Some good had come of the bus failing, and that was that the group was permitted to skip the line, which consisted entirely of people needing to park. One line for cars and one for RVs, the nine attendees on foot were allowed to walk right in. This nailed them an exceptional camping spot in the back of the designated area, on the border of the woods.
Tiny had forgotten his tent.
"I should have just stayed with the fucking bus. This is bullshit. All of you with your two persons, where the fuck am I supposed to sleep?"
The sight of Tiny alone in a two-person tent conjures images of turtle. Everyone knew Tiny was going to bitch about something at any given moment. Whenever he actually had to contribute to his existence, he was unhappy. They also knew that within an hour he would drink himself into forgetting his problems, said existence becoming not so unlike that of the turtle, were it on its back.
"Wouldn't you rather camp near the music anyway?" Hubble suggested. "We've got the umbrella chair, you could go set it up at the stage now, never have to move the whole weekend."
It was meant to be a joke, but Tiny was sold on the idea and immediately grabbed himself a growler of I.P.A. and the umbrella chair, and gave them all the finger as he headed off in search of the best place for his throne.
"He could've taken some fucking stock with him," Captain said, arming himself with backpacks and pockets full of product to sell. From LSD to Ambien, they had enough drugs between them to put each and every one of them away for life. "I'd like to be rid of this shit by tomorrow night, so that I can enjoy myself the last day."
They all contributed in the sales. Starlips also had her own bag of goods to sell. From hemp bracelets to glass beads the size of golf balls, she had always been crafting something. September to April she hid away in her apartment making assorted trinkets and paraphernalia. Anything she was unable to sell online in the off-season, she brought and sold at festivals on the road. There was a barter system amongst the scene, and most of her shit was traded for someone else's shit. Often she headed back to her apartment at the end of the summer with more bags full of other people's homemade junk than she had left with of her own. She had been the first to leave after Tiny, followed by Captain, Moke, and Curry, all carrying their share.
The others stayed behind and continued to make their campsite home. Koi removed her goldfish from around her neck. The fish's full name was Licorne Rose de la Mer. Were it ever referred to at all, it was simply called fish. She set the fishbowl in the center of a small folding night stand. Removing a small pharmaceutical container from a pocket hidden under her skirt, she used it to sprinkle nutritious flakes into the water, which Licorne Rose de la Mer bobbed and pecked at until the water was again clear.
The food was of Koi's own recipe which, though she would never admit it, made cannibals of her pets. The recipe contained a good amount of fish, as well as various vegetables. She had multiple tanks back at her parents' house, but Licorne Rose de la Mer was the only fish of hundreds that had the privilege of riding passenger. Since Koi was nine years old, Licorne Rose de la Mer was the name given to a dozen identical goldfish. Koi had no idea, and probably still believed in such nonsense as the Tooth Fairy.
Hubble and Robin grilled some tofu and relaxed over a meal, before setting out to search for Cukes and Floorplan. They grilled a chunk of the bean treat once, then Robin found out pegs had cooked a hamburger on the grill at a previous stop. Revolted by the fact that her food would be tainted by the touch of something that had once touched dead flesh, she threw the hot grill at Pegs, which sizzled on one of his prosthetics for a moment as they all laughed. She brought out an unused grill rack from her pack and cooked another slab of the tofu.
Pegs had been set up with his wheelchair once everyone had settled in. He strapped his legs in a criss-cross behind his wheelchair, sheathed like the swords of a ninja. Pegs was not beyond using his disability as an advantage. He used their pity to the fullest to get whatever he could out of them. He was off to pray on the sympathetic after the grill incident. He had hoped she wouldn't notice the burnt burger-juices so that he could tell her when she had a mouthful of that curd, and watch her wretch. Robin however, always at the height of awareness, had avoided humiliation as she always did.
With the campsite all set up and everyone out kicking off the weekend as they did any other festival, the event was almost in full swing. Crowds were forming in front of the stages and filling various event tents. The booths were peddling wares. The line of homegrown craftsman behind the rented booths were selling twice as many wares.
Tiny had gotten him self all set up in the middle of a standing area in front of the main stage. He sat in a chair looking ridiculous as his fat rolls hung over the sides almost completely hiding it. He looked as though he was hovering, seated like Buddha, with an obnoxious rainbow umbrella hanging over his head. He had a drum circle around him, banging out off-tempo noise while they waited for a band to play.
Moke and Tiny were, in fact, twins. Somewhere in the mysterious magic that is genetics, Moke ended up with all the looks, smarts, and everything else beneficial to mankind. Tiny was born an enormous infant, and rather than grow he sort of blew up like a balloon. He seemed to grow horizontally rather than vertically. Sure, Tiny was over six feet tall, but a measure of his width would drop your jaw in awe.
Moke had failed out of college almost as soon as he had moved in. He was to be a lawyer, like his father. When his mother passed (fucking cancer), he ended up skipping all of his classes to make sure his brother had what he needed. Moke had always felt guilty for being the extreme norm of the two, and though Tiny was not technically handicapped in any way, he always let Moke make up for it in whatever way possible.
Eventually the school sent Moke a letter that he was being withdrawn from all his classes, and that they had seen him too irresponsible to further attend their school. Moke laughed out loud in the kitchen as he read it. He had been quite high when brought a lighter to the corner. After shaking the flame from it as it almost burned away in his hand, he put the charred remainder on a sandwich he had been preparing. Slapping some extra mayonnaise on the bread, he closed it up and fed it to his brother.
There had always been little jabs like this. Small, mostly harmless pranks Moke would pull on Tiny, who never had a clue. The list was a long one, for sure, but usually involved feeding him some inedible or disgusting morsel.
"Anything we can get you Tiny, you seem pretty comfortable."
Tiny dug deep in considering whether or not he 'needed' anything. In much to the same respect that Moke trie to get even in his secret little ways, Tiny could never bring himself to reply that he didn't need anything. It was especially hard in this case, however, for he was at the peak of relaxation. With the mushrooms giving him a slack perspective on his surroundings, and his beer supply plentiful, there wasn't actually much of anything he could want, let alone need.
"How about you find me some chick to sit on my lap, and leave me a joint or two," was the best he could do.
Moke laughed, knowing that soon enough Tiny would have a girl on each leg. He might not have been much to look at, or even stand near, but he was considered high quality company, and made the ladies laugh. Tiny was considered the white, hippie version of Biggie Smalls. A half-ass king of the free spirits.
Captain pulled a loose baggie from his pocket, along with a book of papers and handed it to Tiny. "Here you go, pimp," he said, "but you gotta sell this, too." He dropped a duffel-sack next to Tiny. None of them could say specifically what was in the duffel, other than drugs, but Tiny knew the drill and would unload as much of it as possible, partaking in more than his share all the while.
The rest of the day went like any music festival should. Intoxication levels raging from head to head, dancing and smoking and drumming. There was a small area with a sprinkler system for running through as well as multiple swing-sets. Starlips had been lost on a swing when her she attempted to pass by, and was still there long into the night. Moke joined her later, after exhausting his ability to mingle and push his stock. One of them talked all night about various stuff she had accumulated, while the other rocked gently, slumped in a swing, listening through ears nearly as closed as his eyelids.
There was no sign of Cukes or Floorplan, and though they had given up any kind of search, everyone still expected them to just show up at any point with some incredible story.
In the evening they were all out seeing this band or that. The lot of them were all looking forward most to Bubba Scorch and the Black Grass Jug Band, scheduled to play the final night. These festivals always saved the best for last through these weekends. It made no sense to anyone, since you always wanted to be at your peak of intoxication or psychadelic experience or whatever when the best band came on. This prevented the hard-core goers from leaving on Sunday, in which case they were always in the way of cleanup on Monday.
Everyone had met up for a meal just before sunset that evening, save Tiny. Moke had visited him shortly only to learn that he was dead on with his prediction about the girls, and that Tiny was having the time of his life. He was being treated like royalty, and there was nothing Moke could offer him that he couldn't have easily had fetched by someone far more sexy. Moke did relieve him of the duffel bag, its weight considerably less than when it had been dropped off.
Typically at weekend music festivals, more people tend to not sleep than otherwise. Starlips and Koi were the only ones of this group to partake in any sort of resting before the sun came up. The group had been visited in the night by some kid named Mark, who was clearly out of place. He came from somewhere out of the woods, a shady approach that often discouraged interaction. Hubble had recognized him from the escort on the road earlier on their way in.
There had been five of them, he remembered specifically the obnoxious music blaring from the Escort and was then able to recall the faces of those in the car. To Hubble, listening to that type of music was only for people who actually had no musical taste. They wanted a show from their aural media, and harnessed its speed and volume into negative energy. Despite his proclaimed love for everyone and everything, he thought very poorly of the 'metalheads' and just assumed this kid was an idiot.
Robin had taken a liking to him and claimed him for her own. Since her boyfriend left society to join some society of stoned gypsies called the Prism of Light Family, she had obviously been longing for masculine attention. No matter how hard he tried, Robin saw right through Hubble. He was like a brother to her, and every passing day made this more and more apparent. He was so in love with her though, that he never gave up, and completely dismissed any flirtatious advances from other women.
When just about everyone had retreated to their tents, whether sleeping or not, Captain staggered into the campsite. He was so absolutely fucking drunk, he nearly fell into the fire, knocking over a couple chairs and nearly spilling Licorne Rose de la Mer into the air.
"Holy fuck, fish! Don't go!"
Hubble sat alone for some time before Captain arrived, staring through his telescope into the morning sky for glimpses of things that would go unseen for the remainder of the day.
"We have a back-up at the bus."
"What? What the fuck did you just say?" Captain had no idea what Hubble could be getting at.
"The fish. Her parents always give Robin a back-up fish, should something happen to the current sad motherfucker to be stuck in that bowl. They've done it for years. Silly girl thinks that fish is over twelve-years-old."
Captain looked down at the fishbowl and stumbled backwards. He rubbed his chin on his chest fighting back serious indigestion, and shook his head like a wet dog, any recollection of recent conversation erased.
"How'd we do with the shit today? All back in my tent?"
Hubble didn't sell a thing, but he knew that everyone else, especially Tiny, had done well. "The duffel you gave Tiny is almost empty. I think Starlips got rid of at least a backpack."
Captain unzipped his tent to find various forms of luggage piled up inside, his merchanise returned. "Fucking sweet." He drug out the 'sweet' so long he almost fell unconscious in the middle of the word. "Which duffel-bag did Tiny have, this one?" He pulled out a red bag and fumbled at its zipper.
"No man," Hubble said reaching down beside him. "It was this one. The black one. I don't know what the fuck you've got in here."
He tossed the bag to Captain, who managed to catch it. It knocked him on his ass, despite only weighing a few pounds. The fall knocked the wind out of him and cracked him up laughing at the same time.
When he opened the bag, he agreed with Hubble. "Fuck, I don't know what this is either."
He pulled out a bag with unlabeled prescription bottles inside. Each bottle-cap was marked with a '6'. Inside the bottles were six blood red pills, each also inscribed with a '6'. Captain tried hard to think through the fog of alcohol clouding his brain. "What the fuck is '6'?"
Hubble pulled his head from the telescope and turned to Captain. "I don't know what it is. It could be anything, and your boy has sold god knows how many to these people."
Hubble took a pill in his hand and they both studied it from all angles.
Hubble sighed, "Well, I guess all we can do is wait and find out," forcing a chuckle at the end.
Captain dumped the bottles all back into the duffel and lay on his back, staring up at the sky, his consciousness fading fast. "I sure as hell ain't gonna try it."