The early morning fog was rolling into town like a thick wet blanket as my two colleagues and I were walking through our small town on the way to work. Heavy fog was not unusual this time of year in our coastal community. But things were about to turn strange.
Jennifer was the first to notice. “Did you guys see that?” she said, interrupting our heads down daily slog down Main Street.
“What?” I replied with a bit of annoyance.
“The movie theater doors are open and there is not a soul in sight. Mom and Pop Carter would never leave their theater open especially at this hour. They probably don’t wake up until 10.” She said with a bit of humor. “Should we call the police?”
“Call the police? You’ve got to be kidding,” Joe said, “he probably doesn’t wake up until 10 either.”
“Let’s take a look around,” I said, “it’ll only take a minute and we’ll still make it to work on time.”
The theater was dark and vacant except for the lighted menu above the refreshment counter and a lone stage light casting an eerie glow across the empty seats.
“Anyone here?” I hollered several times but there was no answer.
“Let’s get out of here,” Jennifer said, “this is spooky and besides we may get into trouble.”
As we were leaving a plain white panel van pulled up in front and came to a halt in a swirl of fog and two men jumped out.
“What are you kids doing here?” One of them said in a gruff stern voice.
I briefly explained the situation and asked just as firmly, “What are you doing here at this hour?” fully expecting us to be kidnapped, brutalized or worse.
The other man introduced himself as Charlie and explained in a more friendly tone that they were here to do some work on the projection system but since they were way early decided to go to Stoner’s Restaurant on the nearby highway for breakfast but the place was closed. “We were starving and in our rush we must have forgot to lock the doors,” Charlie said. Looking us over it was then that the men noticed our uniforms.
Charlie seemed to feel that he owed us more of an explanation and told us that the Carters were converting the theater from film to digital. “Since 35 millimeter film is no longer available it’s either convert or go out of business,” he said.
“For a town left behind in the 50s this was progress,” I thought.
I introduced myself as the morning manager at the restaurant and told the men to give us about an hour and then come back.
“Don’t get lost in this pea soup,” I hollered over my shoulder as we continued on down the street.