Episode 16

Episode 16
The Festival

the bass blasted from the ten to twenty speakers around the park as Caitlin check listed the last few things before they started to let the crowds in. sound check had been going on for a long time and as she pressed the button on her watch to hear the time, putting it close to her ear under the sheet of blonde hair, she smiled and looked toward the stage where an artist was finishing off his sound check. This was the first day and the sun was not quite high in the sky, shadows were long still and the heat of california had not yet got to the point of unbearable. She wore jeans, sneakers and a shirt with LA Events embroidered upon the purple fabric. There was no way she was wearing good clothes at a festival of this magnitude and her boss had agreed for the casual look as it was a hip-hop festival after all. Taking Cali over to a tent that stood white and high in the colourful June morning, Caitlin placed some water on the ground and looked up as she heard a voice from behind her.

“You Miss Dawson?” The tall black guy inquired. His voice was gruff and his tone slightly hostile. After all, what did a white girl know about hip hop music? Turning toward him, she smiled, her lips broadening into a grin.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Battle,” He was a well known West Coast artist, still not quite commercial but he would be up there sooner rather than later.
“You know who I am?” His brow knitted together in confusion. He knew she was blind, the eyes and the dog gave that much away but then how did she know?
“Of course,” She smiled happily. “Got two of your mixed tapes. So when’s the album dropping?” His confusion relaxed into something that could only be described as bemusement and appreciation.
“Next month,” His smile was broad, revealing his white teeth. “I’ll ensure you get a signed copy!” He promised standing opposite her, feeling slightly dumbfounded at his own assumption.
“That would be awesome! Now, what can I help you with, Battle?”
“Call me Rick, that’s what my friends call me,” his dark eyes swam with flirtation now. “Well, I was wondering if it would be possible to get bottled water on the stage during the performance. It’s going to be as hot as hell today!”
“Already sorted,” She smiled, relieved it wasn’t something much bigger. “Water will be on the stage during the day, regularly changed to keep it cool,” Her eyes were thoughtful as she leaned against the table. For one moment, her mind wasn’t on the artist she liked or her duties for that day, but on the man she was slowly feeling more and more for. JC! She hadn’t seen him all week due to the festival but she had made sure he was coming down today so she could see him and show off her professional charisma. Smiling at her considerations of him, she suddenly remembered Rick was still there.

“Yea, so water will be available,” she continued, pulling her attention back toward him.
“Thanks,” He smirked gently at her. “Looking forward to it then?”
“Absolutely,” She grinned joyously. “I fought to get the chance to organise this event. Glad it’s finally here.”
“I’m glad you did,” He smirked flirting with the pretty blonde. He had time to kill so flirting with an official seemed not a bad idea in the slightest. She could get him perks right?

“Well, I better get on. It was nice to meet you, battle,” She flicked her long blonde hair from her face and picking up the dog’s lead and harness left him watching her and wondering. Someone so beautiful, so capable and not conceited had just had an ordinary conversation with him. It felt as though he hadn’t had one of those in months. Ever since he’d become big on the mixed tape scene, all people ever wanted to do these days was talk to him about music, girls, cars, what he was spending his money on and if he was honest with himself, it was getting old. Rick had grown up in South central and come from a background that most of middle America would dread to think truly existed but he’d made it. Yet now he had, he missed his homies and his regular life. He appreciated what he had but being torn between what seemed to be two worlds was sending him into a state of self destruction. He glanced down at his arms, streaked with the signs of drug abuse and frowned. He had to do something and it had to be done fast. Or else everything he had worked for in the past five years would be flushed drastically down the toilet. and for what? an occasional high? A way to get away from reality and the pain it brought. Sighing, he left the tent, shoving his huge fists into his pockets, stalking toward the refreshment area.

Lexie rode happily around the arena. She had finally come to terms with the fact that Dan, for a reason she could not decipher was irresistible to her and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it. He watched her now, smoking a cigarette, wondering where she had been when he was falling in love with his wife. The wife that did not do anything for any of his needs any more. Sighing, he turned back and took in the beauty that was now his mistress. Her short red hair flying freely around her face, her green eyes in deep concentration upon the task at hand. Blackmist was doing well and by the end of the following week, Lexie hoped he’d be ready to go to a race. Dan hoped the same thing and believed in Lexie.

“Hey, son,” A gruff yet familiar voice called out from behind where Dan was sitting. “How are you? She getting him working again?”
“yeah, she is,” Dan dragged on his last bit of cigarette and stomped it out with his sneaker as he moved up so his dad could watch too.
“He’s looking good!” The old man commented sounding surprised. Dan merely nodded, not really paying attention to what the horse was doing at all. Lexie was riding him, changing tempo at every opportunity while Dan watched on in pure adoration.

“Bring him in Alexia, I want to look at him,” The old man called loudly as Lexie galloped nearby to where they were seated. Frowning she did one more circuit and brought the stallion around to face the old man and the man she was smiling at now.

“He’s looking good,” He inspected as lexie jumped expertly from the black steed’s back. “He ready for next weekend?”
“Absolutely,” Lexie replied, unscrewing a bottle of water, not meeting the old man’s glance as she stole her own glance at dan.
“Good! good!” the old man patted the horse that gave out a explosive naying response. Lexie laughed and patted the horse’s mane, leading him back to his stable. “I’ll give him a rest and then groom him, probably light exercise him later,” She informed the old man as Dan got up to follow her.

“Wait, son, I need a word,” And feeling a sense of disappointment, hoping to steal a few kisses in the bridal room, like such teenagers they were acting like, Lexie walked away, her head bowed but her smile wide.

Emily straightened her hair in the bathroom. She and Cory were attending the hip hop festival; Emily, because Emily loved hip hop and Cory because Em wanted him to be there. Cory hated hip hop but he’d do anything for the girl he liked. They had spent most of that week together, each night going out or staying in to share meals. Cory was becoming more of a regular fixture at their house and none of the other girls seemed to mind. Emily had discovered Kira had left when she found an envelope stuffed behind the clock on the kitchen counter. The note had read:

Emily! Thanks for everything but I can no longer live with you guys. here’s the next month’s rent and my thirty day notice rent too. Hope you guys find a new roommate and again, sorry for not having this conversation with you but I don’t feel it would be a fair one.
All the best,

Emily had felt tears as she had read that little note. Kira had been a quiet companion to their little group but she had been a part of them all the same. Now that she was gone, the house seemed different. Alexia of course hadn’t seemed too surprised or concerned about Kira’s departure. If anything, she seemed pleased. Caitlin had felt similar to Emily in the way that things had been handled, it was regrettable and unfortunate. There was no forwarding address, she had changed her number and essentially had cut Caitlin, Emily and Lexie out of her life for good. The conversation between Emily and Caitlin was quiet and emotional the night they had found the note. Lexie had huffed that they would find it hard finding a new roommate but Caitlin and Emily just felt bad for the girl who had been so mistreated.

“Could we have done more?” Caitlin had inquired, her blue eyes sad and sorrowful for a girl she had so desperately tried to include and bring out of her shell.
“I don’t know,” Emily had responded with despair surging around her body. They both knew Lexie had pretty much bullied Kira out of their home but neither felt they could say as much to their highly strung friend. Instead, they both retreated to their rooms and confided to their new partners who both maintained the girls thoughts upon the whole situation. Kira, possibly not helping herself by clamming up and forever excluding herself from the group, had essentially been pushed out by Lexie who often, by throwing a temper or sulking got her own way.

Looking in the mirror, Emily sighed heavily as she considered that week’s events. Her brown hair lay neatly and straightened around her shoulders, framing her face like a photograph. She was excited about that day. Caitlin had worked her butt off the past few months to get this event up and running and what with it being a passion of theirs, Emily knew they’d all have a blast. JC would be there as well and Em knew that if this day went well, it signified so much. Almost a week with Cory, she was happier than she had felt in months. Putting the straighteners down and switching them off, she left the bathroom and headed to her room. Her phone flashed with a new text.

‘I’m on my way!’ it read. Smiling, she hurried to get her stuff ready, spreading sun screen across her porcelain skin. One more glance in the mirror and Em was off down the hall way toward their front door. switching off the lights and air conditioner, she locked up and met Cory in his silver Mustang.

Crowds of people filled the huge grass area as a DJ span some records on an old fashioned turn table. Kids ran back and forth as young adults stood around taking in the music. The smoky scent of barbecue filled the Californian air and the sun was directly overhead splintering its light into all directions. A beautiful pearlescent sapphire blue sky shone overhead and people’s happy moods filtered everywhere! A tall figure walked toward a purple tent, displaying the name, Events committee, LA Events in huge gold lettering. He strode inside, the shade merging with his dark skin. Wearing jeans, red chuck taylors and a white t-shirt, he looked cool and collected. dark sunglasses sat on his face, disguising his eyes from view. Many tattoos adorned his arms, and face while his hair was in a fade. Baby features still lingered on his young face but a chiselled look of street life remained there present for all to see.

“Hey, baby girl!” His silken tones called to a young blonde girl seated at a switch board. Turning, a smile crept on to her pink lips. Standing, leaving the golden dog tied to the chair, Caitlin walked warmly toward the tall man.
“JC! You came!” She embraced him, circling her athletic arms around his muscular waist. “You smell gorgeous!” She beamed at him. “How are you?”
“Good,” His voice rasped with the recent affects of smoking and she giggled under the influence. His hands found hers then and he kissed her passionately. “You looking good, ma!” He kissed her again, taking in the scent of her beautiful, soft hair. “Need anything? Water? food?”
“I’m good to go, but you go and grab something if you like,” She made to gesture toward a red tent next door. “I’ve just gotta make sure everything starts good on the first performance and then we can hang for a little while. I’ll have to carry the radio but we’re pretty good to go here.”
“Cool, I’ll go grab me some food,” He kissed her cheek and left with a definite stride toward the red tent.

Taking her seat again, she sighed a happy breath of pure relief. He had come, the day was so far so good and her heart sang with the happiness she felt flowing through her body. Petting callie’s head gently, her eyes widened with joy.

walking into the tent, buying a hotdog, a bag of fries and a soda, JC felt good. His muscles flexed with ease as he walked slowly onto the grassed area where thousands of people were assembled. a young African man was standing on stage now with the turn tables replaced by a laptop and a microphone stand before him. JC recognised the guy as a local artist. He loved events like this as it show cased the fabulous talent that lay within the projects of Southern California. The guy looked slightly nervous with a heavy gold chain sat upon his slight chest and a Rolex glinted in the bright sunshine. The heat was incredible as JC ate and drank gratefully from his soda. Caitlin had been on his mind so much that week that he was unsure how to get her off of it again. Nothing worked. Girls, weed, alcohol, nothing could take his mind from the beautiful blonde he had started to care a lot for in the last few weeks. It felt as though they’d known each other a life time. Even if it had only been mere weeks. Wiping his mouth with a napkin, he spotted two more familiar faces in the crowd.

“Emily, Cory!” He called to the two people he had come to know a lot over the past few weeks also. Emily’s brown hair was gently blowing in the slight breeze and Cory turned to see where the source of the voice had come from and smiled. They had a silent understanding, JC and Cory. They couldn’t imagine ever being friends in any other situation but they were good to go for the girls sakes. It wasn’t that JC disliked Cory, he simply didn’t understand him. Cory had grown up in a different world to JC. Their child hoods couldn’t be more different if you’d taken them from opposite sides of the world. Cory had grown up in a house hold that barely brought in less than a hundred thousand dollars per year while JC had grown up with a family who lived mainly off of the state and his grandmother’s occasional shifts at the seven eleven. But Cory wasn’t a bad dude, he was just a guy JC would probably never befriend independently.

“Hey, Jc!” Emily greeted him, giving him a brief hug as they traipsed across the grass. “You seen Caitlin yet?” Her eyes were happy and warm. JC smiled with joy upon looking at her. she was Caitlin’s best friend and to see both girls with a similar spark in their gentle eyes meant that the girls were happy in their lives and that was always refreshing to see. JC had seen so much hurt and disappointment over the years growing up in his neighbourhood, it had taken him a while to recognise what joy and happiness was when he saw it.
“yeah,” He replied, screwing up the paper in his hands and tossing it nonchalantly into a nearby trash can, as though he was slam dunking a basket ball. “She’s just gotta check everything’ working, then she’ll be out!” As he spoke, the guy on stage was beginning a flow and JC turned to listen to the performer.

The energy within the crowd was electric as the performer rapped to varying west coast beats. Girls danced, kids jumped around and the air was full of the care free vibe of a summer in California.

Caitlin’s eyes itched with her allergies as she stood and took Callie’s lead into her hands. “Come on you, let’s go find JC, Em and Cory!” She walked confidently from the tent with a radio around her neck.
“Baby,” JC called as she smiled and walked toward him, a rush of butterflies fluttered within her chest and stomach. Pulling her into his strong arms, a kiss lingering on his lips and hers, the warmth that came from them could have started a fire.
“Hey, girl!” Em hugged her next. “This is awesome!” She was dancing to the fresh beat and Caitlin laughed as she joined her. Pulling Callie away from the crowds and ensuring the dog had space to lie down, she listened out for the radio going off around her neck. Occasionally static would erupt from it and a technical command was heard. She understood them all as she’d done shows herself during her high school years but she need not reply to them. all the communications that went across the event came through her radio, everything from technical and back stage stuff to the security checks. She felt a sense of immense pride as the next act stepped onto the stage and began singing. It was a young black girl who had been promised to be the next Mary J Blige. Caitlin couldn’t see it but she didn’t mind the comparison, the whole performances were amazing and everyone was enjoying the festival.

Lexie and dan were sitting by the pool around five thirty. Lexie wore a tiny bikini while Dan wore his boxers. They had been in the pool for most of the afternoon, making out and doing things that Lexie knew her roommates would completely flip out over if they knew. But Caitlin and Emily were gone all day. The festival was on all weekend and even if Caitlin hadn’t been the main organiser, she would have still been there all weekend watching the artists she loved and Lexie despised so much.

“Let’s order pizza,” dan rubbed his hands all over her body suggestively. He hadn’t had this much sexual activity in years. His wife didn’t really do sex that much any more. Lexie on the other hand would give it up in a second. even if at first she didn’t feel like doing it, she always came around to his way of thinking. Lexie was so desperate to be liked that she would pretty much do anything to keep Dan with her and prevent the loneliness from setting in. as selfish as it was, Lexie actually didn’t care. She had to do what she had to do to survive.

“Pizza sounds awesome!” She kissed him seductively Her insides ruptured with the need for him again. This was so beyond unhealthy but Lexie didn’t care. He made her feel good and that was above anything else anyone could do. No one made her feel good anymore except Dan. Em and Caitlin were always out and busy these days, dan was all she could rely on. Her green eyes saddened at that pathetic thought. How could she have become so shallow? She never used to be this way, so what changed? Lexie truly had no idea who she was anymore. She was lost amidst a world that seemed so certain and so sure. A little girl lost in a mall, forever searching for her mommy.

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