The screaming grew louder and louder. Not everyone could hear it over Fina Estampa, but two women on the top riser could. They turned around and saw the soprano, red-faced, head to head with the overnight guard. Screaming bloody murder, pointing her finger at him and grabbing her neck with the other hand like she was choking.
The overnight guard was an elderly black man and it was unclear if the situation was about to unfold as most horror films do, where he would be the first victim. But luckily for him, she spun off into a back room and she continued to scream and bang things against the wall.
It was silent for a moment but then she came racing back into the church with a vengeance. Screaming, gasping for air, and stomping her feet on the floor. No one paid her any mind, like how you might treat a two-year-old throwing a tantrum.
Just another one of her episodes.
Her growls and gasps got louder as she turned towards the 81-year-old conductor. The soprano crept toward her, like a cat on the prowl.
That’s when it hit me. This is how I die.
Well, maybe this is how our conductor dies, but I was more worried about myself.
In an instant, I had it all figured out. It was going to be one of those church shootings that end up on the news. A homegrown terrorist attack that everyone mourns but does nothing about.
The headline would read: Loner Woman Kills 30 in Church Massacre.
They would show all of our pictures in the paper. Tell stories about how wonderful we were. Even the meanest of the bunch would have their praises shouted.
People would leave flowers outside the church. Family members from all over the country would gather and say, enough is enough. Stop the gun violence! Cuomo would stand with the despondent survivors while de Blasio asked for change.
The possessed soprano’s neighbors would be on the news explaining that they had no idea that she was capable of this. “She always kept to herself, but she didn’t seem dangerous. Although there was that one summer we kept seeing dead animals in her backyard. That was weird.”
They would find out that this woman was on some sort of medication that had the side-effect of homicidal ideations and her overbearing mother pushed her over the edge.
I stopped singing as she reached the conductor and yelled in her face, “I can’t breathe. I have an allergic rash!”
The conductor stopped, looked at all of us, sighed and said, “Can someone please help her?”
One of the altos took her in the back room to comfort her.
Just another one of her episodes.
Everyone was annoyed.
What the fuck?
The woman next to me asked, “What could possibly have given her an allergic rash? We are in a church after hours. No flowers. No incense. Nothing.”
The overnight guard had used some citrus scented cleaner somewhere in the church that threw this woman into a frenzy and he was to blame for her almost dying. I figure, if you have issues such as killer rashes from orange cleansers, you should most likely be prepared at all times.
I was happy that I evaded death that evening and I learned two things in the process:
1. I have been stressed that this concert may not go well but in the grand scheme of things, who cares? We could all be dead tomorrow because of citrus cleaners.
2. Someone should bring citrus scents to ward off this soprano at every rehearsal. She isn’t good for morale.
Plus her performance clearly outshined ours that night.
It’s a risk we simply can’t take again.