Bernie knew it was common for filmmakers to document their own productions, but he still didn’t understand how dozens of people could fit inside such a small tent. He wondered why no one came out. Convinced the actual film might address his questions, he decided to watch it. Changing the reels, he went downstairs to retrieve The Black and White Horror Show, removing it from its case. A silver card fluttered to the ground. The sight of something inside the documentary made him shudder. It read Eternal Strength to the Victorious. Bernie flipped the film reel in his hands, noticing feint writing scratched on the metal. It read only show in financial emergency. Being one day away from bankruptcy, Bernie felt it was the right time. He went back to his projector room, changed the reels, nearly starting the picture when he heard knocking at the front door. It was the worst timing. He was ready to kill his creditors. Flinging the door open, Bernie prepared to rant, but it wasn’t a lawyer, creditor, or building inspector.
A skinny teenager covered in acne spoke in a shaking voice. “Can I have a job?”
Bernie felt sorry for him. “I wish I could give you one son, but I need to close my theater tomorrow. No one wants to watch black and white films anymore.”
“I’ll work for free if you’ll teach me something about the silver screen,” the teenager suggested with less fear now and more eagerness in his eyes.
Bernie couldn’t refuse. In a way, he needed to tell someone his story. “I’m about to play an unusual film. I’ve never seen it before. Today will be the last showing at The Pharaoh and I would like to have an audience. Will you tell your friends and family I’ll be showing a scary movie at seven o’clock? Admissions will be free, but donations are welcome.”
The teenager immediately liked him. “I’ll find as many people as I can. It might be difficult on a Friday.”
“Do you have a name?”
“My friends call me Jeremy.”
The theater owner waved goodbye to the pimple-faced teenager who ran to tell everyone he knew about the strange man.
Jeremy went home to design a flyer and call his friends. The sign advertised an exclusive movie playing in a historical landmark on closing night. Everyone changed their plans when they heard his story.
Max rode to Jeremy’s house on his bicycle to pick-up the first batch of promotional newsletters. “Hey Jeremy, how do you know the theater will be ready in time to show the movie? It’s probably a wreck inside.” Max was shorter than most boys his age and wore a Metallica tee-shirt. He liked to brag he was in a band. His skinny jeans made him look even skinnier and his black hair was a mess.
Jeremy knew his friend was right. “We’ll pass out flyers for a couple hours and spend the last three cleaning the theater.”
Max took off with a large gunnysack full of promotional newsletters. He had a paper route for a little extra cash during junior high school and was extremely fast at sticking flyers to car windshields, barbershop doors, beauty salons, actor’s studios, and nearly every telephone pole in town.
Brandon swung by in his classic 1969 Camaro with electric blue paint and white racing stripes. “Max told me about the old movie theater. How can I help?” The muscular jock was friends with Jeremy since first grade.
“Can you call the cheerleaders and Sissy Prince? We need them to contact every student at Madison Junior High.” Sissy was the events coordinator at school. She wore large pink framed glasses, had blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail, and often dressed in sweat outfits stretched to the seams.
In two hours, half of Old Hollywood heard about The Pharaoh.