Margaret Thon, cont’d

“Well, we had better get going,” Dewey said, distracted and trying not to sound too disappointed that Peter wasn’t coming. The pair was halfway down the driveway before Dewey heard the screen door slam.

“How do you chumps expect to get to the concert in this heat?” Peter asked, dangling the keys to his dad’s truck. “C’mon, hop in.”

The trio arrived at the venue early in order to get the best spot possible. After snaking their way through all of the cars, heat waves rippling off of the hoods, they finally found themselves in the sprawling grassy lawn. They were two hours early and already hundreds of people were crowded around the stage. Dewey felt like every time he turned around, the swarm of bodies on the lawn increased and the prevalence of armpits doubled by the minute. The creamery was going to make so much money. Dawn pulled out a Sucrets tin from the pocket of her overalls.

“Hey, give me one of those.” Dewey held out his hand. Dawn did not pull a cough drop out of the tin as he expected.

“How about one of these?” She smiled with her eyes as she placed the joint between her lips and expertly struck a match.

“Even better, I suppose.”

By the time the band came onstage Dewey’s mouth was as dry as the bota bag of wine they had brought from home. There was no water to be found at the concert, but Dewey didn’t care—no one cared. As soon as the guitarist’s fingers struck the first chord the entire crowd—Dewey had estimated it was over twenty thousand people by now—began bobbing to the rhythm. Men and women alike had stripped naked, from heat and hazy drugs. Breasts hit off-beats. Bodies bounced off of each other creating a slippery sea of skin in front of Dewey. Babies sat high on the shoulders of their ponytail rocking fathers, waving their arms in glee. The singer’s easygoing vocals projected across the lawn, filling Dewey’s head with a cloud of happiness.

In a few years, Dewey would be reminded of this moment of unadulterated joy as he drove with Peter to Lane Community College to attend their first business class. It was the first time he would hear the song since that day. He would remember Dawn, and how she had left him a week after the show, rolling out as quickly as she had arrived. He’d remember the postcard she’d send him later that year from New York. She had snagged a secretarial position with a top recording company. Dawn never went to Oregon State, Dewey’s grandmother died in the summer of 1973, and it had taken him three years at the creamery to save up enough money to take a college course.

“Remember this show, man? Damn. Those were the days,” Peter would say.

“Yeah, I remember the sagging hippie you left me for that night.” Dewey would laugh. Peter would punch Dewey in the arm. The pair would drive silently the rest of the way to the campus. Dewey would wonder about what other Dawns life would throw at him.

That day at the concert, with the crooning guitar melody echoing throughout his body, Dewey was utterly content with his life. He turned to his left and grinned. Peter was entranced by the music blasting from the speakers, his arm draped around the shoulders of a woman with a gray-streaked braid plastered to her back and worn-in cowboy boots dancing in the dirt. Dewey turned to his right and grabbed Dawn’s hands. He had never really danced before in his life, but in that moment the music told him exactly what to do. His feet scuffed the dirt beneath them, his arms moved back and forth, tethered to Dawn’s, and his eyes never left hers. Note after note, chord after chord, song after song Dewey danced there with Dawn’s sweaty palms plastered to his.

Before Dewey knew it, the sun had set and the heat of the day had turned into the heat of the night. Dewey’s entire body was buzzing from the music and the high right up until the very last note blasted across the lawn and the mass of bodies began moving towards the parking area. Peter was nowhere to be found, having left with the woman sometime during the second set. And to think he was worried about Dewey ditching him.

“He’ll meet us at the truck,” Dawn said, pulling Dewey’s arm.

The first time Dewey made love to Dawn it was in the back of a rusted blue pickup after the benefit show. The sky was clear, a guitar strummed in the distance—the only reminder of the thousands of others stuck in the parking lot jam for the night. Hay from the truck bed stuck to Dewey’s back, scratching him as Dawn pressed herself down, her corn silk hair curtaining over her face and tickling his chest. It only lasted a few moments, but Dewey and Dawn lay clasped in each other’s sticky embrace for the remainder of the night. Jazzy jams echoed in their minds and their eyelids drooped listlessly, inches apart from each other, neither one wanting to break the contact with sleep. Neither one wanting to think about the decisions they would have to make in the week to come. To leave or to love.

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Margaret Thon is a junior Biology and English (creative writing) double major at SUNY Geneseo. From small-town Marathon, New York, Margaret enjoys hiking and relaxing on her porch. This is Margaret’s first publication. If she were to befriend a fictional character it would be Barbara Parks’ Junie B. Jones.

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