The weather’s cleared up by the afternoon of the big party at Elm Hollow, shifting to pleasantly warm and dry. What is left of the clouds, pile up nicely in the sunlight. And from the looks of the arrangements when he arrives, the occasion is also going to be everything promised. The apartments are set into a hill, laced with concrete stairs that wander down together to a large parking lot that has been vacated of cars and roped off. On every landing of the stairs sits two or three unopened kegs, while opposite this life-size scene from Donkey Kong, a kind of stage had been built from two flatbed trailers. Travis smiles. Some people have hauled old love seats and couches out into the yards and flat part of the small valley. The scenery speaks of no simple party, but of a private concert—which meant a wild one. From the look of it, there was already a hundred people.

Travis parks Mary Jane at the top of the hill near a restraining wall where it looks like she will be out of the way, but within view. He gets off and makes his way down the hill, where he is greeted by two guys who charge him five dollars in exchange for a plastic bracelet. They don’t check his ID. Properly tagged, Travis pours himself a beer from one of the open kegs at the top of the stairs. He sits himself down on the grassy hill to the side, in the sun. After a while, an unmarked, piece of crap van is allowed past the rope, the band, no doubt. Two guys get out long hair flowing, flannel shirts ripped, and Travis recognizes them: the guitarist and bassist of Half Gray, Robert and Jay. He had opened for them once on short notice at the Georgia Theater. That had been the biggest crowd he’d ever played in front of, and after listening to his voice pour out into the openess, and not close set comforting walls, he had decided it would be the biggest crowd he would ever play to. He thinks about the Rock Star, and he just wants to play, not turn into a machine. Travis wants to see his music in his listeners’ eyes, see it in their faces; in fact, he doesn’t want listeners. He wants to meet each of them. He wants friends—wants love.

He decides to wait to say hello so as not to get recruited into unloading gear. Stretching out on the hill, he relaxes and watches clouds, letting the air of anticipation linger. It is his favorite time, the next—the time before the Thing—whatever it is—that’s going to happen. It is the moment before walking out on stage. It is the moment before he strums. It is the moment before the kiss. It is the threat to time—the infinite present. He is never nervous when he senses something afoot, the reversal of the equilibrium, the change in the tide—he’s ecstatic—the next is everything—because once the change comes, it will be over.