It was the second time Charles lost his car in a parking lot. Both times were after rock concerts. The first time Charles walked around and around, searching. This time he sat on a bench and waited for all the other cars to leave.
He had everything he needed for a comfortable wait. Coke in one jeans pocket, pills in another, pot with a flask of whiskey in his jacket pocket. He snorted a couple of spoonfuls of coke, then spilled pills from a bottle into his hand and stirred them with his index finger 'til he found three he liked. Charles washed them down with his whiskey.
What Charles didn't know was that he was being watched.
Dan sat on the darkened steps leading to the underground backstage and watched the rich guy carefully. Dan knew the guy was rich because of his leather jacket, one cut just like it was for a business suit. Sure, he wore a tie-die shirt and had a beard and long ponytail, but he was definitely rich, right down to the cowboy boots with the silver tips on the toes.
Dan was a security guard, waiting for the parking lot to empty so he could lock the gates. It was extra entertainment to watch the rich guy. That guy seemed to have everything a hippie could desire, given a few thousand dollars. The rest of the hippies here fit the general mold Dan put hippies in. They were usually hairy and dirty and happy, like they were tonight.
Dan wasn't a cop by any stretch of imagination. He simply marveled at the amounts and types of drugs the rich guy did. He lit up a joint after taking pills and coke. He must be made of iron or something, because he didn't seem particularly affected by what he did. Dan waited for an opportunity to maybe talk to the guy, see what he was really like.
A van full of regular hippies pulled up next to the rich guy and one of them said, "Hey, you need a ride or something?"
Charles said, "Have you seen a yellowish car out there? I lost my car."
"What kind of car? Maybe we can take you to it," the hippie said.
"A Mercedes," Charles said, walking toward the van.
But the van pulled away, hippies laughing like there was no tomorrow.
"He lost a Mercedes!" they shouted and one howled, "Ow! Ow! Oooww!"
Then they were gone, and Charles looked out at the dark parking lot, using his flask again.
Dan figured the time was right for an introduction.
He made noise going upstairs and approaching the rich guy. He didn't want to scare him.
When the rich guy turned around, Dan introduced himself and asked if he could help.
The rich guy inspected him first, then said, "You some kind of cop?"
Dan said, "Nope. Only a security guard for rock concerts here. Why?"
"My name's Charles," the guy said. "I lost my car somewhere out there and because it's small and a rich guy's car, these hippies think it's funny. Anyway, I'll find it soon. Great concert tonight, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, I guess," Dan said. "I get pretty busy when a bunch of folks try to go backstage."
"Huh," Charles said. "And look here, I've got a backstage pass I didn't even use." He laughed.
"I'm about beat though, and I've got to find my car, go back to the motel."
Dan said, "I'll help you find it if you want. I've got to lock up after every vehicle is gone anyway."
"I don't care," Charles said. "As long as you don't care either."
"I just hope you're safe enough to drive."
"I have no more booze in my flask, if that's what you mean. I'm practically sober."
"I guess they all cancel each other out, huh?" Dan asked.
"What 'all'? Who're you? I take medication for my condition and there isn't anything else. Why the concern?"
"I watched you for a few minutes and it seemed like you were getting pretty loaded."
"Not by half. Don't you worry about me. The motel is, like, six miles away. I'll find it. Besides, I'm sober now."
"Look. Is that your car?"
There was a little yellow Mercedes sitting in the dark, two rows away. It was one of those that seat two and a half people and are convertibles with both a soft top and a hard one. Dan erased the 'a few thousand dollars' and changed it to 'a few million.'
"Yeah," Charles said. "Thanks, man. Dan the man. Want something in return?"
"Naw. Well, maybe a ride to the gate so I can lock it."
"I'll give you a ride to every gate, then you can know I'm good to drive and you can lock all of 'em. Okay?"
True to his word, the rich guy seemed stone cold sober and drove the perimeter perfectly. During the short ride, Charles talked about his favorite parts of the concert and Dan only said, "They brought more amps than any band I've seen here."
Dan locked gates, then said his "thank you"-s and "good night"-s, and watched the pricey tail lights disappear into the night.
"Go with God," he muttered, and went to his truck parked outside the last gate.
He hoped he hadn't made a mistake about the rich guy and didn't sleep well until the morning paper arrived. There were no articles about auto accidents and Dan was finally sleepy. He wondered how long he'd last as a security guard for these concerts. Not long, he reckoned. He was too imaginative and watched too many people. Maybe the symphony needed security.