Johnson Sagebrush calls Joe out of the blue. During the call Joe learns that Johnson followed him and Sophie as they walked through thousands of people at the ACL festival. But why did Johnson follow him?
The next day at the festival Joe spots a suspicious man in the crowd, but when he tries to catch him, he is surprised.
After the show Joe learns that Sophie is expecting him at the after party.
Excerpt from Episode 5.
I stood taller than most of the fans and looked right to see Adrian walking at the edge of the crowd, the two security guys at his side. When I raised my hand to wave they saw me and moved into the crowd.
I cut my eyes left and saw the man looking at me, a weird smile on his face. He turned toward Adrian.
“He saw me looking at him,” I said over the radio. Adrian and the security guys pressed through the crowd, still a good way off. When I looked back the man had moved. He walked directly toward the stage, shoving people out of his way.
“He’s moving,” I said. “I’m following.”
My adrenaline kicked in as I jostled by the couple in front of me. “Excuse me. I need to get through. Thanks.” I breathed deeply, my nerves on edge, and moved to the next couple. “Sorry. Yep. Thank you.”
I saw him. He pushed hard by two women. They glared as he passed.
“Pardon me. Thanks. I need to get closer.”
“Hey, man, that’s not cool.”
He had gained five feet on me. How did he get through them so quickly? People stood closer together now. Sophie sang one of her fast-paced country-rock tunes.
I couldn’t see his head clearly, only the straw fedora. Sophie stood a hundred feet from me. I waved my hands at her, trying to warn her. A thousand hands waved along. I grabbed a man’s arm and shoved him to the side.
“Watch it, dude.”
“I need to get through.”
“Fuck you, man.”
“It’s an emergency.”
The hat was gone. Where? I squeezed through the crowd in the same direction, struggling.
“Shit. Yeah. Someone stole my hat,” a man complained to his girlfriend.
She watched the stage without listening to him.
“Where did he go?” I asked.
“I didn’t see him. He just stole my hat.”
“What does your hat look like?”
“It’s a Longhorn cap.”
The man had switched hats. I pressed ahead, searching for a black cap. I moved through a bunch of teenage girls in skimpy clothes. There . . . a black cap.
I stepped between a blond-haired man on the left and a young woman in an orange T-shirt on the right. The watcher had blond hair, but that important fact slipped my mind, and as I stepped again a metal water bottle swung from the left and struck my forehead.
Pain. Sharp pain. No vision. Knees gave out.
I fell onto a small man. He jerked out of the way, and I hit the ground.
I couldn’t move. More pain. My ankle throbbed when someone stepped on it.
My vision returned. Legs were all around me, perpendicular to my line of sight. The tempo of the song was wrong, too slow. A woman in boots stepped on my hand, sending swirls of fire up my arm.
“Shit, what was that?” said the woman. “It’s a person. Someone’s on the ground. Stand back.” She pushed at people around me, shouted at them. “Back up. Give him some space.”
The crowd spread away from me. I touched my forehead. Blood covered my fingers. I looked up and saw the watcher making his way through the crowd.
“Christ. Look at that blood.”
“Watch out. Stand back now.”
A man knelt and studied me with concerned eyes. He put his hand on my shoulder. “Are you okay? Can you stand up?”
Episode 6 will appear on May 5, 2016.