Reads: 153

When Glen heard it was KariAnn’s birthday, he welcomed them all in and handed Ray who was first in the door an already lit, party-size joint.  The night was young, and there were still lots of places to sit down and get comfortable in the living room which reminded her of Dave’s stone room with all the black light posters and strobe lights.  Psychedelic rock was playing on the turn table, and KariAnn recognized the album as Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience which had become one of her favorites.

Glen was an attractive, very hospitable guy about twenty-two which KariAnn learned was discharged from the Army less than a year ago after serving several tours of duty in Vietnam.  He purchased the large two-story, five bedroom house with full basement with the help of his veteran benefits, and transformed it into a kind of counterculture hippie commune; although most preferred to call themselves “freaks” or “love children”.  Glen pretty much dealt with life on a day-to-day basis, and sold drugs to pay his bills.  He was always throwing parties regardless if there was something to celebrate or what day of the week it was, and so many people came and went that it was difficult to keep track of who lived there and who didn’t.

“Hey, Glen, you got any Microdot left?” asked Romeo who was looking to take his buzz to a higher level.

“Sorry, all sold out, but I should have more coming in this weekend.” Glen apologized.  “I do have a little Coke if you guys want to do a line.”  Unfolding the small paper packet of white powder, he dumped it onto a mirror dividing the contents into eight lines with a razor blade.  Then rolled up a dollar bill and snorted up the first line before passing the mirror and make-shift straw around the coffee table for the others to sample.

KariAnn was seduced by the hippie culture and lifestyle right off the bat already feeling alienated from mainstream middle-class society that pressured you into conforming to what was considered “normal” standards of appearance, employment or how to live your life.  She was also attracted to their distinctive brand of rebellion with their long hair, colorful clothing, psychedelic drug use, love of rock and roll music and eco-conscious ways.  Like her new freak friends, KariAnn, yearned to find more meaning in life, or at the very least, have a good time.

KariAnn discovered that Ken was a big flirt at parties with the ladies, and often he left her alone to take off and talk with others.  At first she felt jealous and hurt, but soon got over it when she noticed how many guys jumped at the opportunity to be with her in his absence.  Pam and Romeo ended up having a fight and he left the party.  Not long after he had gone, Pam started making eyes at Glen.  She had captured Glen’s interest by the time the party broke up, and explained she wouldn’t need a ride for she was staying.

It was after 3 a.m. when the guys dropped off Debbie and KariAnn at home.  When the two walked in to find Mrs. Lyons up and waiting for them, they knew the shit was going to hit the fan.  “Where the hell have you two been all night?” demanded Mrs. Lyons with her hands on her pudgy hips.  “I see you’re wearing your watches, but I guess you’ll tell me you forgot to wind them.”

“We’re sorry, mom, we didn’t call and tell you where we were.  We were celebrating KariAnn’s birthday, and we were having such a good time that we sort of lost track of how late it was getting.” Debbie tried to explain.

“I suppose too you were with Ray all this time and also let it slip your mind I don’t want you to see him anymore.” yelled Mrs. Lyons angrily.  “That was Ray who drove you home, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, that was Ray and Ken.” admitted Debbie.  “I know you don’t approve of him, mom, but you’re not being fair.  I love Ray and he loves me, and I don’t understand why you hate him so much.” she said tearing up.

“You name it, Deb, as there’s at least a hundred reasons why Ray Brown is bad news, but you never listen to anything I have to say when it comes to him.” her mom said in despair.  “I tried to bring you and Mike up the best I could after your father ran off, and to teach you to avoid the mistakes I had made.  It wasn’t easy for me trying to raise you two alone, and putting in long hours at the hospital to pay the bills and put food in your stomachs.  I’m telling you one last time to stay away from Ray Brown, Deb.  As long as you live under my roof, you will do as you’re told or you can pack your bags and move out!”

“Fine, maybe I’ll just do that!” retorted Debbie.

“If you do, don’t bother ever coming back!” replied Mrs. Lyons storming out of the room.

The girls slept right into the afternoon, and Mrs. Lyons had already left for work by the time they got up.  Debbie had decided she would rather move out than break up with Ray, so the girls began to pack up their things after grabbing something to eat.  Debbie was sure Glen would let them move into the commune, and he didn’t disappoint or let them down.  Another phone call later and Ray was loading their things into his car to take them over.  A note was left on the table to explain they would be staying with friends since she couldn’t remain here if she weren’t allowed to see Ray.

Once at the commune, Glen, Ray, Ken and the girls worked together to section off an area in one corner of the basement, since all the bedrooms were already in use, and by nailing up sheets of plywood in a short time they had built a small bedroom.  Glen was able to supply a couple of mattresses to lie on the floor for them to sleep on, and wooden crates served as a table and storage for their clothes.  A little paint, a few posters, a kerosene lamp for light, and a bright colored drape hung over the entrance that served as a door for complete privacy, and the girls were all set up with living quarters of their own.

Livio had given KariAnn her birthday off, along with Ken and Ray, being Wednesdays weren’t very busy, but tonight they were expected back at work.  The commune was located on the corner of Lauder and Chalfonte across from Cooley High School, which was a good mile further away from Livio’s than Debbie’s house had been, but since Ken said he’d swing by and pick her up on his way, the extra distance didn’t seem a problem.

KariAnn liked having a job and took her responsibilities seriously.  Forty dollars a week seemed like a lot next to her former five dollar a week allowance she earned at home.  She always made a point to look her best and report on time, even though she spent most of her waking hours now partying and high on drugs.  KariAnn started out taking drugs out of curiosity, to defy her parents, and to be accepted by her peers, but now she liked stepping out of reality and experiencing new highs.  She had always prided herself for having a higher than average IQ, and she honestly thought by taking a wide variety of drugs instead of a preferred one or two, then she could beat the trap of falling into addiction.  She now had added hash, mescaline (a polished street acid), LSD, speed, and cocaine to her list of tried drugs.

The days zipped on by and another weekend was approaching.  Ken and KariAnn had just returned from a delivery when they were greeted in the parking lot by some bikers that rode in.  There were three of them, all dressed in black leather jackets and helmets.  On the back of each jacket was a skull and cross bones with their club name, Road Agents, printed above the skull.

One guy was already pulling off his helmet, and his blonde hair was plastered down around his head.  The one on his left was tall and thin, and his face was partly disguised under a tinted visor that hid his features.  The man who was sitting on his bike on the other side was heavier with a rugged build.  Unlike the other, his face could be seen under a clear plastic visor, and he looked as if he hadn’t shaved in a couple days.  “You guys stay here with the bikes, and I’ll run in and get our order.” said the guy who had removed his helmet.

“Hurry back, Chopper, I’m starved!” said the chunkier one.

Back inside, KariAnn prepared to bag up the large order to go for the bikers while Ken went to check on what delivery orders were ready.  Livio had taken the order while they were gone and had already totaled up the bill. 

“That’ll be $16.25 please.” said KariAnn placing the bags of subs beside the register in front of him.

He paid for it with a twenty and instructed she could keep the change for having such a lovely smile, and then asked, “Is Romeo Fabiano out back in the kitchen?”

“He sure is.  Did you want to talk to him?” asked KariAnn.

“Yeah, tell him Chopper wants to see him.”

“Chopper!” Romeo sounded surprised but happy to see him.  “How’ve you been?  I haven’t seen you in a while.”

“Just great.  We’ve been at a big bike race in Nevada, and just got back yesterday.” Chopper filled him in.  “I’d really like to tell you all about it, but the guys are waiting for us to get back with the chow.  Look, we’re having a big get together at the old hangout Saturday night so why don’t you and some of your buddies join us.”

“I’d like to Chopper, but I gotta work Saturday till closing at 2 a.m.  I don’t think the boss will give me the night off.” Romeo said with disappointment.

“Shit, we’ll probably be partying all weekend.  Come on out after you finish with work, and see if you can get that luscious little thing behind the cash register to come too.” he said loud enough for her to hear and winked looking in her direction.

“KariAnn?  Sure, I can talk her into it,” Romeo promised, “if you don’t mind Ken and Ray coming along.”

“Hell, you’re all invited.  See you Saturday night then.” said Chopper walking away with food in both arms.

KariAnn had been reluctant about going to the Road Agents’ party until she found out Ken and the others were going too.  She’d never been to a greasers’ party before, and she thought it should be a real experience.  She was completely unaware that nothing she’d been through so far could possibly prepare her for what was about to happen that Saturday night and the next three days to follow.

Submitted: May 17, 2019

© Copyright 2020 Katie McDougal. All rights reserved.


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