By six o’clock, the police were in position. Reyes and three others were inside the theater on the stage. Two more were backstage and two were out front in the lobby. How many were outside, Deacon didn’t know, and hadn’t asked.
Kacy was busily adjusting lights. She and Dexter were on ladders, refocusing, making sure all areas of the stage were fully lit, using some of the college kids as models.
“Dammit, we still have a shadow over there stage right,” Kacy said, hopping off the last step of her ladder. “Something’s wrong. We put the cheeks in the right places, so it has to be a flat out of kilter. Oi, Andy!”
The young man ran up to her, eager to help. “Yes, ma’am?”
She felt old all of a sudden, but forged ahead. “Are you sure that flat’s in the right spot? It seems to be at the wrong angle, I know that light wasn’t off by that much yesterday.”
Deacon hobbled over to Andy. Together, they inspected the offending piece of set.
“It looks like it’s come loose from the floor, Kacy. Look.” Deacon said, bending over awkwardly.
She squatted down. The anchors had worked free and the flat was flopping lopsidedly.
“It’s been moved. And see here, the canvas has been pulled up too. You can see the seam’s been pushed back but not as flat as it should be.” Andy pointed out the discrepancies.
“Yes, ma’am. I checked the ground cloth myself.”
“Don’t touch it.” Deacon called Reyes over and told him what had happened.
“We’ll check this out, Deacon. I’ve got a K-9 squad on stand by, I’ll call them in.”
Gathering the crew together, they moved to the front of the theater, seated around the lobby, waiting for the okay to continue their work. Reyes came out nearly an hour later.
“We’ve been all over the place with the dogs. They haven’t found anything. Beats the hell outta me what anyone would have been doing there anyway.”
“Back to work, people! Quit your loafing!” Deacon called as he hauled himself up by his crutches. He grimaced as he inadvertently put too much weight on his bum leg. He led the crew back into the theater, ready to inspect the damage done by the police. Bending over, he smelled something he should not have been smelling on a set painted weeks ago.
“Reyes, come here, bring one of the dogs.”
The policeman nodded, accompanied by a K-9 officer, he came over to where Deacon stood.
“Look, call me crazy, but smell this flat.”
Reyes leaned forward, sniffing deeply.
“Whew! What is that?”
“I don’t know, but you can sure as hell bet it wasn’t on here last night. It’s damp, too. We painted that several weeks ago. The paint on it is water based. That smells more like turpentine or mineral spirits.”
Walking through the door in the set, Deacon went behind the flat in question, checking other flats as well. “There are at least three of them back here, the same deal. This is crazy, Reyes. They shouldn’t be like this.”
Twisting slightly to face the flats, his crutch ground into the canvas covering the floor and a little spark leaped up with a tiny pop. Stepping away from it caused more tiny explosions. None of them were major, but Deacon swung back in alarm.
“What was that?” Reyes ran around the set, stepping in beside Deacon.
Another pop behind Deacon made Reyes jump to one side, gun out. Deacon froze as he saw the sparks fly from Reyes’ shoes.
“Hold still!” Deacon made a grab for Reyes before he moved another step. “Something’s on the floor. I think it’s contact explosives.”
“We have to get out of here!” Reyes’ foot slipped, sending up another shower of sparks. “Why didn’t the dogs smell this?”
“Think about all the paint and stuff around. How are they going to pick out this smell? Stand still!”
Reyes had been taking tentative steps toward the door, a trail of sparks following him.
“Why didn’t this go off earlier? We were all over this all day.”
“I don’t know, Deacon. Maybe it was wet.”
“Or maybe it just got put down a little while ago,” Deacon whispered.
“Is everything all right in there?” Kacy’s voice sounded frightened.
“Yes, we’re fine. Just having a look around. We’ll be right out.” Deacon tried to sound confident, but he wasn’t. He spoke softly to his companion. “You go first, Reyes. You’re quicker than me. If I can’t get out fast enough, at least you’re all right.”
“What are you talking about? I can’t leave you in here with all this!” The officer tried to keep his voice down, but nearly lost it.
Deacon pursed his lips, shaking his head. Reyes was a family man. Deacon knew he had a wife and baby to think of.
“Don’t argue with me. Get the hell out of here. Go for the extinguisher, this place is going to blow. There’s one by the theatre entrance. Go!”
©2021 Dellani Oakes