Two tickets. Two tickets got bought—through Craigslist, I think, on the day of or before—for the festival—from a seedy stranger, no really, through a—my memory is corrupt—you’ll have to forgive me.

Twelve hours. That was the span of the rave. And we aimed to get there early. It was scheduled for 6pm to 6am, I think, maybe seven to seven, either way.

Drugs, this is a story about drugs. My whole teendom’s a blur, this part, the later part.

We loaded my black sedan with nefarious, including ourselves. We bought orange juice and gummy bears at a 7Eleven a few miles out to combat the ecstasy comedown. I was being shown the ropes, roped in.

All the girls were in their underwear and we all tried to wear as much tie-dye as possible. Nobody had dreadlocks yet, a few tattoos, some well-placed piercings. Sweet sixteen.

More mise: “candy.” Homemade beaded, threaded bracelets to trade with everyone else on drugs, as a gesture of good faith. Mine read “SLUT.”

We pulled into the parking lot cautiously; rumor was some guy had already got caught with a ton of pills. We’re saddened.

A line waited, but that was fine. It gave us some time to smoke some more cigarettes and scope out the competition. Whose pupils had already dilated?! Where were our friends?

We made it in. J-– hid his jeffreys in a rewrapped cigarette pack. E-– had a baggie taped to his nuts. J-– told me I could get whatever I wanted inside.

During the daytime’s, all pretty tame. The Baltimore crowd really knew how to keep up appearances.

“Have you seen Molly?”

“I’m looking for Lucy. Have you seen my friend Lucy?”

There’s tents where they’ll sell you incense or T-shirts or bath products or a massage. A masseuse at a rave seemed like somebody who had their shit together. I had friends who were aspiring. They hovered around like interns.

Nightfall.

Bass is penetrating. When you’re high on everything, and I mean everything, you can see it, you can feel it. Everywhere smelled like chemicals. That’ll happen when they’re in the air and in your nose.

“Have you seen Molly?”

“I’m looking for Lucy. Have you seen my friend Lucy?”

The whole thing is designed for drugs. Love drugs, intimately, in that New Agey way, but there’s also something more primal. Women, scantily-clad, and men posturing: gallivanting heathenism, hedonism, any and all visual display is “trippy,” man. Exhaled smoke clouds pop up and over the crowd every few seconds.

Security’s a joke. As long as you’re nice to them and respect that anything illicit in plain sight is fair game, you’ll skate home scot-free, your only anchor to reality, anyway.

“Have you seen Molly?”

“I’m looking for Lucy. Have you seen my friend Lucy?”

The stages were scattered throughout the forest. There was a dock by the water, too. Out there, R-– asked me to run my nails over her back. She had an orgasm on the pier.

Darker still. Thicker crowds. Involved in the ritual, veterans flail violently when they dance. I wasn’t particularly impressed by their moves, but I am in awe of the movement generally, or maybe it’s the drugs.

There’s a kid ODing here, another there, on the ground, in a corner, forgotten. Not ODing ODing you know, but on their way. You kneel down, tend their sorrow, see if there’s anything that you can do, give them water, maybe. The straight-edge and Samaritans beckon over a medic.

A guy sold me some psilocybin capsules. I shoved ‘em into the grip of my downtrodden friend. She followed me around all night. We were so happy. The moon’s big, the air’s warm.

The weed’ll keep your head straight.

I’d sat on a plateau with a band of mischief and bought some more pills. He had so many. The dealers were raking it in. They’re so creative when it comes to smuggling things inside.

There’s websites where you’re supposed to ID pills.

“Have you seen my friend—“

Particularly ones you buy from strangers at raves. The red hearts we took were meth bombs.

The Internet lied.

DJs surfed on their crowds on inflatable rafts. Tiki torches were brandished on the outskirts of the throng.

A guy was making his way through the crowd with a golden dinner plate bearing a mountain of white powder. J-– told me that he’d snatched a fistful and ran off. There were white crystals on his lip.

A laser light show over the water during the headliners. Like the aurora borealis. I was too fucked up to move. Not that it mattered. I really saw, or listened, to maybe two and a half of the dozens of artists scheduled to perform.

That’ll happen.

Day break; everyone’s caked in something. Dust, and it smells. Everyone’s hair’s matted. More than a few people had died when the sun was down. The medic tent’s looking more like a refugee camp.

G-– drank too much and got sent to the hospital last night. We gotta go pick him up on our way back. I’m driving?/I’m still tripping. The skylined, migrating swans seen from my window as the car floats over a dull bridge get bigger and bigger and bigger, until they look like they’re gonna crash into the windshield, and nobody will believe you.

Stop the car.

Deep breaths, and keep driving. We have to go get our friend.

Wait outside while everyone else deals with the discharge. Hospitals are bad luck.

Let a friend without experience or her driver’s license drive your car. “But only in your neighborhood.” “Only if she doesn’t go past 60 MPH.”

She goes 100 MPH.

Shut your front door quietly. It has to be noon by now. Try to piece together an alibi that both you and your family can live with.

***

For all installments from 30 Birds, click here.

Previous installments:

  1. “Velvet” by the Bloody Eyes
  2. “Subtle” by Yukio Mishima
  3. “Geronimo Sunset!” by Jun. 27
  4. “My Hero” by Annie Wonoffate Million
  5. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 1
  6. “Gender” by Jun. 27, Part 2
  7. “Eel Dogs ‘Til Stupid” by Jun. 27
  8. “Pleasant Town” by Jun. 27
  9. “Daffy” by Herman Barker
  10. “Classic, Ecstatic, and Shocked (My First Kiss)” by John Robert Barnes
  11. I Would/Would I?/Wouldn’t You?
  12. “Fabled” by Jun. 27
  13. “Simpatico Starring Matthew McConaughey” by Harrison Ford
  14. “Tarantella” by Jun. 27
  15. “That Time a Toucan Was in Our Backyard/The Very First Thing I Can Remember” by John Robert Barnes
  16. “Gutwrenching (Sadism in Palindrome)” by the Bloody Eyes
  17. “Maraschino” by John Robert Barnes
  18. “Church and God” by John Robert Barnes