Saturday Night Fever
By Michael Dempsey
Saturday night was our time for really letting loose. We met outside The Horse & Rider, then got on the number fourteen bus to Fox's Disco. I had put some Wella gel in my hair and styled it simply. As a guy I'm not usually fussed about how I look; Saturday night, I just tried to look different, and look good. Hence my grey-blue jeans with the "worn" look worth forty pounds, and my sixty-quid Nike trainers. I was with my girlfriend, Nat (short for Natalie), my best mate Dan, and his bird, Rachel. We were stood in the queue outside Fox's for ten minutes. The atmosphere was keyed up and loud; several of the young people in the line were quite drunk. How they managed to dance drunkenly without being sick amazed me.
We were just behind the red rope. The "bouncer", who was at least six feet tall with a very impressive build, looked down on us suspiciously. I felt slightly intimidated by his black suit and small, calculating eyes. Nevertheless I was eager and restless; I'd had five long days of work and now I wanted some fun. I had never been to Fox's before.
The rope was unclipped and the four of us walked through the silvery double doors, into a tall and brightly lit corridor with a thick blue carpet and deep scarlet walls. We approached the doors that would take us into the ballroom. I could see flickering lights and people dancing through the circular windows. My excitement got the better of me, and I let out a great 'Whoop!' The others laughed, and before another second was over we were through the doors.
Pop music blared from huge speakers. It was loud, much too loud to stand and chat. It was claustrophobic; there were surely at least two hundred people in the hall, packed onto the dance floor. Everyone was moving to the music and having a good time. Shadows flitted about everywhere in the red and blue lights that swept over the crowd from above. To the left was the bar in the corner. The right end of the room lived in darkness.
I felt incredibly awkward. I was going to dance, I knew that; it was just that I had to start dancing, to get my limbs in motion, and had a very nervous feeling that the moment I did every face would turn in my direction and the music would die completely.
I brought my arms up, but was rescued by Nat, whose mouth was moving and I realised that she was speaking, but I couldn't hear her.
'WHAT?' I yelled.
Nat raised her voice; she literally screamed it in my ear. 'LET'S GO AND DANCE OVER THERE!' She was pointing towards the furthermost corner from us, which was diagonally to the right. From where I stood it looked quite dark behind the speakers and almost isolated.
Knowing it would be foolish to argue with my girlfriend, especially in this sort of place where there were plenty of single guys with whom she could go out if she became bored with me, I shrugged resignedly and allowed her to pull me by the hand through the thicket of dancers.
Then we started dancing. This isn't so bad, I told myself. Dan and Rachel moved with energy and flare. I tried it with Nat, took her by the hands, but she wouldn't reciprocate. For some reason she was looking bored, and her movements were negligible and unvaried.
We twirled and I dipped her; I saw her smile at me in that way, the light reflecting in her beautiful hazel eyes. Finally. Then she placed her hands on my shoulders, and I automatically put mine on her hips. We moved more. We were laughing. We were like a couple.
The music was getting faster. It was blurring and the lyrics were becoming harder to decipher. It was not made easier by the fact that we were behind the speakers, and out of the way. I'd begun to get tired already.
As we swung round, I found myself facing into the dance floor with Natalie behind me. Dark figures laughed and skated past my eyes. The music pounded in my ears, and I didn't mind. I was having too much fun to be bothered about feeling tired or my ears becoming damaged.
The only thing that bothered me was the sight of the man in the middle of the dance floor, who by his shadow stood out prominently.
His body was unmoving. He stood, but his knees were bent and he was leaning, as though to crouch. His hands were clamped across his stomach. I got the impression that he was in a lot of pain.
But no one else had spotted him; nobody saw. He stood alone while the others around him were in couples, and paying attention to only their partners. Only I had seen him. Only I was the witness. My mind was working fast. What could I do, I wondered. I knew I should call for an ambulance. I also knew that I was with my girlfriend.
At this point I turned to Nat and mouthed, 'I'm just going to see if that guy's alright.'
I moved away, dancing inconspicuously, my eyes focused on the person before me. I got closer, all the while aware of the other bodies darting around us. Still no one else had noticed. I came up next to him, and put my hand on his shoulder.
The man's head snapped up in surprise. In the red and blue glow I saw his eyes…wide. And his face was so horribly pale. His mouth opened and closed inconsistently. I was wrong; he wasn't in pain.
He was in agony.
I spoke in his ear, 'What's wrong?' then drew back to see him respond.
The man looked at me for a moment before opening his lips.
Something bubbled out and trickled down his chin. Some dark, slightly viscose fluid. I frowned as I watched it soak into his collar. Then I realised what it was.
I started, panic sweeping through me. The man's arms slid down by his sides and I saw the tears in his shirt, and the slashes across his chest. And the red blood that was soaking through his clothes, and spreading in a dark puddle across the floor, beneath our feet…
My head pounded with much more than music. Fear gnawed at the edges of my mind, preventing me from thought. I tried to blot everything else out but was so scared that it felt as if my heart was thudding in my throat.
The man's eyes began to glaze. His stance weakened, and he slid onto the floor. He was dead.
He'd been murdered.
I crouched because I myself felt so incredibly weak. My head felt as if it would it explode. I shut my eyes but the man's face still lingered inside them; twisted, white and petrified…
He was murdered! Oh god someone killed him and no one else has noticed
I got slowly to my feet. No one saw me do so. I took one step, then it happened to me. I felt pain spring up all over my back. Agony such that I'd never felt in my life scorched my whole body as if I was on fire. It hurt so much that tears started in my eyes. I wanted to scream but it felt as if I'd a shard of glass down my throat.
I sunk again to my knees. The pain was unbearable. I could not see at all. The music was a faint whisper on the horizon. My hands were on the floor but I couldn't feel the floor beneath my palms.
A shadow loomed over me suddenly; through the tears I could see it hovering, and prayed: please help me…
Natalie's voice was mischievous and provoking. 'Ssh,' it said in my ear. 'Nobody saw.'
And the knife came down again.