Joie asked me if I wanted to go see a punk show up in Portland, Maine at a place called the Cybernaculum. She knew the singer in “Big Meat Hammer” and said we could stay at his house for the night. I liked punk music in a joking kind of way but I never felt like piercing my nose and hanging out downtown but it sounded like fun. We didn’t have a car so we we planned on hitchhiking. We were loaded for bear. I had a bag of weed in my pocket and 2 pints of Southern Comfort in my backpack. We also had a couple pint bottles of Veryfine cranberry juice for chasers. We were looking forward to a very good night. Did I mention she was only 19? Underage drinker. We were a cop’s wet dream.
There are several rules to making hitchhiking easier. The first is to always face traffic so people can see your face. The second is to smile. Third is never stand still; show you are willing to do your part by walking. Lastly, bring a woman along. That always works. We got a ride almost immediately after setting foot on Route 101. He brought us just over the NH/ME border. Passing a sign saying, “Welcome to Maine, The way life should be.” Our second ride was a couple in an orange, rust covered, Challenger. A beast from an earlier age. The driver and his girl seemed pretty cool so we offered to get them stoned as we rumbled up Route 95 North. We made it to Portland in a little over an hour. Almost as fast as driving your own car.
We were early getting dropped off so we wandered around the side streets of town until we spotted a wooden plank running from a mound of dirt to the roof of a building. We had to investigate. On the roof were two lawn chairs set up for a perfect view of the harbor. We decided to crack open the hooch and smoke another bone. Well; There we were in Maine, sitting on the rooftop of an abandoned factory, sipping Southern Comfort and stoned out of our heads. “The way life should be.”
The moon was a copper colored saucer floating over the horizon. I’d never seen a moon so huge. It was a Harvest Moon and it sent a trail of watery orange light across the surface of the bay. Joie and I were almost finished with one of the pints and feeling quite rakish. It was time to go in search of the Cybernaculum. Joie assured me she knew exactl where it was located. We wove our way through a few blocks of industrial buildings in various states of repair and sure enough, we found it. It didn’t have a sign or anything to distinguish it from he surrounding buildings; early twentieth century red brick.
We tapped on the door like it was a speakeasy. A waif-like creature answered and told us we had to make a five dollar donation to enter. We paid and made our way downstairs. The money was to pay the bands and the rent. Makeshift curtains divided the basement into studio space for local art school students. At the end of the rectangle was a small stage.
The artists worked in several mediums from welded junk to textured paintings. One painting had dried tree frogs marching from a rendered mouth to a disembodied ear. Another piece looked like a ten speed bicycle transformed into a Stegosaurus. There was something to gawk at everywhere, mostly the other people. The place was filling up with all manner of hairdo’s and faces. I was dressed as usual in torn jeans, tee shirt and jacket with an emblem on back. A picture of the earth with the phrase, “Last Revolution of a Dying Race”. I painted it myself. I was a different kind of freak.
I kept the second bottle of SoCo in the inner pocket of my jacket, sipping off it with some regularity. I watched the people around me. Joie had wandered off to talk with friends. There was a band playing. Four broads passing for punk rockers. Drugs and booze were taking their toll and the night resembled a psychotic nightmare, but my mood was elevated and I thought I was having a great time. The next band came on. Thirteen Thirteen Mockingbird Lane. They were fantastic. A mix of psychedelic sixties and seventies hippie songs mocked in punk style. Joie and I hooked up again and started slam dancing. We were hurling ourselves across the “dance floor” at one another. I really didn’t have a care in the world.
Somehow later… The skinheads were eying me. They could tell I didn’t fit in with the crowd. Joie told me they thought of themselves as the self-appointed security force. I didn’t like them cause they dressed like cops. Crew cuts, flight jackets and Doc Martens. I called them “The Junior G-men” or “Killer Cub Scouts.” They circled the crowd like lions. Looking for the weak and unprotected. I flashed a broken toothed, wild eyed smile.
Big Meat Hammer came on last. They were straight out thrash; fast and furious. The lead singer was Jordan. He stood five feet tall with a completely shaved head. He wore the standard black leather jacket and oozed cool. He had noticeable stage presence; standing stiff and straight, gripping the microphone. Jordan was the oldest person in the room. He was hooked on fifties horror movies and nineties heroin.
During the set, the drummer of Thirteen Thirteen approached me. He had a thick mane of red hair, the same color as mine. He asked for a slug off my bottle. I was happy to share. We became fast friends. Most of the crowd had calmed and were settling on the couches scattered across the space. The drummer and I were still active and having a great time. We didn’t even notice the music had stopped. Somebody yelled, “Cops!”
Everything was a blur after running out the back door. People were still yelling about the cops. Stumbling down the street towards Jordan’s house I stuffed my weed down my pants. We walked fast and kept an eye on the skinheads closing in behind us. The blues flashed once and they scattered.
Thirteen Thirteen was trying to move their instruments from the house to their van. The drummer and I impeded their progress, wrestling on the kitchen floor, upending the dining table and splitting it in two.
Suddenly everyone was gone. I imagine that was the locked door to Jordan’s room. The other door led to a large empty room. I pulled Joie inside and tore her clothes off. Biting and pulling. And then the sleep of the dead. I woke up naked, my face pressed against the hardwood floor. I was halfway out of the sleeping bag. I got up, panicked because I couldn’t find my weed. Getting dressed the bag fell out of my underwear. Saved!
Nobody else was in the house. We picked up the two chairs and sat in the kitchen alone. I felt depraved. We smoked a joint for breakfast and chased it with a couple of Camel’s. Straights. No filter. We packed up our change of clothes and sleeping bag and set off up the hill towards town in search of coffee and lunch. Hoping it wouldn’t cost more than the fifteen bucks we had left. We found a diner that fit the bill and having eaten we had nowhere to go but home. Our first trip together was a success.