Crowd Noises

Saturday night and the scent of skin, freshly washed and sprinkled with expensive, come-hither perfume filled the air.  Amps jiggled in wooden cages, as the steel guitar sent out a vibration that pounded against ribs and made the air hum inside their lungs.  Drums seduced idle feet out from under tables laden with shot glasses.

Dancers jumped to the rhythm of the band, hips complying with the cadence and heads bobbing to the beat.  But the two young lovers swayed to a different tune.  They pressed their bodies together, churning slowly.  He nuzzled her ear.  She turned her head.  Their feet paused, as their bodies rocked—out of sync—to the music.  Their lips melted into a kiss.

“Get a room,” an anonymous heckler hissed and the crowd chuckled.  The two lovers could not or would not hear these sounds.  Their new-found lust overpowered the music, vanquished the dissenting mob, and subdued the entire existence of the world beyond their own corporeal forms.

Sweaty rockers circled the couple, bumped them, mashed them closer together.  The music soared as the drummer’s solo vibrated across the floor.  Feet pounded the blanks, sending echoes up their bones, but the six foot amps and the creaking dance floor were not enough to stir the rocking duo from their dulcet love song.

Exasperated, the crowd sighed and indulged the cuddly pair.  Heads turned toward the lovers, fingers pointed and laughter trailed away, as gyrating dancers eyed them with mounting envy and then quickly looked away.

“Been there, done that,” the crowd said, and their judgment penetrated the music.  “It won’t last,” the jaded ones added with wistful and self-defacing authority.

The couple became a monolith, stalwart and unmovable, as the throng thumped around them.  Buzzing voices added to the lyrics—a busy, frantic noise that moved toward some sexually provocative crescendo.  In this, the lovers complied.

And then she was there like a wasp in the nest, strange and alien and definitely not festive.  She stared at the young couple, locked in their slow two-step and heedless of any danger. The lead singer spotted her first and missed his next stanza, but the drummer, head bent and sweat dripping from his brow, kept going—kept going, even after the steel guitar melted into silence.

“You son-of-a-bitch,” she screamed.  And now she was a counter monolith, challenging the young lovers and disrupting the set.

Someone said, “Oops.”  And someone else said, “Busted.”

The crowd pulled away, making a circle big enough to house the young lovers and this new interloper—this party pooper—but not so far away that they could not witness the impending drama that was about to unfold.  Immediately, the crowd recognized this scene; they understood it completely.  Each, at one time or another, had played one of these roles: the cheater, the cuckolded, or the confused co-defendant.

Finally, the clueless drummer ended his roll, and someone, somewhere behind the bar, flipped a switch.  Light flooded the dance floor.  The scammed wife stood—backbone stiff with resolve, knees wobbling to a beat of their own, and tears trickling down her bloated face—staring at the young lovers.  Over the bulge of her pregnant belly, her hand gripped a gun.  The young couple, captured in tryst and frozen in wordless surprise, blinked in the spotlight.

Female frolickers screeched; males grunted, and the donut hole grew bigger.  Dancers closest to the confrontation moved faster, piercing the circle before word lapped over the mob.

“She’s got a gun,” someone yelled.  The lead singer dropped his mike, and the metal beastie sent its protest through the amps and into the ears of the would-be revelers.  The crowd, fully informed now, rushed outward.  Chairs scraped the floor, tables teetered over, and glass broke like pre-bomb test strikes.  Grumbling, cursing, and wheezing merged into irresolute discord, as bar flies and butt swingers clogged the exit doors, seeking the safety of the parking lot.

A shot rang out, thundering around the acoustic padding.  The double monolith fell as one.  Two more shots—double taps on the sinful pair—just to make sure.  Panic gripped the crowd, and the weakest were squashed against the walls.  Only a few dared to turn their heads and look back at the dance floor.  Most did not want to make eye contact with the Avenger of Broken Vows.  The few, who were brave enough to look back, saw the woman turn the gun on herself.  Saw her shoulders slump over her belly.  Saw her pat the paunch.  Saw her point the short-barreled weapon at the middle of her chest, mid-sternum, and sigh.

Ouch, that’s gon’a hurt,” the crowd whispered to each other. The whisper grew until it was an electric noise itself.

Another boom and she too fell, blooding the floor.  The crowd oohed and halted their stampede.  Voices—braver and louder now—rushed and trebled over the deep base of gunfire.  The squashed and the most diminutive bar patrons took an anxious breath, relieved to gasp one more gulp of air, only to release it again in a post-hysteric and united scream, hiss, grunt, and oh shit.

The young couple lay with their bodies pressed together.  The man moved a little; his blood moved faster:  spurting out, mingling with his lover’s blood, merging toward his wife’s blood.   A moat of blood.

A moment of silence was followed by hushed and indecipherable words, then the hum of  cell phones.

The End


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