Ghosts in the Theater

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

A young woman goes back to the theater she went to as a teen age drama student to investigate crime

 

Chapter 1…

It had been roughly 10 years since I first stepped into this theater. The last time I did, I was a sophomore in a high school drama class.

Several of us signed up for a workshop which was held once a year. By a former student of our drama teacher.

Which made me wonder just how old was our drama teacher? Her looks betray her.

Now I was back and it was my job and pleasure to take care of the building. I was the new janitor, at least that was what everyone was told. Since I was here last, it had been declared a historical landmark. Why I really didn’t know. I just knew the building was still beautiful.

When I was a student taking that workshop, I was awestruck when I first walked in. It was like walking into history, I don’t know why, but I could feel so many souls.

Now as I walk through the great wooden doors again, so many memories came flooding back. For a moment all I could do was stand there.

Looking around the room visions of the ghosts who used to come through these doors, including me appeared.

Each group was rehearsing whatever play they had appeared in back in the day.

The scenes I focused most on were the scenes I was in. Standing there I watched as myself and three others from my class were going through the many exercises the instructor put us through during that weekend.

While I couldn’t remember all the exercises we were asked to do, there were a few, and they were the ones that still served me to this day when I spoke in front of large groups. Drama and those workshops helped bring me out of my shell, and into the career I am in.

Once I turned my back and moved to another room the scene faded. I moved through two more areas and imagined the plays that took place and the many performance companies that passed through the doors over the years. I was still looking around when I heard a voice somewhere behind me.

“Excuse me, are you Victoria?” The male voice asked moving closer to where I stood.

“Yes, I am, and who are you?” I asked turning to face this person.

“Jonathan Moore at your service.” He said removing his hat bowing.

“Nice to meet you.” I said.

“It is such a pleasure to meet such a beautiful woman as yourself,” he said taking my hand in his and kissing it.

I was so mesmerized by his words I had failed to realize that my name was again being called.

Again, someone was trying to get my attention. But as the second man came closer Mr. Moore faded away.

“Good morning, you must be Victory Woods.”

“Yes, yes I am and you are…Mr.?

“Clyde. Jordon Clyde. The curator of this theater.” He said as we shook hands.

“Nice to meet you, but who was the other gentleman?” I asked confused.

“Other gentleman?” He asked than paused. Then he continued. “His name wouldn’t be Mr. Johnathan Moore by chance, would it?”

“AS a matter of fact, it was.”

“Ahhh, well, let me explain.” He began as we walked through the building. “Mr. Moore was the first curator of this theater when it was first built in 1930. He and others still roam the building. This theater has seen hundreds of performing companies through these doors over the years.”

“How many of these plays were you here to see?”

“Quite a few. At one point, I joined the local theater group and did a few plays myself.” He offered.

“When did you become curator?”

“Shortly before it closed its doors to the public in 1980.”

“Why?” I continued.

“Why what?” He asked.

“Why did you come back as curator?”

“Probably the same reason you would like to be the janitor, the memories and love of the theater.”

The more we talked, the more I learned about the building itself and its history. There were so many things I did not know about the place. And saw many of the rooms I had never seen as a kid growing up.

Rooms like the green rooms where actors got ready to go on-stage and back stage areas where everything happens no one could see. As we walked throughout the building, I could imagine and see the many people who walked through these rooms and the excitement that filled the air on opening night.

“Why are there so many ghosts here?”

At that moment Mr. Clyde stopped. I only noticed when I was a few steps ahead of him realizing he was not walking beside me anymore.

Turning and walking back, I stopped in front of him. “Did I say something wrong?”

After a moment he spoke again. “You can really see them all??”

“Yes, I can, and from the looks of some of them they are quite sad. But others are in a state of excitement as they were backstage getting ready to go on.”

“Let’s head back to my office where I can explain a little better.” He said pointing somewhere behind us.

Chapter 2

Once we were in his office, he offered me the chair opposite his as he took his seat as well. He then swiveled in his chair to the shelf behind him grabbing a binder then turning back to face me.

He pointed to it as I pulled it closer opening it. The cover page said, “theater history from constructing to closing”.

“That as you can see is a collection of this theaters history. The many people who walked through the doors, such as architects to actors. Including the events that were scheduled here before the tragic event that closed the doors to performances forever. And finally, the plans for the restoration process after the fire.”

He fell silent allowing me to take it all in before he continued.

“Once it was rebuilt, it just became a museum, and place where acting classes and workshops took place. There were a few private events every now and again. But not as often now that the new theater was built.” He continued as I thumbed through it.

“Okay, but why all the ghosts?” I asked again.

“They were all here preparing for a theatrical festival later that week. Unfortunately, somehow a fire broke out causing damage to various parts of the building.”

I began looking through the many sections, as he continued talking.

“There are news reports of what they found and who they suspect did it. But they never proved anything or caught who did it.” There was a pause before he continued… “The case is still open I believe.”

Then I got to the pictures of the first building of the theater and all the hoopla that surrounded it. There were several pictures during each phase of the building.

“When the building was first built, the town had a grand party to celebrate. It was held in the park across the street.” He said sitting back in his chair smiling.

“This theater was a big deal to the towns people back then because not only would it attract actors but revenue from people coming to see those performances.”

“Thankfully the man who designed the building still had the plans and pictures of the interior as it was being built. So, when it was being rebuilt those pictures were of great help. It almost looks as the original building. Where there are changes in the building is a result of the materials that were used then are no longer available now.”

“When was the fire?”

“In 1945. It was front page news. Then in 1970 I took over when I was 20.” He began, “In fact, Mr. Moore was the one who recommended me as the Janitor back then. And we grew to be good friends.

“He taught me everything I now know about the theater and those who were here as actors over the years. Some became famous and others just acted as a hobby during sections of their lives. When the place finally closed the doors to performances in 1980, those who could come back to give one final performance did. It was beautiful.”

“And now it’s my turn to care for the place.” I said more to myself than him as I looked down. Looking back at him I added, “If you became curator after being a janitor, does that mean the next curator will have been a janitor?”

“Not always, there have been many janitors but only two curators so far. Before too long another curator will be appointed before I step down.”

“When will that be?”

“Probably when I am 50, I want to take a trip around the world before I get to old to enjoy it.”

“I don’t blame you.” I said smiling.

“So, are you ready to start your training as a janitor?”

“I sure am, just lead the way.” I said as we stood and walked out the door.

Chapter 3

It has been three weeks since I began, and it has been the best job I have ever had. Even if it is short lived. Just to see and be a part of the history of this town, of this building, is something I will never forget. I just wish I had been here to see the many plays as well…

They tell me I have always been sensitive to spirits. However, I really didn’t believe it or understand it until I was assigned this undercover job. Now I can’t get them out of my head.

As I sit in my chair at home early that Saturday morning, I find myself thinking back to what Mr. Clyde said about the arsonist not being caught.

Without another thought, I got up and went to my computer flipping the switch bringing it to life.

When it was on and ready to do its thing, I began searching for information about the fire. I typed in “Theater fire Ceder City 1945.” And got a few things but not specifically what I was looking for. So, I continued looking using different search words.

After a few more moments, I found what I had been looking for.

Fire destroys acting theater, arson suspected

“Fire crews were called to 547 Park Ave. Thursday morning as fire swept through the building killing at least 50 people. According to witnesses, these people were actors preparing for upcoming performances which were to take place later this week. we will bring you more details when they become available.”

Once I saw this, I saved it to my computer and printed it out.

I continued searching to get as much information as I could. After about two hours, I had several articles from various sources about the same fire and began to read all of them.

I then began to research other fires similar to this one around the same time, and found 4 others. Making it a total of 5.

After reading each article, I discovered that these fires happened around the same area only weeks or months apart. These fires attracted the same number of on-lookers watching as the blaze was being fought.

I soon saved each picture in a file on my desktop as well as printing them all out. Then I laid the pictures and articles side by side for a closer look. I was hoping I could see anything the previous investigators may have missed.

Grabbing my magnifying glass, I looked at them very carefully. In the pictures were images of the building, firefighters, and crowds.

It always amazed me just how many people were fascinated by fires and burning buildings. Present company included. But my fascination was purely for investigative purposes only.

Most of the people in the pictures were different, not a single person seemed to be in all of them. At least not to the naked eye anyway. Then something caught my eye as I took a second look.

There were several people who were in every picture. They were hiding in the shadows trying not to be spotted. If you didn’t look close enough you missed them.

After I examined the pictures, I scanned them back into the computer enhancing the individual images so I could get a closer look at each person.

Before long it was determined that the same people were at each fire, just watching.

Because it was Saturday, I knew I would have to wait until Monday to reveal this new evidence to my boss. I would just have to go to the police station during my lunch hour.

When I took the job as a janitor of the theater it was at the request of the curator in hopes of reopening and catching the arsonist. However, nobody else was aware of the true reason I was there. He was hoping to get someone to slip up revealing information that was previously not disclosed.

Chapter 4

Monday came quicker than I thought but I was glad it had. Now I could talk with my Captain and the curator, letting them know what I had found over the weekend.

After double checking my schedule, I wasn’t scheduled to go to the theater until 10:00 that morning, so I gathered my things and headed to the station in hopes of connecting with the Captain.

Just as I was walking into the station, I saw him grabbing a cup of coffee. Without a word, I headed over and grabbed herself one as well.

“Morning Victoria, how was your weekend?”

“Productive, I may have found a new lead.”

“Excellent, why don’t we head into the office and see what you found.” He said stirring his coffee and turning back to his office.

Now behind closed doors he sat behind his desk and I sat across from him opening my bag.

***

“So, tell me, what did you find?”

“It took some digging but I have discovered other fires in that same area around the same time as the theater fire. And they are all still unsolved.” I began setting the folder on his desk.

“There was nothing specific as for the articles themselves, but look at the groups of people looking on.” I said pointing to all the pictures, both the originals and close ups.

“There are several people who are in all the pictures standing in the shadows trying not to be seen. But I was able to get close ups of them all.”

Suddenly I had his attention.

After he looked at each picture, he grabbed the receiver and asked for the files for the fires in question. Then he went and scanned the images into the computer hoping for a hit or hits.

After only minutes each person came up as being in the system. For similar unsolved crimes.

Now it was time to call in the curator and get this investigation reopened.

***

Once Mr. Clyde was at the station, we headed to the conference room and began.

“Victoria did some digging and found these five people in every unsolved arson case that is currently open. Question is, do you, or anyone at the theater know them?” The Captain asked.

After only a moment Mr. Clyde handed one back, “this one I don’t know. But those three, are grandchildren of one or two of the actors who perished. Their pictures hang in the theater.”

“Now this person,” Mr. Clyde continued, “was up for a part with another. When he did not get the part, he didn’t take it well. He said he would be back.” There was a pause then he continued… “Shortly after that the theater was on fire.”

***

With this new lead the case was reopened and a suspect was being located.

The most current addresses were pulled up and two teams were dispatched. One for his job, the other his home.

When he wasn’t located at the Job, that team moved and joined those who were dispatched to his residence. Once everyone was there, they surrounded the perimeter with guns drawn.

The lead detective stood at the front door weapon pulled.

“Thomas R. Jasmine, we have your place surrounded come out with your hands up or we are coming in.”

When nothing happened, they rushed the home moving through each room quickly clearing it. Now entering the last room, they found him sitting in a chair in the center of the room. With his head lowered and a shotgun resting on his lap, the officers took no chances as they took him down and into custody.

The end


 



Submitted: December 22, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Lea Rachel. All rights reserved.

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