Bars hired us to entertain their patrons, transporting them from their mundane lives, giving them a reason to dance, get thirsty and horny; not that anybody needs a reason to be horny, a perpetual state for half of the human species.
My sister and I were glittery songbirds that would fly above a crowd of normalcy. We belted out rock-n-roll in our tight spandex and thigh high boots, which left little to the imagination as to what kind of curves we were sporting. Men fantasized about being with us, women wanted to be us. Above it all was the relentless pounding music and flashing lights stirring a primal need in the crowd. Liquor flowed like a river and we provided the rapids. At least, that is how it went most nights.
Dede and I took the stage and peered out at the crowd before blinding lights blurred all but the near vicinity. It was a large bar and already full. I winked at Dede and said, “It should be a good night.”
We ripped off our opening song with gusto and segued into the next two without pause. When the music stopped, there was complete silence. Dede and I glanced at each other; this was an unexpected response. Within a heartbeat, Dede started her usual banter with the crowd lost to us in the black beyond the lights. I hand signaled our soundman to come up and confirmed with him everything was technically ok. Fuck, reassessment, it was going to be a very long night.
Bands feed off of the energy in a room; we were starving. I started switching up the set just to see if I could get some kind of reaction. Nothing was working. Maybe they just didn’t like us. We were in a rock-n-roll bar and we were a rock-n-roll band. It didn’t make sense. With relief, our first set ended and we made a beeline to the band room.
“Well, at least they aren’t throwing shit at us,” Jamie, my keyboard player remarked before flopping down in an old, threadbare easy chair.
“I guess that is something,” I said. “Tim, go get Squid. We need to find out what’s going on.” Tim shuffled out to get my soundman. A few minutes later, Squid came in carrying a tray of shots.
“Here,” he said. “Compliments of the house. Trust me, you are going to need them.” We all took a shot and downed it.
“What the hell is going on?” I asked.
“Fuck, I don’t know, the bar is full but you aren’t going to believe this.” Shaking his head, he lit a cigarette before continuing. “There isn’t a single goddamn woman in the entire place except for you and Dede.”
“What?” I asked. I had heard him just fine. He was right. I didn’t believe him. “Are they bikers?”
“Not so far as I can tell. They are just sitting or standing around. None of them are taking their eyes off you girls and they are drinking a shit ton.”
“Great,” I sighed. “Ok, here is what we are gonna do, lets pull out some harder shit and see if that shakes em loose.”
It didn’t. Towards the last half of the set Dede was starting to lose her voice, too many screamers in a row that we weren’t used to. At this point, I didn’t care if there weren’t any women in the joint; my biggest concern was keeping Dede’s voice in tact. Looking at the boys, I called out for a power ballad that I sang to give Dede a break.
The lights dimmed, the music thrummed and I took center stage. I was singing when a massive, shadowy movement caught my attention. Shambling up to the stage was a sea of plaid flannel. This took me back for a moment but not for long. Men surrounded me, I was singing a love song, so of course, I played to the crowd trying to pull them in. Looking out at their faces should have worried me. It was like a cross between “Dawn of the Dead” and “Deliverance”. There was a hunger hidden behind their blank stares.
Dede and I started into the next song and the crowd seethed forward. The front rows began pressing up against the stage. They started to grab at my sister and me. Some of them even tried to crawl up on stage. My guitar player and bassist were pushing men away with their feet, trying to keep them off the stage.
By the time the set was over there was no way to escape. Squid and my light man swam through the crowd from behind making an opening. My boys encircled Dede and me in a protective bubble as we tried to make our way back to the band room. Scary hands reached inside our bubble grasping and tugging at us; I could feel a deep growl emanating from the crowd pressing in on us. We somehow made it to safety with our clothes still on and hair attached to our heads.
The boys barred the door with their bodies to make sure nobody could get in the room. “Jesus Christ!” I exclaimed. “I know what happened to the fucking women. Those zombies ate them and we are next on the damn menu!”
Dede and I survived a week of this. How we managed to avoid ending up in some secret bloody bone pile outside of town is a mystery.