Undone by a wet staircase. And from her pavilion Stevie Knick-knacks sang me a lullaby:
Who is the master
A man and woman on a star stream
In the middle of a snow dream
Show me the high life
Let me put you on ice..."
When I finally came to, night had already fallen across Fire Island. From where I lay on the ferry floor, sloshing in an inch of salt water, Christmas lights twinkled inside the ferry. As my blurry vision cleared, and I oriented myself from horizontal to vertical, I realized I'd been staring through the entry door (that had been left ajar) and at the historic Pavilion nightclub. Thumping dance music echoed through it's windows and a candy hued kaleidoscope spilled colors across the dark, deserted dock.
I slowly found my sea legs and headed topside to look for the captain. His bridge was empty, That door left open as well. The ferry drifted idly, occasionally making a horrendous scraping noise against the dock. Still in a daze from being knocked out, I slowly scanned the deck for mooring rope to secure the ferry. My fuzzy brain considered a spindle of moon-silk twine I'd brought with me. Hardly long enough or strong enough to secure a boat. It took me a moment to realize that I hadn't seen my bag of supplies below deck. Dashing back to the foot of the stairs, I confirmed the dreaded thought. My exorcism kit was missing.
I tried convincing my potty mouth the mishandling of my luggage wasn't worth another brown word, but no use.
Focus on the tasks at hand. The rest will work themselves out somehow. I found a heavy coil of waxed rope and completed securing the ferry. I stepped on to The Pines harbor landing and cautiously walked towards the town's dining and shopping area.
With the exception of the nightclub, The Pines appeared abandoned. Garbage littered the boardwalk. The doors of high-end boutiques sat open, some with transactions of tiny underwear and overpriced sunglasses still on the counters. The Blue Whale and other restaurants were likewise abandoned. A greedy seagull hopped from table to table pecking at leftovers. This was the night the lights went out on Fire Island. With one glaring exception. If one was looking for a possessed drag queen (and I was), the first place to look would logically be the Pavilion where Ms. Stevie Knick-knacks has held court for more than two decades. I found the garish entry way, placed my hand on the doorknob and immediately sensed something stalking me. It briefly scurried along the edges of my astral perception. Then it was gone.
Whatever it was, it was demonic.
I drew my hand back. Shouldn't have touched the door. Stupid of me. A place like this, full of history and so closely connected to the possessed, it can serve as a conduit for the entity's manipulation of the reality inside. If I was going in, it would be with guns blazing. I let my hand hover about three inches from the door's surface. I listened to the beat pulsating from within the nightclub. The thumping intensified. It matched my own heartbeat. My blood pounded from my heart, through my veins, down my arm, to my hand. I whispered a secret word, tapped my fingertips on the surface.
The door tore itself inward off it's hinges.
I charged into the nightclub. I recited a string of hexes and prepared myself for the inevitable gore. I steeled against visions of helpless go-go boys strapped to disco balls, their teensy rib cages cracked wide with their intestines trailing the dance floor, twirling like the grisly garland at a succubus' sweet sixteen. I was ready for the stink of The Void and prepared to do battle with Satan himself!
Instead ... there were only Stevies.
The Pavilion was packed full of Stevies.
An ocean of Stevie Nickses all danced in perfect unison. They ignored me, choosing instead to mimic the languid motions of the dancer on the stage, Ms. Stevie Knick-knacks. I walked through them towards the front of the dance floor. The dancers were a cross section of Cherry Grove and Pines vacationers. Lesbian moms gyrated side by side roidy muscle men. Everyone was adorned in grotesque, last minute applications of Stevie Nicks drag. The club lights colored their white faces, some done with house paint, others pancaked in flour, strange shades of green and orange. Everyone's eyes were smudged with some manner of dark eyeliner. One woman appeared as though she'd taken a permanent ink marker directly to her eyelids. Some wore outfits just as outlandish, but most wore improvised towels and sheets wrapped around their shoulders. They swayed as one, trapped in a Stevie Knick-knacks nightmare. All of them mouthed words as they danced in unison. I closely scrutinized the mustached kisser on a brawny leather daddy. I wanted to find out what the Stevies were saying. I distinctly recognized the word "landslide."
The more I examined the Stevies, the less I suspected infernal magick. But that still didn't explain the demonic blip that showed up on my astral radar...
I finally pushed my way to the front of the stage past all the Stevies. I shoved aside a burly man holding a familiar carpetbag. It was the ferry captain! And he had my bag of exorcism supplies. He had also applied an excessive amount of engine grease to his eyes and was--
He was tipping Ms. Stevie Knick-knacks a dollar! He then turned, joined the twirling Stevies and began dancing along with them. And he still had my bag. I lunged to grab it back.
But at the last moment I felt compelled to approach the stage.
I squinted my eyes through the shining stage lights and regarded Ms. Stevie Knick-knacks. She was so beautiful. She wore a floppy, bohemian hat that defied the expectations of gravity. Her long, blond hair framed her porcelain face in gypsy ringlets. Her dark eyes, dark as the night's new moon, haunted me, but still I looked. She was styled in a corset of leather and lace. And wrapped tightly around her petite frame was the sheerest shawl I'd ever seen. As she danced she held the shawl above her head. And she spun in place, her feet not touching the stage.
I had to tip her a dollar. I put that sacred dollar in Ms. Stevie Knick-knacks' manicured, delicate hand. And she thanked me. I felt so blessed.
I joined the other Stevies. And all the Stevies danced as one! We put our hands up to the chromatic ceiling of the Pavilion. The chorus of Stevies sang as one!
"Thunder only happens when it's raining!"
This night would last forever! We were all lost yet found in utter catharsis.
As a result not a single one of us noticed when dozens of demonic deer ticks, some as big as kittens, scurried into the Pavilion through the remains of the shattered door. And not a single Stevie stopped dancing as the bloated, green arachnids eagerly climbed the swaying bodies of the entranced vacationers and greedily attached themselves to exposed necks and armpits.
We just kept singing, "Players only love you when they're playing!"
Deer ticks, my ass...