...with our beans baked... (PART VI)

So, my hands are washed. At least, they are, in a physical sense. 

Pushing through the crush of metalheads, I pray that some brilliant way out of this clusterfuck will present itself. Up in the lobby, nobody is Ernie and nobody else is Officer Undercover Buzzcut. 

Here I am, part of me soaking-in the Riv, soaking-in this swarm of humanity here to blow out their eardrums, and, most of me, praying for a call from Ernie. Though, if he’s only allowed one phone call, it shouldn’t be to me—especially if he’s going to jail. My phone’s in my hand on vibrator mode just in case. No way could I hear its ring over the din of geared-up metalheads. 

The Riv’s main lobby and mezzanine foyer, both of them, their speluncar. Above the bit-too-snug basement-level restrooms (a curiosity, unless bladders and bowels were bigger or more durable a century ago, or folks were generally smaller), the Riv’s just one yawning cavernous chamber feeding into another. Everything about the walls and ceiling and staircases is about curving. Paint this place that fleshy-pink human orifice color and you’d think you were teeny-tiny Dennis Quaid probing through Martin Short (and later Meg Ryan) in Innerspace. (Relax, it’s a PG flick.) 

Step out onto the mezzanine—raked steep enough to make a pro-level tobogganer happy—and look down onto the main floor. To me, it’s a view of something more than a crowd or a throng or a multitude or even a profusion. Maybe call it a sea. A roiling sea. A roiling bipedal sea. Some five hundred heads are tilted back, pouring clear plastic cups of beer down their gullets. 

The compounded kinetic force of a thousand-odd beating hearts and a million miles of blood-pulsing veins are, at this exact moment, basically pressure cooking the innards of the Riv. If Megadeth doesn’t make its entrance soon, the ensuing KABOOM of all these thumping hearts and streaming veins will send the walls of this ancient venue careening toward Illinois’s six bordering states. And what’s left of the blasted-off roof, it’ll be on a collision course with the moon. 

The same Riv rep who ripped my ticket downstairs, he tells me to grab a seat. The mezzanine is full of seats mostly filled. 

Then, 
in my hand, 
my phone, 
it vibrates. 
Ernie. 

Only, every first two words out of his mouth, I keep losing the signal. 

19 & 20 November 2004 

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