Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cheap Seats

  The hangover was okay, an acceptable remnant. On the coffee table in front of him was a stale, half-eaten slice of pizza. He nibbled two bites. It seemed to help. The Van Man stretched and chewed. It appeared that he had passed out on Mr. Funny's couch. He wanted to crack open one of the remaining Heinekens that certainly chilled in the refrigerator, to soothe the headache and cap off the previous evening's festivities. But Van Man had an appointment with a free breakfast at ten that morning and he never skipped out on a free meal.
  The van revved and he searched the music on his cell phone. The song he chose seemed apropos. The van drove off as Angus Young's guitar riff ushered in the morning. Van Man was instantaneously transported to the night before, where Dodger Stadium shook all night long and AC/DC was king.
  The two friends made the trek from the Westside and took Pico Boulevard into Downtown. From Downtown, the van hopped on Figueroa and travelled up to East L.A. Van Man and MR. Funny had waited on that evening for months, but truly it had been eight years. Ever since that first concert. Eight long years of a yearning desperation to, once again, have their souls ripped out and rocked. The wait was over. And they sat in rush hour traffic.
  As the van neared the Stadium, it found itself stuck in a line of cars that stretched for miles. The two men knew all of Los Angeles was going to the concert. The single line of vehicles barely moved and Van Man became impatient. He thought about opening one of the Heinekens they brought, but decided against it. He was driving. When faced with Los Angeles traffic, one only had two options: be responsible or be asshole. In their case, Van Man chose asshole. The van pulled out of line and drove in the open lane. When they reached the front of the line where cars turned onto Stadium Way, the van cut in front of the millions of honking vehicles. Van Man and Mr. Funny glanced back at all of the people who had waited their turn and laughed.
  The van parked and the two men prepared themselves. After a quick scan of the police infested parking lot, they decided against tailgating and made their way to the Stadium. A quarter of a mile later and the two men arrived at the entrance gates. Thousands of people swarmed the grounds, each wearing some piece of AC/DC merchandise. T-shirts, neckties and devil horns. To Van Man's surprise, there were no foam hands. Where the fuck's the foam hands?, Van Man thought and the two men showed the printed-out tickets to one of the event staff. "You guys are down stairs and to the right", said the staffer and waved a lighted baton in the direction to the ground level. Van Man had  noticed they were up high, second and third level. A gigantic escalator carried hundreds of people to the final tier. The cheap seats. Van Man and Mr. Funny walked down the stairs, as they had been directed. They were not cheap seaters. They were sitting on field level. Where the real fans were.
  Downstairs, the two friends reached the proper entrance gates and waited in line for admittance. They smiled, it did not seem real. Only months before had the concert tickets gone on sale and both men felt resigned to the fact that they did not have the funds for good seats. Then, a gift was given to Van Man on his birthday. A gift from a former fling. A nice lady who had the money to spend. Two tickets to, what might have been, the last AC/DC concert in America. Van Man and Mr. Funny had seen their first AC/DC concert together and they were about to see their last. They felt lucky. Whatever demons plagued them in life were about to be put on ice for a few hours. They handed the tickets to the ticket taker for scanning. The scan machine flashed red and The Ticket Taker was unamused. She repeated. The color red flashed over and over. Van Man quickly assessed the situation. He viewed other people as they crossed through. Their scan lights flashed green and beeped. It was a welcoming beep, kind and sweet. Van Man and Mr. Funny got nothing but red and a shameful look from the Ticket Taker.
"Your tickets have already been used", said Ticket Taker.
"What? Really?", asked Van Man.
"Where did you get them?"
"They were a gift", Mr. Funny interjected.
"Yeah, sorry. This happens a lot. People give them away, then forget and reprint them for somebody else. When'd you get them?"
"Months ago", replied Van Man.
"Yeah", said Ticket Taker.
"What should we do?"
"You can go down to the ticket windows and see who has your tickets."
Ticket Taker pointed the two deflated men to the ticket windows. Van Man and Mr. Funny walked somberly. The way men walk to certain death at the gallows.
  The woman at the ticket window gave the same information. Someone had scanned the tickets at six-fifteen, a good two hours before the opening act. It was not hard for Van Man to understand what had transpired. The Fling felt foolish for giving the gift and wanted to make sure he did not use them. Damn, I got got, thought Van Man. He looked at the Window Lady. She was a an old gal who must have groupied the hell out of some bands, back in the day. He asked how much were the cheapest tickets. Mr. Funny and Van Man were faced with the prospect of forty dollar nose bleeders or leaving. They chose the nose bleeders.
  With real tickets in hand, the two men hiked back up to the upper level. They paused at the gigantic escalator. There was no turning back. Up, up, up they went. At the top, more entrance lines and more green flashes. Van Man noticed the cheap seats were inhabited by a different breed of concert goers. Downstairs had most decidedly been Westwood. Upstairs was definitely West Covina.
  The green light flashed and the beep trumpeted their arrival. The two gentlemen had made it. They were directed to the far right field section. The crowd was thick. An excited Hispanic dude backed into Van Man. The Hispanic Dude splashed beer on his own fresh-from-the-cleaners Dodger jersey. Hispanic Dude's eyes turned cold and the smile vanished from his face. He stared down Van Man with a deadly gaze. Van Man was not at fault, but did not want to have the night ruined. "Oh, sorry, man. Damn, I'm sorry", said Van Man. He knew to be polite and get the hell away when dealing with pissed cheap seaters. They had nothing to lose. As Van Man passed the Angry Hispanic Dude, someone shouted "You should buy him a drink!" Yeah, right, fuckhead, thought Van Man and politely offered one more full-of-shit, smiling apology. Van Man lived by simple rules. One was to never go to a concert wearing your best Sunday jersey because beer will probably get spilled. Angry Hispanic Dude did not know that rule.
  After the fiasco, Van Man and Mr. Funny made it to their seats, the right field foul pole section. They were in luck, their seats were over enough where the view was not blocked. They relaxed and drank beer. The night belonged to them. The opening act warmed up the crowd and AC/DC got down and dirty. Van Man and Mr. Funny let loose and the music supercharged their souls. The lower level might have been Silverlake hip, but the upper level was Sun Valley wild.
  The two gentlemen rocked out and sipped from the Fountain of Youth for a few hours. It would end for Van Man with cold pizza and a hangover, groggy on a couch in the Westside. But for that precious moment, The Van Man and Mr. Funny were Eastside Boys. And they loved every minute of it.
  Van Man drove on to his free breakfast. The morning traffic in West Hollywood seemed light. Perhaps, many hangovers from the concert. The song finished and The Van Man smiled. There was a slight throb in his skull. He could let go, it was over. Summer had come to its close and October was about to begin.

No comments:

Post a Comment