With no where else in mind to go, the four traveled on foot to the nearest Waffle House, which was only about a block away, and decided to pick up some breakfast while they formulated a plan. Unfortunately, the walk there was only filled with irrelevant conversation that had nothing to do with their plot to get to the festival. It wasn't until they got their food and were seated by the window, scarfing it down that they realized the small talk had all been their way of masking the truth: They had no fucking clue of what to do. And they finally decided to admit it.
"We have no fucking clue of what to do," Sixeye declared as he sipped the coke from his cup, shaking his head with shame.
"What about a bus?" Talon suggested. "Couldn't we take one up to the place?"
"Yeah, if it were in Shire Village," Chalkface responded. "The city bus won't take us all the way up to Black Gold County."
"What about the Greyhound?" Blackhorse said hopefully.
"No deal," Sixeye answered. "They shut them down for the summer to retrain the drivers or some shit. Would we even have enough money to take the bus anyway?"
"I only have about $200, which I spent part of on this food," Chalkface mentioned. "The other half I had was for my ticket and any other things I needed to buy at the festival. All of my refridgerated food was in the Wagon."
"All of our things were in the Wagon. He's lucky we brought all of our money with us and didn't leave it in our bags. Your brother is the biggest asshole on the planet."
"Why do you keep calling him my brother?" Chalkface said with offense, pointing his hashbrown at Sixeye. "I keep telling you he's my cousin."
"I don't know. Maybe because, like it or not, you guys are kind of alike."
"I am nothing like that douchebag!" Chalkface exclaimed. "You take that back."
"I've got to agree with Sixeye on that one," Blackhorse interjected. "You do sometimes give off the 'don't fuck with me' vibe with people who aren't us. And sometimes you do it with us."
"Yeah, well nobody asked you guys. Besides, no matter how much I don't like someone, I'm not going to break a promise and leave them stranded just because I'm an impatient spaz like that spaz."
"Man, I don't know what the hell to do," Sixeye said worriedly. "The Festival starts in like two and a half hours and it takes nearly three hours to get there. I doubt any of us have enough money for a Cab."
As he spoke Sixeye continuously eyed a young man sitting at the table across from them. His face was covered in acne and his slick blonde hair was unkempt, but he was otherwise a well-looking fellow. He kept looking up from his food curiously as they conversated and his attention seemed to be caught immediately at the mention of the festival. After a while, he leaned out of his seat and called in their direction.
"Excuse me?" he said with a rough british accent as the group turned in his direction. "Are you boys talking about the Rite of Passage Festival?"
"Yeah, you know about it?" Sixeye asked.
"Yeah, as a matter of fact, I just came from there. I'm new to the states, I just arrived here with Sideways Eight."
"You came here with the band?!" Chalkface replied loudly with surprise.
"Yeah, they agreed to let me fly overseas with them. I didn't want to stick around and impose when we arrived so I decided to leave. Problem is I realized a little while ago that I left some of my things with them and I need them back. I planned on taking a cab that way in a few minutes actually. I have some funds to spare if you need a ride."
"Holy shit!" Talon exclaimed, slamming his hands on the table. "You're not going to disappear when we get there, are you?!"
A confused look appeared on the boy's face. "Um, I don't think so."
"That's his way of saying he thinks you're an angel," Blackhorse informed as he addressed him. "Just take it as a compliment."
"O-kay," the british guy chuckled awkwardly. "Well I'm about to leave in a few minutes, so if you guys are ready we can get going-"
"Hold on a second, Churchill," Chalkface interrupted. "How do we know you're not some type of con artist or something?"
"Well you don't, but I haven't asked you for anything yet. I'm just offering a ride. With money that I'll be paying."
The group exchanged looks, most of them eying Chalkface, who seemed to be the only one hesitant with taking up the boy's offer. After rolling his eyes, he finally submitted and turned to the british boy lazily.
"All right, we'll go with you. What's your name anyway?"
"Paul. Paul McFly."
"Nice to meet you. My name is Chalkface. This is Sixeye, Talon, and Blackhorse."
"Wow," Paul said with an awkward smile. "Interesting bunch you all are."
Paul went to the nearest payphone to call the taxi, which would be arriving just moments later. In the meantime, the five conversated and the group learned that Paul happened to be a runaway from Lancanshire, England, which was close to Liverpool. He was initially a drummer but after a brief stint with a local band called The Xeroes, he finally gave up on his pursuits when he was kicked out of his house by his drunken stepfather and none of his bandmates offered to give him a place to stay. He spent a few weeks sleeping on park benches before he found out that the English psychedelic progressive rock band, Sideways Eight, was doing a show in Liverpool. Miraculously, he managed to sneak backstage and before he could be carted off by the bodyguards, he was able to convince the band to let him tag along with them to their next show, which was scheduled in the US at the upcoming Rite of Passage Festival. He promised them that once they arrived, he would leave immediately, which he ultimately did before realizing that he'd forgotten his lucky drum sticks and a bag of supplies in the trailer that belonged to the lead singer, Silas Flynn, thus the need to return.
By the time the taxi station wagon arrived, all five of them were well-aquainted enough to have at least a moderate amount of trust in the new guy, who seemed to be well-rounded enough to accompany them on this trip, being that he would be paying for it with most of his funds given to him generously by the band itself as a parting gift. When asked what he would be doing here in the States, he had no real answer, other than professing his ambition to wander around until he found a job that wouldn't question his nationality or the fact that he had no passport, green card, or any identification that proved that he wasn't in this country illegally.
As they packed what little they had in the station wagon (The only bags needed to be stowed away belonged to Blackhorse and the new guy), they were well on their way to the festival.
"So what's the story with you boys?" Paul asked curiously as they sat in the two rows of seats behind the driver. Paul was in the very back beside Talon while Blackhorse, Sixeye, and Chalkface sat in the seat in front of them.
"I don't think you want to hear anything about us," Sixeye said playfully. "Our story isn't as noteworthy as yours."
Chalkface snorted. "Maybe yours isn't. My life should be made into a TV Movie."
Paul laughed. "I'm sure there's something in there that can kill a few minutes of the few hours it's going to take to get to the festival."
"Yeah, the part where I catch up on the sleep these guys stole from me," Blackhorse said, yawning as he began to lounge on the door. "Good night, ladies."
"Weak!" Sixeye called loudly. He pushed Blackhorse in the shoulder before turning back to Paul. "Well there is something interesting we could tell him about. The time we first tried to sneak into the Rite of Passage Festival."
"Oh yeah," Chalkface said, reminicing over the night. "That was pretty epic. Epically horrific."
"Do tell," Paul nodded, waiting for one of them to start the story.
"Well this was about five years ago," Sixeye started. "Back then, the Festival was only allowed for people 16 and up and we were only about 13 at the time."
"I was 14 but whatever," Chalkface interrupted.
Sixeye rolled his eyes and continued. "Anyway, we had the money for our tickets and everything but we didn't know there was an age limit, so we walked up to the ticket guy and he tells us to turn around because we weren't old enough yet. Naturally, we were really disappointed, throwing fits and everything, but suddenly I got the idea for us to sneak in. So during that time, they had these regular chain-linked fences blocking off the field and we figured it was nothing. We got over it and then ran across this forest area."
"Now keep in mind, this was at night and it was dark as hell," Chalkface informed.
"Right. So there's this hill ahead of us and surrounding the whole area were a bunch of trees and loads of tall grass trailing across the ground that we were walking on. Soon, we start running wildly because we were kids and we were getting excited that we were finally about to get in-"
"And then all of a sudden this fucking deafening scream rings out," Chalkface interjected, continuing the story. "And then like two more screams go out and I'm like what's"-
"Do you want to tell this story?" Sixeye asked with annoyance.
"Fine, go ahead," he sighed dismissively.
"Yeah, so everybody starts screaming out in pain. I didn't know what was going on, but I kept running and I think I was the last one to realize it....when my thighs and legs were ripped apart by the barbed wire that the motherfuckers put up around the area surrounding the field where the Festival was being held."
"I ended up getting snagged right in the belly button," Talon said as Paul cringed at the very thought. "I've got the scar to prove it. It dug in there deep." Talon lifted his shirt and displayed the jagged scar left behind across his belly. "It was not fun."
"Yeah, so we just spent several minutes lying on the dark ground, writhing in pain. It ripped the hell out of all of us. Blackhorse was running so fast, he flipped over the barb wire when he hit it and fell into a patch of poison ivy."
"Oh my gosh," Paul declared, pressing his palm over his face as he shook his head.
"It gets worse, trust me," Chalkface smiled. "Much worse."
"Yeah, so apparently our screams drew attention," Sixeye went on. "The guards they had patrolling the area came down the hill with their flashlights. They spot us and they help us up, seeing the scars and shit we got from the barbed wire. They start to get us some medical attention and start talking about how much trouble we were in, when out of fucking no where, this group of guys surrounds the guards and starts beating the crap out of them. And we just stand there looking on in total shock."
"What, were they trying to save you?" Paul asked anxiously.
"That's what we thought at first, but no as a matter of fact," Chalkface answered. "We honestly don't know what their game was. In fact, as soon as they finished off the guards and before we could even thank them, they turn on us and tell us to give them all that we had."
"They robbed you?!"
"Clean," Sixeye responded. "Cleaner than clean. So clean that we walked home that night completely naked."
"A group of girls drove past us laughing their asses off on the road home," Chalkface added. "It was so embarassing. Eventually, a couple of nuns coming home from bible study offered us a ride, thinking we were rape victims who escaped from some house nearby or some shit. We didn't feel like walking the rest of the way so we had to play along until they got us home. It was such an ordeal to get them to go away."
"Wow," Paul responded with complete awe. "I can't believe you said that your story wouldn't be as interesting as mine. Good lord."
"Well to be honest, we tried our best to forget about the whole incident," Sixeye said with a chuckle. "But now that you mention it, it is a pretty funny story."
"Wasn't funny when it happened though, that's for sure," Talon replied, rubbing his stomach tenderly, remembering the pain he felt that night after the unexpected barb wire collision.
"Well for you guys' sake, I hope this trip there turns out better."
"Oh, hell yeah," Chalkface declared proudly. "I'm making it a personal goal to get wired,* hammered, shit-faced, and fucked all in the same night each night for the entire festival."
Paul laughed heartily. "Quite the partier, I'm guessing?"
"Oh yeah," Sixeye answered, patting his friend on the back. "Chalkface is always fucking something."
"You guys," Blackhorse said lazily, his eyes closed as he rested his head on the glass of the taxi door. "Are so loud."
"SO ANYWAY!" Chalkface shouted as the conversation continued and the four of them laughed and joked their way on the path to the concert of the century.
Music could be heard, vibrating over the ground from a distance. The boys were dropped off a block away and walked the rest of the path down the street in the direction of it. None of them could tell who it was from this far out, but the very sound of it inspired them to race to the location. It was 8:30 in the morning and the show they had spent their entire teenage lives desiring to attend was only a few steps away. Before long, the pine trees that surrounded the road they walked on gave way to a sea of cars parked by a large hill just out of view.
"Almost there, guys," Sixeye said with excitement growing in his voice. "Keep hustling."
The five sprinted as fast as they could along the gravel road, Paul and Blackhorse falling behind as they found it difficult to keep up with the bags they were forced to carry. The sun was barely in the sky and they were already wide awake, their nerves nearly getting the best of them. At the top of the hill, there was a large metal fence that traveled along the edge from one end to the other. When they finally reached it, they spotted a line that curled from the side of the makeshift parking lot up to a man that stood in between an opening in front of the iron fence. There was a rail set up along the very end of the line where the attendees were purchasing their tickets. The boys hurried to the beginning of the line, jumping energetically as they waited for it to shorten.
"So close," Talon said under his breath anxiously. "So close. Everybody got their money?"
"Yep," they all called out in unison.
Sixeye stood at the front, peaking up periodically to see that the line was moving fairly quickly. "Man, I wonder who's performing right now."
"Oh," Paul said, reaching into his back pocket. "I've actually got the Friday line-up right here."
Paul handed a small slip of paper up to Sixeye, Chalkface eying it nervously as he took it. He nearly reached out to snatched it but stopped himself when Sixeye took hold of it and unfolded the paper. As he scanned the list, his gaze suddenly turned sour and he slowly looked up, making deathly eye contact with Chalkface.
"What?" Chalkface said, trying his best to be as innocent as possible. Sixeye simply glared harder in response. Talon leaned up and surveyed the two carefully.
"What's going on?"
Sixeye handed the list to Talon. "Read that out loud."
"The performance list?" he asked, pointing to it, to which Sixeye simply nodded. "Let's see. The Renaissance Gentlemen and Jeff Wire and The Circuits for the morning show, hour and a half long set for each. Then Lords Of The Morgue, Sideways Eight, Beauty In The Beast, and Crazy Gone Mad in the afternoon. Then the Furious Benjamins and Lifetyme in the evening performance. What's the problem?"
"You didn't know, Sixeye?" Blackhorse called from the behind them all. "Chalkface didn't tell you?"
"No he didn't," Sixeye said coldly, still keeping his eyes glued to Chalkface, who was now looking away with guilt. "I think I'll be leaving now."
"Whoa whoa, come on," the group beckoned as Sixeye stepped out of the line and began to walk farther into the parking lot. He stopped and turned to them.
"What's going on?" Paul asked curiously.
"The Furious Benjamins was a band Sixeye used to be in," Blackhorse informed him. "He got kicked out just before they got famous. The lead singer also stole his girlfriend."
"Ouch," Paul replied, cringing. "Harsh bong*, mate."
"You knew they would be here, didn't you?" Sixeye said loudly, shaking his head and pointing at Chalkface accusingly. "You knew and you still wanted me to go. You are so selfish"-
"Don't be like that, Sixeye, I just wanted you to have a good time!"
"If you think I'm going to give Warsaw any of my money, you must be out of your mind"-
"Sixeye, I'll pay for your ticket if I have to. You don't have to give up any money for his sake. Come on, man, we are right here! We're right fucking here! We're so close, don't blow it for us, please!"
Sixeye calmed his heavy breathing as he looked at his friends' hopeful faces. The line was shortening and within a minute or so, they would be in. If he was going to make his decision, it would have to be now.
Sixeye sighed annoyingly. "I'm not paying you back for the ticket."
"Its cool man, I've got it. Are we square*?"
Sixeye ignored him and walked back to his place in the line, but before he could get there, someone called out from the back.
"Hey!" one of the punk rock kids shouted from behind them. "No skipping."
"It's okay, he's with us," Paul defended, gesturing that they were all together.
"No skipping!" he called out once again as the people in the back began to agree with him and shout in protest.
"Hey, we're all trying to get to the same place, okay?" Chalkface said calmly. "The line is almost dead. We'll all be in in just a little while, so chill out."
"Fuck you, you hippie prick," the punk rocker shouted viciously.
"Hippie?! I'm a metal head, you spikey haired dickwad. Are you trying to get creamed*?"
"I'm right here, man," the punk rocker called back, holding out his arms antagonizingly.
Chalkface stepped out of the line and worked his way to the back, but was stopped by Blackhorse, who tried to calm him down.
"Its not worth it, dude. You know if you fight him, they'll kick you out before you even get in."
Chalkface softened up but didn't show any signs of backing down. "You're lucky I care more about getting in this festival than wrecking* your punk ass."
"Yeah right," the punk rocker said with a smirk. "I've got your ass when this thing is over. You'll be out back pissing with the Desolation Row kids by the time I'm through with you."
"What's he talking about?" Sixeye asked curiously, turning back to them. "Desolation Row?"
"That's where the kids who want to see the Festival but can't afford to get in are located," Paul informed them. "I remember they had something like that at a festival I went to back in the UK. They usually think a Festival like this should be free and so they try to gatecrash, almost literally. They get pretty aggressive."
"Yeah well," Chalkface muttered threateningly. "We'll see who'll be pissing with them when this is over. Hell, I'll be there too, pissing ON him. Douchebag."
The moment of truth had finally come. Sixeye was next up in line, as Chalkface pulled out the wad of cash from his pocket and handed two $50 dollar bills to the guard. The guard dispensed two small raffle tickets from a device on his belt loop and handed them to the boys.
"We don't get a hand stamp or anything in case we lose our tickets?" Sixeye asked with concern.
"Nope," the guard answered. "Just make sure you keep up with it."
Sixeye shoved the ticket deep down into his pocket and followed Chalkface as the two walked their way up the hill and through the metal gate, Talon, Paul, and Blackhorse not far behind. Ahead of them was a small field but they knew that at the edge of it down below was where all of the action would be taking place. The group sprinted across as fast as they could, every fiber of their being growing in passion with each step they took until they finally made it to the edge of the hill. As the five of them stood at the very top, looking out on the sight before them, they were instantly assured that everything they had struggled through to get here was going to be more than worth it. The music of the Renaissance Gentlemen rang in their ears as they looked out on the massive sea of people in front of the stage in the center of the field. Surrounding the front area and separated by a chain-linked fence were thousands upon thousands of tents, trailers, RV's, and gatherings set up as far as the eye could see. People were barbecuing, dancing to the music, smoking and drinking freely without a worry in their minds. General consensus estimated for nearly half a million to attend. This was the Rite of Passage Rock Festival of 1978.
"Its beautiful," Talon said with a dream-like tone, fascinated by the breathtaking view.
"And to think you almost missed out on this," Chalkface said playfully, hitting Sixeye in the stomach.
"Yeah well...we're here now. Might as well make the best of it."
Third Stone From The Sun by Jimi Hendrix