CHAPTER SIX HUNDRED and THIRTY-EIGHT
Thursday early-morning — 2:15 a.m.
James “Jammy” Schmidt V pushed open the door to the Castle’s ballroom and stepped inside. He held the door open for his college friend, fraternity brother, and casino owner, Matt Weinreich. They stood in the dark for a moment until Jeraine stepped past them and into the ballroom. Jeraine went to the wall compartment and turned on the lights.
“Whoa,” Matt said.
Matt moved to the middle of the ballroom and began slowly spinning around in place.
“Who built this place?” Matt asked.
“There’s a name but I’m afraid it doesn’t mean anything now,” Jammy said.
“He signed it over there.” Jeraine pointed to up to the North ceiling where they could just make out a scrawl in white paint.
“And. . .” Matt stopped talking. Awed by the ballroom, he seemed to run out of words. “I. . . We. . .”
Jammy and Jeraine watched in silence as the man took in the room.
“Bars?” Matt asked.
“There are two,” Jeraine said. “They push into the walls on either end with a panel covering. That’s why you can’t see them now. That way the entire floor can be used.”
“Makes sense,” Matt said. “Is there a stage?”
Jeraine looked at Jammy, and he nodded.
“It takes all three of us,” Jeraine said.
“To pull out?” Matt asked with a snort. “Like bleachers?”
Jammy gestured for Matt to follow him to the screen. Jeraine unlocked the first set of hinges.
“Push,” Jeraine said.
“On what?” Matt asked.
Jammy gestured to the hand holds. Matt took a set of hand holds, and the men pushed. Section by section, the screen folded. Jeraine pushed the folded screen into the wall and closed the cover.
“How ingenious!” Matt said. “But where is the. . .”
Jammy pointed to Matt’s right.
“Whoa,” Matt said. “It’s a. . .”
“Full stage,” Jammy said. He pointed to the roof. “There’s a set of lights. We replaced a few old bulbs but otherwise it works. The sound system is ancient.”
“Easily upgraded.” Matt took his phone out of his pocket.
“Are you taking pictures?” Jeraine asked. “Jake didn’t want this going out because. . .”
“Not a chance,” Matt said, cutting Jeraine off. “I’m making notes of who I need to talk to and what we need to fix.”
“Good,” Jammy said. “They found four bodies here last night. The police want to keep a lid on the place so that they can conduct their investigation. They’ve closed off the area so as not to disturb it. Plus, Jake doesn’t want to draw unnecessary attention.”
“What about when we start broadcasting?” Matt asked.
“We thought we could call it the ‘Secret Ballroom’ or something like that,” Jeraine said.
Matt pointed at Jeraine and looked down to keep typing into his phone.
“How much is all of this?” Matt asked. “I assume we’re buying this right?”
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow...
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