Ian stood and moved slowly all the while holding his head. He lifted the bar flap with his free hand and walked behind the bar to a sink. He ran cold water over his hands and splashed his face. Eyes closed, he grabbed a handful of napkins to wipe his face.
Angry waves tumbled in his belly. He turned to the mirrored wall and inspected his reflection.
He stood there for several minutes plucking bits of napkin from his beard.
As the choir grew more anxious, a horrible thought occurred to him. Dear God! No! Ana had already locked the front doors and was in the walk-in fridge arranging the kegs. Ian frantically searched every corner of the bar praying that he’d find The Freak, but he didn’t find anyone lurking in the dark shadows of the bar. He ran to the walk-in fridge and swung open the door. His head whirled in agony. Startled, Ana lost her balance and fell out of sight behind a wall of kegs.
“Ian! What the hell!” Ana said.
Ian’s huge frame took up the entire doorway, his head nearly touching the top of the frame.
Clutching his head, he started toward Ana. He was ready to traverse the wall of kegs when…“Shit, the office,” he thought.
Ian left Ana in the fridge and hurried toward the tiny office that also functioned as the storage room. On his way, he checked behind the ice machine. Nothing. He pushed open the tattered door to the office. The fluorescent light was already on, flickering. Not many places to hide in here unless The Freak buried himself beneath the boxes of bar naps and the bags of 12 oz. clear plastic cocktail cups. He kicked them aside throwing the cups across the small room. He looked beneath the desk where the drop safe was bolted to the floor. Nothing. He pulled on the large free standing cabinet where the petty cash box was kept along with bottles of liquor. Locked.
“Behind the juke box!” he thought. He went for the door and heard the tremble in her voice as she said, “I—Ian, W—what are you…”
Thunder cracked outside shaking the small office. A train moved out overhead and dirty water coursed down the mirrored walls. He was about to explain himself. For the first time this evening, his eyes found hers and, immediately, the choir brought pain that licked the back of his eyeballs. He knew he was plunging...M.C. Brody was born and raised in New Jersey and has, at various points in her life, worked as a bartender, a halfway house shift manager, a higher education administrator, and a federal defense contractor. She graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Criminal Justice and completed graduate coursework at Stevens Institute of Technology. She lives on the Jersey shore with her husband and their three dogs.
Read more of "The Devil's Choir" this October is the first issue of Tainted Tea along with other unnerving tales by Rick McQuiston, Jessica Fowler and Kris Fossett. There will also be sinister art to feast your eyes on.