The following is based on a recent blog post that my friend Missie had made about a short adventure she had walking by the Stadium Theatre on Main Street in Woonsocket. I took some liberties with details, and of course added a haunting or 300. This works less as a horror story, and more as a mild drama with supernatural tones. Maybe I should develop it further? It features one of my stock characters; Belphegor, a Minstrel Show performer, supernatural entity, and sometimes nice guy. He first made an appearence in an RPG I ran, and I have wanted to revisit the character again.
Late at night, a young woman walked past the Stadium theatre downtown. It had been a great theatre eighty years ago, but its heyday was lost in the past. Now, it was home to sporadic over-priced shows featuring impersonators of great performers. She smiled to herself, remembering what the theatre had been to her; she was part of the theatre’s renovation, but now it had taken on a life of its own; a life less glorious than it had been nearly a century before, but definately better than being an additional municipal parking lot. Looking through the dark windows, she tried to see inside the lobby. Just then, a booming chord sounded from within the building.
Her mind ran wild for a moment, thinking firstly of The Phantom of the Opera. She just giggled at herself and walked along, dismissing the sounded chord as someone practicing for an upcoming show. What she could not see through the darkness was the spectre of a man in his late forties, dressed in a trim-fitting tuxedo emerged from the orchestra pit. His hair is a tangled mess and his boney fingers are capped with long, thick nails. He shuffled despondently across the floor, making his way to the door. He was certain someone had to have heard him; he thought he saw eyes in the darkness. He was certain of it. Pressing his hand against the glass, he sighs softly and his head droops down like a flower in need of water.
“She done gone.” boomed a bass voice from the stage, followed by a horse-like laugh.
“No one hears us.” said the man in nearly a whisper as he turned. A man in blackface sat on the edge of the stage, letting a leg sway to and fro and propping his elbow up with his other leg. His hair was dusty and kinked; he wore stiped pants and a dickie without a jacket. The spectral organist gaped at the blackfaced man and rushed towards him, wagging his finger in protest.
“You don’t even belong here! Why are you here?” asked the organist.
“Everyone’s gotta haunt somewhere, and I figured here was as good as anywhere. What’d you expect? I’d be haunting a tub ‘a fried chicken? You think I’m some kinda poutry-geist?” the blackfaced man laughed at his own joke with another horse-like laugh. The organist just fumed; he had been alone for so long, and didn’t want to share his home with this buffoon. The blackfaced man’s heart crumbled when he saw how sad the organist had become.
“You know, there was somebody there just now.” said the blackfaced man seriously.
“But what does it matter? I’m dead…”
“Dead, but not gone.”
“Not gone, but forgotten.”
“There you are wrong. I bet there’s someone out there that remembers you.” The blackfaced man tried his best to comfort the organist, but his despair seemed just to double. “Hey! Why don’t you play something?” asked the blackfaced man.
“Why?” responded the organist.
“Because I’d like to hear it.”
The organist’s fingers pushed at the keys, and the wurlitzer sprang to life. The tune was ponderous and slow at first, but slowly gained momentum. Soon, it became bouncy and joyful; the organist’s face beamed with joy as the blackfaced man’s white teeth gleamed in a wide smile. He watched as the theatre slowly filled up to capacity. He always loved opening night.