and smoke than the rest of us. And it was going to be a long night tonight.
Allan wasn't at the HQ. A tall, thin hippie about my age was on duty, trying to make time with a scared-looking girl who had lost her purse. I don't think I had seen the hippie before.
I stood at the counter waiting politely, and finally, in a break in their conversation, asked, "Excuse me? I'm looking for Allan. Know where he is?"
At first he looked annoyed, then he noticed my gold armband. He straightened up, and answered, "Uh, I think he was going to get some breakfast over at the saloon. You know, the big place over back of the stage by the woods."
The girl, maybe sixteen, with short red hair cut in a pageboy style smiled at me. She looked vulnerable, her smile a little uncertain. She had freckles all over her face, and a small up-tilted nose, almost appearing like what I imagined a younger sister of Amy might look like. She was wearing tight blue jeans spotted with dirt smudges, and a brown imitation leather jacket.
"Thanks. They serve food in there now?"
"That's what he said." Again looking at my gold arm band, he asked, "Say, are you Gordon, the one who's Allan's boss?"
The girl was still smiling at me. I nodded. "Yeah, why?"
"Uh, he asked me to tell you that he'd be back in about a half an hour and for you to wait."
I looked at the girl, then back at him. "Uh, okay." I paused, then turned to the girl. "I'm gonna get some food. You hungry? I heard you lost your purse. Turn you on to some breakfast?"
She straightened up, her eyes widening a bit, looking me over. She nodded. "Sure. I could eat a goddamn horse." She turned to the guy at the counter, "I'll come back later to see if my purse has turned up. Thanks for the help." She turned back to me and said, "Okay. Let's go."
We turned, and I led her down the line of concessions towards the Grub Shop.
Ever since the owner of the Grub Shop had learned I was in charge of security, he had given me free meals. He said he wanted to make sure the security people were eating well, in case something happened. It was a great deal for me. My cash had run out by about the third day I was there, and other than the ten Mitch had slipped me when Susan and I went to Tacoma on the bank run, I hadn't gotten any more money.
The owner was there when the girl and I got there. He was as grungy as ever, the customary cigarette hanging loosely from his lips as he stirred the pot of food simmering on the Coleman stove. He saw me and smiled.
"Greetings!" he said. "What can I do you for, today? You and the lady together?"
"Yup. She lost her purse. You s'pose you could spare two servings this morning?" I smiled back.
"Don't like to see people go hungry," he said, and reached for the plates.
He dished out two generous servings, and placed the food on the counter. I thanked him, picked up the plates and two plastic forks, and led the girl through the still sparse crowd to a place where we could sit.
Sitting with her legs crossed, wolfing down the food, the girl watched me eat.
I sat directly across from her, chewing slowly. After my third mouthful, I asked her, "So what's your name?"
She swallowed, then said, "Audry. Audry Hagen. And you're Gordon, right?"
I nodded. "Gordon Lawson. Pleased to meet you."
She wiped her hand on her leg, then extended it to me, and we shook. She asked, "So ya work here? Whadaya do?"
"As little as possible." I took another forkful of food, then chewing, asked, "So how do you like Rio del Sol?"
She shrugged, and after swallowing her mouthful, said, "It's okay, I guess. Me and these three other girls, we ran away and came up here. Haven't seen 'em since last week. Got separated when the music started last Saturday. Spent the last few nights sleeping in this guy's tent, on the floor with no blankets. Sweet Jesus it was cold. But his old lady was nice to me." She paused, sniffing. "They said I had to split this morning, 'cause they had some friends coming today and wouldn't a had room for me. Then I lost my stupid fucking purse." She paused, then said, "Hey, thanks for the food. I don't know what I woulda done if you hadn't a come by. I was getting god awful hungry. Didn't have no dinner last night."
"It's cool. So what are you going to do?"
She shook her head. "Dunno. I guess what I'd really like to do is go home. But I don't have no way to get there."
"Where you from?"
"Federal Way." I jerked my thumb in back of me, and said, "See that big hole in the wall of the stage compound? Where it's painted white? Sign over the hole says 'Information?' They've got a list of rides going different places there. You go there, tell them where you want to go, they'll try to match you up with a ride. I've heard they've got stuff going all over the place. You finish eating, go talk to them. I'll bet you could be home before time for dinner."
"Huh." She looked back at me, then said, "Hey, how come you're helping me, anyways? You gonna tell me I gotta ball ya?"
I smiled. "No. Why would I do that?"
She swallowed another bite, then motioning with her fork in the air, said, "I dunno. I guess it's like, I dunno ... that most everybody I've met here seems to expect it. Nobody gets nothing for free. They buy ya lunch, ya gotta suck 'em off or sumpin. Wanna place to sleep, then ya gotta let 'em ball ya. Or if ya really luck out, ya gotta do their friends, too. I was goddamn lucky to find that place to sleep the last few nights. It may a been cold, but I didn't have to do nothing for it." She paused, then went on, "Thanks for the tip on the ride. I may just do that. But I gotta look for my friends, first. That Sarah, she'll end up fucking dead if I don't get her the hell out of here."
"You say your friend's name is Sarah? What's she look like?"
"Sarah? She's about my height. Got long brown hair, with henna in it. Sometimes wears it up on her head. Cute face. Small boobs, like mine. How come?"
"Oh, nothing. But if you wanna find them, what you oughta do is go to the message center behind the stage compound, and ask them to make an announcement from the stage. Have them say you'll meet them at a certain place."
Wide eyed, she asked, "They'll do that for me?"
I nodded. "Yup. That's what they're there for, more or less."
"Where's it at?"
"You know where the back gate to the stage is? Where all the trucks go in?" She nodded. I went on, "It's right near the gate, in one of those small travel trailers. There's a sign over the door."
She shook her head. "Wow, that's far fucking out, man. I wanna thank ya." She wolfed down the last bite, then rose to her feet and said, "I'm gonna go do it right now."
I stood up. "Cool. Take care, huh? There's anything I can do for you, leave me a message at the security HQ where we met, okay?"
"I will. Thanks." She rose on her tiptoes, kissed me chastely on the cheek, then turned and walked off towards the back of the stage.
I started out for the tent, picking my way carefully through the mud, the trash, and the many campsites.
I rounded the corner from my tent. Susan and Candy were sitting outside at the fire pit, talking. I called out, and they smiled and waved at me. The tent shook, then Dave and Janie came out blinking in the early morning sun. Janie grabbed Candy's arm and dragged her off towards the Sanicans. Dave looking hung over, saw me and shook his head, then went back in the tent. I sat down next to Susan, and kissed her cheek.
"What's up?" Susan asked, leaning against me, her hand between my legs.
"Same old same old. I found a girl down at the security HQ, she'd just lost her purse. A runaway. Was from Vancouver, and didn't have a way home. I turned her on to some breakfast, then told her about the ride board they have at the information booth by the stage. Very chivalrous. I feel very pure today. Very virtuous." I grinned at her.
She smiled, asking, "Pure what? BS?"
"No. Enlightenment. God-like, almost." She hit me on the arm, hard, and cringing, I smiled and said, "Okay, just a minor deity."
"Can't be. God is a woman." She smiled.
"So She is." She nodded, looking very superior. I kissed her briefly, then asked, "So are you all settled in?"
She half frowned. "Yes, I suppose I'm settled in. But Gordon ... I don't know. The girls are okay, I guess. I really like Candy, she's nice. But Dave..." She paused, hesitating, then said, "I don't know, I just think I'm going to have a problem getting along with him."
"What'd he do?"
She shook her head. "Nothing."
"He's been up already?"
"Yes. He woke up when Jerry and I moved the stuff in. We talked for a bit, then he went back to sleep. He was nice, it's just that, well, it's like this is his tent, him and the girls, and I think he resents me coming here."
"I talked to him about it yesterday. I told him we had no choice, what with Mitch's sister having left. He said he wouldn't mind. I mean it is my tent, after all."
"Yeah, but you haven't stayed here in a week and a half." She laid her head on my shoulder, and said, "Not to change the subject, but are you going to be able to make it to the river? There, we've got real privacy. And it looks like it's going to be hot today."
"I sure am gonna try. But I've gotta see. Mitch is taking off with Amy at about ten, and he's leaving me in charge of everything. He said it was okay for me to take off too, but let me see how it goes."
The amphitheatre below us was coming alive with activity, people swarming all about, camp fires spewing blue smoke into the morning sky, the smell of wood smoke, cooking bacon and sausage drifting up to us on the light breeze. A helicopter buzzed low overhead making conversation impossible, then landed on one of the white crosses marking the heliport behind the stage. From this distance, all the bad things, the trash, the mud, the bummed out people, and everything else was obscured. Susan kissed my neck. I hugged her close.
The girls, finished with their business, walked back into the campsite and stood before us. They looked nervous. Candy spoke.
"Uh, Gordon?" she said. "Are you gonna party with us tonight?"
I shrugged, and looked at Susan then said, "I dunno. I got a lot of stuff happening."
Janie and Candy looked at each other, then Candy looked down at the ground, drawing a circle in the dirt with the toe of her shoe. Shaking her head, Janie looked over at me and said, "Candy and I were just hoping you would. Dave said you might be able to get us up on stage."
"I might be able to do that."
She smiled, saying, "If you could, I'd really love it. Boz Skaggs is supposed to play tonight. He's gotta be my all-time favorite."
"Well, if I can get off, then maybe we can do that."
I sighed. "The more the merrier."
Janie broke into a fit of giggling, and started tickling Candy. "More the merrier, the more the merrier," she said, laughing. Both of them started laughing, and they went off into the tent, giggling, to hassle Dave.
Susan repeated, "The more the merrier," She laughed, molding herself to me. "That's what Candy was trying to tell me just before you came. She was trying to convince me we should all have an orgy later tonight. The more people, the more fun, she was saying."
"An orgy? Sounds like something Dave dreamed up."
"I'm not so sure. You know, I think she was coming on to me."
"Uh huh. I'm almost sure of it. It was the way she was looking at me, the things she said and the way she said them. And she was touching me a lot. Did you know her and Janie are bisexual?"
"Dave mentioned it. So what happened?"
She shrugged. "Oh, she was just going on about how she loved to come so much, and how when there were more people involved, she was able to get off even better. That and how variety was the spice of life, how you've always got to be trying new things or you get stale."
"That sounds like something she got out of an ad on TV. So what did you tell her?"
She shrugged again. "Just that I was really flattered and that I'd think about it."
"I'll bet you that Dave put her up to it. That kinda pisses me off."
She turned to me and kissed my neck, and said, "Look, don't be mad, at him or Candy. I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself. Anyway, I am kind of flattered by the whole thing."
"I suppose so. Being propositioned is always flattering."
"By another woman?"
She nodded, smiling. "Sure. She is attractive, even if she's a little young."
"You're attracted to her? Women are attractive to you?"
"Some women are. I mean, I'm not bisexual, I've never done anything like that. I guess I may have thought about it a few times, but that's it. I don't really find women sexually attractive."
I let out a sigh of relief. "Good, I was starting to worry about you."
"What, you're prejudiced against homosexuals?"
"No, not really. I mean this is 1970 for Christ's sake, not 1950. What people do is their own business."
"Then why the reaction?"
"I don't know, I guess it's just that I can't picture you doing something like that. You're too straight, it'd be against your morals."
She shrugged. "I don't see morality as an issue. You know I'm an agnostic. The type of morality they teach in church isn't relevant to me. I don't believe there's anything inherently wrong with two people of the same sex making love. Or sixteen people of different sexes all doing it together."
I kissed her head. "The more I think I know you, the more you surprise me."
"There is a positive side to an orgy with them, you know?"
"Oh yeah? What's that?"
"Well, you'd be able to make it with Candy. She made it pretty clear she'd be interested in that, too."
I smiled, masking my feelings of guilt. "What, you think I want you to murder me?"
She shook her head. "I'm not like that. I've seen too many relationships destroyed by over-possessive people of both sexes. If you feel you have to sleep with some other woman, I won't stand in your way. Just don't bring home any diseases, and don't do it behind my back. I don't want to be lied to."
"That's a pretty open-minded attitude."
"Perhaps. But that's the way my father brought me up. I'm not going to chain you down. I don't want to own you. A relationship between two people, if it's going to work, has to be based on trust and mutual understanding."
"I agree with that."
"Anyway, what I really care about is here, in your head, not what you have between your legs. I think as long as you save your head for me, I wouldn't have too many problems about what you do with the rest of your body. At least as long as you don't lie about it to me."
If I felt a little guilty before, I was now truly feeling like a shit. I said, "I don't know if I could handle knowing you were making love to someone else."
"I can respect that. Free love is fierce, huh?" she said, smiling.
"I've always been a big fan of free love," I said, pausing a moment to watch the activity in the bowl below. "I think in many ways, it makes a lot of sense. The 1950's morality shit like you see on TV is for the birds. Nobody sleeps with anybody till they're married. Then they only do it to have kids. That's a bunch of bogus bullshit."
She laughed and said, "Now I've got you. You've been watching The Partridge Family, haven't you?"
I smiled. "Right." I squeezed her thigh and went on, "Sex isn't dirty, it's beautiful, the best high you can get. It ought to be free. Free from guilt and free to give and take. But I've never really been in a relationship like this before. I don't think I've ever actually been in love with someone before. I guess that's what's different for me now. Now that I have you, monogamy looks awful damned good."
"Thank you sir, for the compliment."
"You're welcome, ma'am." I shook my head, and went on, "I don't think I was ready for it before. Christ, two weeks ago, if the subject of an orgy had come up, I'd of been right there, ready and waiting. But," I hesitated, and she looked up at me again. I said, "I don't know. I guess beneath all the bullshit, I'm really kinda straight. You really think you could get into something like that? An orgy? Or sleeping with another woman?"
"I don't know. The thought doesn't really turn me on a whole lot, but I'd be willing to do it for you if you wanted me to."
"Huh. I'm surprised. I thought you were more conservative than that. Christ, next thing, you're gonna say you want to drop some acid with me."
She shook her head. "No. No way. That sort of stuff is definitely out. I could never do something like that, not for you or for anyone. It makes you brain-dead, and that's way too close to the real thing for me. Death scares me silly." She shivered, then said, "No, that's an entirely different issue. But I've never heard of someone dying or frying their brain from too much sex."
I laughed, saying, "Well, we could try, huh?"
"I think we already have tried. It didn't work, remember?" She smiled and kissed my neck, then said softly, "Sex is different. Tell you a secret?"
"I have had fantasies about orgies. And about other women."
I laughed. "Me too on the orgies. Damn straight."
"You've never fantasized about another man?"
I shook my head. "Nope. I mean I have thought about the possibility before. Specially when I was in-between girlfriends. I'd get to wondering if there wasn't something the matter with me, and think maybe I was gay. But then every time I'd get that thought, it'd turn my stomach, and I'd put it out of my mind."
She smiled. "Sounds like you're repressing something."
"No, I was just brought up to think it was wrong. Men turn me off completely."
"But you just said a little bit ago that what people did was their own business."
"Only as long as they don't involve me in it."
"So what do I tell Candy?
"Tell her I'm a super-straight sonofabitch who isn't interested. I don't want to share you. Or lose you."
She shook her head, smiling, and put her arm around my shoulder. "You won't lose me Gordon, ever. We're in it for the duration, whatever happens, bucko. Anyway, I don't think I could ever make it with your friend Dave."
"Good, 'cause I couldn't deal with that at all."
We kissed. From the tent, we could hear giggles and heavy breathing. Susan looked back at the tent, then said, "It sounds like the girls are trying to persuade Dave to get up." She laughed. "I guess he's okay. It's just that sometimes he makes me feel so dirty, the way he looks at me, and the way he..."
Another helicopter flew low over us, drowning out Susan's words. I waited until the noise faded, then looked back at her.
"...the way he treats the girls," she finished, watching the copter land.
"Yup, that's Dave," I said. "I've known him for a long time. He really does mean well. It's just that sometimes it doesn't always turn out that way." I paused and looked at my watch. It was almost nine o'clock. I sighed and said, "Look, I gotta go and talk with Allan and Saint. I told Mitch I'd be back at the gate by ten."
She kissed me, and we stood up, gazing at the thousands of tents below us. She hugged me and asked, "Are you going to be able to go to the river?"
I shrugged. "Like I said, I don't know. But I would like to hear more about these fantasies of yours." I smiled at her, and gently pinched her breast.
Her brown eyes flashing in the sun, she smiled then said, "Uh huh. Well, I have to go and take a bath, if nothing else. Look, I'll be there at two. You show, great. If you're not there by the time I finish bathing and washing out some clothes, I'll just come back here. Okay?"
"Cool. I'll make it if I can."
"I know you will."_ She hesitated, then pulled me close and said, "Be careful, huh? Remember what I told you this morning. I don't want to have to get tough with you."
I smiled, and kissed her. "I remember. Like I said, I'm a coward. See you later, love."
"Bye, Gordon. Love you."
I walked off down the hill towards the security HQ.
The day turned out to be a real disaster. I'd never realized exactly what Mitch did before, and when he heaped all his work on me, I floundered. I was elbow deep in volunteer schedules, ticket sign-out sheets for the gate, passes for concession vehicles and for trucks bound for the stage and the clinic. And on top of it, I had to run the radios, and deal with complaints about the contingent of bikers who were 'protecting' us, as well as mediate the running dispute between Saint and Allan over the number of people Saint was going to let him use for security.
Two o'clock came and went with no break in action. Traffic in and out was fairly heavy, and as people left the festival to go home, they were replaced by newcomers. Many of the people leaving were extremely upset. The complaints about the Sanicans, the trash, the mud which was still all around, the lack of music, then later, the type of music and even the fact that it was now sunny, went on and on. It seemed like everyone I talked to had some sort of gripe.
Even the normally cheerful Jackie had gotten into it with one of the ticket takers who worked for her, a guy who she had been very friendly with up till then. They had stood in the middle of the road, shouting and screaming at each other, oblivious of the crowds of people streaming past. The fight ended with the guy pushing her down in some mud, and storming off in search of what he said, was a lady that wasn't into de-balling every man she met.
The bikers followed all this of course, laughing and slapping each other on the back. One of them approached Jackie, offering her a hand up. She gave him a look of pure hatred, and kicked at him. He laughed, and backed off. She pulled herself up, and left, stalking off towards her tent in the scotch broom out in back of the semi-circle of trailers.
I talked with the bikers a few times during the course of the day. Like Mitch had said, they did actually seem alright, when you got past the way they looked. Shit and Dog Breath were machinists that worked for some company up in the Kent valley. Little Denny worked for the Union Pacific Railroad. It turned out we had some mutual friends up in Federal Way.
They had a big complaint about Reb. Seemed he was very anti-drug. Very. He'd spent most of the last night, going around, waking the club members up, checking to see if they were stoned. As a result, none of them had gotten much sleep. Then when it finally got light out and everyone started to get up, Reb had gone off by himself to sleep. No one could find him. Shit was pissed.
"If the sonofabitch coulda just trusted us," he said, "It would be okay." He shouldered his rifle, and sighted in on an imaginary target. A couple of drug dealers were in the way, and they and the people walking past all ducked, or scurried for cover. Shit shrugged, and lowered the rifle, continuing, "He's a good president. He really is smart. But this drug bullshit has got to go."
Dog Breath nodded agreement. "It wouldn't be so bad, keeping us awake all night, but then when everybody has to get up, the cocksucker trips off by himself, real secret like, and sleeps the whole fucking day." He made a fist at Little Denny, standing quietly beside us. "Next time that motherfucker wakes me up in the middle of the night, I'm gonna give him this."
Denny frowned, then said, "You do that, your mouth will end up looking like his." He nodded at Shit, whose mouth was full of the brown stubs of broken teeth.
I interrupted, asking, "Hey, look. Are more of you guys coming up later? Reb did agree to have ten of you up here after dark, right?"
Denny nodded. "Yeah, they'll be here. Sorry it's just the three of us now, but like we said, no one got much sleep last night. Way everybody was talking last night, it didn't sound like you guys expected anything to come down while it was still light, so us guys volunteered to come and let the others sleep. That way, they'll be fresh tonight, in case something does happen."
"Cool," I said, nodding my head, "And I do want you guys to know we're grateful for this. I just hope we don't really need you."
Denny smiled, and said, "Don't matter. I was in 'Nam for three tours. Yeah, me and Charlie was good buddies. Killed a whole lot of gooks while I was there. Was damn good at it, too. He nodded indicating the others. "These guys, they did time there like me, and they know their shit." He paused to light a cigarette, then continued, "Ya gotta understand now, I don't get no thrill outa offing someone, but it ain't no big deal. It's like Reb said – we like this here festival. Don't wanna see nothing bad come down to fuck it up. So if we've gotta stop the clock a someone who wants to spoil it, we'll do what we have to."
I could see that he meant it, and felt a chill run down my spine. I said, "Well, let's just hope it doesn't come to that. 'Cause if someone does get offed and word got out, we could all be in some very deep shit." I paused, then continued, "Look, I gotta get back to the radio and see what's happening. Call me if you need anything, okay?"
They nodded grimly, and I turned and walked back towards the communications trailer.
Reports of suspicious persons flooded in throughout the day. None of them checked out, but it put everyone in an edgy mood. And to make matters worse, by early evening, it was apparent that word of the impending attack had leaked out, even to people who were not on staff.
Most of the rumors about an attack were severely distorted. Some said the Black Panthers were going to take over the festival and rape all the white women. Others had neo-nazis coming in their place, and raping all except white women. One of the more inventive rumors had the group as a bunch of renegade narcotics cops from Seattle and Tacoma. I had talked to the stage radio about it, in a cryptic conversation. They told me they had made an announcement denying all the rumors, trying to quiet things down. But from what I heard later, the announcement had the opposite effect, and afterwards, speculation was even more rampant among the festival-goers and staff.
Add to this, Sanicans that were pumped and cleaned late, people getting drunk and beating on each other, the abundant trash laying all over the grounds, cancellations from different bands, as well as the myriad of other problems. Nope. It wasn't just a mess. What we had was a god awful mess. It went on and on.
By the time Mitch got back at about eight thirty, looking relaxed and rested, I had a knot in my stomach that was actually painful. I had drank a couple of beers, thinking the bubbles would help. It had the reverse effect, and I felt terrible.
As he eased his large frame into the seat across from me, I snapped, "Well I hope you had fun, because while you were gone, the place has gone to hell in a hand basket." He looked surprised, then started to speak. Realizing what I had said, I felt even worse. Before he could get out a word, I continued, "I'm sorry, man. Sorry. Didn't mean it to sound that way. It's just been a fuck of a day. Everyone's been going nuts."
I laid back in the seat, feeling overwhelmed. He smiled and shook his head, combing his beard with his fingers, saying, "Gordon, that's what builds character. Meeting and overcoming a challenge. There any beer left? Tell me what's been going on."
He got up to get a beer, and I ran over the events of the day. He sat, listening quietly, asking pointed questions here and there, sipping his beer.
Finally when I had run down, lapsing into an almost unintelligible babble, he held up his hand for me to stop. "Whoa," he said. "Calm down. It's cool. Look, you've had a rough day. Why don't you pack it in, and take the rest of the night off. Everything seems to be under control, from what you said. At least to the extent that's possible. It really isn't necessary for you to hang out. Go on. Go see Susan. I saw her down at the river. She was really disappointed when you didn't show."
I shook my head, and sighed. "I just couldn't leave. There's too much going on." I paused then asked, "You and Amy went down there, huh?"
He nodded, smiling. "Yeah. Had a helluva lot of fun. Wish I'd known it would be that fun, woulda gone there before. Susan and these two girls – they looked like teenyboppers – were down there washing clothes, and swimming. Amy and I sat and talked with them after they got out, shared a couple bottles of wine. They seemed nice." He leaned forward, then asked, "Pretty young things. They're all sleeping in your tent with you?"
"They're with my friend, Dave. I don't think you've met him. He's the guy I came here with."
He smiled and took a drink of his beer. "I think you oughta go home and see your woman, is what I think."
I shook my head. "No. I said I'd stay here and do the radios, and I will."
"You don't have to."
"Yeah, but I'm gonna."
He sighed, then said, "Whatever." He took a long drink of his beer, then asked, "Now the important question. Did the guy from the Black Spot drop off the cases of beer like they usually do?"
The Black Spot was a stand that sold beer and wine down on the Ave. They'd been giving us two or three cases a day since the festival started. It was their contribution towards staff morale, they said.
I nodded. "Yeah, three cases. Two of 'em are stashed in the equipment trailer, back behind the box of dead walkie-talkies. I put the third one on ice."
He stroked his beard with his fingers. "Fantastic. As long as we have cold beer and good dope, everything'll be just dandy. I know it in my bones."
"Don't mope. You ate yet?" I shook my head. He said, "Well get yourself some food, then. There's that guy from the Hog Farm over by the ticket booth with a big pot of stew. I heard there may even be some meat in it. They offed a vegetarian chicken or some such shit. Go get yourself some. Or better yet, go down to the Ave and get some real food. Need some bucks?"
"It's cool," I said gloomily. "I don't need any money."
"Well, then get the fuck out of here, and lighten up already huh, will ya?"
Feeling sick, I stood up, grabbed my walkie-talkie and left.
I ate the Hog Farm stew, not wanting to leave the area of the gate. As I choked the last bland bites down, I saw the ambulance, a fifty-seven Caddy with the big fins and expanses of chrome, park by the money trailer. The driver sat at the wheel, chain-smoking cigarettes, as the sun set behind the trailers.
Just before it got really dark, the full backup contingent of bikers showed up, all toting rifles and looking scary, with cold, grim expressions on their faces. Reb and Gentleman Jim were both present. They dispersed their troops around the area, admonishing them not to bunch up or stay near lights. I could feel the gun barrels pointing towards me even though I knew that was not the case.
Everyone was extraordinarily jumpy. Jim and Nancy would make an occasional appearance from the solitude of the money trailer, and each time, would glance around furtively, scrutinizing people passing in through the gate. Every new face was a potential assassin, every new vehicle was a potential threat. As quickly as they could, they'd bolt back to the safety of their trailer, slamming the door behind them. Mitch was the sole exception to the general mood of paranoia that had descended on the gate. He kept busy, talking with the bikers, and doing his regular work, apparently unconcerned at what might happen.
I passed time sitting in the shadows, leaning back against the wood rail of a fence, talking with Jackie. We were about seventy feet off the road and up in back of the trailers, just sitting and talking, drinking beer and trying to bolster each others' courage. From our vantage, we had a good view of the gate and the trailers, but were far enough away so no one could see us. Jackie had calmed down from her earlier fight, but was still jittery and terribly embarrassed at the thought that she had lost it in front of so many people. The man she'd had the fight with was named Paul. They'd been sleeping together for most of the last week. She said the fight concerned something about how Paul was threatened by having a woman as his boss. Since they'd started sleeping together, he'd begun taking advantage of his position, countermanding orders she had given to others on her staff, trying to assume the traditional, male dominant role. She'd caught him at it, and they'd got into the fight. The rest was history.
"I just came unglued," she said, sipping her beer. "Right there in front of me, he tells Rudy to let the guy in for free, when I just got done telling Rudy no way. It was the last straw. I lost it."
I rubbed her back, and she laid her head on my shoulder. I said, gently, "It's not your fault. Everyone's been under a lot of pressure, today. And it sounds like he really was being an asshole."
She sat back up, and took another hit off her beer. "Yeah, maybe so, but he was awful good in bed." She stiffened up, then pointed towards the gate. Under her breath, she exclaimed, "Look! See that truck with the camper by the trailers!" She drew a sharp breath. "Why's it stopped there?"
Coleman lanterns hanging on poles high above both sides of the gate lit the scene, their stark white light washing over a newer dark-colored Ford pickup with a large camper on the back, parked between the money and security trailers. We watched silently as someone talked to the driver. Then without incident, it backed up, turned around and went out through the gate. Jackie went limp. She laid her head on my shoulder again, and said plaintively, "I don't know how much longer I can stand this waiting shit. At this point, I just wish they'd hit us and get it done with. My insides feel like a bowl of fucking jelly."
My heart was still racing, the adrenalin pumping through my veins. I took a deep breath, then said, "I do know what you mean. Hang on. I should call Saint. It's been over a half hour since I checked in." She straightened up, and I held up the radio. "Saint one, Saint one, this is cobra one, radio check. Over."
There was a crackle of static, then nothing. I waited for a few more seconds, then tried again. "Saint, this is Gordon. Saint, you out there? Come in please. Over."
This time the radio came to life, and Saint's voice came out. "Yeah, I'm here. Anything new with you? Over."
"Nothing except my ulcers. I'm gonna own stock in the Rolaid company. How you doing? Over."
"It's cool. Everything's quiet, here. I talked to Allan a little bit ago. Seems he had a big fight down there. Three of his folks got hurt bad, trying to break it up. He's got a whole lot of other problems, too. Was a band wouldn't go on 'cause they hadn't been given the right medicine for their noses. Crowd got really ugly. Started trashing the place. They finally got the guys to play though, then everything calmed down. Hey, I got a message from the stage for you. Ready to copy?"
"Go ahead, I'm ready. Over."
"It concerns the brothers. The ones from Oakland. They want pizza. About six of them. Pepperoni and mushrooms with olives. Can you send someone out for them? Over."
The black brothers had arrived earlier in the day, just before Mitch left. They had come from the airport in a brand new rental car. All the men were large enough to play professional football on the defensive line, and were dressed neatly in conservative suits and ties, with highly shined shoes. Each of the men carried a large brown leather briefcase, and had the same cold, piercing eyes, that seemed to look right through you. They looked so out of place, you wanted to laugh, although no one did. Only one of them seemed to speak, the others remaining silent in the background, scanning the crowd while they stood there. After getting directions from Mitch, they had left for the stage, where I had heard they'd taken over control of security.
I thought about who I could send out for a pizza. I looked at Jackie, and asked, "Can we use one of your guys? Any of them have a car handy?"
"Yeah, Philip has his van here. I'll get him to do it."
I keyed the radio's mike, and said, "Cool. Six pizzas with pepperoni, mushrooms and black olives. Those are large pizzas? Over."
"Ten four, roger dodger."
"Okay. There's a bar in Yelm that we can get them at, I think. I'll call ahead on the phone. We'll get the pizzas to the stage within, I don't know, say maybe an hour or so. Over."
"I copy. I'll pass the message on. Over."
"Cool. Got anything else for me? Over."
"Nope. That does it, white man. Be cool out there, hear?"
"I will Saint. I'll check in with you in another half hour. Gate out."
"This be the one, the only, Saint one. I'm gone."
I hugged Jackie, who was still shaky from the false alarm, then said, "I'll go make the phone call. Can you get your guy? Have him meet me at the comm trailer?"
She nodded stiffly, and we got up, and went our separate ways.
By one o'clock in the morning, it was generally felt that the danger had passed, at least for the night. There had been many more false alarms, and sightings of suspicious people all over the festival. According to what Saint had told me in one of many cryptic radio conversations, the people at the stage had rousted a small group of men who had been hanging out near the back entrance to the compound. When it was discovered that one of them had a pistol, three of the black hired guns had wrestled the man to the ground, and beat him severely. Later during questioning, it was discovered that the man was a skip tracer working for a bail bondsman, and was at the festival looking for someone who had jumped bail. The men were let go with apologies. But the dark mood of paranoia prevailed.
In the security trailer, paranoia had given way to nervous giggles and phony laughter. I'd been sitting with Jackie for the last half hour, sipping a cold beer, talking with Mitch, Jim and Nancy. Jackie, her hand massaging my leg, was getting drunk, and had been making friendly passes at me all night. Under most other circumstances, she being quite attractive, I would have walked off in the bushes with her and done my best. Especially, what with Susan's newly told attitude on extra-curricular activities. Sex without guilt.
But unfortunately or otherwise, I found I could not rise to the occasion. After draining my beer, I made to leave, wishing everyone a good night. Jackie trailed behind me.
"Gordon, wait up," she slurred. She came up to me, and gently pushed me against the side of the money trailer, wrapping her arms around my neck, pressing against me. We kissed wetly, then she continued, "Gordon, I need you. Please stay. I can't face going back to my tent alone."
"I'd love to," I said, nuzzling her neck. "But I've gotta see Susan, see how she's getting on. She's gonna be really worried about me."
"Can't you just stay till I'm asleep, or something? If you don't wanna get it on, I can understand."
"I don't think I could get it up if there was a whole troupe of naked virgins dancing in front of me."
"Oh, I don't know about that," she said softly. She pressed herself against me, pushing with her hips, rubbing against me. "Not doing too awful bad right now, huh?" She kissed me again, sloppy and wet, breathing hard.
Just when I thought she might have something, a biker walked right in front of us carrying his rifle at port arms, going to the road. The cold knot in my stomach returned, and again, I lost all interest in sex. Jackie must have had the same thoughts, because she stopped the motions with her hips, and hugged me close.
I kissed her forehead, then said, "Look. You want some company?" She nodded. "Okay. Why don't you grab your sleeping bag and come back with me to my tent. We got five people there already. It may be kind of packed, but one more won't make a big difference. Lots and lots of company. Susan would be glad to see you. Cool?"
We walked to her place, collected her sleeping bag, and then set off to my tent, holding hands.
Most of the campsites were now dark, and clouds obscured the moon making it difficult to walk. After both of us fell down several times tripping over unseen obstacles, we finally rounded the corner of the last campsite before my tent. The electric lantern was on in the tent, and I could hear sounds of Dave's laughter.
Jackie and I stood in front of the tent, and I unzipped the door. My stomach did a flip-flop.
A mass of tangled, naked bodies were writhing on the sleeping bags and blankets spread out over the floor, inside. I stood at the door, unable to move, while Jackie swayed unsteadily at my side, taking in the scene. The pungent odor of sex filled my nose.
Dave lay wedged in-between Janie's legs, pumping for all he was worth. Close on the side lay Candy making her own contributions. In the corner to the right, Susan lay naked, watching them. No one had even noticed that Jackie and I were there.
Finally, Jackie cleared her throat, then said, "Well Gordon, I guess all that worry must have got to her, or something."
Dave heard her. He abruptly stopped his motion, turned back and saw us. His face registered a brief flash of shock, then he smiled, looking pleased with himself.
"Well, Gordo! So you finally made it, huh? Been taking care of your lady, here. She decided she liked to watch more than party herself. She is some hot chick though, man. Gives dammed good head!" He laughed and then eyed Jackie. "Hey, you brought another one, too. Fucking A alright, man! Let's party, motherfucker!"
The sound of Dave's voice seemed to register on the two girls, who had stopped most of what they were doing and had turned to look in my direction. Smiling casually, Dave lay resting between Janie's legs. She continued to caress his back, and move her hips, seemingly unaware of me.
I stepped forward to the corner and knelt beside Susan. I turned her head so I could look into her eyes. She stared vacantly at me and mumbled something unintelligible. Her pupils were fully dilated, mouth slack, hair mussed.
She was very, very stoned.
"Susan?" I asked softly, incredulous.
She just stared back with her lifeless eyes, and again moaned something unintelligible.
Gears spun in my head. No way would she do this to herself. Or knowingly let it be done.
Dave had to be responsible.
The realization hit hard, and in a split instant, the anger welled up inside me and I shook, wrapped in the blinding fury. That sonofabitch had dosed her!
I spun around and my fist struck Dave just in front of his ear and he rolled with the punch, landing sprawled out on his back half across Candy. Both girls screamed, and while scrambling out of my way, Janie almost knocked me over.
Susan and Janie lay cowering and sobbing as Dave moved to let Candy up. Dave shook his head, then sat rubbing his face and staring at me. Candy pulled Susan to her, and they drew farther away from me, all three crying softly and mumbling gibberish.
I stepped closer to Dave.
"What the fuck did you do that for, Lawson?" he asked, looking up at me. "We always traded women before. What's the big fucking deal? She asked for it for Christ's sake. She was begging me."
"What did you give her, Dave?" I stood over him, my fists clenched, then before he could answer, I hit him again.
"What'd you give her, asshole?" I screamed, "I wanna know now!" I jumped on him and began choking him, and we struggled, rolling back and forth over the floor of the tent, a confused jumble of flying fists and shouted curses, neither of us doing much real damage.
But that didn't last for long, because I was severely out-classed and shortly, I found myself pinned on my back. After he landed a couple of relatively ineffectual jabs on my chin, he raised himself up slightly so he could deliver a roundhouse blow to my face. Panicking, I winced and struggled, but it was no use – it was impossible to move. I knew he was going to beat me to a bloody pulp. The world was going in slow motion, and I looked at his raised fist. Fights always went this way for me, I thought, detached from reality.
Dave shook his head. "See you later, motherfucker,” he said, curling his lip in a grimace. "Night night time."
I prepared for the blow.
Suddenly, he shrieked and levitated about six inches straight into the air. Convulsing and making strangling noises, he quickly rolled off me and curled into a fetal position, both hands going to his crotch.
I lay panting and shaking my head with relief, and closed my eyes. When I re-opened them, Jackie was standing over me, a wistful smile on her face. She extended her hand to me.
"What happened?" I gasped, confused.
"What the fuck you think happened?" she asked, shaking her head, smiling. "I got behind him and kicked him in the fucking balls. Couldn't let him kill ya, already. I keep telling you guys we have ways to deal with assholes like this, back in Jersey." She paused for a moment then continued calmly, "So you gonna lay there on the floor all night, or what?" She bent forward and extended her hand again.
I took her hand, and still breathing heavy, I slowly got up, leaning on her for support. Susan and the two girls were huddled in a tight mass at the farthest corner of the tent, sobbing and rocking back and forth, holding each other. Jackie patted me on the back, and just stood there shaking her head. I took a couple of deep breaths, then turned and bent down over Dave.
"So you wanna tell me what you fed them?" I asked softly, still out of breath, the intense pain in my hand burning like I'd broken something.
Dave looked at me through his tearing eyes, and with tight lips, said hoarsely, "Just a little spiked wine."
"Spiked with what?"
He looked at me, trying to smile, and said, "Acid. What you think, fool?"
My stomach churned, and I looked at Susan. She was still sobbing and incoherent, apparently unable to even recognize me. Totally gone, nobody home inside. Grimly, I thought about what she had told me, about how she was revolted by people who got like that, and how it scared her so.
Standing next to me, Jackie rubbed my shoulder. I turned to her. She frowned and shook her head. I nodded and hooked my thumb at Dave.
"This sonofabitch moves, kick his fucking teeth in."
"Oh, I think I might be able to come up with something better than that," she said, smiling menacingly at Dave who continued rocking back and forth.
I stepped back to the door of the tent, where I had dropped my walkie-talkie. I picked it up and turned it on, and extended the antenna.
"Security HQ, this is cobra one, copy?" I said into the radio.
Allan's tired voice came back at once. "Gordon, I thought you turned in. What's up?"
"I got a trash disposal problem, and I need some people, ASAP. Over."
Ten minutes later, Allan himself, and four husky security volunteers entered the tent. They packed up a still tender Dave, and goose-stepped him off towards his car. I'd given them instructions to put him in his car, drive it out to Vail Road, then leave him. They would leave word with the gate to make sure he didn't come back in.
The three stoned ladies had sat huddled in the corner under a blanket, and watched as Allan and his people left, dragging a screaming Dave between them. I'd tried to talk to Susan several times and although she seemed to recognize me, she hadn't been able to say anything coherent. Janie and Candy were pretty much the same way.
After Allan's group left, I zipped up the door and sat down by Jackie. She handed me a cigarette and took one for herself, then lit both with a match. I settled back on a pillow, exhausted.
She put her arm around my shoulder, and hugged me tightly.
"Well, Gordon. So what the fuck are we gonna do now?"
I shook my head while looking at Susan and the girls, who had started to fondle each other as soon as Allan and the others had left. Insensible and completely irrational, pure reflex action.
"I dunno. Christ, look at 'em go. Let's try and break 'em up," I said, under my breath. "I wanna be with Susan."
Jackie shook her head. "Wrots a ruck. I tried talking with the blonde one and all she did was reach for my tits. Ugh! You'd think he dosed 'em with Spanish Fly, not acid!"
"I wouldn't put it past him."
"No, I seen this couple that were on a trip like this, once."
"A fucking acid trip?"
She nodded her head. "Yeah. These two friends a mine back home. They dropped this windowpane, then just before their peak, they started balling. Right there in the middle of the front room. They went like that for hours, like animals or something. Anybody tried to separate them, or move them into a bedroom, they'd freak, screaming, kicking and biting. My old man, he got bit on the arm."
"That's pretty bizarre."
"No shit. But these three are the same way. They're all way out lost in the ozone, Gordon. Much as I dislike it, I don't think trying to break 'em up is such a good idea, 'cause they'd probably just freak and start screaming again. And my ears for damn sure can't take any more screaming. C'mon." She reached and pulled me closer, and lay holding me. Her face buried in my neck, she continued, "No, the way they're acting, they gotta be peaking on the acid. I think maybe you can join in if that turns you on, or you can leave them alone. But that's about it, till they stop peaking."
I thought about it for a few moments, and then decided she had to be wrong. I shook my head. "No. Bullshit. There's gotta be some way." I ground out my cigarette.
I pulled away from her and crawled over next to Susan. She lay gasping, her body intertwined with the others. After pausing a few moments while trying to figure out the best way to untangle them, gently, I reached over Janie's back, and tried to disengage her from Susan. Both ladies started shrieking, and Susan scratched my arm with her nails, looking at me eyes wide, without comprehension.
"C'mon," whispered Jackie from behind me.
Sick to my stomach, I rolled back to her. She had undressed. She reached and turned out the battery powered light, then took me and laid my head between her firm breasts, rocking me gently. I lay there lamely for some time, hurt and confused, listening to the sounds beside us.
Later, once the ladies came down off their peaks, I was able to split them up. After a short intermission, Candy and Janie went back to making love, while I held Susan. Oblivious to everything, Jackie snored through it all.
Susan and I spent the rest of the night, huddled together, with her crying quietly, pursued by demons only she could see. About dawn, she and the others finally fell into a troubled sleep.