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Art by Sean O'Keefe 2020

Dance Fever Part III


Greg Smith



Bronx, New York, 1978. The three killers descended the stairs guns-in-hands. They stepped over dead and dying club-goers. Fear and gore stank the basement. Survivors crawled for shadows. Disco night with Donna had hemorrhaged into a nightmare. Gang-bangers overran Plato’s Cave disco and imprisoned everyone in the basement. My sugar swooned in shock when the bloody assault came. She was my lookout. We had to survive.

“Brown!” bellowed the machine pistol butcher. He was young. His face was hard. “This is on you, Brown. You had to keep ’em quiet. Sitting tight.”

Some prisoners had charged the door when an escape attempt in a dumbwaiter failed. The death squad opened fire on them. Now they scanned the darkness for me.

“Brown!” called his scum-sucking partner. “come out. Bring the girl. It’s better for you.”

“Brown!” yelled machine pistol.

The gunmen prodded the dead and dying. They eye-balled the living. Smoke from the earlier fire hung in the air. A man broke for the stairs. He took a barrage of lead in his back. Women screamed. Men whimpered. Everyone shrunk into dark corners. My two-shot Derringer and police training were no defense.

I pressed Donna flat to the darkened wall. She revived and screamed. I clamped a hand over her mouth and hauled her off. The machine pistol burped. Muzzle flash lit the void. Plaster exploded where we were. Hostages cried. Donna struggled. I clenched her and ran to the rear.

I dragged the body of the Latin guy—murdered in the stupid escape attempt—from the house dumbwaiter. It fell in a pile. I jammed Donna into the carriage.

“When this stops, get out," I lowed.

Slamming the vertical doors shut, thumbing the down button, I threw a Hail Mary to God. The electric motor buzzed and I crashed to the floor. The gunmen fired a barrage in my direction.

Excited shouts came from the dance floor level. Footsteps pounded into the kitchen. A loudmouth barked: “Kill whatever’s in it,”

The murder squad vacated the basement. I rose and pressed the call button on the dumbwaiter. It lit but the engine did not start. Donna had opened the door in the sub-basement. She was safe. I smiled and edged softly to the stairs. Can I make a break for it?

The men upstairs shouted and pounded the kitchen-level dumbwaiter door.  The engine restarted. I ran back and pressed the buttons madly. The carriage whizzed upwards past me.

Leaping over bullet-decimated corpses, I pushed aside dazed survivors and ran up the blood-slick stairs. The creep with the machine pistol stood alone on the dance floor. He didn’t see me. The Derringer pistol came out.

In the kitchen the dumbwaiter stopped and the door rattled open. The gangsters shouted among themselves. The punk looked to the commotion. No gun shots rang. Donna had sent it empty. Smart move. I stepped into the club and fired both barrels into machine-pistol’s skull.

Gore burst from the punk’s face and he keeled. I grabbed his gun. A slick old dude on a banquet looked at me. I put one into his gut. He gasped and doubled over. I ran for the exit. Footsteps pounded from the kitchen. Its double doors blew open and I sprayed a fusillade of bullets into the first man out. Trigger men behind him fired their guns. I threw myself into the maze of tall cocktail tables and rolled to the DJ’s booth.

“Get that mother...,” ordered the loudmouth.

My fingertips touched a lighting control board. Flipping the master switch and pushing all the levels high flushed the club with bright, swirling light. The mob shouted. One slid across the gore of the hard-faced killer. He danced an inept Hustle and fired blindly in the wrong direction. He hit his own man.

A reel-to-reel tape player stood ready-spooled. I hit “play.” The Bee Gees shook the world with deafening syncopation.

“You can tell by the way I use my walk...”

I directed the show. The dance floor flashed in alternating panels of red, blue, and white. A twirling, mirrored ball descended refracting shards of multi-colored, crystal light. Barry Gibb’s falsetto soared. I sang along. The dancing gangster fools staggered. Picking them off was easy. I made head shots, body shots, and double taps. It was a blood fest. It was a thrill and I loved it.

“Ooo. Ooo. Ooo,” I thought.

Police Intel would report the mayhem was a rival gang muscling into the dance club cocaine racket. That fine white powder crowned itself king of New York nightlife. I wouldn’t care. Each kill brought me closer to Donna.

“Stayin’ alive! Stayin’ alive!”

Yeah, I love her.

Greg lives and works in New York City. Stop by his website The New York Crimes at nycrimelimericksandbeyond.com for fun, free stuff. And please, enjoy!

Sean O’Keefe is an artist and writer living in Roselle Park, NJ. Sean attended Syracuse University where he earned his BFA in Illustration. After graduation, Sean moved to New York City where he spent time working in restaurants and galleries while pursuing various artistic opportunities. After the birth of his children, Sean and family move to Roselle Park in 2015. He actively participates in exhibitions and art fairs around  New Jersey, and is continuing to develop his voice as a writer. His work can be found online at www.justseanart.com and @justseanart on Instagram.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2020