Twist #024 – Film at Eleven by Morris Hershman

One nice thing about being on the force was that you could get into theatres for free, which wasn’t like sneaking into mold-pocked grind houses down on the Lower East Side, where he’d grown up near Lloyd Newburn.

They’d avoided each other, having almost nothing in common. Rory Dalcross had been a stolid hard worker while Lloyd, good-looking and wild, was headed for trouble just as quick as he could get there, each jam worse than the one before.

Rory wouldn’t have thought much about Newburn if both guys hadn’t fallen hard for Monica Mornay.

A nice girl, Monica, lively, and as attractive as a girl ought to be with a name like hers. Lloyd was turning on all his charm when Monica accidentally found out that he’d been mixed up in a brutal robbery. Strength of character caused her to tell Lloyd at six o’clock one evening that she never wanted to see him again. An hour later she was acting the leading female part in the senior class production of Oklahoma and doing it almost professionally, as everyone said with admiration.

She’d left the city next morning, and didn’t come back. She was engaged now, Rory understood, and had a well-paying job on the West Coast.

Lloyd Newburn took the attractive girl’s jilting him very badly, drifting from drink to drugs and from robbery to murder. Rory Dalcross, now a detective second grade and no more vindictive than any other member of the force, felt a grim satisfaction in watching a perp’s downfall.

At five to eleven, the movie crowd rose to leave. Dalcross gestured for his partner to walk down the far aisle as if entering for the next show. Dalcross did the same, taking the left aisle for himself and seeing no sign of his quarry.

An advertising film came onto the screen after a pause. Dalcross took it for granted that Newburn was staying to see another show. His heart didn’t do a somersault until the coming attractions for next week’s flick were on the screen and the garish light, reflected in the sparse audience, showed Lloyd Newburn sitting with his body tense as if he was waiting to leap out at the damn screen itself.

Newburn had heard somebody coming along the thin carpet and most likely took it for granted that another patron was looking around for a seat. But the so-called patron had paused in the aisle, as if to gird himself.


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