Bernie was too exhausted to walk back to his apartment. He decided to sleep in the drafty projector room. He had a view of the entire theater if anything should happen.

Something did happen the next morning. He heard pounding on the front door causing him to scramble downstairs. Opening the door, Bernie expected to speak with a short, balding man who threatened him last week. Instead, he was greeted by a tall detective in uniform. Bernie was startled to see a police car parked on the street. “Is there anything I can help you with?” he asked.

“My name’s Detective Straitface. I’m with the Hollywood Police Department. I would like to ask you a few questions about the alleged disappearance of a boy from your theater last night. His girlfriend is still in hysterics over the black and white movie they saw together. Cassandra says her boyfriend disappeared while watching the film. She made no sense to me and I was hoping you could offer some clarification.” He gazed at Bernie, reading his face like a newspaper, trying to sort out honesty from bullshit.

“I know who you are speaking of. The girl said the same words to me; that her boyfriend disappeared. I can’t explain where he went. We checked the restrooms and the lobby, but there was no sign of him.”

“May I ask the title of the movie that was playing?” inquired the detective.

“It was a silent film that I’ve never shown before and only found a week ago. It was released in 1899 and called The Black and White Horror Show. For a silent film, it created quite a spectacle.”

“I see, and you didn’t preview the movie before showing it to your audience?”

“That’s correct.”

“But isn’t that unusual; I mean, most theaters require quality productions to stay in business.”

“Being a detective, I’m sure you’ve notice this theater is in ill repair. I had a new eviction notice nailed to my door last week. I was surprised the motion picture drew large crowds. I expected only a few film connoisseurs. Last night was to be the last showing.”

“Will you be closing soon?”

“I’ve decided to stay open as long as I can.”

“I’d like to attend your next film.”

“The next show-time will be this evening at 7 o’clock. It would be reassuring to have an officer of the law present.”

“Then I won’t take up anymore of your time. I wouldn’t invest too much money for repairs if your creditors plan to seize the place.”

Bernie knew the detective was right, but he felt his theater deserved to look its best in its final days. He waved goodbye.


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