The next morning, Sissy slept in. The Black and White Horror Show and Carnival Town seemed like a bad dream. She wasn’t even sure it had happened. First she called Jeremy, who in turn called Brandon, who then called Max. They all agreed to meet at the 109 bus stop near The Pharaoh.
When they arrived, there wasn’t much left of the historic movie theater. City disposal was already working on the project, carting away badly burned theater seats and shoveling ash into dump trucks.
“Where’s Bernie?” Jeremy asked. “Didn’t anyone call him?” The teenagers shook their heads. “I don’t think any of us has his phone number. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t have a phone,” Jeremy said. “I’m sure he’ll stop by to witness the aftermath of what happened yesterday. Bernie was the last to see Ignatius alive. I guess the magician burned up in the fire. That was some gamble when we ignited the nitrate film.”
Everyone nodded. Almost on cue, a small man with furrowed eyebrows walked out of the smoky construction site in their direction. It was Morton from Better Banks. “Where’s the owner of The Pharaoh? I’ve been instructed to give him this pink slip. It’s from the bank.”
Jeremy felt that a pink slip couldn’t be good news, but then again, Morton wasn’t smiling. Anything that brought sorrow to the creditor was probably positive. Bernie strolled into view from the opposite end of the block. He looked healthy and at least ten years younger.
“I feel great!” Bernie said. “And what is that you have for me?” He reached for the pink slip, but Morton snatched it away. Something prevented him from sharing good news. Finally he relented. “This is the estimate the bank can offer based on the fire insurance you’ve paid into over the last fifty years.”
Bernie looked at the estimate, expecting his debts to be subtracted, leaving a small sum of money, but then he noticed it, a five followed by five zeros. “Five hundred thousand dollars?” Bernie asked. “But why?”
“The bank had its insurance obligations, but a private interest group selected this land for a new building project and outbid the bank. This vacant lot won’t be empty for much longer.” Morton said.
“What’s going to be built on the site?” Jeremy asked?
Morton smiled. “The bidder wouldn’t give me any details, but their company name is Carnival Productions LLC.”
Jeremy had a sinking feeling in his stomach. They defeated Ignatius Specter, but the spirit of magic still lingered.
Bernie accepted the check for five hundred thousand dollars without question. He had always wanted to go on a permanent vacation and the opportunity was in his hands. Bernie wished Morton goodbye and watched The Pharaoh slowly carted away in large dump trucks.
Bernie watched a figure in an orange construction coat moving a wheelbarrow between heaps of ashes. Something about his stride was unmistakable.
“Ignatius was destroyed inside The Pharaoh, wasn’t he?” Sissy asked.
Bernie looked alarmed. “Ignatius almost got me before I could exit the theater. The skeletal hand in the Immortal Game grabbed me before I could get out. After breaking its arm, I threw it at the phantom. The skeletal hand choked its master. That was the last time I saw the magician. Then The Pharaoh incinerated.”
The construction worker pushed his wheelbarrow behind a large pile of ashes. A few moments later, he emerged on the other side carrying an enormous load. It looked like the construction worker found a dead body.
“Well, we should probably get rid of the flash camera before it can do more damage.” Sissy said wisely.
Jeremy pulled the golden cigarette lighter from his pocket, igniting the camera. It burst into silver and green flames, becoming ashes in seconds.
“There’s something else we forgot.” Jeremy whispered.
Everyone looked at Max because he seemed to know the answer. “What about the other theater?”