She was standing at the back on the church, clutching her chest and loudly gasping for air. The gasps were so dramatic, they could be heard over Guantanamera. Her eyes angry, like she was possessed by a devil. Then she disappeared into the rows of pews.
This is how I die.
It was a Wednesday night in the middle of winter.
The community choir had gathered at a historic church for a dress rehearsal for their upcoming concert. The program was entirely in Spanish, and for the choir, made up of mostly white people from Brooklyn, it was a tough task.
It was after hours at the church and the overnight guard let the group in. The choir had been asked to be on time for a 6:45pm start, but as per usual, only half of the group had arrived on-time.
The piccolo player, who had been warned repeatedly not to be late, was no where to be found.
A few members tried to find the restroom in the vestibule to relieve themselves before the rehearsal started but the lights were off and no one could find their way. Someone shouted, take your phone with you! Brilliant idea.
Equipped with cellphone flashlights, the women made their way down the dark hallway and found the restroom. One of them keeping their phone on so everyone could see what they were doing in the dark restroom.
Finally at 7:00 pm, most of the group had assembled and they slowly made their way to the assembled risers. Then, right on cue, the complaints started. It’s too dark in here. People shouldn’t be standing on the floor. I can’t see. We look a mess.
There was nothing more this group liked to do than complain.
As the conductor raised her arms the pianist played the first note to cue the soloist for the a cappella song and the pianist tentatively started beating his drum. The choir was in tune and everything seemed to off to a good start.
The group made it through the first song but everything came crashing down when the pianist forgot how he was to transition to the second song on his drum. Everyone was annoyed as they had gone over this transition multiple times and every time they ran it, he couldn’t remember what he was doing.
Finally, he banged the drum correctly and everything was back on track.
Half way through the song, a soprano who constantly interrupts rehearsals came running, or more like quickly shuffling, into the church. She was 30-minutes late and mumbling so loud we couldn’t hear each other sing.
This particular woman had survived a brain injury that makes her lose her senses, but it’s unclear if she was this disruptive before the brain injury or not. I would imagine she was.
As the choir sang, the soprano ran over to the piano and threw her bag on it and passed her coffee mug to a woman on the risers. The woman on the risers looked at the coffee mug and then looked at all of us with a surprised look. The soprano continued digging through her bag on the piano when the pianist had to stop the song and ask her to move because he couldn’t see the conductor.
This prompted a response laden with frustration from the late soprano, who threw her bag on the floor, grabbed her music, and climbed the risers (still in her winter coat, hat, and scarf) and pushed people out of the way so she could get into place.
The song started back up and finished. Other than the interruption, it had been a success, so the next song, Gala La Dia started. During the chorus, a tenor’s cell phone went off and the least patient alto of the group yelled, “turn your damn phone off.”
As they continued singing Gala La Dia, a loud pounding suddenly rang out from the other side of the church door and everyone jumped.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
The alto closest to the side door stepped off the riser and timidly walked to the door to see who it was.
The pounding sounded like an angry mob and it got louder and louder as she crept towards the door.
To be continued.