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There Are Worse Things he Could Do

Music festivals are meant to highlight peace, love, and empathy. . . 

At least back in 1969 they were.

There Are Worse Things he Could Do by David Nemeth




Cody sold drugs in the summertime moving from one music festival to the next. Sitting in a  camping chair under a large canopy, he lit a joint and listened to a Bob Marley mix on his portable speakers. The music was loud enough, and the weed was good enough. Alone they might not attract buyers, but the combination of the two proved irresistible.

Selling drugs at festivals was easy as the cops didn’t care about dealing or drug use. They were there just to keep everyone safe. Selling drugs at festivals was lucrative. It paid for the camping and tickets, and it paid for his empty apartment back in Philadelphia.

“What’s up?” said a voice.

Cody looked up to see a tall lanky kid somewhere in his mid-twenties. He wore flip-flops and dirty cargo shorts held up by a rope belt. Shirtless, he had thin colorful scarves draped around his neck and his wrists were covered with all sorts of bracelets. His skin was deeply tanned.

“Yo,” said Cody.

“Can I get a hit?”

Cody stretched out his hand towards his new hippie friend and handed him the joint.

“Thanks.”

Cody pointed to a chair next to him. “Take a load off.”

Less than five minutes later, the kid purchased some E and a gram of bud, and had disappeared. Cody knew two things: he’d see the kid again and he’d tell his friends. It was only Thursday and Cody felt good.

***

On Friday, more kids set up camp at the festival, filling the fields with tents of red, blue, green, and orange. Cody straightened out his campsite and came across the warning paper the festival organizers handed out to campers as they drove in. There had been talk that some festival goers had been killed over the last few years, but it was only rumor and with hundreds of festivals over a five-month period, who really knew what was going on. Cody knew the kids wouldn’t care about the warning even with a state police logo on it. They were immortal at this age, immune to everything from bad Molly to coke cut with laundry detergent. Warning or no warning, the kids would still come to him; they always did.

He set up a game of Stump that a group of kids were playing. Once in a while, Cody would join in on the game, flip the hammer, grab the handle in mid-air and swing down on a nail, but never too hard. It’s never good for a drug dealer to win at these games. He even gave out hot dogs, veggie sausage, and Natty Light. The bigger the party, the more drugs he sold. It amazed him out ill-prepared these kids were when they came to a festival. But they always had money for drugs.

***

Early Sunday morning and well after the last EDM show, Cody sat alone, drank a session IPA, and listened to some chilled House. He thought about when he was going to head out. He had two weeks till his next festival and he was beat after four back-to-back festivals.

Nate stopped by. He was around Cody’s age, somewhere in his mid-to-late thirties and he had bought some weed yesterday. Or was it the day before? The days blended together.

Cody offered Nate a cold IPA instead of the shitty Natty Lights he gave to the kids. They talked about the shows they’d seen and whether they were too old for this scene.

After 30 minutes or so, Nate asked for a gram of coke. Cody got up to get it. When he returned, Nate was nowhere to be found.

“Hey,” said Cody in a loud whisper.

“I’m taking a piss,” said Nate from the other side of his neighbor’s car. “The beer went right through me.”

Cody sat down.

Nate came back and asked Cody if he could have another beer. 

Cody nodded.

Nate walked over to the cooler that was slightly out of Cody’s reach and with one swift movement slammed the Stump hammer on Cody’s head. 

Cody mumbled something and then another blow came down on his skull. Somewhere around the fourth or fifth blow, Cody was dead and on the ground.

Nate removed the wallet, car keys, and a wad of bills from the dead man’s pockets. He grabbed the bag of coke still gripped by the lifeless hand. He dragged the body into a tent and zipped it closed. No one would find the body till Monday afternoon at the earliest.

Nate got into the dead man’s van and drove away.

David Nemeth lives in Wilmington, Delaware with his wife, son, and two dogs. He is a graduate of Emerson College with a BFA in Creative Writing. He is the editor of Unlawful Acts, a columnist at Do Some Damage and has written for The Thrill Begins.