'70s Rock

“The lady across the street drowned her son in her aquarium. Just picked him up by his feet, turned him over, and stuck his head in until he stopped struggling. He was two years old,”

“No way,” said Maggie. She curled her fist up against the side of her head, eyes huge, and leaned closer toward me across the pub table. She was into sick shit like this.

“Yeah,” I said. “That’s what I heard, anyway. And later, when the cops asked her why she did it, she didn't have a good answer.”

“How do you not have an answer for that?” she asked. “Like, what did she say?”

"I dunno. She said…”

I rolled my eyes toward the ceiling, tried to remember what my cousin told me. He was a cop, not a first responder, but showed up later to help clean up.

“She said it seemed like she had to do it,” I said. “Like she didn’t have a choice. And she kept singing a song when they took her away."

“What song?” she asked.

“I dunno,” I said. “Brian didn’t tell me. Just some song, I guess.”

“Fuck, man,” she said. “People are sick. I’ve got one like that. About a song. You want to hear it?”

I’d been trying to get Maggie to go out drinking with me for the last six months. I didn’t really want to spend time swapping stories about kids getting drowned, but here we were. I finished my beer, then held up my hand to order another.

She agreed to meet me at The Lamp Post, a dive bar popular with college kids and older townies. We were there on a Saturday night, and the place was crammed full of hipsters and smelly old dudes with long beard. The Post wasn’t really my kind of place, but Maggie liked it. A little bell jingled above the door jingled all night as people came and went. I heard it then as a tall, thin man in a neat white suit stepped through the door. Not the kind of guy who usually drank at a place like this.

“Sure,” I said. “Why not? Hit me with it.”

“This happened a couple weeks ago, in Cincinatti,” she said. “My friend Marcie’s cousin lives there, and she told me about it. A dude was hired to paint this family’s house, and he went crazy and killed all of them. With a paint scraper.”

“No way,” I said. “That’s dedication.”

“Shut up,” she said. “It happened. He killed himself, too. And you know that old song? From the ‘70s? Sounds Good to Me, I think it’s called. I’m not sure who did it.”

“The Between, I think.”

“Yeah, ok,” she said. “Anyway, that song was playing on repeat, at full blast. On the guy’s stereo.”

“Weird,” I said, finding myself distracted again by the man in the white suit. He leaned over the jukebox, just behind Maggie’s head. The skin on his face looked wrong. Like it was pulled too tight, and too shiny. I wondered if he’d been burned or something.

The man pounded the buttons on the jukebox. Like he was searching for a song to play, and couldn’t find it in the bar’s collection of old CDs.

“I know, right? Anyway, the song started making some of the cops sick. Like, really bad headaches. One of them pulled his gun, before someone pulled the plug on the stereo.”

“Pulled his gun?”

“Yeah,” she said. “Marcie’s cousin’s partner. He said he didn’t know why he did it, later. But it gets weirder.”

“It’s pretty weird already,” I said.

“The song was different,” she said. “Like, the lyrics weren’t the same.”

“He probably just heard it wrong,” I said, but my skin crawled.

“That’s what I said,” said Marcie. “But no. Marcie’s cousin is in a classic rock cover band, and they played that song like, a billion times. He had the lyrics memorized, and this was different.”

The song playing on the jukebox ended, and a moment of static filled the speaker system in the bar. Then the opening bars to a familiar classic rock song came over the sound system. A song I’d heard a thousand times before, but different. More insistent, in a way I couldn’t explain.

"Sounds good to meeeeee, man."

“Oh shit,” she said. Maggie’s eyes were wide. She rubbed her temple, like she was getting a headache.

“This is that song.”

"Sounds goooooood to me."

My mouth went dry as a blood vessel swelled and popped in Maggie's left eye, filling the white with red. I coughed once, and tasted blood way back in my throat. Over her shoulder, the bell jingled once more as the man in the white suit left the bar.