Tales From the Gay Bar – “A Scary Night” or “The Tempest”

Posted: November 1, 2013 in TFTGB
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

They said the first big autumn storm would hit us sometime that afternoon. It was cold and windy and a miserably icy rain was falling in heavy drops. I walked to work in the rain, watching the river trundle and tumble along. I, in turn, was being watched by all the smiling faces with Photoshop-white teeth staring down from every lamppost. It’s that crazy time again. The time where young men in their nicest shirts, ruin their first pair of dress shoes by trotting through puddles to fling flyers at innocent people passing by. The time where men in their fifties try (and fail miserably) to reach out to the younger generation by rapping and using slang that was “hip” 3 years ago. #YOLO! The time where perfectly happy families are torn apart by a tiny little X on a piece of paper. The time where people of questionable intelligence, make YouTube videos with racist and hateful propaganda simply to stand out. The time where people of even MORE questionable intelligence proclaim “I’m not even going, I mean what’s the point anyway?” The time to make a stand, do your duty for queen and country and defy the weather to claim the rights you hold as a citizen of a democratic country. Election time!

I have no idea why I went on a long tirade about that, it’s not even the election for the government; it’s just the local and regional elections. Anyway I walked to work, it was raining, that’s all I meant to say.

Because of the storm warning it had been a very quiet afternoon, only a few people having a beer of cup of coffee on their way home from work. Once the wind really started howling they all hurried home. I had a little paperwork to do and it didn’t seem like there would be a lot of guests, so I sent Laura home early and brought the laptop into the bar.

It was really coming down outside, I had the news up on the TV in the barroom and they were warning people to stay indoors. I was hoping it would blow over soon, not really fancying the prospect of having to sleep in the backroom. News coverage showed trees toppling over, roofing tiles smashing against the streets below, blocked trains, motorways where people got out and walked, scaffolding collapsing, it was a bit scary and I didn’t want to risk going out. Instead I got back to work, for about five minutes, then the TV went black, in fact everything went black.

The power had gone out.

The entire street was covered by a veil of deep darkness and from upstairs came a scream of terror. I ran to the backdoor, tore it open and sprang up the stairs. On the landing of the second floor stood our upstairs neighbor, she was shaking like a leaf, huddled over and clutching her head in her hands. She gave a small yelp of fright as I touched her shoulder. “Veena what’s wrong?” She mumbled something indistinctly in reply. I pulled her up straight and tried to get her to look at me, but she avoided my eyes. I asked her again and this time she said “That voice…It just…That voice…” “What voice, what did it say?” She stopped shaking, her eyes met mine and she, with an almost chilling calmness, said “Come to me”.

She began shaking again and I left her on the landing to go look for whoever had scared her so badly. Her apartment was completely empty. No one was there and I tried to explain that to Veena, but she refused to go back. She was sure whoever had spoken was still there somewhere. I could hardly leave her out on the cold staircase so I brought her down into the bar and gave her something to calm her nerves.

We talked for a while in the now candlelit bar and she seemed to calm down a bit. In the end she convinced herself it was just a silly prank someone had pulled on her and she decided to go back upstairs. I may have helped her with the decision by referring to the mountains of paperwork I had to do. She would just, she said, pop out to use the loo, drink up and be out of my way. “Good” I thought “now if the power would just come back so I don’t have to do the math myself once the laptop battery runs low, that would be perf” and my thoughts were cut off by another of Veena’s screams.

She came running out of the bathroom, eyes wild, soap on her hands, screeching “I heard it again, in the bathroom!” By now I was sure she was the one pulling my leg so I asked “Oh? What’d it say this time then?” She told me that in a strange accent it had said the words “Join me”. It all sounded a bit too much like “we all float down here” to me and I didn’t believe a word she said, I was just about to tell her that when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. A movement in the empty barroom.

I turned around and there was Table, standing in the middle of the floor.

How had it got from the backroom and out here? Ever heard the phrase “Don’t ask if you don’t want to know”? I shouldn’t have asked. Table started sliding around the floor in a slow circle. The other tables soon joined him, then the chairs as well. The glasses on the bar lifted themselves into the air and slowly floated towards us. The chairs and tables now closed in on us as well. The paintings tore themselves from the walls, magazines came off the racks. A bottle opener pushed it’s way through the mass to the front of The Army of Inventory. It hung in the air, glittering silently, everything was quiet, every thing seemed calm.

Then the bottle opener launched itself and only an uncoordinated and slightly embarrassing scurry to the right saved us from the hurtling piece of metal that came at our heads. The rest of the army followed, glass splintered against the walls, chairs were falling over each other to get to us and all we could do was jump and duck and vault ourselves through the battlefield. As we were nearing the door Table jumped out from the fray and blocked it. His tabletop was shaking and the screws holding the legs in place were oozing a dark red liquid. Blood?

I didn’t even think, I just put my shoulder down and ran. I went straight for Table’s bad leg. The sound of wood splitting told me what had happened. I didn’t take the time to look back. I merely yanked the door open and pulled Veena outside with me. We ran up the street. Nothing seemed to be following us out of the bar as we rushed towards the police station.

The storm was at it’s worst. With rain pelting our heads and winds that would sweep you off your feet, we struggled on. A row of roofing tiles slid down and crashed to the ground to our right as garden furniture rushed past us on the left. An old bicycle, wheels bent and broken by the storm came rushing towards us and we fell to the ground.

As we got back up, soaked and shivering, an election poster, hanging on for dear life, screamed at us from a lamppost. Blood came rushing out of it’s eyes as it, with an accent I couldn’t quite place boomed “WE WILL BE ONE!”Posters on every lamppost joined in “JOIN US, COME TO US, YOU WILL BECOME ONE OF US” they screamed with blood spurting from their mouths.

Veena could take no more. She ran. I cried out to her, but the storm took my voice. A mighty gust of wind lifted her off her feet and slammed her against a wall. As she was flying she screamed, at the moment of impact she became silent. I ran to her. Blood was trickling from her right ear as I lifted her head into my lap. I shook her shoulder gently, afraid to hurt her further. She came too and slowly opened her eyes. She spoke, it was no longer her voice, it had taken on that strange accent and as a single bloody tear ran down her face she said “Join us Neo, become one of us”.


I backed away, scurrying on my hands and feet as she rose, slowly. “You know you want to, it’s so easy, just give in, be one of us.” A quivering orange glow surrounded her whole body. She flowed towards me, her feet no longer touching the ground. The orange glow seemingly suspending her in mid air.

“Wh-who are you? What have you done to Veena?”

She came ever closer; her hands reaching out to grab me and as she spoke I finally recognized the accent. “Veena is no more, instead say Hallo to Ween!”

The orange glow leaped at me, lifted me up and filled my mind with pumpkins and monsters. I closed my eyes and my sense of nationality slipped away. Bald eagles flew, star-spangled banners waved, I saw Wal-marts and Wendy’s, Soccer moms in gas guzzling SUVs and fat CEOs waving cash from limousines, I saw the statue of liberty high-fiving Donald Trump and Oprah riding a rollercoaster at Disneyworld. In God I trusted and everything was American.

I awoke with a start.

I was sitting at the bar, my head resting on the laptop keyboard and the rising sun was shining through the windows. The tempest had passed and the Americanization of my nation had merely been a horrible nightmare.

And then I saw it, in the window across the street, a carved pumpkin grinning at me!


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