Sadie didn’t really hate men. She just hated idiots. So I guess she figured, who better? I don’t blame her, with all the shit guys said to her, thinking they were cool or cute or whatever, scrawny little fucks who thought they were special.
And it was the same every night, some idiot would say something stupid, Sadie would smack him and he’d whimper off. The next night the same thing would happen again. Or one of his stupid friends would try his stupid luck. They never learned. They did this shit again and again. It was like they enjoyed humiliation. And maybe they did. If that’s what Sadie was offering, that’s what they wanted.
I felt for Sadie. She couldn’t go anywhere without someone saying something stupid. When she stood up in the bar, every guy turned toward her. With pale faces and dark clothes they looked like sunflowers leaning toward the light, junky sunflowers, drunk and needing a bath. The ugliest bunch of sunflowers you ever saw. And the dumbest too. They couldn’t say the right thing if it came out backwards. But that didn’t stop them from trying, or stop Sadie from punching their throats afterwards.
“Do you like The Who?” I asked.
“The Who?” Sadie smiled. “You mean like Teenage Wasteland and Boris the Spider? Yeah,” Sadie shrugged, “I like The Who. Why?”
It was about a week later and we were still sitting at The Well. I figured Sadie was getting sick of the same thing, and Gina was working every night.
I got better at talking to Sadie but it still made me nervous. It helped that we didn’t talk about my dick. “I got tickets for a music festival this weekend in Philly, if you’d like to go. I mean, if you’d like to get out of this bar for a night or something.” As soon as I said it, I cringed inside. Fuck. That sounded like I was asking her out. Fuck. I just sounded like one of these drunk fuckers. Fuck. That’s not what I meant. Fuck. I was trying to be cool about this. Fuck. I know she’s out of my league. Fuck. Fuck. That’s not what I wanted. Fuck. I just want her to be comfortable. Fuck. She’s going to think I’m sniffing after her like all these other fucking dogs. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. I really fucked that up…
“Yeah, Mann. Sounds cool,” she said flatly.
“Cool,” I said. “Should be fun.”
I got the tickets from some dudes who owed me money. I even scored a ride in the back of a pickup. It had a cap that helped keep out the wind, but it was still damn cold. We drove to Philly the night before to camp in the parking lot and party. And we wanted to get in line early to get a good place on the infield.
We expected a mad rush when the gates opened. But we weren’t sure because during the last Who tour, a bunch of kids got crushed in Cincinnati. So we thought they might do something different this time.
But they didn’t. We were up all night on acid and vodka, and at six in the morning we mobbed the gate, which didn’t open until ten. Every time someone walked by inside, we got excited and pushed forward. Since we were already packed together, it only caused us to push against each other. With nowhere to go, the mass just pushed back and a fight or two erupted each time, somewhere on the fringe where someone lost a bit of ground. This happened every time someone passed by the gate. It was like a magnet kept walking by and we were all metal shavings. This went on for hours.
What sucked for me was that Sadie was right in front of me and every time the crowd pushed forward I was pushed against her. About a second after the first time it happened I got a raging boner that didn’t relax until we rushed through the gate four hours later. Until then, every time the crowd pushed, my crotch thrust against Sadie’s ass.
At first I was embarrassed because I was certain she would feel it, but she didn’t respond. I was afraid she might say or do something in front of all these people, but she didn’t. In fact, she didn’t even try to move. Not like there was any place to go, but she stayed right there with my dick against her ass. And for the last hour we were pushed so tightly together that’s where it stayed.
I was pressed against Sadie’s back, oblivious to the world. All I could do was stand there and smell her hair, which was only making me harder. If Sadie had moved at all, shifted her weight or adjusted her body, or anything that made her ass move, I would have cum in my pants. But she didn’t. She just stood there, pressed against the chick in front of her. And when the doors opened at ten o’clock ninety thousand kids charged in to stake a claim on the infield.
By the time the mob settled we were twenty feet from the stage. We started drinking again and watched the crowd as the stadium filled. By the time the Hooters opened, the stadium was full. The hot summer sun beamed down and the smell of weed wafted. A couple of songs in, crowd control started pulling people to safety and setting them in the shade at the foot of the stage.
While Santana set up, crowd control squirted us with water cannons. They sprayed the water into the air and let it rain down. It felt so good. We were back far enough that we didn’t get crushed, but it was still pretty tight.
It loosened up a little when the Clash came on. Everyone danced and jumped around and made it impossible to stay bunched together. But it clinched right back up when The Who came on. We thought we had the best seats in the house, but soon as The Who appeared the stage disappeared. All I could see were the backs of chicks on their boyfriends’ shoulders. Everyone yelled, but no one could hear, so everyone pushed and the chicks fell like dominoes.
It was the loudest concert I ever heard, louder than AC/DC, louder than Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. It was incredible. It was so loud my ears hurt. I could feel the bass in my balls. The high notes raked my spine.
About half way into their set, I bonked. I started feeling sick. I was tired and hung over and still drunk and tripping, and I hadn’t eaten all day or gone to the bathroom. There was no place to sit down and no way to get out. It was too hot and too crowded, and when I looked back at the stadium all I could see were people, so many people. I felt like I couldn’t get air. It was hot and crowded, and everyone was sweating and falling into each other with only the music holding us up.
I looked at Sadie to see how she was doing. She seemed fine, though, just standing and watching the bands. She looked over when I looked. She smiled but we couldn’t talk. It was too loud. When the music stopped, the applause was even louder.
It was incredible. No matter how bad I felt, I didn’t want them to stop. No one did. They played three encores. By the time they finished the sun was below the western rim of the stadium.
When I got to The Well the next night, Sadie was already there, shooting pool, and there were a couple of guys drinking beer with Gina at our table. I grabbed a beer from Nick and joined them.
“How was the concert?” Gina asked.
“It was cool. Long day, though.”
“Yeah, Sadie had a good time. She said you guys only got in one fight.”
“Oh, she told you about that.” Two muscle heads were trying to get Sadie’s attention during the Clash. They kept jumping up and down and dancing around in front of her. When she looked at them, they asked what she was doing with someone like me. They asked if she wanted to hang with them. I heard it and just blew it off. But Sadie got pissed. She was in front of me and I saw her shoulders drop when they said it. She looked back and winked. When she turned around she punched one of them in the throat. I jumped on the other one. I couldn’t have Sadie fighting my fights. It was embarrassing enough that she threw the first punch. And equally embarrassing that she told Gina about the fight.
It only lasted a couple of minutes. Those dudes were big but they really couldn’t fight. They couldn’t take a punch either. The one Sadie hit in the throat tried to grab her throat but she hit him in the throat again. This time she found the spot she was looking for. The dude slumped over unable to breathe. The dude I was fighting was slow and didn’t seem to know how to avoid getting hit. And didn’t really seem to care. I expected him to be a better fighter. I guess his size was misleading. And if someone in the crowd hadn’t hit me in the back of the head with something, the dude would have never gotten me into that bear hug and Sadie wouldn’t have had to jump in and kick his ass. And…so what if Gina knows about it.
“Yeah,” Gina said regaining my attention, “Sadie said some dudes talked shit to her, and you defended her honor.”
“Oh yeah? Is that what she said?” I glanced over at Sadie shooting pool.
“Isn’t that what happened?” I think Gina knew the truth, but she was being cool about it.
“If that’s what Sadie said happened.”
“Check you out being all modest.”
“Whatever.” I took a huge drink of my beer, tipping the bottle back and my head with it. I kept my eyes on Gina to see if I could read her thoughts.
“Anyway,” she said smiling that pretty green-eyed smile of hers. “Thanks for taking Sadie to the concert. It meant a lot to her, and to me. Thanks.”
“No problem,” I said convinced of her sincerity. I took another big drink.
When the pool game ended, Sadie collected her winnings and came over to our table. “Hey,” she said to me, then took a drink from my beer. A couple of Vagrants saw that and went bug-eyed.
“Hey,” I replied.
She still made me nervous when she looked directly at me. Her eyes just swam through me, caressing every nerve in my body. When she looked at me, there was no one else in the world, nothing else in the room, just her and me. I couldn’t hear any sounds except her voice. And all the people standing nearby just disappeared. I could hear Gina mumbling a little, but I couldn’t understand what she was saying.
Sadie leaned over and took another drink of my beer. Her beautiful hair brushed my face. When I smelled it I travelled back to the morning before, in line at the concert, Sadie’s body pressed against mine. And I thought about the ride home from the concert, Sadie laying on her side next to me. I was laying on my side too, her hair in my face. I felt drawn to her. I tried to stay away. I didn’t want to upset her by doing anything stupid. But I had to do something. I waited until she was asleep, then in a moment of sheer terror and determination, I slowly, quietly wiggled my way in behind her until we were spooning.
We woke up that way two hours later. We hadn’t moved, hadn’t shifted at all, except that my arm was Sadie’s pillow. We woke up at the same time, as soon as we got off the highway and into the stop and go traffic of Baltimore City. Someone’s brakes squeaked as we pulled up to a red light. I heard Sadie’s breathing deepen, then I felt her eyes open. I could feel her eyelashes brushing my forearm. She reached up and felt my arm under her head, then turned and looked at me in the dark.
“Hey there,” she said in a breathy whisper.
She snuggled back into me and we laid quietly for the rest of the ride.