Back of the House

©2023 Mel Reynes do not re-publish without permission

There’s many hidden doors, if you know where to look. 

There a door behind the witches cauldron, or hidden by the exotic tapestry, there’s even one hidden under a teacup. 

This one was in a building made up to look like a crashed spaceship. A bulbous green alien with three eyes waived into the void. The heat of the day was easing off. The tourists had flocked out from the air conditioning to take in their well earned light show. 

No one saw Him leave the parade. 

He passed through the double automatic doors of the fake spaceship, the sales clerk broke character and dashed behind the counter. She quit the next day. Some say she disappeared. Either way, there’s someone with her face working the Nautilus Motel at the edge of town. 

His large form reflected from a thousand shiny trinkets. Some bore His large, smiling face. He even smiled now. He always smiled when with the public. His smile now would stop you cold. The clerk tried to draw it on her mirror before she disappeared.

This secret door was behind a shelf of dried fruit snacks. Each of them had their own flavor. His was very popular, mangorsh chuckle berries. 

He wasn’t laughing now. He clicked the door-shelf quietly back into place. 

The hallway was long and low. The walls were made of rough concrete with deep scratches along the bottom. He removed his hat and held it as He walked. There was a dark stain down the center of the hallway to follow.

There were numerous branches and turns in the tunnel. He knew the way by heart. 

The tunnel curved and wound down slightly. He turned left and took a longer, narrower branch. There was a faint blue light at the end of the tunnel. 

As He moved towards the light, He carefully removed his white gloves, one finger at a time. He folded them carefully and put them in His floppy hat. 

There was no door. Nobody was down there that didn’t need to be. There were no secrets in the back of house area.

He crouched and his large frame blocked the light. From underneath, all you could see was a humongous mouth full of tombstone teeth. 

From somewhere above, a roller coaster wooshed. The old concrete walls trembled, bits of grit settled in the light. 

He backed away from the light, carefully removing his suspenders. With stiff strength and grace He moved like an old boxer. He took off His shoes and gently put them in a metal locker. He placed His overalls and hat on top. 

Stripped down to underwear and a turtleneck, His legs were knobby and strong like a tree. He breathed deeply and sorely peeled off His shirt. It slid up, revealing a chaotic pattern of scars. Body hair grew in patches between deserts of smooth, red skin with old and fresh scars. Under the light, faces seemed to flash across His skin, laughing, crying, screaming. Above His heart were three circles, two small and one large. They were carved so deeply you could almost see bone. 

He placed the turtleneck with the other clothing before closing the box. 

Against the other wall we’re His tools. He walked towards them. Past the man in the chair. The man flinched when a shadow passed over him. 

The tools were His original set, freshly sharpened and polished. Each tool was artfully outlined. If you were to pick one up, you’d see large letters on the chipboard proudly declaring its item. 

There was Anthrax, good for when time was on your side. 

Or the Bow, nice when the flesh was soft. 

He moved through the list. C for Club. D for Dagger. E for Explosives. F for Fire, of course. 

G for Gas.

H for Hammer.

I for Insects. 

And He stopped at J. Old snakes with rusted metal heads coiled neatly on their hooks. The braid wrapped wire was from another era. 

He carefully took them down with His strong hands. He squeezed open the heavy metal head, feeding it with blue sparks of electricity. 

The man in the chair flinched when an ember hit his swollen face. He moaned but didn’t cry. 

One of the broads had started already. Probably the main gal. She liked going for the eyes. It was a shame the man wouldn’t see what was happening. 

But she’d not touched much of the rest. The man had light bruises all over, but that could have happened in transportation. Plenty of soft parts left. And a full mouth that could still scream. And teeth to pull and crunch. 

The man wore a rumpled blue suit. It was very dark from a mixture of sweat, blood, piss. A red tie was cinched into his neck, the man breathed carefully through a tight windpipe. Strapped to a chair with heavy and well oiled leather.

He approached and pumped a thick steel lever that raised the chair to elbow height. He passed both electric clamp heads into one palm. They threw bolts at each other, trying to unite again. With the other hand, He ripped down the man in the chair’s shirt. He exposed a perfect stretch of pale flash. Without tan lines or muscle. 

The man in the chair squirmed and moaned. He tried to swallow but his Adam’s apple was blocked. 

Quickly, He used a large, meaty finger slid between the tie and flesh, snapping it. The man in the chair coughed wetly. 

He stepped over the man in the chair and blocked the light again. A clamp in each hand, the blue sparks arced over His head in a blue halo. The man in the chair tried to speak but couldn’t catch his words. 

As the clamps came closer to the man’s disturbingly asymmetrical nipples, the baby hairs on the man’s chest danced under the snake cables. The air was very cold and the nipples puckered in the frozen air. They barely broke when the clamps bit down.

As the man in the chair screamed, He chuckled to himself. There was still plenty of fun left to be had. The man might even still have one eye left. Something white peaked out from the man’s leaky bloody tears. And even if the man couldn’t see, what was jolly in the light was twice as good in the dark. A full set of fingers, toes, and teeth in that head. There was a long time until he’d be dead. 

He went back to the wall of tools. He wanted to get in His fun before the Big Guy came. Just a little private time for old GG where He could laugh all on his own.

Once the Big Guy came, it would be his brand of fun. The Big Guy especially loved skin. He was especially mad at this one. They were supposed to both honor the Agreement—and the man in the chair had refused. The man had made the silent game not fun at all. No one was happy.

Worse. It had been ineligant. Trying to bring it to the people, as if they really cared. The man put the game on the television. Trying to make it into silly laws. In their heart of hearts, people understood the game. They knew the Back of House was real. They let it happen so they could have their fun at the front of the house. 

And if this man in the chair had just behaved, He could have his own fun at the front or back of the house. Of course the man was invited, it was all the same side really. He had to be an example. 

And, worse yet the man did it for money, to buy himself into a higher office. As if the Big Guy didn’t have enough to spread around and the connections to make it happen. The man in the chair needed only have asked. They would have started on the robot the very next day. The robot’s smile would have rivaled the real thing.

But the man hadn’t played well. He’d been a bad sport.

He turned back to the wall of his tools and lingeemred over N for nails and H for hammer, but didn’t pick either. He settled on a comically large pair of pliers.

He cut the electricity and waited for the man to stop screaming. 

He approached slowly, drooling at the thought of being the first to get those white teeth. 

Throughout the halls, His laugh echoed. 

His echos flew past the members of the Back of House. They moved silently. Their brightly colored shirts shown in the dim light. The members smiled with taught grins, gliding through their tasks. 

Above them, people gleefully screamed. 

The screams mixed with the parade cheers and calliope. 

The back and front of the house were happy.