I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should write about in my weekly 411 Black column. Of all the topics in the world I can cover from week to week, what should I pick? I thought about just doing a free form, flow of consciousness rant every week by picking a random link or two off of Fark or some other newsline.
But then I thought, who the hell cares? I have the Blacklogs to go off when the mood strikes me I have the rest of the site to post commentaries on wrestling, music, movies, and games as the mood strikes me. So what should I do here?
Well, the answer came to me while I was going through my hard drive on my yearly full-system-backup. I came across two of the short stories I’ve written over time. One day, a long time ago, I thought about doing some sort of fiction on the wrestling section, but then one Joshua Grutman made his way to 411 and did such a superb job of it, that any knock-offs would have been insulting.
But Black gives me a whole new world. A whole new world with free form subjects. I’m not bound by a zone name. I’m not bound by certain topics. I can explore whatever I see fit.
Which leads me here. I don’t know how long I can keep up weekly fiction. I don’t know the length of these pieces. I don’t know if this title will be the final title. At the time I’m writing this intro, I don’t know the length of the piece below. I don’t know the number of parts in its future. In fact, I only decided on its topic between paragraph three and four of this intro. I don’t know if it will be any good. Some of you will hate it, some of you will like it. Some of it I will hate, some of it I will like. All of it will be raw second or third draft territory.
So, both you and I are about to go into uncharted waters.
Hopefully we both enjoy the ride
The bass pounded through his body, vibrating every inch of his clothes. It was always a strange feeling one that he never got used to no matter how many concerts he attended. He hadn’t brought earplugs. The concert was outdoors, so he assumed the worst of the sound would diffuse. That was not the case, however, as the sound was possibly the loudest he’d ever heard in his life. They must have increased the power of the music to make up for the diffusion.
John Franklin stood, feeling the sounds of Violent Thunder wash around and through him. With closed eyes and an upturned face he felt the rain try to wash some of the mud off his face. It had been pouring for nearly the entire second day of the three-day music festival. He was caked with mud from being shoved over in various mosh-pits throughout the day. He was tired, filthy, and parched. He was running on fumesand musical energy. The band was playing one of their few slow, melodic tunes, mixing wonderfully with the rumbling thunder and flashing lighting. If he didn’t know better, he would swear the band made a pact with someone to create a thunderstorm at this exact time. The sound of the thunder at key points in the song made it seem much more important somehow.
John opened his mouth, letting in some of the rainwater. He could feel each drop hit the wasteland in the back of his throat. He thought of a desert, seeing raindrops greedily sucked into the sand. This was one of the few moments of rest he’d had in the last few days. They had gotten here on Thursday, a full 24 hours before the show started, to avoid the worst of the traffic, and they weren’t planning on leaving until Monday, 24 hours after the show ended. They had come in four-seat pickup truck hauling a four bed camper. He had gotten shunted to the one top-bunk bed in the entire trailer. Everything else was on the ground.
Not that it had really mattered. He hadn’t been in the camper once yet. He had attempted to go back for a quick nap at one point last night. He had no idea what time it was, but it was dark. Phil and Chuck had been sitting outside drinking beers. There was a red sock on the door, a nearly universal symbol in college dorms all across the country.
“Roommate getting ass. Please only knock in a dire emergency. Even then, think twice.Ã¢â‚¬Â
John rolled his eyes as the guys confirmed that yes, in fact, Ron was in the process of getting ass. In the process of getting ass with all the food, water, and most of the beer locked up inside. Phil and Chuck only had what they happened to have outside, along with a pack of smokes each. John thought about just throwing a blanket in the back of the truck to try and catch some sleep before the sun came up, but the rumbling thunder off toward the eastern sky made him think twice. He knew there was lots of nonsense going on across the entirety of the park. Raves, drinking games, and sex games were all around. It was somewhat sad that all he could think about was sleep.
When, he asked himself. Just when do you think you’ll have an event like this to attend again?
It was a good point. A very good point. After asking his two partners if they wanted to take a walk, and being refused, he had taken off by himself.
And here he was, standing in the middle of a sea of humanity, about 1000 feet from one of his favorite bands, Violent Thunder conveniently enough, playing as somewhat violet thunder slammed in the not-so-distant sky. It was dark again. He had stayed up the entire day with no sleep. It wasn’t the first time he’d done it, but it was the first time he’d ever done it without an exam to speak of the next day. Now, as the second day drew to a close, he just wanted to curl up somewhere and die. He would head back toward the camper as soon as this band was done. He couldn’t remember if there was someone on after them today. He didn’t care. This was one of the few bands he’d come to see.
The slow song drew to an end and the roar of the crowd went up. A roar like only 100,000 drunk, mostly stoned, twenty-somethings could create. Before the roar could get too loud, the band busted into one of their faster songs. Now the sound shook every inch of him, from his hair, all the way through his clothes, into his toes. It was almost too loud to enjoy at this distance. But the song woke the crowd up and pits began to form around him again. He was jolted into action as the people around him began to swirl. Bodies began flying around, arms and legs flailing around. He set his back to the crowd, one leg bent and one arm forward, waiting for bodies. It was a position he had honed over years of attending concerts.
These types of pits were more dangerous than the more violent ones found at local shows. These kids didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t understand the art of the pit. They just jumped around with reckless abandon and they were filled with drunk people, which was even more dangerous. John had spent his fair amount of time in local pits and had never seen someone hurt. Today, he’d seem more people taken away with broken mouths or knocked unconscious than in years of local shows. People didn’t know what they were doing and they didn’t know the rules. He had pulled more people off the ground today than he cared to count, and he’d knocked more people over getting himself off the ground than he cared to count. At one point earlier in the day, he’d ended up on his back in the middle of a crowd. People started landing on him and near him. It was the one time he’d gotten violent today, throwing people off him with reckless abandon. One part fueled by anger at being knocked down and one part fueled by panic at being stuck on his back in a sea of humanity. No one returned the favor to get him up he was on his own.
The crowd was moving well now and he saw something he’d never seen before. From the front of the stage, people were crowd surfing back 8×4 sections of the stage. He took quick looks in between blocking bodies and throwing his own elbows. The piece of the stage was slowly surfing back with people on it.
And then realized it was something he’d never done and would probably never get a chance to do again.
The board slowly made its way back, people getting surfed onto it and diving off it at random.
Oh f*ck, yeah! John thought, feeling revitalized for the first time today. Not only had he spotted it, but it was heading this way. John headed over to that end of the pit, asking the two guys in front of him for a boost to start crowd surfing. They happily obliged, and John suddenly found himself above the crowd.
John felt that small twinge of fear for his life every time he did this, suddenly trusting his life to faceless hands propping him up above their heads. Somehow, each time he overcame his own survival instinct and launched himself up. The perspective, as always, amazed him as the faces were lost beneath a sea of hands, at the same time keeping him aloft, keeping themselves protected. “TOWARD THE BOARD,Ã¢â‚¬Â he bellowed, straining to be heard above the slamming music. He repeated himself, gesturing wildly, yet knowing that nothing would be heard. He had to will himself in that direction, trying to resist going back the way he came. Hands jabbed into his kidneys, butt, back, and legs, keeping him aloft above the throng of people below. He was terrified, yet exhilarated and somehow, he was slowly making his way toward the board.
As he got closer, he reached for it straining to get the crowd to move him in that direction. The sea of people went in all directions. He couldn’t even see the filthy faces he knew were down there, created by a full day of pouring rain, sweat, and mud. The hands that poked him were slick. Small holes were open in mass, with a few guys gyrating around and throwing their arms. His hand strained for the board and grabbed it, and the people below, once they realized what he was trying to do, they helped him.
The song had ended as he was pulling himself to his feet, above the crowd and on a surprisingly solid bass. “We got some crazy motherf*ckers out in the audience,Ã¢â‚¬Â he head the lead singer bellow over the sound system. “This one’s for them.Ã¢â‚¬Â He pointed at John as the song started up and John pointed back, lifting his arms in the air and screaming for all he was worth. He was smarter than to just start jumping around like a fool on the board. He stayed content to stand still, wave his arms and look around. It was an odd perspective, up here. He could see forever, yet see nothing. Lightning lit the sky somewhere in the distance and suddenly it was daytime. He thought for a second about how he was the highest point and that was bad, but he was too excited to care. He tried to take in as much as he could in those seconds of light, including the small, open pit to his right. There were people in there people lying on the ground.
Like that, it was gone, and it was plunged into darkness again. His stable platform began to move as he was pushed toward his right, toward the pit. To his left someone new was coming to his platform. He had stayed up there longer than anyone else thus far and someone else wanted a chance. Lightning cracked through the sky again and he looked to his right. It was a girl on the ground he could make that out. Being held down.
The thought of what he saw almost didn’t register. This girl was getting held on the ground by two men with another one nearly lying on her.
She was getting raped.
John shook his head. That couldn’t be, could it? Someone around her would be stopping it. He strained to see in that pit again, waiting for more lighting to illuminate the night. He was pretty sure it had never been this dark, this black, in his life.
After what felt like and eternity, more lighting lit up. One of those strikes that strobe light the sky for full seconds. He was already looking in the right location. He could see it now. See everything. In a flashbulb moment of clarity he saw it all and recorded it. The guys, the girl the girl’s face. He could see it clearly. Every detail.
Just then the board he was on lurched as another person got on it, and he felt himself fall backward. He yelled as he lost his balance and fell off the side of the board into the waiting arms of the crowd. He felt hands jabbing him, surfing him but surfing him the wrong direction. He could do nothing. He struggled to change his direction or get down something so he could head in that direction do something. But he was getting taken away.
There was nothing he could do.
She laid there, staring at the sky. She could see the lighting flashing above her head, and somewhere in the distance she could hear a band. Rain slammed into her face and ran in rivulets to the ground. She was distantly aware that someone was inside her and she couldn’t move but she wasn’t here anymore.