THE FESTIVAL OF SAMHAIN
CHAPTER 8- THE FIELD LOUNGE
I'm travelin' down the road and I'm flirtin' with disaster
I've got the pedal to the floor, my life is running faster
I'm out of money, out of hope, it looks like self-destruction
Well, how much more can we take with all of this corruption...
The words of rock band Molly Hatchet rang out from the jukebox inside the Field Lounge, Haddonfield's popular watering hole, where everyone from mill workers to firefighters to insurance salesmen gathered to talk shop, make friends, and most importantly, throw back a few.
Since the workday was not yet completed, the inside of the club was pretty much empty. However, even in the mid-afternoon, several retirees were gathered around the bar, including Steve Spencer, Charlie Nelson, and Jack Hairston. At the back of the bar leaving the restroom was Benny Roth, who promptly bellied up to the bar on a rusted old metal stool. Behind the bar, as always, was Johnny Porelli, the town "authority" on just about everything.
"What are you, a camel?" the raspy-voiced Charlie commented, twirling his salt-and-peppered goatee.
Jack laughed, and Steve was engaged in a side conversation with Johnny.
"Ah, you know, it just goes right through me," Benny insisted. "The doc says the vegetables are keeping my prostate healthy."
"Your doctor is full of shit, Benny," Charlie joked. "Who is your doctor anyway? Loomis?"
The mere mention of that name turned some heads, including Steve and Johnny, who stopped their conversation and glared at Charlie.
"Charlie, what the fuck are you talking about?" Steve asked. "Do you know how stupid you sound? How much have you had to drink?"
"I didn't mean anything by it. I was just making conversation, ya know?"
"Relax, boys," Johnny affirmed, wiping the counter and tossing the towel over his shoulder. "Let me pour you another. On Charlie."
Charlie and Johnny exchanged an awkward glance, then Charlie agreed. "Sure, why not," he reluctantly mumbled.
That seemed to calm the tensions for the moment, and the men resumed their chit-chat.
A few moments later, the front door swung open, and in stepped Sheriff Joshua Barnes.
"Speaking of Loomis," Charlie quipped, trying to get in the last word. "Look what the cat dragged in."
The others all looked over at the door in unison, and Sheriff Barnes, clutching his belt, grabbed a stool at the end of the bar.
Barnes nodded at the group, who raised their glasses to him.
"What'll it be, sheriff?" Johnny asked, walking over to his side of the bar.
"Um, just a seltzer water for now," Barnes replied. "I'm on duty."
"You got it."
As Johnny supplied the sheriff with his drink, a commercial came on the TV behind the bar, catching their attention. The music used in the bed was the very apropos "Halloween" by Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the voiceover was done by everyone's favorite bartender:
"It's almost time, Haddonfield, the clock is ticking! The Festival Of Samhain, Haddonfield's newest tradition, is TONIGHT in Haddonfield square! Local vendors, lots of fun, and most importantly, candy...LOTS OF CANDY! Come experience Halloween like never before, and remember the big giveaway at 9! Don't miss it! And don't forget to wear your masks for free admission. The clock is ticking, Haddonfield, it's almost time!"
Then, as the commercial faded out to the chorus of "HALLOWEEN! HALLOWEEN! HALLOWEEN!", large block letters came on the screen, blinking repeatedly in bright orange text in front of a black background: "FESTIVAL OF SAMHAIN! TONIGHT!"
"Hey hey, nice job Johnny!" Steve exclaimed, tapping his frosted mug against the bar. He was soon joined by the others, who realized that it was Porelli who had voiced the commercial. Most joined Steve in his praise, but a few complained that the commercial was played way too much in the days leading up to Halloween.
Johnny didn't respond. He just held up his hand attempting to both shoo away the praise and quiet the critics.
"Nice job, Johnny," Sheriff Barnes added, complimenting the bartender standing near him.
"YEAH, NICE JOB...JOHNNY," another deeper, more sarcastic, voice echoed from behind them.
Sheriff Barnes immediately turned around, and couldn't believe who was standing there.
It was his old friend Caleb Wilkes, the leader of the Paragons Of Perdition motorcycle club.
"Holy shit, Caleb, how the hell are you?!" Barnes asked joyfully, shaking his hand. Barnes had attended the Illinois police academy with Caleb's oldest son Gregory, and the two had become very close during that time. However, they lost touch after graduation and the years had seemingly flown by. The last he heard, Gregory was serving as a deputy in Springfield, but that was some time ago.
"I'm doing well, sheriff, and you?" Caleb responded, spitting some tobacco into a cup he was holding.
"Oh, you know, another day in paradise. How's Greggy? He still in Springfield?"
"Yep, he's assistant chief now. Once that old coot Stubblefield retires, he's golden."
"Glad to hear it. So what are you doing in Haddonfield? You obviously didn't come all this way just to say hello."
"I'm looking for a member of my club," Caleb informed him. "Boyd Bonham. He had business in Haddonfield last night and never came home."
"You don't say?" Sheriff Barnes pondered. It was then that the truth hit him in a flash. The leather cut. The pool cue. Boyd was one of the victims of the Rabbit In Red. Deep in thought, Barnes knew only Madison's name was officially released to the public. He also knew what it meant once the club found out Boyd's identity, and it wasn't good.
Please God, not this night.
"No, I haven't seen him," Barnes answered, feeling it was best to lie to his friend's face. "I can ask around if you like."
"That would be great, Josh, I appreciate it. The club appreciates it."
They were then interrupted by the loud ringing of Josh's cell phone, which showed 'Sherry' on the caller ID.
"Excuse me, one second, I'm sorry," Barnes apologized, stepping outside to take the call. "I'll be right back."
Orrin Chambers and Brian Bonham, emerging from a back table, approached as the sheriff exited.
"What did he say?" Chambers questioned.
"He said he hasn't seen him," Caleb answered. "But something ain't right."
"No?" Bonham pondered.
"I didn't like the look on his face," Caleb stated. "I think he's hiding something. And I'm not leaving until I find out what it is."
Outside, Sheriff Barnes finished his conversation with Sherry Robinson and made his way back inside the Field Lounge.
However, once he got back inside, he found that Caleb (and the two others bikers) were gone.
"Sheriff," Johnny called out. "Fella you were talkin' to said thanks, and that he would see you later."
See me later? Barnes thought. Terrific. Add an angry biker mob to his laundry list of problems.
"Thanks Johnny," the sheriff responded, dropping some money onto the bar. "I'll check in later."
Waving to the bartender, Barnes also exchanged a knowing nod with Steve Spencer, who was still at the bar and looking in his direction.
The sheriff then went back outside the lounge and got on his department radio from his squad car.
"Barnes to dispatch, over," he called into his radio.
"Dispatch, here. Go ahead, sheriff."
"Shelly, if anyone asks, do NOT release the names of the other victims until tomorrow under ANY circumstances! And please make sure the entire staff knows, so nothing gets leaked to the media-- especially to that nosy Kerry Carson. I'm heading out for my afternoon rounds, then I'll circle back to the station to plan our evening patrol."
"Got it. 10-4, Josh."
"Thanks, hun. 10-4."
Starting up his car, Barnes pulled away from the Field Lounge and casually drove down Main Street, taking in the festive surroundings.
Not far behind were the three bikers, who emerged from an adjacent alley near the bar, looked in the direction of Josh's squad car, and intentionally roared off in the opposite direction behind him.
Proceed To Chapter 9
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