Sometimes, the road is too tiring and you just want to stay home. Or, if you do want to go out, you keep it local. That was the case last weekend. To match the full moon that shone overhead, I headed to a newly opened watering hole in town called the Full Moon Bar and Grille.
The local paper had a review about their lunch service. They called the food interesting and innovative. The beer and wine lists were unusual and avant-garde. The reviewer also said that, although the place was pricey, it was worth the extra cost. So Saturday night, after I waved goodbye to the train carrying my Good Lady Wife into the city for work, I hopped in the car and headed over.
I was surprised to find the parking lot only half full. I figured that the place was new and word-of-mouth was likely still getting around. Inside, there was little room at the bar but several open tables looked very inviting. Before I sat though, I had to look at the chalkboard over the bar. Obviously, their tap list changes frequently, as there were quite a few erases and rewrites.
Finally, there was an opening at the bar that allowed me to order something different. I should really mention the bar. It showed all the signs of hand carving. Beveled edges, circular designs and a real brass rail at the bottom were only the start. The wood was rich and well stained with a light red color that could have been cherry wood.
I rubbed my hand over the top of the bar just enjoying the feel of the wood.
“Beautiful bar,” I commented.
“Handmade by a local woodworker,” the bartender said. “Would you believe that this is done with a chainsaw?”
“A chainsaw? How did he get such intricate designs in the wood?”
“He’s an artist.”
I paid for my beer and headed back to my table. I noticed that several of the tables in front were brandishing a “Reserved” sign. They weren’t there when I came in.
As usual, I nursed my beer. The area at the front was abuzz with activity. A couple of stools were placed there, along with several microphones. A waitress came by and asked if I wanted a refill. I agreed, but also asked what was going on tonight.
“Why, sir, it’s a full moon. That means it is Open Mic Night here. Around midnight, some of the best performance artists in the area come and bare their souls. Some bare internal organs as well. But it only happens once a month, and tonight’s the night.”
She took my empty glass and walked off.
There was something going on here that I had to know about.
When the waitress came back, I asked if the manager was available. She gave me an odd look but said she’d fetch him right away. In a few moments, a slender man with a scruffy beard and glasses came by.
“My name is Andrew and I’m the night manager,” he said. “Is there something I can do for you?”
I told him that there was no problem. I identified myself as a writer for the horror website, Bloody Whisper and said that I was getting the feeling that there was a story here that might interest our readers.
“Bloody Whisper, huh?”” Andrew said, scratching his chin. “I think I’ve seen reference to you on Google Plus. I am the owner of a circle called Economic Underworld. I think we share some members.”
“Tell me, just who comes to Open Mic Night?”
“Oh, now I see. Did my waitress mention internal organs?”
“Why, yes. Yes she did.”
“We don’t let him in here anymore. One night, that guy placed a spleen on a stool and smashed it with a very large hammer. We had to clean up for hours. Several of our patrons demanded their money back. One of them even ate one of the waitresses. Getting a replacement was very hard, once word got around.”
“Um,” I said. “I think we’re off topic.”
“Oh, yeah. Open Mic Night. That occurs during the full moon. On that night, the creatures that are generally thought to be soulless come and show their soul. Normally we don’t allow creatures of the daylight, like you, to watch the performance. But, you’re a reporter and that’s pretty close to soulless. You can stay if you like and do an article on the place.”
I thanked him for the permission and cursed him under my breath for the soulless part, no matter how accurate it was.
“But be kind,” Andrew warned. “Most of our artists are very sensitive.”
“They don’t sparkle, do they?”
“Please,” he laughed. “We’re the real thing. Not some Hollywood fiction.”
I nursed my second beer and watched as the regular crowd began to slowly leave and others began to take their places. The music shifted from rock to a light classical song. The lights seemed to get dimmer as well.
At the stroke of twelve, most of the seats were filled, including the reserved tables in front of me.
Andrew stepped into the spotlight and walked to a microphone.
“Welcome one and all to the Full Moon Bar and Grille’s Open Mic Night!”
The crowd applauded as best they could.
“Thank you,” Andrew said. “You’re too kind. For our first act tonight, I’d like to present The Three Little Witchies from the Itty Bitty Pool with a little number to start us off.”
Andrew stepped away. There was a large puff of green smoke. When it cleared, three elderly ladies approached the microphone. They were dressed in the typical black frocks with the pointed hats. The one in the middle blew a pitch-pipe that appeared to be made from a human jaw. They all hummed close to the tone and then broke into a chorus of “I’m A Little Teapot.”
As they sang, they actually turned into teapots little by little, until the three teapots just floated at the mikes, still singing the song. The crowd enjoyed it. Most laughed. Several in the audience sang along and became teapots themselves!
In the end, the three witches changed back and took a bow to great applause.
After that, there were several dramatic readings of poetry. The first was a mummy, whose epic poem was written on his wrapping. He read the poem for more than twenty minutes, slowly removing his bandages. In the end, there were two piles left at the mic. One was just a pile of dust; the other was all the bandages. A janitor came out and swept up to make room for the next performer.
The next act was a poet named Frank N.S. He gave a free verse poem that dealt with fire and the love that got away. He seemed very sad about his lost love, which spent most of her time hissing at him. At least, that’s what I got from the poem. It was a little hard to make out, especially when he started screaming about fire.
A vampire approached the microphone next. He was introduced as one of those angry young vampires, only about 250 years old. He pushed back the hair that hung down over one eye and looked at the audience with disdain. Next, he held up two pictures and began his performance.
“Edward,” he said, holding one picture out.
“Jacob,” he said, holding the other picture out.
At that, the two pictures burst into flames. The audience rose to its feet and gave the act a standing ovation. The vampire bowed, but didn’t sparkle.
Andrew returned to the stage to introduce the final act of the night.
A man approached the microphone. He stood, looking somewhat nervously at the crowd. I watched as his eyes started to change.
Hair began to sprout from his face and arms. As it was a full moon that night, it was only natural that a werewolf would be in attendance.
Reaching full form, the werewolf moved to the mic. He looked wistfully at the crowd and began to howl. It was a low mournful call that cut right through a person. In it, you could feel his pain and his suffering. There was no joy in his howl. Needless to say, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I even found myself crying.
Soon, he finished his howling. Another standing ovation was given by an appreciative audience. One of the waitresses came out and handed him a dozen roses. He accepted them gracefully and bowed to the audience.
Andrew came back on stage to thank everyone for coming out and that he would see them next month.
“Remember to tip, not kill, your waitresses,” he said. “Drive safely.”
The lights came up and I found myself nearly alone.
“That was great,” I said. “Can I come back next month?”
“I don’t see why not,” Andrew said. “Here’s a little souvenir of the night.”