In the cold fall nights we would gather. Rebellious lads. Out from the lights of the small town and the prying eyes who didn’t get us. On some dusty country road in a field we didn’t own, we’d open bottles of liquor that we brazenly purchased with hoarded lunch money. One of us would get wood for a fire, the other would adjust the tape deck in the car to a level that allowed conversation.
We would drink deeply and stare at the sky. Friends, of like mind, warmed by the booze, the burning fire, and the fire in our youthful hearts. Sometimes we’d step away from the glow of the fire and into the darkness just to cool off. Our group was small, usually just three. Those same three all on the same page but in different living journals. The “Triad” was how we referenced ourselves.
The music. The music filled the air as the smoke from the fire and the smoke from our cigarettes. Some records in particular we would play over and over. We knew all the words. We knew the sound of fingers sliding on the guitars. They never got old.
Those songs, even then, were important. Little did I know the depths to which I could be touched by a shoplifted cassette tape. Getting imprinted by those records remains a memory I think of often. My friends, one of which is gone from this earth, visit on repeat listens. Around those late night fires ghosts were made. The alchemic bond we forged in those fires with Jack Daniels, Camels, and teenage angst is still strong, even though I don’t remember certain voices or faces.
In those days the world revolved around us, hell, even the universe as we knew it. Our loves great and those unspoken from awkwardness propped us up and tore us down. We obviously held fast and survived. Most of us.
Years have passed and I’m certain the fire pits are overgrown and no traces remain. Those hallowed grounds still have glowing embers in my minds eye. I can see them in the rear view mirror as we head home.
My hair is getting white like the ash from those fires. The fire in my heart for those friends is still stoked and those songs, as they hit my ears, are new logs to fuel them. I’ve never seen a ghost but I’m sure we are electric and I wonder, at times, if that power leaves an etching in this record as it spins. Maybe in the future some other trio of punk hardlegs will stand in a stupor over our ancient sites of ceremony and proclaim their supremacy. We’ll look down, as I’m sure one is already, nodding in approval of our succession.
You know who you are.