Clear Acrylic Enamel

by Rodney Morales
First published in Hawaii Review, Volume 5, Spring 1975

       Now it comes. Clear Acrylic Enamel. Funny how it hits you long after you’ve given up trying to remember. Boy, it had a good taste. Wouldn’t even bother to describe it. Like sex, acid, death, and adulthood, you gotta try it to know what it’s about. I let the feeling capture me. It had long been reverberating in the inner recesses of my mind and now something—a smell, a taste, a sound—has summoned it to the forefront, ringing clear, to be absorbed NOW! before it is reduced to fragmented memories.
       Silver lips. It is memory now. Our insides must have been primed, lacquered and enameled. I wonder if the paint eroded any in the past two years.
       Lenny is trying to sneak in. Arthur’s verbally seducing two chicks. Me? I’m watching. I’ve been watching since sixty-nine when my fingers were slammed by a yardstick and my terrified eyes watched her mouth moving “In my class you pay attention!” The mean, craggy, Oriental face. I had merely been leaning back, on the two rear legs of my chair, against the wall, with one ear pressed against it, trying to hear what went on on the other side. No. It must have been the paint. Sharpened me insenses or somethink. Made life a motion picture, a Cézanne painting come to life, with Lenny, me and Arthur the central characters, the subjects.
       These nights were a movie. The same movie again and again, weekend after weekend, concert after concert—sneaking in. It’s become a habit, me, Lenny and Arthur sneaking into concerts. HIC Arena, Waikiki Shell, Andrews Amphitheater. Wherever concerts were held, the film was being done on location. It was always challenging enough not to get boring, like the pinball machines at Rainbow Billiards, when we mastered them to the point that the games weren’t fun anymore.
       Sneaking in is hard. Well, not so much at Andrews, with its not too high chain link fence, its relatively easy to climb walls. One could even go under the fence at one part, while the less risky (LRs) climbed one of the portable buildings around the amphitheater for the loftier view.
       Getting into the Waikiki Shell is difficult. The fence is higher than that of Andrews. Once you get over the fence at most of the points around the place, you have to run across a field and hurdle still another fence (if you are able to avoid being tackled by a cop who is just itching (and I mean itching) to rough you up). The best chance is to leap the fence by the bathroom, run into it and calmly take a piss.
       HIC Arena? Now that’s a brand-new ballgame. Those of you with weak hearts better go and buy tickets right now, if any are left. It’s a flying saucer (modern, I guess) shaped castle, complete with a moat around it. No alligators, though, just millions of tilapia, not to mention a sizable number of ducks. The best possible way of getting in without the ticket that lets you cross the drawbridge is to creep along the walls which have a fairly long foot-wide ledge, leap a waist-high railing, dart toward the stairs and either sit down conspicuously on the stairs if there are no empty seats or walk around all night like you’re spaced out. The only problem is getting over that little railing without being grabbed by a cop or security officer who usually is waiting to knock you into the moat.
       The cop is waiting for Lenny, who is standing along a ledge with his back against the wall. The cop senses he is there though he can’t see Lenny because the ledge he is on projects like an L. The cop is at the top point of the letter and Lenny is balancing along at the bottom. It is only when Lenny turns the corner that the cop can see who is crazy enough to make the attempt. I wipe my forehead, signaling Lenny that the cop is present. He retreats to the diagonally-opposite end of the top of the L-shaped wall and onto the safety of the grass.
       It’s important to me that Lenny gets in—I don’t care if I do it and Arthur’s more into scoring with chicks anyway—because Lenny’s the best. Sneaky, clever, and gutsy as hell. What’s more—dig it—he’s on a streak. He’s gotten in free eighteen times in a row, man. Not the last eighteen concerts (who wants to see the Carpenters?), but eighteen times in eighteen tries. He’s got to get in. Our goal is twenty. That’s why I’m standing here on the grass giving him signals. You follow me? Maybe there’s paint in you. Remember, movies don’t provide you with instant replay like T.V. does. And sometimes you have to read the book first.
       The cop moves from his position and stands by the snack bar which is contained within the L-shaped wall. He is itching to bust Lenny’s or any non-payer’s (NP) head. There is and isn’t a crowd outside. No cohesion. Not like that Hendrix concert when Lance was still around and before I began watching, when some weird son of a bitch pulls a fifth column by accidentally (hmmm) leaning on the wide latch release, with the door flying open, with fifty bodies smashing through the door. Then, with the security officers (SO) chasing them all over the place and the notoriously-innocent guy yelling “Wha’d I do? Wha’d I do?”, me, Lenny, Arthur, Lance and some other guys who later changed into Double Knit Assholes (DNA) are sucked in by the wide vacuum and settle on the steps inside just in time to hear Hendrix make the “Star-Spangled Banner” worth listening to, shortly before he was shot. Wait. Wait. It was King who was shot. Christ, I’m getting my history distorted. I don’t know who was murdered, who simply OD’d and who was watching as I am now.

       Maybe that’s what I’m doing: Seeing that history comes out straight and clear—truth in other words—because I know that Lenny, who approaches me now, is making history.

       “Pretty rough tonight,” I say.
       “Ah, fuck, we get ’em. Even if I gotta swim.” His words make me look at the ducks for some reason. “Where Atta went?”
       “Where else?” I turn my head to inform him of the direction in which to look.
       “The fuckah,” he says. Lenny, with his hands in his pocket—as if to make his shoulders look bigger—approaches Arthur who is conversing with a couple of Oriental girls. Both Lenny and Arthur are the same height, about five-eight, but Lenny’s frame is scrawny while Arthur’s is quite husky. Lenny’s features are obviouly Filipino while Arthur’s reveal some Hawaiian. I have never asked him what the rest is. Me? I’m watching. Not only watching, but following Lenny so I can also listen. I see that Lenny, perhaps instinctively, approaches the shorter of the two girls.
       “Hey, you like fuck?” One thing about Lenny, he’s honest. The girl turns colors before my eyes, different shades of red. “Man, I know you like fuck.” Color Arthur steaming purple, the other girl pale.
       “We better go the other side,” the taller girl says. The girls walk away. Arthur turns to Lenny. He is angry but doesn’t want to speak too loud.
       “You fuckah!” he says. “What you trying? I had the fuckah! Shit. Now I gotta start all ovah again.”
       Lenny glares back at him. “Shit. We no mo’ all night! Man, if they like, they like! Why waste our fucking time? You like get in or not!”
       “Fuck the concert!” Arthur yells. “I rather fuck!” For some strange reason, whenever they start to argue they glance toward me as if I should say something.
       “Clear Acrylic Enamel.” What else could I say?
       “Hey, yeah!” Arthur says, “Thass the one!” Lenny does not look enthused, because he is. His facial expressions are incredibly downplayed, like the expressions of someone who knows there’s a camera on him and wishes to deceive it.
       “Thass the baby,” he says. “Taste so fucking sweet, man.” Lenny’s tone changes suddenly, addressing me. “Hey, you goin’ try or what? This fuckah,” he points to Arthur, “retire already.”
       “I goin’ try,” I say. “But you gotta get in first.”
       “No make difference. I can get in by myself.”
       “Sure, Lenny,” Arthur interjects. “Sure.” Within a few minutes we agree that Lenny has to get in first. We try the same place with me and Arthur playing first and third base coach, respectively. It is too risky and we stop him before he gets thrown out. We decide to wait until intermission.
       Only minutes later the crowd starts pouring out of the inner sanctum. It is intermission.

       You may leave now. Be back in about ten minutes.
       What? You’re still here? Intermissions can be important too? Really?

       The inside crowd is not a crowd. No cohesion. Faces are not faces. I see glazed eyes, eyelids painted blue, green, eyes drifting, eyebrows lifting, lids sagging, eyes passing eyes, ass grabbing eyes. But the clothes! Polyester, double-knit slacks, hip-hugging perma-press jeans, skimpy blouses, perma-wrinkled silk shirts, sandals, slippers, high-heeled shoes, all suggesting that the music is of secondary importance. One can always tell who’s playing by the crowd. Most of the people wander around, captured in a web of paranoic tranquility. A few stand by the railing that keeps them from falling into the moat and stare, outward, at us. Actually, a lot of them are staring at the ducks.
       The ducks! Why didn’t I think of that?
       “Lenny, Atta.” I sound enthused. “We go give them one dee-coy.” Arthur looks puzzled, while Lenny, though he may be puzzled, seems to have it figured out already. I tell Arthur to go along the L ledge and attract attention. Not too obviously, though. Lenny has already figured out his part. He heads toward the ledge about ninety feet to the left of the L-shaped one.
       People on the outside see Arthur on the ledge and watch me play third-base coach, a job I relish. They seem to be united by this valiant effort. The cop, sensing something, acts like nothing is going on. He doesn’t want to stop the attempt, but rather wipe out whoever reaches the railing. Those by the railing sense what’s happening too. They’re actually paying attention.
       Arthur is all smiles. The cop knows I’m giving signals and pretends otherwise. The lady security officer who watches the ledge ninety feet to the left senses that something’s up and unobtrusively walks in the direction of the cop. Lenny steals across the ledge like no one else can, leaps the unguarded railing and is lost in the inside crowd. Number nineteen. One more to go. The outside crowd applauds. Arthur sticks his head around the corner of the L-shaped wall and smiles at the puzzled cop and equally puzzled security lady. Intermission is over.

       After seeing the inside crowd and sensing that the cop is itching to get me, I don’t try very hard to get in. I end up joining Arthur, who is talking to the taller of the two chicks. I start talking to the other one, and me and Arthur end up heading toward the car with the two faceless girls.

       The morning after, while me and Arthur are blessed with aching balls, Lenny is telling us how great a concert it wasn’t. A wasted effort.
       “Yeah, Lenny, yeah,” me and Arthur harmonize.
       “Fuck teasers,” Arthur adds, “wasted my fucking dope.”
       “Our fucking dope,” Lenny says.
       “That’s the trip,” I say. “Painted eyelids are for teasing, Clear Acrylic does the pleasing.” I do not know what the fuck I am talking about which is cool because none of us do most of the time. It is this absurdity that links us together. Words, by necessity, take on different shades of meaning in the continuously evolving process of language. We understand the absurdity; that’s what matters. My words sent their minds back in time. (Or did their minds summon a piece of their past? What goes where? Anyway.) We reminisce.
       We live in a two-bedroom apartment in Makiki, the low-rise, apartment/condominium center of the Pacific, in the shadow of Punchbowl, the extinct crater now used as a national cemetery. The three of us sleep in the bedroom with wall-to-wall mattresses and floor to ceiling naked lady posters and assorted scrawls and drawings. In the other room we keep our guitars and assorted instruments, all small except for the old honky-tonk piano. We just play for fun now since Lance, our lead singer, is away. The combination living room-kitchen has only the essentials: a gas stove, a small refrigerator and a sink (of course) on one end; a foot high table in mid-center with mats under and around it, which we now sit on; a telephone on the wall that bisects the apartment; and against that same wall, a stereo component system.
       It had taken us about a year to fix the rust on our ’64 Volkswagen. It belongs to me, Lenny, Arthur and Lance, should he return. That’s how we got into the paint thing. Yesterday, Saturday, we sanded down all the rusty areas and patched up the holes with bundo. Then we sprayed those areas with a primer. The scent sent us into our pre-car adolescent sniffing days, the pre-grass phase. Then, like right now, we reminisced on our spacing out, on our hearing the “Now I know I’m stoned!” buzz, and, unforgettably, we laughed over the time we didn’t use the usual colorless acrylic paint and stood out at a dance-party because our silver lips glowed in the dark. Silver lips, the more we thought of it the more we laughed. It was the accidental yet obvious emblem of our defiance. Our own silly way of saying fuck your world.
       But we couldn’t figure out what paint gave us the best high until I flashed on it last night at the concert.
       Sundays are dull, duller when it’s cloudy. And they are dullest when it is early November and clouds are a sign of what’s to come. Makes you almost wanna put on your Sunday best and go to church, just for the hell of it. I am on the verge of putting on something decent when Lenny suggests we go to Sandy Beach.
       “If we goin’ get wet, we might as well get drenched,” he says. The day might be salvaged. The only problem is who is willing to drive. It’s always a struggle.
       “My leg sore,” Arthur says, getting off to a good start, holding his left nut for emphasis.
       “Fuck,” Lenny says, “My eyes too fucking phased out, man.”
       “I’ll drive,” I mumble.
       “Shit, my leg!” Arthur squeezes tighter.
       “You only need one leg, pal,” Lenny says.
       “What about the fucking clutch?” Arthur counters.
       “Shove it up your fucking nose,” Lenny says, smiling.
       “I’ll drive,” I say louder. They continue to argue for a full minute before they realize I have offered to drive, to everyone’s surprise, including mine. “But everybody gotta chip in fo’ gas.”
       It is a thirty-five minute drive to Sandy Beach from our apartment in Makiki, in the midst of the mess that is Honolulu, but if we’re lucky we’ll make it in an hour. First we stop for gas at the service station where we work. Then we head toward an on-ramp to the H-1 Freeway. All the car windows are open because the overhanging clouds and the tall buildings on each side of the narrow street box us in enough already. When we are on the freeway we breathe easier as the stretch of freeway toward Sandy Beach overlooks the city.
       Honolulu is like a woman who doesn’t know what she’s got and does everything to look more like someone else every passing day, the someone else being L.A.
       They’ve shaven your pubic palm trees
       and replaced them with a concrete slab...
       Out of which grow sky high cement stubbles that
          make you look so drab...
       ...Oh no, Lulu, what have they done to you.

       Nobody’s singing. And the words aren’t mine. Words from a song Lance wrote echo in my mind. I now remember the last, unfinished lyric he showed me:
       What’s the price, what’s the cost,
          we get lost counting the time we’ve spent
       Tumbling dice, flung across
          the horizon, gather moss as a monument...
       ...All the Timothy Learys with their spacy theories...

       “Hey,” Lenny says. “You sleeping o’ what.”
       “No,” I answer, snapping out of the daze induced by hypnotic highways, “just meditating my ass off.”
       “I just wanted to make sure you know wha’s happenin’ ahead.”
       “Yeah.” We have come to the part where the freeway ceases to be a freeway and becomes a highway, with traffic lights and all.
       As we cruise down the long stretch of road known as Kalanianaole Highway, most of the claustrophobia is gone. No tall buildings. Just good old suburban-type homes, wide streets and all. By now everyone knows that the wider the streets are, the nicer the homes. Quite unlike the one-lane two-way streets in Palama... Whoops. Starting to daydream again. Better keep my eyes on the road. In other words watch.
       Trees are abundant on both sides of the highway, swaying slightly in a gentle breeze that is not so gentle for us as we now fly down the road with everyone’s hair all messed up. Lenny tells me to stop at Koko Marina Shopping Center a little further up.
       I turn in to the parking area of the shopping center and park alongside a curb, because parking’s hard to find and me and Arthur will wait in the car anyway. Lenny dashes out. I turn up the car radio:
       “There must be some kinda way outa here,”
       said the joker to the thief.
       “There’s too much confusion,
       I can’t get no relief....”

       “Hendrix sings the shit outa that song,” Arthur says. I nod. It starts to drizzle. Lenny returns in a couple of minutes with a package. Arthur asks him what he bought. Lenny says “Dig!” When I turn back onto the highway, I am in the right-most lane. Arthur tells me to shift into the next lane because the one we’re in feeds into it up ahead.
       With the drizzle, and with my mind into Hendrix’s frenzied guitar-work, my eyes checking the side mirror for cars and my hands turning the wheel simultaneously, by the time my awareness is set on what’s ahead by Arthur’s “Hey!” I find myself running a red light. I blast my horn without knowing why. Maybe it’s an instinctive grasp for legitimacy. The other guys laugh and wave at the cars we pass. I gaze, while the road creeps uphill, into the rear-view mirror for a cop’s flashing blue light but only see the two red traffic lights. As the lights get fainter, I am increasingly relieved, secure as the drizzle stops and splinters of sunlight penetrate the clouds.
       We arrive at the beach. Somehow water lures us like nothing else, with the possible exception of music. Arthur passes by two chicks on beach towels, who are hoping for tans, with scarcely a glance. He wants to bodysurf as much as me and Lenny do. I guess his balls still ache and he knows the therapeutic value of a whirlpool of salt water.
       Lenny and Arthur are pros in the ocean. They carve through waves, weave under them, slice the fucking ocean to ribbons. Me, I get smashed. But don’t get me wrong. I love every fucking shorebreak of wave that smashes me into the sand. I love when it sucks me in for more, perhaps because I know I’ll somehow manage to sneak in a couple of good rides.
       It’s funny how we take to the ocean after Lance’s disappearance. The papers say he drowned. I don’t believe what I read. They never found the body. I dive under a mother of a wave. Lance split. Me, Lenny and Arthur know that. It was the first and last time I dropped acid. The four of us were walking along the sea wall at Ala Moana when the acid hit. I am drifting now. At that instant we transformed into the Beatles walking down Abbey Road. I felt I was part of an album cover. Who could imagine how they felt, how me, Lenny and Arthur felt when it started to become a four-way street, when Lance broke toward the beach, dove into the water, and swam toward the crooked bowl of moon as water slowly filled it. All we saw afterwards, when we swam out there, was a blinking red light. We spent the whole night looking for him, long after the rescue unit gave up. I am drifting out more. He didn’t know how to drown. Besides, he had plans. We don’t talk about Lance much—his quiet, calculated movements that almost obscured his constant agitation—but we knew better than to go to a fucking memorial service. I tread water. He was weird but he was the sharpest of us. His conception of the world was getting people to sneak out of concerts. Damn it. He’s just playing some super sly game, waiting for the right time. He’s gone underwater. So have I as I gulp down a mouthful of salt water. Aack. What a taste.
       It sometimes takes hours to describe a moment. On the other hand....Hours later I fall down on the wet sand. I look up ahead and see Lenny ripping his towel apart.

       There’s a buzzing in my head. Someone is watching me. In fact there’s a lot of them. I stare up from behind the sea wall. No choice. I make a run for it into the ethereal darkness. I stumble, scraping the tops of my toes. My mind runs back to a Santana concert at the Shell. There’s at least a thousand of us outside. We have two things in common: we hate (or can’t afford) to pay for music and we want to get in. The vast majority of us are male. More than half are white guys, haoles. There are no fences between them and us shaded folks. There’s a proliferation of attempts to get inside. Cops slam the ones they tackle against the fence, then make them climb back out. Some return bleeding. Twenty police cars are parked at one end of Kapiolani Park, which partially surrounds the Shell. A couple of cops are giving tickets to cars parked along a dirt road in another part of the park. Cops on motorcycles drive through the crowd, dispersing us, as we get rowdier by the minute. The cops get even rowdier and force us to dive out of the way. Santana starts to play. The percussionistic spray of beat captures us. Some crazy fucker climbs the fence. Then another...and another...then a hundred. I start to climb as the screaming guitar pierces the wall of fear. Halfway on top I stop because I don’t see Lance, Lenny, and Arthur. No! It’s because there’s more going on outside! I leap back. Lance runs up to me with a bunch of parking tickets he pulled off the windshields of cars. The police department is gonna have one hell of a time convincing a lot of people that they got tickets tonight.
       The buzzing gets louder. We drift from Abbey Road and float through a world of dark, only starlit space and metronomic, undulating rhythm. Secrets unfold as universes open like sleepy eyes. Seemingly impenetrable boundaries unbound, reveal themselves as clear walls of sound, soaking in an ocean of black, spacy void. Space. Rhythm. Space. Rhythm. The HIC Arena floats by. In the starlight of distance far beyond, I see Lance filming it all. A silver circle is spinning, I am finding. Unwinding. Unwind.
       I am staring at the door latch release button of the Volkswagen. I no longer hear the buzz. I see a piece of towel in my hand and realize it is dark. We are still at the beach, for Christ’s sake. Hypnotized by a fucking release button?
       I am freezing my ass as I get up to look for Lenny and Arthur. I am headed toward the bathroom when I see them walking along the beach with rags held to their mouths. I see a blinding flash right at Lenny’s waist. It is the moon’s reflection off a paint can tucked in his shorts.

       Monday. Arthur has managed to get the phone number of the girl he met at last Saturday’s concert by calling up all the “Wongs” at random in the phone book. I laughed everytime he said “Wong numbah” and slammed the phone. He tries to make a date for Friday’s concert at Andrews. She won’t go unless her friend can come along. He tries to get me to take the other girl.
       “Come on, you fuckah,” he says, cupping the receiver, “I desperate, man.”
       “No way.”
       “Hey, come on. I really dig this chick, man. She all right.”
       “Find some other flower.” He tells her he’ll call her back later and hangs up the phone. He is quiet for awhile.
       “Hey. How about if I pay for your ticket,” he says, breaking the silence. He is desperate.
       “I getting in free,” I say, “along with Lenny’s record-breaking shot.”
       “Fuck. He can get in by himself. He not one baby.” He is silent for a moment. “Hey, come on. I know we can get us some fucking righteous lays.”
       “Later.” I sense a wall forming. He’s pretty pissed off at me, like he is several times a month. This time more so.
       It’s ten in the morning. Lenny started working at eight. Me and Arthur start working at eleven. We all work as service station attendants at the same place, Herb’s Union (HU), in Makiki. I am getting ready to go to work. Arthur’s using the phone again.
       At work, we talk about the previous day and night and swear never to get nostalgic for a can of paint again, especially one that doesn’t give us silver lips.
       The week goes by fast. I anxiously await Friday’s concert, which features local rather than mainland groups. Arthur is ecstatic to the point of actually being nice to us. The girl finally agreed to go with him to the concert alone. It bothers me and Lenny. We sense that he is one of the DNAs now. Me and Lenny have not discussed the matter but there is no need to. When you go through some profound changes with someone your wave lengths are generally on the same frequency. We know that only Lance’s return could knock some sense into Arthur.

       I spend my spare time (when I’m alone) drawing. I use the foot-high table for support. I try all kinds of styles, utilizing my vague notions of cubism as well as some renaissance-type representational sketches. I even try to draw a map of Honolulu centering on three points, representing the HIC Arena (to the left of center), the Waikiki Shell (far to the right), and Andrews Amphitheater (above the center). I first draw lines connecting them, then I fill in other places, drawing more and more lines until the paper is a mess. I end up drawing conclusions:

       This is fiction, not real. A sound is echoed. It reverberates, is endlessly distorted. Do you see yourself in these lines?

       Andrews is quite a place; compact in size, as compared to the others. Its situation in the center of the University of Hawaii guarantees a student audience. Portable buildings linger off two sides of the Amphitheater and their rooftops give far better views of concerts than a fairly large arena. It isn’t that difficult to climb the portable buildings either. Just balance yourself on the railing as I am doing now, reach for the roof, then pull yourself up, hugging the roof as if your life depended on it.
       While I am struggling to get the greater portion of my body on the roof (being that most of me is dangling), one of the LRs pulls me up and I temporarily join their ranks. As I gaze inside while taking hits from the joints that keep coming to me, I recall the hardness of the concrete seats that circle around the crater-shaped place and the contrasting softness of the grass in the center, in front of the stage. The majority of the people inside huddle on the grass. The ones with meaty asses sit on the concrete, while some bony-assed freaks walk around. I see quadrofiends, steroids, lunatics, professors, but no Arthur. I guess he’s just a part of the crowd. I decide to go down and join Lenny as, simultaneously, the red spotlight shines from its position on the grass, reflects on the polished steel of a guitar, stabbing my eyes, and the too-loudly-amplified instrument screams in agony. I almost fall off the roof.
       I join Lenny outside a side gate, where the group can be partially seen. “Lenny, pain is in my ears and in my eyes,” I practically sing. I watch the stage act, remembering how a very nervous Lance once told me that each stage is a world.
       Sneaking in seems so easy here. The fence-bordered hemisphere leads to a jungle of plants, an ideal place for balling if you don’t mind bugs crawling up your ass. The other hemisphere is wall, with a railing on top so no one falls out. If you can race up the wall and into the crowd you’re good—or nobody’s watching. (Remember, Lenny’s the best—and I’m watching.) The security here are not cops, usually, but guys hired by the promoter depending on the promoter’s whims. Usually University dudes (DUDES) who’ve got the “ins” with the promoter or his brother. All in all, it looks like number twenty’s gonna be no trouble for Lenny, who is biding his time right now.
       It’s hard to believe the same group is playing. The volume has been toned down and the sound is pleasing to the ear. The music permeates the atmosphere with a folk-rock haze. I stand soaking in the juxtaposition of a stirring bass and drum counterpoint and a high-pitched, intricately woven harmony. I recognize the song to be (unmistakably) a Jackson Browne tune as I tune in the words.
       ...I thought that I was free but I’m
       just one more prisoner of time,
       alone within the boundaries of my mind...

       There is a short instrumental break.
       ...I thought I was...
       Delicately piercing three-part harmony. Cut. One voice:
       ...A child.
       When the music’s good who cares about anything else. I actually smile. The cool November air fills my lungs. Good fucking shit.
       “I just wen’ give it to one of yo’ friends,” a rowdy voice says, disrupting the acoustic blend. My first thought is to respond. Then I realize that the voice is addressing a haole guy a few feet to my right (Lenny’s on my left). The haole guy looks at the source of the voice and says nothing. The source is a husky, Hawaiian-looking guy, carrying a gleaming silver object. It is a flashlight. There are a few other husky guys around him.
       The promoter of tonight’s concert has a mean streak.
       “I talking to you, you fuckah.” The husky Hawaiian’s voice is not rowdy now. It is outright hostility. “I wen’ give yo’ friend one good whack with dis,” he says, waving the flashlight. “I think da bugga stay bleeding. Why you no go look?” The haole guy says nothing, doesn’t move. “He tink he can sneak ovah da fence, eh? I like see you try, you fucking haole.”
       The last words sting. The connection is clear now. What he is really saying is, “I hit one of yours.” Does the husky Hawaiian think of himself as “one of ours”?
       My face is on fire. When I turn to look at Lenny’s, the glow in his eyes suggest the same. There are god knows how many of them. I stand immobile. Me and Lenny, the husky security men, and the two (an unsuspecting fool comes by) haoles form a curious triangle. Three sides rather than three angles. The inside of the triangle is solid, though invisible. We are the edges of clear acrylic walls. There is no straight route to any one of the other sides. Rather, one had to hit his outer edges and make a radical turn. There isn’t time and space for that, especially when each side seems to rest on a different plane.
       Who created these walls? Were they there all the time?
       Moments fail to pass. I close my eyes to prevent their glow from being caught by the gleaming flashlight. I see it shining at me as I provoke assault with taunts: “What you doing in prison, brah? What you doing inside?”
       The gate swings open and about ten of them charge me, Lenny and any haoles that are nearby. I swing wildly, seeing blood gush from cut eyelids, broken noses, seeing blood on oncoming fists. I see the flashlight coming towards my head. My hands are beaten numb. I can no longer defend myself. I see it all even though nothing has happened. I’ve just reopened my eyes. Everyone is still on their edge of their triangle side. You see, I read the book. Does the movie, or should I say silver screen extravaganza, with a cast of god knows how many, end the same way? I turn to Lenny.
       “You know what Lance would do in this situation.” I look at Lenny.
       “Lance is dead!” Lenny screams. “The fuckah is dead! He runs up to the gate and starts pulling on it. I am frozen.
       “Hey, what you trying?” the husky Hawaiian says. “I no like hit you.”
       Still numb I too leap toward the gate, and pull. The haole and other people on the outside, for some strange reason, run up to the fence and start pulling. I pull because I am burning inside because I didn’t tear down the HIC walls to see Joplin before she died. No! I am pulling because when I leaned back against the wall in class I was listening to a message that Lance was pounding out from the other side. I am pulling because of the way walls are so strategically placed, so remarkably calculated. I pull and feel the fence come crashing down. I see the husky Hawaiian whack Lenny with the flashlight. I jump on him. Lenny grabs the flashlight, runs into the inside crowd, throws the flashlight, and when I see and hear the red spotlight shatter I cease to watch.