Chapter 1: Playa Del Surf

It was a decent gig.

On a summer night in Playa del Surf, a rock band played to an outdoor crowd of burger-joint patrons and local fans. A salty breeze cooled the warm, sand-sprinkled asphalt of the parking-lot performance. The band, Riff and the Riptides, consisted of five young men wearing tropical shirts, beach shorts, huaraches, and bushy hairdos. Their stage was a flatbed trailer decorated with hologram balloons and old surfboards. It was a busy night at the restaurant; partly because it was high-tourist season, and partly because the band was becoming quite popular.

Amid the sounds of twangy surf-tones, three-part harmonies, and screaming fans, the five musicians were readying themselves for what was likely to be their big break: a national-exposure broadcast gig in Capitalis on Friday. Tonight’s Monday performance was to be their last prior to the mondo gig. The positive energy of the twisting-contorting young attendees, many of them vacationing tourists from other parts of the country, reaffirmed the notion they were onto something big.

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