PATRICK BUTCHER’S HAUNTED THEATER
Patrick Butcher had been a child star on “an American television sitcom depicting the home life of a family of benign monsters”. He had played the precocious kid vampire named Ruddy.
He was now physically a middle-aged adult sitting on a couch, leaning over the coffee table, and talking with his new agent, Konrad Phillips of Rad Productions.
Patrick exclaimed, “We tied Bowling For Soup in the television ratings!”
Konrad Phillips nodded sympathetically to Patrick, saying, “Yes, yes, that was an amazing decade. But now you are making some decent money again with the ‘nostalgia’ appearances that I am arranging. And our CD (What Ever Happened To Ruddy?) gets decent airplay during Halloween. But, Patrick, you need to diversify so that you can hold-on to the money this time.”
Patrick removed the rolled-up hundred-dollar bill from his nose and he asked hesitantly, “What did you have in mind, Konrad?”
Konrad raised both of his hands to Patrick, saying, “Just hear me out, OK? Anybody knows: you can’t go wrong with real estate. And I’ve been looking into a property that is right up your alley.”
Patrick snorted, “Too many shysters have gone up my alley already.”
Konrad countered, “And Moby Dick still blows in your nose. But just hear me out.”
Patrick asked, “Ahab was a Jew wasn’t he, Konrad?”
Konrad replied, “Captain Ahab, no, Patty-Boy, but King Ahab, yes, and yes, dogs licked his blood for worshipping Baal.”
Patrick smiled, “You like it when bitches lick your ball, don’t you?”
Konrad said, “Will you listen to me? I’m serious. Otherwise you can just chase Moby Dick until you’re sunk again.”
Patrick laid back and beckoned Konrad, “Fine. Come on, come on. So tell me already.”
Konrad explained, “I found you a theater for sale…”
Patrick sat up, interrupting, “A fucking theater? Are you out of your belfry? Theaters don’t make any money!”
Konrad continued, “Listen: it’s a bargain. And theaters make their money at the concession stands. Besides, this one is perfect for you and your career!”
Patrick asked, “How the hell…”
Konrad said, “It’s haunted.”
Patrick asked, “Who the hell…”
Konrad said, “Imagine: Patrick Butcher’s Haunted Theater.”
Patrick asked, “Why the hell…”
Konrad said, “We own the rights to your character Ruddy, remember. You can play Ruddy as an adult now, the host, the mascot of the Patrick Butcher’s Haunted Theater.”
Patrick asked, “What the hell…”
Konrad said, “We…You’ll feature classic horror films.”
Patrick asked, “Where the hell…”
Konrad said, “It’s a bargain! The costs will be minimal. The concession stand will be a gold-mine! Paranormal paraphernalia: the merchandising will be a gold-mine!”
Patrick asked, “When the hell do we start?” but then he suddenly soberly remembered and asked, “What makes it ‘haunted’?”
Konrad sat back and cleared his throat. Then he shrugged and smiled and leaned forward, saying, “In 1903 six-hundred men, women, and children died there trapped in a fire.”
Patrick, wide-eyed, asked, “How the hell…”
Konrad answered, “Design fuck-up: all the doors opened inward. The place was packed with families there for an afternoon variety show. When the fire broke-out the fleeing people inside were pressed against the closed doors by all the others in a panic behind them.”
Konrad, now in a reverie, continued, “Not even the smoke could get out of the theater. Finally, someone saw smoke in the alley-way and called the Firemen. But Firemen couldn’t get the doors open by then because of the piles of bodies. When they finally opened the doors a little they had to hook the charred corpses out the doors before they could push the doors open all the way.”
Patrick said, “Oh, gawd…”
Konrad continued, “It was too late for everyone. Afterward, the burned bodies of men, women, and children had to be stacked like lumber in the alley-way.”
Patrick sarcastically asked, “And you think I should own that?”
Konrad snapped out of his nightmare reverie and shook his head, saying, “They rebuilt it after that. With all the safety features that were missing. Missing because the former owners had been in such a hurry to open the theater.”
Patrick made a sour face, “I’m so glad.”
Konrad said, “People have said that they can still hear cries for help in the alley-way and sometimes they smell smoke and sometimes they see ghosts circulating lost in the theater.”
Konrad concluded, “It’s perfect!”
Konrad Phillips of Rad Productions really knew how to do his job. The Halloween opening of Patrick Butcher’s Haunted Theater was sold-out online in a matter of hours. The (almost incidental) feature was “Night of the Living Chainsaw Massacre”. Patrick Butcher was there on the blood-red carpet in his Ruddy the Vampire attire. The Channel 66 “News at Six” camera crew was set-up.
The Channel 66 “News at Six” news babe, dressed like a slutty witch, asked in exasperation, “So where is the ‘sold-out’ crowd of movie-goers? Looks like you sold us out, Ruddy. Trick or fuckin’ Trick, asshole?”
Patrick stuttered, “I don’t… I don’t get it!” and he turned to Konrad who now was covering his face from the cameras, “What the fuck, Konrad?”
Konrad ran into the theater.
The Channel 66 “News at Six” news babe ordered her camera crew, “Let’s fly. This is crap. I’ll get you for this, Cruddy. You really do suck… vampire ass,” and the Channel 66 “News at Six” team drove away with a squeal.
Patrick covered his face with both hands and screamed, “I’m finished! Konrad, you have fucked me for the last time!”
Suddenly, Konrad was back beside Patrick and he hissed to Patrick’s face, “Get a grip, you loser! I know how we can turn this around.”
Patrick was suddenly aware of the smell of smoke. He turned toward the theater. Smoke was indeed beginning to billow from the lobby doors.
Patrick screamed at Konrad, “What have you done? Are you insane? You think we’re going to collect any insurance money?! I’m not going to jail!” and Patrick ran into the theater followed by Konrad who was yelling, “Wait! Wait! Wait!”
Patrick ran down the darkened aisle toward the movie-screen stage from which the smoke appeared to be emerging. The smoke suddenly ceased. Patrick yelled, “What the hell…”
Konrad arrived next to Patrick, gasping, “You idiot! I didn’t do this! I didn’t do anything!”
Suddenly the theater doors slammed shut one by one in rapid succession. Patrick and Konrad followed the sound of each slamming door with a jerk of their head.
Konrad then turned around toward the towering movie-screen and blanched. He cried to Patrick, “Look! Oh, Jesus, Jesus…”
On the silver screen was a scene as if it were a mirror image of the theater but the scene was crowded with translucent apparitions of men, women, and children.
Patrick and Konrad whirled around and gazed wide-eyed at the empty theater seats. Then they turned back around and the apparitions in the scene on the screen applauded, and they could hear the applause!
Suddenly a flickering blood-red light immersed the theater. Shadows raced along the walls. A great concert of wailing and crying arose all around. Acrid vapor filled the theater.
Patrick thought he was going to faint.
Konrad thought he was going to vomit.
Patrick and Konrad grabbed each other in a desperate hug of terror.
They closed their eyes forever.
On television What Ever Happened To Ruddy was playing behind the Channel 66 “News at Six” news babe as she recounted, “It was a pathetic Halloween hoax by a washed-up former child star and his shameless agent. We’ve seen it so many times. Now Patrick Butcher and his agent, Konrad Phillips, have been unavailable for comment, apparently vanishing after being exposed as media ghouls.”
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