[SleepingDragon]: 268.Metal Daze.Chapter 7 - Pine Knob
I can’t remember just where I’ve been
The last thing that I recall
I got lost in a deep black hole
Don’t want to find out
Just want to cut out
On the morning of the fifteenth of August, Steve awoke to the phone ringing. Oddly enough, no one was picking it up, so after half a dozen rings, he stumbled out of bed to answer it himself. Where was everyone?
“Hello?” He answered groggily.
“Slam?” Came Roxy’s voice over the receiver.
“Yea, It’s me.” He said. “Hi, how are you doing?”
“I’m alive.” She told him. “I miss you.”
“I miss you too. Is everything all right?”
“Yea.” She said. “I’m just ready to leave for ‘camping’. I just wanted to make sure everything was cool with you, babe.”
“We’ll be heading out first thing in the morning.” He said happily. “Meet me by the ticket booth?”
“You got it.”
“Oh, hey,” Steve said quickly, remembering his promise. “Julia wants you to call her. Says it’s real important.”
“Julia. You know, Sean’s girlfriend. You met them at the Kiss concert.”
“Oh yea.” She said in recollection. “Give me her number.”
Steve gave her the number and they talked for a few more minutes, mostly reiterating how much each of them missed the other. He told her about Sean and Julia’s engagement and she said she wished she could have been there for the party. She asked about the band and Steve lied, saying things were going well. When they had both run out of things to say there was a long pause from each of them. Finally, Roxy broke the silence.
“Okay then,” She said. “See you tomorrow night!”
“See you then!” He got in before she hung up.
Steve hit the shower and got himself some breakfast, still pondering why the house was empty. He got his answer soon enough as through the window, he saw two cars pull in the driveway. One was their old dusty brown Impala, the other a shiny new Buick Skylark of midnight blue. He dropped his spoon back into his cereal bowl and walked out into the yard.
His mom got out of the Buick as he approached. She was smiling from ear to ear. His dad climbed out of the Impala and began checking the oil and fluids.
“Do you like it?” She asked.
“Yea, It’s great.” He said. “Whose is it?”
“It’s ours.” She smiled. “It was time we got a new car, as much as you drive the old one. C’mon inside. We have to talk to you.”
Steve’s dad closed the hood of the Impala and they all went inside together. When Steve sat down at the table, his dad tossed him the keys. Steve’s eyes lit up in surprise.
“Your father and I have been talking.” His mom informed. “You’re to the point where you need your own car. We can’t have you borrowing ours all the time.”
“Consider it an early birthday present.” His dad put in. “You’ll have to register it and give us the extra for adding you to the insurance. Don’t forget to check the oil once in a while either.”
Steve was flabbergasted. His birthday was a month away yet. Wow, his own car!
“I don’t know what to...” Steve began. “Wow. Thanks!”
“It’s an old car and you’ll need to take care of it yourself.” His mom lectured. “Make sure you have your own gas money too.”
“No problem.” he promised.
Steve called Matt and told him the news. Matt had just returned from buying the used Century from his brother, so it seemed they both had acquired their own vehicles on the same day. They decided to meet at the park and check out each other’s rides, though they were both already quite familiar with the Impala.
Half an hour later, Steve arrived in town and pulled up next to Matt’s car in the park. The sounds of Boston’s first album were being cranked from the cassette deck of the green Buick. Steve joined Matt and Sherry in the front seat and celebrated by burning one. They decided to go for a short cruise and headed for Disco Dan’s where they found Charlie and Bunhead.
Charlie sold them some reefer for their trip and they hung out a while doing shots of Haller’s Reserve and chasing them with coke. Before they left, Bunhead called Steve into the living room.
“Thought you might be interested in these for the journey.” he said. He produced a sheet of black paper with silver stars and moons all over it. Steve looked at him inquisitively. “Acid, man.”
Steve raised an eyebrow. “How much?”
“Three bucks a piece.”
“That’s it?” He asked. “And that’ll get us high?”
“For about twelve hours or so, at least.”
Steve was skeptical. Three bucks for a twelve-hour buzz? It sounded too good to be true. He’d never done acid before. What the hell. “Okay, Gimme three.”
Bunhead produced a small pair of scissors and cut two tiny squares of paper off the sheet. Steve held out his cigarette pack so Bunhead could dump them into the cellophane. He stuck the pack back into his shirt pocket.
They cruised back into town and Steve followed Matt to his house, where they jammed a while. They decided that it would be just as easy for Steve to stay over if they were leaving in the morning, so Steve called home and informed his mom of the plan. After that, they left the cars parked and walked downtown, acquiring a fifth of Bacardi for the evening.
At around three in the morning. Steve passed out in Matt’s spare room on a sleeping bag in front of the drum kit. He woke with a hangover around seven and found his friend already up when he came downstairs. Neither of them felt like breakfast, so they showered and hit the road.
The trip itself would only take about five hours, so they decided to look up Steve’s sister for a couple hours on the way. They arrived in Bay City around noon and ordered a pizza for lunch. They matched his sister a couple of doobies and hit the road again about three in the afternoon.
By five o-clock, they had reached the outdoor concert facility known as Pine Knob. They were among the first to arrive, as the gates would not open for another hour. They parked in sight of the ticket booth. The pair of friends sat in the front seat of the car listening to tunes and enjoying their buzz. It was then that Steve remembered his purchase from the day before. He dug in his pocket for the now empty and crumpled cigarette pack.
“Check it out, man.” He said, showing the hits of acid to Matt.
“Awesome!” Matt smiled, holding out a finger for one. Steve dumped them into his hand and let Matt take one of the small pieces of paper. He watched as he put it on his tongue and then copied the maneuver himself. The two of them sucked on the acid until the paper was pretty much dissolved in their mouths.
“I’ve never done this before.” Steve said, keeping an eye on the nearby ticket booth. So far, there was no sign of Roxy, but it was still early yet.
“Get ready for a ride!” Matt grinned evilly. He pulled out a bag of pot and began twisting a joint. “One more and I’ll leave you to find your woman.”
They sat smoking the reefer, Steve looking out for Roxy all the while. He didn’t know how long it was going to take for the acid to kick in or even what it would feel like when it did. Thus far, he felt buzzed from the pot and that was about it. He’d heard stories of people having bad trips and hoped everything would be cool.
“Well, I’m off to find a good shirt.” Matt announced as he butted out the roach in the ashtray. “See you inside.”
“Cool.” Steve replied. He cranked up the stereo and got out to sit on the hood and wait for Roxy to show. He lit a cigarette and leaned back on the car, listening to Van Halen Two. Half way through Dance the Night Away, he began to feel rather peculiar.
Suddenly, the music seemed to have physical form to it, the bass notes dark and large, their round balloon-like shapes bouncing around in the air. The myriad lead notes were smaller, brighter, and burst like bubbles from the car’s speakers. The car itself seemed to have grown to huge proportions. Steve had the sensation that he was sitting on a vast expanse of green carpet that rolled over queerly at its edges.
People passing by had an odd look to them, their features being squashed or elongated at random. Most of them had auras of gold or silver to Steve’s mind. He avoided looking anyone in the face because of his mad urge to laugh aloud at the sight of them.
Steve shook his head, trying to clear his mind of some of the intense sensation. He had to be able to find Roxy. He had to be able to make it into the show. He didn’t feel sick at all, but he was rather uncomfortable with the lack of control he felt on his own reality.
The tape ended and he got up and turned the key off, opting for the more natural sounds of his environment. That seemed to help a little. He sat back on the hood of the car and continued to wait for his date to show up. He waited for what seemed to be an hour or more and Roxy still had not shown. He was starting to worry about it. The thought occurred to him that maybe there was more than one ticket booth around, so he decided to go for a walk.
As it turned out, there was only the one booth, which was very close to the one entrance. He couldn’t walk far in either direction before he came to tall fences that prevented people from sneaking in over the sides of the large hill everyone had to climb to enter the outdoor arena. He wandered back by the car hoping to find her near the booth. She still was not there, so he took a tour of the parking area, making his way up every other row of cars, searching people and hoping to find her. Soon he heard live music start from inside the venue. The opening act had taken the stage. He made his way back to the booth again.
This time he inquired of one of the ticket salesmen.
“Have you seen a girl with blonde hair looking for someone?”
“Yea,” The guy said sarcastically. “About three thousand of them. Most are inside by now. Do you need a ticket?”
“Then move along please.”
Steve decided he must have missed her and that if he didn’t want to miss the show as well, he’d better get inside. He headed for the entrance, forgoing the opportunity to purchase a concert tee from vendors and passed through the turnstile. He climbed the steep hill and stood at its top, looking out over the scene.
Pine Knob was an amazing place. The spot where he stood was actually higher than the roof of the reserved seating section. He was at the back of the ‘lawn’ area where thousands of metalheads sat or stood on the inside of a huge half-bowl of grass. It may have been the acid but he had the distinct feeling he was standing at the very top of the world. Between the top of the music theater’s roof and the grandstands it covered, he could see the stage; the opening act just winding up it’s set. Beyond the roof he could see rolling hills of grass that seemed to go on for miles, meeting with woods somewhere in the far off distance. In his psychedelic state, it appeared that the roof was close enough to step out onto, though in reality it was a hundred yards away or so. He wisely refrained from taking a giant leap towards it.
Steve walked around the top of the ‘bowl’, searching among the people he could see in the failing light. He saw several girls that vaguely resembled Roxy, but none turned out to be her. He received several glares from over jealous boyfriends who thought he was checking out their ladies. When he had walked the entire top of the hill, he made his way down to the walkway that skirted the reserved section, performing the same vigil there. When that search turned out to be fruitless, he stood a while next to the main set of stairways that led down into the reserved section. Finally, he handed his ticket to a nearby usher who showed him to the general area printed on his ticket.
He found Matt almost immediately. One look at him was evidence that he was tripping just as much as Steve was.
“Slam!” He exclaimed, giving Steve a high five.
“You seen Roxy?” Steve asked as Matt offered him a hit off a joint.
“Nope,” he said holding in a hit of his own. “Hasn’t she shown?”
Steve shook his head, still looking around the crowd for her.
“Don’t worry about it.” Matt advised. “Just enjoy the show. She’ll turn up or she won’t.”
That was easy for him to say; though, Steve knew he was right. He’d done all he could do. Hopefully, she would find him. He grabbed a nearby seat and tried to relax as he helped Matt finish off the joint. It occurred to him that it was a pointless thing to be doing. He was already blasted out of his mind. Things were beginning to melt in front of his eyes and everything he looked at had tracers attached to it. Every sound seemed to echo or take form in the physical world somehow. This was going to last for twelve hours or more? Who the fuck was going to drive home?
The next thing Steve remembered was the start of the concert. Scorpions took the stage with an explosive rendition of Blackout, followed by Can’t Live Without You, the dancing spotlights pouring out into the crowd at intervals. The intensity of the sight and sound soon became too much for Steve. He was having sensory overload. He felt an overwhelming urge to be away from where he was. Where was Roxy? Suddenly he had visions of her wandering the parking lot, looking for him.
Everything began to spin and undulate, melting together in a cacophony of sight and sound. It was too much. He was freaking out. He had to get away from there! The last thing he remembered of the evening was running back up the stairs to the grassy hill, on his way to the parking lot and determined to find Roxy.
Steve awoke in the back seat of Matt’s Buick. Where the hell they were, he didn’t know. He had no idea what time it was, or even what day. He looked in the front seat. Matt was asleep behind the steering wheel. He shook him awake.
“Where the fuck are we?” he asked. “And what happened?”
Matt pointed out the front window. Steve looked. There was a sign on a building in front of them.
Sacred Heart Mission.