This One Time, 25

This one time I was at a rock concert with my boyfriend of the hour. I wasn’t really into the band, but it was an excuse to spend an hour or two dressing up and making every effort to look hot in front of everyone who might be watching, and it’s not like there was a lot going on in my life that gave me the opportunity. Not that there aren’t a lot of women I know who are hotter than I am, and at least two of them were going to the show with us, but it’s a fun game and — you never know. It makes the guy you’re with act a little differently. Grateful.

The venue was an old megachurch that fell apart when the televangelist/pastor got caught doing whatever it is they get caught doing that no one gives a damn about except it was a famous televangelist caught doing it — sneaking off to some secluded vacation spot with some boy he rented online, or maybe he was the one who got too many of his parishoners pregnant or whatever. Money and fame make people want to have sex. That thing in your body that says “business is booming — I can afford to feed any number of little mouths” kicks into overdrive and ramps up your libido.

At the end of the day every human being is an ape. The only people who get into trouble because of that are the ones who think they can deny their animalhood. Your only hope is to acknowledge it and take it into consideration.

The acoustics in the place are amazing. There’s the main floor and three or four tiered balconies, at least two of which wrap around three walls. There are lounges on every floor and they’re pretty liberal with the bartending stations. Even the bathrooms are huge and luxurious. And the decor is some kind of trippy punk voodoo thing.

The weather was a bit cool and I was suffering because of it, but this outfit let me get away with the platform heels that were a lot easier to walk in and stand in for hours. And it was warm enough once the place loaded up and the music started going. We were lucky and got seats not too far from the middle of the first balcony. Right up against the rail.

My boyfriend — which everyone called “Exhibit A” because of some in-joke I wasn’t in on but had something to do with the fact that he was a law student — had volunteered to go get us a round of beers from the nearest cart. My friend who had scored us the tickets was right up at the rail, leaning way over and tugging at her hetero-lifemate and long time concert buddy who I didn’t know very well but I thought was kind of sweet, pretending to try to drag her over the rail. She was pretty scared and pulling backwards. And then I heard a loud, booming crack from the drums and the crowd really got into it and started yelling.

And then someone went sailing past downward. She grabbed my friend’s waving hand on the way past, dragging her over the rail. Her friend maintained her grip, though, and I caught her leg as she tipped forward, and then we all came back over the rail. Except for the woman who had fallen.

I looked at my friend’s arm and it was pretty scratched up. There was blood. And that was what I was looking at as more people started falling past.

Then it hit me that what had happened was the balcony rail had given way on the level above ours. Everyone who had been leaning on it was now falling. People on our level surged forward, some of them straining by reflex to try to catch the people as they fell past. My legs gave out from under me and I looked up. It wasn’t just the rail that had given way. The whole balcony above us was sagging at the front, spilling people over.

The band hadn’t stopped playing. Hell, I doubt they could hear us over the amps or see us past the lights shining on them. But the music kept thumping and the light show kept up and in the stuttering strobes I just saw people floating in the air, slowly turning and spinning, like they were dancing to the beat, clapping and waving their arms. The longer I watched, the more it looked like they were in ecstasy, falling upwards toward the ceiling, singing and shouting, called by God out of the sky to go join him in Heaven. And more and more kept flying up, shouting and laughing and waving goodbye to all of us.

And then I passed out. Fainted. For a while, anyway.

That night lasted about a year after the music stopped. We eventually all got out and ambulances were there in fleets and going away and coming back and it was long after midnight before we made it back to the car. My friend got her forearm swabbed down with some nasty brown ointment and wrapped wrist to elbow in gauze. And we all just wanted to go home, but we didn’t really want to split up. So we ended up at my friend’s apartment and all just kind of crashed.

The news the next day said twenty-two people died. And right now, when I close my eyes, I can still see them flying into the air, shouting and laughing and waving us all goodbye.


January 25, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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