Against the sunlight, the imposing theater shone as it did before. The restoration was nearly completed. Everything went very well. The basic schedule was followed meticulously and the final touches could be done soon. Standing in front of the huge building while workers were busy around, the big mustache and bald man looked proudly at what he had managed to accomplish in such a short time. There were several months now the new owner of the former theater located in the small town of St. Gabrielle of Montmartre, Richard Brown, persisted in doing everything to finish it quickly. He wanted to organize a major show to celebrate the 100th anniversary at the same time as its official reopening. The fabulous theater was built and inaugurated by his late father, who died a few weeks earlier. The big mustache and bald man wanted to surprise him, but his death had occurred faster than the doctors had expected. When he officially took over the family business, he had a great idea. He wanted to touch all generation of the city to revive the glory of the great theater to make it as popular as when it first opened. He had many projects to realize his dream of fame and fortune that he would provide the next opening of the prestigious building.
And finally dad couldn't say I'm just no good, Richard told himself, smiling foolishly. Now that the theater and the company belong to me, I can do whatever I want without restrictions and comments from the grumpy old man.
He was so proud of himself! He hoped his father could see what he was able to accomplish by himself.
He made numerous renovations throughout the facility aged of almost a century. As the day progressed, he made several calls to some old friends and colleagues for suggestions of shows for all ages. He wanted to impress everyone by choosing a sumptuous spectacle for the reopening. He chose a classic for the Holydays: The Nutcracker. Of course, the play was slightly adapted for children, but the music remained from the original. A prestigious classic to rebuild the precious legacy of my father, he thought, bulging his torso with pride. The whole town will be at my feet!
Rehearsals began even before the work was completed. The actors were very talented. The renovations were terminated at the beginning of December and the first performance was to take place on December 22nd. The owner organized a small private reception after the show to celebrate the rebirth of the centenary building. He already could hear the thunder of applause and cheers of the spectators who would fill the main room. People would talk about it for a very long time, telling everyone how Mr. Brown had a remarkable idea and the quality of his establishment was also amazing as he first promised. People would see him as the rescuer of the Brown Company.
The announcement of the admission of children for the event attracted the curious ones. All tickets were sold during the first week. And like any good self-respecting theater, evening clothes were required. Even for children, to their great misfortune… It was an important tradition and the owner wanted to honor it. At its first real opening hundred years ago, people were dressed very chic for this kind of show. Everything was going according to plan and Richard was overjoyed! He saw himself swimming in a huge pool full of gold coins, like in cartoons.
To his great delight, people seemed to enter the building like an incessant flow of a river! The women were stunning elegance while men proudly wore their tuxedos like real gentlemen. Children dreamed of being dressed in a different way. Everyone looked great, as before. Dad would have been so proud of me… he thought, a touch of nostalgia in his heart as he watched people taking their seats in the huge main room. Parents were still outside, breathing fresh air. The children played in the freshly fallen snow, making sure not to damage their beautiful clothes.
A tall man joined them on the balcony to prevent that the show would start soon. Putting out cigarette and cigar and shaking their heavy coats from snow, everyone went back inside. Outside, the snow was beginning to fall slowly. In the main room, the musicians were tuning their instruments. Some parents scolded their children, telling them to be quiet during the show. The conductor made his entrance into the main room and all the spectators rose to applaud, thrilling the newly renovated building.
Backstage, beams cracked because of the roaring applause. Some pieces of plaster fell to the ground. A pulley began to creak dangerously. The rope attached to the latter fell on the plaster pieces already on the ground, causing a loud noise attenuated by the applause that extended into the main room. The entire building threatened to collapse. The ground shook, but no one could hear what was happening.
A little girl aged of just five years old squirmed nervously in her seat. She eventually pulled the evening gown of her mother to get her attention. There was an emergency: she had to go to the bathroom. Sighing, her mother took her hand and they went down the corridor towards the entrance of the room. It was a little darker. Around them, they could hear a range of very strange noises. The child clung desperately to her mother. Suddenly, they heard a loud crack. The woman whirled around, her heart pounding. With a slow movement, she pushed her daughter behind her, nervously watching everything going on around her. She tried to appear calm to not worry her daughter.
"Is anyone there?" the young woman asked with a voice that was meant to be reassuring.
She was very nervous and she tried to stay calm as not to frighten her daughter. In response, the ceiling lights all around them began to flash, even if they were already very poorly lit. While walking, they arrived at the foot of a beam. The mother's sight stood on the huge crack that extended to the ceiling at the top of the beam. Plaster fell at her feet. Her eyes widened. Taking her daughter in her arms, she began to run. Her heels clicked on the floor while the main room went silence for the show to begin. The musicians began to play, but they were interrupted when they saw the young woman running. She had a terrified expression on her face. The conductor also turned to her. The audience did the same. The woman stopped her race near her husband, out of breath. The latter frowned when he saw her frightened face.
"Honey? What's going on?" he asked nervously.
The walls began to shake. All beams began to creak, causing a wave of panic among all the people present in the room. The ceiling lights threatened to shut down in the main room. Parents took their children's hand and tried to calm them while moving quietly toward the exit. A loud rumble was heard, shaking the entire building. Cries of horror filled the room. A small woman did everything she could to protect her child from plaster debris crumbled on them. A man quickly pulled the child from her grip to take him into his arms. He grabbed the wrist of the woman to follow him. The child sobbed in arms of his father. Many people managed to get out of the room safe and sound. Others jostled tirelessly towards the exit, hitting unceremoniously the small family who just wanted to run away like the others. Suddenly, a beam began to sway dangerously in the air. Nothing was holding it to the ceiling anymore. It hit the back of the man who fell to the ground, throwing the child a few yards away. The child screamed as his mother approached her husband to help him, but she wasn't strong enough to lift the beam or even just a little push. As she begged passersby to help her, debris from the ceiling came down on her. She fell against the ground, unconscious. The toddler was just crying, but nobody gave him any attention…
* * * * *
The electrical system caused a short circuit and a fire broke out very quickly in the walls. When the flames were finally mastered, the entire building collapsed, killing nearly two dozen people. A tragedy for the very quiet town. An investigation was officially opened to discover the exact cause of the incident. What the investigators found wasn't enough to calm the residents of St. Gabrielle of Montmartre.
The materials used for the renovations were very poor. A very nice word for saying non-standard. In addition, the electrical system was inadequate. Charges would be brought against Mr. Richard Brown, owner of the Grand Theater and responsible for the tragedy. It was important charges of criminal negligence causing death. The day of the funeral of the victims of the tragedy, the police proceeding to the formal arrest of Mr. Brown made a gruesome discovery: the lifeless body of the big mustache bald man.
He hanged himself in his office.