9/03/2012

Laughing Sam's Dice - Chapter 5: Fire




Sixeye walked alongside the girls as they made their way across the field, passing the cluster of tents on their way through.  Sixeye kept an eye open for his friends, whom he had lost back at the scaffolding.  Hopefully they hadn't gotten hurt after the incident.

"So you say there are four of you?" Monica asked, leading the pack.

"Well we actually met up with another guy before we got here, so technically five."

"Five to four," Lucille said, shaking her head.  "Won't work anyway."

"It doesn't really matter," Wanda Texas said.  "There's bound to be a weak link between them.  We'll just ditch the slouch and stick with the others."

"Assuming any of them are even appealing," Monica interjected.

Sixeye started to mention how he was slightly offended that they seemed to so freely talk about his friends like they were snacks they were about to pick up at a convenient store.  But they were already intimidating him.  Pretty girls in groups always did.  Alone, it was fine, he could feel somewhat comfortable around a pretty girl and hold a conversation without getting too nervous.  But in a group, there was always room for collective judgment.  If it were one pretty girl around him and his friends, it wouldn't be as bad for the girl considering she could pretty much say anything and his friends, knowing them, would fall at her feet.  But being the odd one out in this situation, he knew if he said the wrong thing at the wrong time, they could very easily make his time at the festival a living hell.

Before long, Sixeye spotted his friends walking up from the top of the hill, now accompanied by Chalkface, who was leading them back down into the Festival Grounds after retrieving whatever it was he'd gotten from Fritz's Wagon.

"There they go," Sixeye said, pointing them out.  He walked ahead of the girls and waved in their direction, getting their attention.  He could hear the girls giggling behind him and had a strange feeling that this might not go as well as he would have hoped, especially if a clash was about to happen, which was very likely.

"Whoa," Chalkface said softly as the two groups converged on each other.  They both spent a brief second sizing one another up.  Chalkface smirked.  "What do we have here?"

"You tell us," Monika responded with a raised eyebrow.  Sixeye could immediately see the similarities between the two.

"Guys, this is Monika, Lucille, Wanda California, and Wanda Texas," he introduced.  "I ran into them after the whole thing back near the stage.  They helped me out of that mess."

"He means we saved his ass," Lucille added.

"Sixeye, you let these girls handle your business for you?" Chalkface asked with a pathetic look.  "Way to be a man.  Step aside, please."

Chalkface gently pushed Sixeye out of the way, who backed into the rest of his group as Chalkface walked up to the girls and introduced himself and his friends.

"Ladies, its nice to meet you.  My name is Noel but my friends call me Chalkface.  I'm sort of the unofficial leader of the group.  This is"-

"Excuse me, Chalkface, but you're the least attractive out of your friends," Monica said bluntly, causing Sixeye and the others to gasp in amusement.  "So could you please shut up and leave?"

Chalkface had a look of disbelief plastered over his face as the lot of them were holding back a fit of laughter.  Finally, he began to chuckle.

"You think you're cute, don't you?" he said.

"Too cute for you, I'm afraid."

"Okay.  I see what this is.  I understand that you want to impress your little girlfriends here and everything, that's perfectly fine.  But don't even try to kid yourself.  As you can see, I'm clearly the most confident out of my group and, no offense to my buddies here, that easily adds a shit ton to my sex appeal and you know this.  So let's not play games."

"Okay, let's get something straight, you Casper, the Friendly Ghost-looking motherfucker," Monica said, stepping up to Chalkface.  "This isn't a job interview; if you have to tell us you're the confident one, then you're clearly trying too hard.  It's obvious you're the attention whore of the group and that therefore kills that shit ton of your so called 'sex appeal.'  Why don't you and your limp dick go straddle some Venereal-ridden groupie and be happy with what you've got.  I'm not going to ask you again."

Chalkface glared at the young blonde angrily, knowing there was nothing he could do.  Until he realized something and began to smirk.

"All right, whatever," he said, circling around the girls and beginning to head farther down into the Festival Grounds.  "I guess I'll be leaving.  And I'll be taking my half-pound of hash with me.  Didn't want to jump bones with you doggish broads anyway."

"Really?" Monica stated without much faith.  "Half a pound."

"Oh so now you're interested"-

"Gag me with a spoon, asshole, do you have hash or not?"

"Slow your roll, hot pants," Chalkface said defensively.  His dufflebag had been swung across his torso and Sixeye recognized it to be one of the bags he'd packed into the Wagon before they left his house with Fritz Sheppard.  He unzipped it and pulled out a plastic see-through bag filled to the brim with Cannabis.  "Now if you'd like to stop being a drag, maybe I can hook you guys up with"-

In a swift move, the bag of marijuana was snatched from Chalkface's grasp.  He whipped around angrily to see the same short black guy by the name of Chuck, who had chased Sixeye from the scaffolding, standing right behind him with it in his grip.

"What the fuck, man?" Chalkface said angrily.  "Give it back!"

Chalkface reached up for it but Chuck held it out of his reach.  "Should have known you bitches were in league with that asshole.  You get your weed back when I get him."  He pointed up towards Sixeye, who winced at the mention.

"What?" Chalkface said, turning back to his friend.  "Why him?"

"The fucker nearly knocked my head off back at the scaffolds"-

"It was an accident!" Sixeye replied loudly.

"I don't give a fuck what it was, your ass is mine!"

"HEY!" A voice shouted from a few yards away from the confrontation.  They all turned to see a man walking up to them, accompanied by several other men in suits.  This man was dark-haired and wearing casual business attire, which automatically informed them that he was some kind of official or employee working for the festival.  When he approached them, his nametag came into view and read "Daniel."  "What do you think you're doing?"

He was addressing Chuck.  "W-What?"

"You know what's in that bag, right?"

Chuck looked down at the bag nervously, then back up at the man.  "Weed."

"Right.  Do you know the possession of Cannabis is illegal in the United States?  I'm pretty sure that should be common knowledge."

"No no no, this isn't mine, I took it from him!"  Chuck turned and pointed at Chalkface, who shrugged and tried to look as innocent as possible.

"Nice try, son.  Guards."  The men accompanying Daniel stepped forward and grabbed hold of Chuck, escorting him away from the group.

"Wait wait!  This isn't fair!  There are tons of people down there smoking as we speak!"

"At least they know how to be discreet about it instead of flashing half a pound out in the open," Daniel said as he began to follow the men back down towards the Festival Grounds.

"Well that was...interesting, to say the least," Paul muttered from the back of the group.

"Give me a second," Blackhorse said.  He stepped forward and walked past the group.  "I need to ask that guy where the nearest payphone is.  I forgot, I was supposed to call my mom an hour ago."

As Blackhorse stepped away, the girls laughed at his comment, which wasn't helping any of their cases at the moment.  It made them all sound like a bunch of kids.  Monica turned back to Chalkface with a proud smirk.  "So you were saying about us being drags?"

"Shut up, okay?  I'm not in the mood.  That stash was going to be the highlight of weekend.  Grade A.  Now I've got to settle for some other shitty hippie stuff."

"Whatever.  You guys don't seem worth our time anyway.  Ladies?" Monica beckoned as the group began to move on.  "Sixeye, you coming?"

Sixeye was slightly taken aback that he was being singled out all of a sudden, so he didn't know how to react.  "What?"

"You want to hang with them or us?  Which is it?"

Sixeye looked back and forth between them anxiously now that he was on the spot.  He turned back to his group for some guidance.

"Go ahead dude," Talon said encouragingly.  "We can meet up later"-

"No!" Chalkface said in offense.  "Don't let him go with those bitches.  They're gonna eat his ass up."

"It's really not that big of a deal, Chalkface"-

"It is to me.  I'm just looking out for the guy."

"Seems to me like you're just mad that you're losing out," Paul interjected.

"Yeah well, nobody asked you."

"You coming or not, Sixeye?" Monica beckoned as she and the girls waited impatiently.  Sixeye didn't have much time to think about it, so he chose quickly.

"We'll just meet up later, guys," he said to his group.  "The Lords of the Morgue are playing later and we all like them.  We can get up close and see it later on.  I'll see you guys."

"Fine, go on ahead, you Flat Leaver.  Now we know exactly how you felt when Warsaw kicked you out of the Furious Benjamins."

Sixeye stopped in his tracks and slowy turned to Chalkface.  The look on his face was filled with a mixture of emotions, but mostly a hopefulness that he had not heard those words slip out of his friend's mouth.

"Wait, what?" Lucille said confusedly in response to the outburst.

"Yeah, that's right.  He was the guitarist of the Furious Benjamins just before they blew up and he got kicked out.  I'm willing to bet that's part of the reason WHY they blew up."

The girls were completely surprised by this and began to burst into a fit of laughter.  Sixeye turned to them with the eyes of a fragile little boy, which only fueled their amusement.

"Aw, little Sixeye's all hurt now 'cause he's secret's out," Wanda California teased.

Sixeye sighed but held his ground.  Monica stepped away from the group and walked straight up to him, placing a hand on his shoulder gently.

"Wow," she said, a smile still on her face as she shook her head pathetically.  "That's really got to suck.  I'm sorry that had to happen to you, Billy.  But here's the thing.  Like I said, we came here all the way from North Star City.  We traveled the entire country for this.  Its nothing personal but maybe you should stay here with your friends.  You need them right now."

As she addressed him, the girls behind her continued to laugh and Monica herself seemed to be on the verge of hysterics again herself.  When she was done, she turned and headed back to the group, looking back at him slyly.

"We'll see you around though possibly.  So don't lose all hope."

As they walked away, still amused by his failures, Sixeye turned around to Chalkface with a blank expression.  When the group moved closer to him, he didn't speak immediately, instead trying his hardest to hold back what was building up.

"Well-"

"Why couldn't you just let me go?" Sixeye asked softly, looking past the group and avoiding eye contact with Chalkface.

"Hey, I'm just trying to help you out, okay?  Those girls-"

"SHUT UP!" Sixeye screamed, almost at the top of his lungs, causing them all to jump in surprise.  When he spoke again it was softer but still full of force.  "You made me come here.  You said it would be good for me, it would help me get my mind off of what happened with Linda and Danny but then you stand there and say that bullshit?  You stand there and use my situation against me to prevent me from having the good time you wasted your fucking breath promising I'd have by coming here?  You really went there?"

"Dude, I stand by what I said.  I was trying to help"-

Sixeye lost his temper and slugged Chalkface directly across the lips, causing him to lose his balance and fall onto the grass.  Blackhorse, who had already finished consulting with Daniel, sprinted up at the thick of the tension and saw the action, springing forward.  He grabbed hold of Sixeye, along with Talon, just as he stepped forward and was seconds away from continuing his attack on his friend.

"HOW THE FUCK WAS THAT SUPPOSED TO HELP ME?!  HOW THE FUCK WAS THAT SUPPOSED TO HELP ME, HUH?!

Chalkface wiped the blood from his mouth as Paul helped him up delicately.  He didn't say anything or show any emotion.  Instead, he continously pressed his lips gingerly to see if they was still bleeding from the blow, which they were.

"You are nothing but a selfish prick!  If you can't have your way, no one can!"

The remorse was finally beginning to set in for Chalkface.  "Sixeye, you're right.  I deserved that, I'm sorry."

"Fuck you!"  Sixeye broke free of Blackhorse and Talon's grip and stormed away from the scene.

--------------------------------------------------

Daniel and the delinquent being escorted by the guards traveled backstage where they were greeted by Chas, who bumped into them out by the massive cluster of rock star trailers parked variously across the field behind the stage.

"Who's this guy?" he asked, pointing at Chuck, who was still struggling his way out of the guards' grip.

"Some idiot we found flashing a bag of marijuana out in the middle of the field," Daniel answered.  "Don't worry, we're having him escorted off the premises as soon as I handle the paperwork"-

"Nevermind all that, listen, I thought I asked you to go investigate the collapsed scaffolding incident."

"I did.  It was just a pile of rubble.  Nobody got hurt.  Not too bad anyway.  I called in to have some guys take care of the mess."

"So, no impending lawsuit?"

"Not that we know of."

"Okay, good.  Because the Circuits are up next and you know how they can be.  I would like to have part of my plate empty before I take on someone else's shit."

"Well if you want to avoid this problem happening again, I think it would probably be beneficial for us to beef up security or have some"-

"Daniel, Daniel, Daniel," Chas interrupted, putting up his hand to stop him.  "Did you forget the fact that we're already in debt as it is?  We can't afford to pay any more guards.  This is all we've got, okay?  Just make sure the motherfuckers do the jobs we're paying them for and we won't have to worry about replacing them with people who can.  Now I've got to go.  Get back to me if you hear anything that sounds even remotely like legal troubles."

"You know I would have thought you'd be more careful after what happened in '73," Daniel shouted at Chas, who ignored him and continued on his way towards the trailers and tour buses occupying the field behind the stage.  As he walked by, there were people rushing to and from the area, catering to the community of rock stars and legends that were bound to provide him with the biggest thorn in his side of the weekend.  The mixed aroma of sex, cigarette smoke, and vanity almost made him want to turn on his heel and head back to his office, but he needed to make sure the next performers were currently ready to start and once that was done, he could stop breathing out of his mouth and climb out of this sea of barely-earned narcissism.

Chas jogged up the small steps of one of the tour buses and entered with a jovial smile, where he was greeted by the scowled faces of the Circuits, their lead singer, Jeff Wire, and a large black bodyguard who had been standing by the door.  Jeff Wire, who had been lying on the couch in the back, was shirtless in a pair of tight black pants with a large spiked up blonde mohawk and fingerless gloves, but was otherwise sort of plain-looking for a hardcore punk rockstar.

"Hello, chaps, how's everybody feeling this morning?  Are we almost ready to get started"-

"Francisco, can you please slap this asshole in the face for me one good time," Jeff ordered nonchalantly, as the bodyguard by the door turned to Chas and with an almost mechanized motion, bitch slapped Chas with an open palm.  Chas fell back and collapsed onto the front seat of the bus.  It took him a few seconds to regain his composure, but when he did, he turned back to the band with a bright red handprint on the left side of his face.

"I deserved that," Chas said modestly, delicately placing his hand over the red mark.  "I don't know why I deserved that but I deserved that."

"What'd I tell you about knocking when you enter?" Jeff asked with attitude, lounging back on the couch in the back as the other members of his band stood around him, visibly preparing for the show.

"To...knock when I enter."

"Exactly.  Shows how much of a shit you give about the artists.  As long as we feel your pockets, that's all that matters, right?"

"No, no, Jeff, listen, it won't happen again," Chas said, the inprint on his face slowly swelling up and forming a large welt.  He walked to the back of the tour bus to get a better look at the crew.  "The crowd out there is ready for you though.  Are you about ready to get started?"

"Does it look like we're ready to get started?"

Chas looked between each of the band members questionably and shrugged.  "Somewhat."

"Francisco, could you please wail on this dumb ass again for me?"  As the bodyguard began to make his way to the back of the tour bus, Chas threw up his hands in defense.

"No, no, no, no, you look ready, you look ready."  Jeff lifted his hand to stop the bodyguard, who backed up and returned to his spot by the door.  Chas took a sigh of relief.  "That's good.  You're on in five."

"We're on when we feel like it."

"That's perfectly fine, Jeff, as long as we can get the show going soon."  Chas turned and noticed out the corner of his eye an old wine bottle with a worn out logo placed on a minibar on his end of the bus.  He reached up and grabbed it, pulling it closer to examine it and saw that it was dated back to 1875.  "Wow, this is really vintage."

"DON'T TOUCH THAT!!" Jeff screamed at Chas, who nearly dropped it, placing it back in the spot where he'd taken it.  "You're damn right, its vintage.  Its 103-year old wine, imported from Ireland by my great grandmother before she passed.  We drink a sip after every show as par tradition.  Only us.  If you break that bottle, Francisco will break your face.  And not like it is already."

"Understood, Mr. Wire.  I'm just going to uh....go now," Chas sheepishly said, rushing to the door.  "I'll see you on stage in a bit for soundcheck."

"Fuck yourself," Jeff muttered, taking a drag of the cigarette that lay in an ashtray by his side as Chas saluted in his direction, gave the bodyguard a nervous look, and departed from the tour bus.

--------------------------------------------------

With some heavy consolation, Blackhorse escorted Sixeye away from the others and was able to calm him down enough to get him to think clearly and rationally.  Truthfully, Blackhorse was the only one out of the group that could.  The two had known each other and been friends longer than any of them and Blackhorse was naturally the most level-headed.  It was made apparent that what Chalkface had done was morally irresponsible, but it wasn't the first time he'd pushed Sixeye over the edge and it wasn't the worst confrontation they'd had by a long shot.  With a clashing of their personalities, these moments were bound to happen and would, more often than not, but this made it easy for Blackhorse to get Sixeye to see the other side of things.  Once Sixeye had cooled down, Blackhorse knew that he would come around eventually and with Chalkface already showing remorse over the incident and having a talk with Talon away from them as well, he was sure things would be patched up in no time.

Unfortunately, Blackhorse had to rush through his damage control, which luckily was effective enough to make things okay for the time being, because he needed to be finding the nearest payphone as soon as possible so he could call his overly conservative and (probably by this point) hysterical mother to let her know he arrived at the festival okay.  Considering the fact that she was under the impression that the festival was still being held at Shire Village, which should have taken him less than thirty minutes to get to from their house and also considering the fact that it took them nearly three hours to get there and they'd already spent an hour at the festival already (he was supposed to call around 7:30 and it was now 9:50), the longer he waited, the sooner the possibility that he will have driven her to the point where she would frantically and worriedly try to locate the location of the Rite Of Passage Festival only to discover that it is actually being held in Villanova Junction could occur.  "If she finds out," he warned the others earlier, "she will without a doubt, come down here, get me herself, and drag me away, no matter how much I protest."

So once the tension had been deflated, Blackhorse and Sixeye went on their search for the nearest payphone.  When Blackhorse had gone to ask the Festival Employee, Daniel, for the location of one, he told them that they were scattered across the Festival Grounds, but they were all the same price, approximately two dollars in change.  Knowing this was highway robbery, Blackhorse asked him for the location of the nearest payphone not on Festival Grounds and he informed him that there was one just outside of the valley and right by the actual Villanova Junction, a four-way intersection right beside the large parking lot where they'd arrived from.  Blackhorse and Sixeye made sure they still had their tickets with them and accompanied each other through the metal fences and out by the parking lot, where they could see a single telephone booth right on the corner of the crossroads in plain view.

"I don't know how to keep going at this point," Sixeye said to Blackhorse as they walked through the parking lot, heading for the corner of the Junction.  "I guess I'm just going to be a failure at everything for the rest of my life."

"Don't go there, man."

"My brother is getting married soon.  Do you think he's going to let me stow up in his place forever?  I let those idiots convince me to drop out of school, I've already got two strikes at my job and I'm bound to lose it any day now because my asshole of a manager, and I've got absolutely nothing going for me.  I don't have talent, I don't have any dreams or aspirations, I've got nothing.  Nothing but weed and the guys.  I'm going to end up on the streets before long."

"You can always get a GED.  Enroll in Community College, get a degree in something you're interested in, and go on from there."

"Those words come out of your mouth with so much ease when you know you've got the rest of your life to live.  You're going to Columbia in a month and a half.  You've got your path set for you while I'm walking on hot coal."

"You're not as unfortunate as you're making yourself out to be.  And even if you were, we're talking about the rest of your life.  Something's got to give.  Either you've got to get off your ass and do something or you WILL spend the rest of your life on the street.  You didn't think the life we're living now would last forever, did you?"-

"Of course, not but I tried not to think about it because I'm young and I want to enjoy my young life for as long as I can, except you leaving is making it harder and harder to do that.  I don't know, I guess...I can't say I didn't want it to last forever, I'd be lying if I did, but I knew it wouldn't.  I guess I just...I thought it would last longer than this, man.  When you go, that's it.  That's the end.  That's where it will all come crashing down.  This weekend is going to be the apex of young lives and after that, its all downhill from there.  Do you have any idea how fucking depressed that makes me feel right now?  No, you don't, because you're going to get your medical degree after eight years at Columbia, become a world-reknowned brain surgeon, marry a model, have like seven or eight kids, retire at 50, and spend the rest of your days in a Beach House on a private island off the coast of Costa Rica and die in peace.  Honestly dude, you don't know how much I envy you right now."

"Sixeye," Blackhorse said, as they drew closer to the phone booth, but stopped momentarily.  "You have always been the saddest motherfucker I've ever had the pleasure of knowing.  You do an awful lot of complaining and I know its just because you want to hear someone sympathize with you and tell you things are going to get better.  Now the second I say something that you don't want to hear, you will get pissed and tell me I don't know what I'm talking about.  And the second I say something that you do want to hear, you'll still get pissed and tell me I don't know what you're going through because my life is 'perfect.'  So really, you're not making this easy on either of us."

"Look, I'm just venting all right"-

"Venting is fine, dude, but there's a fine line between venting out your frustration over a situation and venting out any forms of motivation to fix shit.  If you want to talk about how hard it is to make it in this semen-covered gloryhole we call the 'land of opportunity', you can do that, but don't stand there and tell me that you can't find some way to make something out of your life, not when there have been so many people that have been worse off than you that have gone above and beyond just because they believed they could.  Only you can make your life successful.  Only you can prevent forest fires."

Sixeye looked up at Blackhorse questionably and then smiled.  "Really?  Smokey?"

"Well, its true," Blackhorse shrugged playfully.

Sixeye shook his head and put a hand on his friend's shoulder.  "Spoken like a true Native American," he said with a laugh as they finally reached the payphone.  "I'll wait out here for you."

"Thanks.  Chances are this is going to be a long conversation.  If she hasn't already found out we're at Villanova Junction, I'm still probably going to have to pull out all of my psychological mom-calm-down techniques and phrases to get her to let me stay.  So feel free to chill or head back inside whenever you get bored."

"That's all right, man."  As Blackhorse stepped into the phone booth, Sixeye reached into his pocket and pulled out a box of Camel cigarettes, taking out one and wedged it between his lips before reinserting the box back into his pocket.  "Horse, you got a light?"

Blackhorse turned, the phone at his ear and reached into his back pocket, pulling out a matchbook and tossing it to Sixeye, who caught it with one hand.  While Blackhorse went back to the phone, Sixeye lit one of the matches, toasted the end of the cigarette, and shook the match out, tossing it aside.  As he inhaled deeply, he looked out onto the almost desert-like Villanova Junction, where the landscape on every side of the four-way intersection aside from the one holding the Valley/Festival Grounds behind them and the forest area on the other side of the parking lot, was nothing but gravel-covered nothingness for what seemed like miles.  The crossroad was without any kind of traffic signal, mostly because when not supporting a concert a few yards away, it was void of much activity.  Sixeye remembered hearing that this was a quiet and homely area, but that there had been reports of some mafia activity around here.  It made sense; if you wanted to take someone out where their screams can't be heard, where no one will think to look for a body, or where you could probably get away with a lot of illegal activities, this would be the kind of place to handle that kind of business.  Despite this reputation, this crossroad alone filled him with a weird kind of peace that he rarely felt before, like he was somehow standing on the edge of the Earth and nothing really mattered, not his bleak future, not the turmoils following his forced departure from Danny's band, not his ex-girlfriend's betrayal; none of it was important.  All that matters is right now, his conscience whispered to him, you're alive and healthy and that's all that matters.

Out of the corner of his eye, Sixeye could see a figure heading down the road.  From the entrance of the Festival Grounds, the payphone and the crossroad intersection was in the 3 O'Clock direction and the payphone was on the corner of the crossroad, just by the center where all of the roads met.  The figure was walking down from the right side of the intersection, at least if you considered the forest-surrounded end of the road that led up to the crossroads itself the bottom.  As the figure came into view, Sixeye tried to ignore it the best he could.  He knew as soon as the person walked by, there would be one of those awkward moments of silence where you try to keep your eye off of the person strolling by but out of curiousity, you look in their direction to see if they are looking back at you.  If they are, you're always faced with two options: look away and feel like you're being rude and have the other person probably perceive you as such, or give them an awkward nod of acknowledgement that they may or may not return.  And God-forbid they actually try to socialize.

Because of that mysterious pull of curiousity that made Sixeye look in the stranger's direction, he could see that it was a woman, carrying a guitar case in one hand and walking with a defined strut, as if she wanted to be seen.  As she came closer, he could see that she was quite attractive, wearing a thick leather jacket, the sleeves of which went down past her palms and by the bend of her fingers.  Her black skirt was short, revealing a pair of skimpy stockings that led down to some high-heeled boots.  Her shirt under the jacket was black.  Her hair was a died light blue, swept over one side and came down to her shoulders while the other side had been almost shaved.  Her eyebrows were incredibly thin and her face was covered in piercings; one across the bridge of her nose, one between her nostrils, two in both of her cheeks, one under the center of her bottom lip, two on either sides of her temple, and almost a dozen along the surface of both of her ears.  Her face was also covered in make-up, her eyes nearly obscured by the black across her eyelids.

When he looked to see if she was looking back at him, he could see that she wasn't.  She was staring off in another direction, but not in a way that looked like she was visibly trying to avoid eye contact, but rather like she genuinely had a reason for looking in various other directions.  When she was within a few yards of Sixeye, she stopped and dropped her guitar case by the side of the road.  Without acknowledging his existence, whatsoever, she slipped off her leather jacket slowly and reached into the pocket of it, grabbing a cigarette and laying the jacket down by the case.  Initially, Sixeye was going to try not to socialize but seeing that the girl in question was actually sexy, he was quickly changing his mind.

"Need a light?" he asked nonchalantly, using the presence of his own cigarette to give him the confidence of knowing he at least looked moderately cool.  Anyone who holds a cigarette between their fingers and keeps the other hand in their pocket looks cool, he thought to himself.  When he spoke, she finally looked over in his direction, albeit lazily and nodded so lightly that he wasn't entirely sure if it was his cue to act or not.  He decided to go for it anyway and pulled out the matchbook Blackhorse had given him, tearing out one of the matches, lighting it with the coarse strip on the cover, and holding it up to the cigarette between her lips like an obedient servant.  As it lit up, he pulled the match away, shook it out, tossed it just as she took a smooth drag from the cigarette and pulled it away with her long rose-nailed fingers.

He stepped away from her and tried again to keep his cool, smoking his own cigarette which seemed to be the only thing stopping this confrontation from being more awkward.  He tried to start conversation.

"You're trying to use the phone?" Sixeye asked, edging his head in the direction of the phone booth where Blackhorse was currently arguing away with his mother.  The girl exhaled a large puff of smoke from her nose and nodded just as lightly as before, only this time he could tell that she was answering him.  He nodded back and turned back to the empty fields in front of them.  Before long, he addressed her once again.  "Its a little warm out for a leather jacket, you know"-

"Didn't your daddy ever warn you about talking to strangers, kid?" the girl croaked with a deep but still feminine voice that sort of startled him.

It took him a minute to answer, but soon he said, "My dad is dead."

"Sorry to hear that," she replied with virtually no emotion.

"No you're not," he said back, trying to match her impassive demeanor.  She simply shrugged in response and the conversation briefly ended.  But Sixeye was determined to continue it for some strange reason.  "You here for the festival?"

The girl turned to him and finally made eye contact, but Sixeye could see that her eyes were grey, empty, and void of visible pupils, like the eyes of a blind person.  By the looks of it, she was getting irritated by his forwardness.

"Look I'm just trying to make conversation"-

"No one asked you to," she said softly.

"Well I'm not really the type that does what I'm asked anyway, so..."

The girl chuckled lightly and Sixeye took it as a good sign.  He was headed in the right direction.  Then the girl began to shake her head, wearing away a little at his sudden confidence.  "You have no idea what you're getting into."

"Apparently not."

There was a brief silence while they continued to smoke and soon the girl turned to him.  "Your name is Billy Moses, correct?"

Sixeye whipped towards her in surprise.  "How do you know that?"

The girl turned away from him but continued to speak.  "You live in Ladyland with your brother, who will soon be engaged to be married.  You're a stoner and so are your other three friends, one of which is in the phone booth right now talking his overprotective mother into letting him stay here.  You were once in a band that later became famous but was kicked out early because you lacked the guitar playing skill necessary to continue your tenure, then your girlfriend left you for the band's frontman because she felt that you weren't capable of sustaining the successful life she saw for herself.  You were coerced into thinking that this festival would make you feel better but so far, its only showing you exactly how screwed you really are, am I correct?"

Sixeye turned in her direction completely.  "Okay, who the hell are you?"

The girl edged slightly in his direction but did not look him in the eye this time.  "You can call me Lucy."

"And how do you know all of this about me and my life, Lucy?"  He was expecting the word "stalk" to come up a few times in her explaination.

"Do you really want to know the answer to that question?"  Sixeye hesitated.  "Didn't think so.  So....what if I told you I could make it all work out for you?"

Sixeye shrugged in confusion.  "Work out, how?"

"Work out.  Give you what you need to see that the rest of this weekend becomes the most successful weekend you'll have ever had in your life."

"I have little to no idea what you're talking about and you still haven't answered my question."

Lucy turned to Sixeye and walked directly up to him sternly.  "If you let me, I will make you play the guitar like a god for the duration of the weekend."

Sixeye couldn't help but let a chuckle slip through.  He began to smirk but Lucy looked as serious as she'd ever been.  "Um...okay."

"Humor me," Lucy said plainly, knowing that Sixeye wasn't buying a word of her's.

"Okay," Sixeye said, nodding his head.  "Say you can make me 'play the guitar like a god' for the weekend.  Why?"

"Because that's what you want."

"No, its not."

"Yes, it is.  Your lack of playing ability has been the catalyst, the domino for your misfortune; you couldn't play so you got kicked out of Danny Crawford's band, when he grew to fame, your girlfriend left you, and through this humiliation, you were embarassed in front of a bunch of girls when your situation was revealed to them.  How far are you going to let it fall before you take action?"

Sixeye shuffled uncomfortably at her ability to spew the recent developments of his life with so much ease.  "So exactly how is playing the guitar better supposed to make my life any better?"

"Building blocks, Mr. Moses.  The festival goes on until Monday, the possibilities are endless."

Sixeye couldn't help but continue to chuckle at this half-witted insane punk/metal chick; he couldn't tell which one she played for, since her style was ambiguous.  Soon, he finally shook his head.

"Okay, I think I've humored you long enough.  I'm sorry I decided to talk to you, I can see now it was a mista"-

"You clearly haven't grasped the concept," Lucy declared with a strange and mysteriously overwhelming voice that seemed to ensnare him with the sheer tone of it.  It was both intimidatingly sinister and pleasantly angelic simultaneously.  "The web has been spun...and you are in it.  You don't know this, but you are standing right on the lips of the venus fly trap.  It's do or die, little boy.  What's it going to be?"

Sixeye was too mezermized to answer immediately but when he did, it was lacking any sort of confidence the cigarette had given him whatsoever.  "What do you want?"

"I'm sure you already know..."

"Humor me."

Lucy chuckled almost innocently, but Sixeye knew better.  "I want you."

"Me?"

"Yes."

"Like, right now or later?"-

"No."  Lucy shook her head and ran her finger across his cheek, slowly sliding it down his chest.  "I want...you."

With a gentle push, she touched the center of his gut with her index finger and Sixeye felt his entire being vibrate.  Not just his body, but his very essence trembled violently like the ripples that emerge from a rock being dropped bluntly into a pond.  My soul, he thought.  She wants my soul.

"You have your skill for the weekend and you give yourself up to me."

"For how long?" Sixeye asked, still in a state of mezmerization.  From his question alone, Lucy gave a simple but powerful smirk to which Sixeye took to mean however long she wanted.  Forever.

"Do we have a deal?" she asked.

Sixeye couldn't think.  She was right, he was now ensnared into something he could not escape from.  The cons were being thrown into the back of his mind and he was now in a position where he had no choice but to say "Yes."  How bad could it be? She forced his mind to tell him.  This is your chance to show Danny who you really are.  Show him that he made a mistake by abandoning you.  Show him that you are the one that belongs in the spotlight.

"Yes," Sixeye submitted willingly.  "I'll do it."

Lucy's smirk didn't change but she lowered her eyes and looked into his deeply.  "Then let's kiss on it."

Lucy pressed her hand on the back of his head and pulled him towards her.  When their lips met, Sixeye could feel a heat rising up onto his neck that steadily began to grow.  Soon, he could feel it on every inch of his body but as it grew, he knew it couldn't be normal.  It was burning him.  As his palms began to sweat by his side, he rubbed his fingertips together, expecting to feel the persperation between his fingers but instead felt the sickening feeling of his skin peeling and melting off of his very bones.  The heat was growing so intense but he couldn't escape, no matter how hard he tried.  She had him in the palm of her hand and all he could feel around him was fire.  Hellfire.

"Sixeye!" a voice shouted behind him and he was finally able to turn around.  He could see that Blackhorse was standing outside of the phone booth staring at him curiously, his phone call now finished.  "Are you okay?"

Sixeye whipped back in front of him and saw that the girl who went by the name of Lucy was gone.  It was as if she was never there.  He turned back to Blackhorse.  "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine."

"You're sweating like a maniac," Blackhorse said, examining him from afar.  Sixeye reached up with his now intact hands and wiped away at the bullets of sweat glazing over his face.

"Uh, how did the call go?" he asked anxiously.

"All right, I guess.  I managed to convince her to let me stay, as long as I call her at the alotted times that I pretended to write on a fake piece of invisible paper.  Didn't help that it was kind of hard to hear her, since someone put a used condom over the top half of the phone and I didn't have the balls to take it off myself, no pun intended, but the job got done.  As long as I keep calling her every few hours, we're in the clear.  She doesn't suspect a thing.  That's not yours, is it?"

Blackhorse pointed over by the side of the road and when Sixeye turned to see what he was addressing, his heart sank tremendously.  Lucy was gone, but her guitar case had been left behind.  So much for believing this could have all been a hallucination.

"No," Sixeye said nervously.  "I don't know how that got there."

"Are you sure you're all right, dude?" Blackhorse asked with concern.

"Yeah, I'm fine man.  Let's see what's in it."  Sixeye was attempting to get Blackhorse to disregard his sudden on-edge mannerisms but truthfully, he wanted to just walk away and leave the guitar there.  He knew that would only further suspicions, however, since he would naturally be curious to see what could be in a mysterious lone guitar case left behind by the side of the road.  He bent down and unlocked the clamps over it, opening the case to reveal a magnificent slick cherry Gibson SG Standard engulfed in the white fur interior of the case.

"Whoa," Blackhorse exclaimed at the sight of it.  Sixeye was amazed as well.  "That is absolutely beautiful.  Wonder who left this lying around?"

"I know," Sixeye said, swallowing apprehensively.  He had to keep his hands out of view to keep them from shaking.

"How much do you think someone will pay for something like this?"

"What?" Sixeye said, turning to him.  "You want to sell it?"

"Yeah man.  I mean, its not like its going to get any use otherwise.  No offense."

Sixeye had nearly forgotten.  He was supposed to suck at playing.  Supposed to.  In a sharp daze, he reached down and plucked one of the strings.  It was more familiar to him than it had ever been before.  And that fact alone was frightening.

"It looks like it could go for at least a couple hundred.  If we're lucky enough to find someone to buy it.  Maybe Paul can help us negotiate something with some of the musicians backstage, eh?"

Sixeye took a deep breath and calmed his nerves.  There was still a chance that what had happened was all just in his mind.  Maybe someone had come by and left it on the road for some strange reason that he wouldn't be able to recall because he was spacing out through some kind of aneurism at the time.  Brain damage or otherwise, anything was better than the alternative.  As long as what that seemed like it was wasn't what it was, I've got nothing to worry about, he rambled to himself in his brain before closing the case and carrying it with him as he and Blackhorse made their way back to the Festival Grounds.  I've got nothing to worry about.  I didn't just sell my soul to the devil.  I've got nothing at all to worry about.  Nothing at all...

Fire by Jimi Hendrix

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