The spot grew bigger, and stage lights came up showing the others behind him. Together, they sang Reaching for the Moon by Irving Berlin. Before he finished the short, emotional song, he was in tears. He heard sniffs and sniffles around him. When he finished, he dropped his head.
“I loved you,” he whispered, not expecting the microphone to pick it up.
Leaving the stage to thunderous applause, he handed off the microphone and went to his dressing room. Without stopping to change, he grabbed his bag and clothing, marching out the stage door. He’d forgotten all about Aaron, only concerned with getting outside as soon as possible. No one tried to stop him. They all knew what had happened, but had no idea Eoin felt so strongly about the young woman who was killed. Blindly rushing to the parking lot, he didn’t pay attention to his surroundings until he heard a scuff and shuffle to the rear.
“Perty lady like you ought not to be out on her own,” a rough voice, at his heels, said.
Eoin swung around to see a grubby individual in a shabby Army jacket and tattered jeans. He was slight of build, but looked fast and held a knife as if he knew how to use it. Tossing his bundle of clothing out of the way, Eoin wished for a weapon. He didn’t even have an umbrella like Deirdre had. Casting a quick look over his shoulder, he noted no one else was creeping up on him. The knife wielder took that moment to rush him. Having expected that, Eoin blocked with his leather messenger bag. Knocking his attacker back a step, he lowered his stance, taking a more defensive position. The position wasn’t easy in a tight dress and six inch heels, but he managed.
The assailant rushed him again. This time, Eoin used the bag as a weapon, slapping the knife away with the flat of it. He drove the edge into the man’s throat and stomped on his foot with the six inch stiletto. Screaming, the other man leaned over, grabbing at his foot. Eoin brought his knee to the man’s jaw and smacked him on the back of the head with his bag. Aaron raced out the back of the club, Eoin yelled at him. It wasn’t words, so much as a growl of anger and desperation.
Aaron ran to his side and put his foot on the back of the assailant’s neck, keeping him on the ground, while he called for back up. “You okay, Eoin?”
“Yeah. Yeah.” He gasped to catch his breath, clutching Aaron’s arm.
“You go wait inside. I’ve got this.”
“I don’t think I can walk yet.”
The criminal wiggled and writhed, but Aaron’s booted foot kept him down. He hadn’t thought to search the other man, not realizing he was armed. Eoin saw the knife blade arc to stab Aaron in the leg. Roaring like a rabid lion, he kicked the knife away and stepped on the man’s hand. His heel sank into sinew and flesh.
The man screamed, calling for help, and that’s when the police arrived. It took some fast talk, on Eoin’s part, to keep from being arrested for assault. With Aaron’s statement, and copies of the security video, they let him go and carted the other guy off for medical attention.
“You sure you’re okay, Eoin?” Aaron said, after the cops left.
“Yeah. Maybe. I don’t know. I thought my life was finally falling into place. The love of my life came back to me, we were going to start a life together.” His face collapsed. Drawing a shuddering breath, he clung to Aaron’s arm. “She’s dead. And I should…I should have stopped her. Found her the money.”
“I’m going to take you home,” Aaron said. “They can manage without me at Deidre’s house. I’ll tell the guy at the door. You’ll be okay?”
“Yeah.” He bent over to gather his scattered belongings, trying not to cry.
Aaron came back, Stacy, the hostess, in his wake. She often acted as house manager, as she was tonight. “You okay, sugar?” She squatted by him, taking his face in her hands.
Stacy gave him a soft kiss on the cheek. “It’s gonna be okay, sweetie. You ever need a shoulder, you call me, okay? I lost my fiance a year ago, in Iraq. Friends help.”
“Thanks. Right now, I wanna go home and drink myself into oblivion.”
Stacy gave him a hug and helped him gather his things. Once he was settled in the car, Aaron drove him home. Taking Eoin’s keys, he went in and checked to make sure no one was skulking inside. Satisfied it was clear, he let Eoin go in.
“Drinking it away doesn’t work,” he warned. “Trust me. You just wake up, hungover, with the same problem. Better to just try for a good night’s sleep. You call me if you ever need to talk. You’ve got friends, Eoin. You don’t have to do this alone.”
“Thanks, man. I appreciate it.” They exchanged a brief hug.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes