Cassie Kramer was ebullient. The snow was coming down in big flakes, her blond hair catching them in mid-air, her eyes flashing brightly as she wiped the flakes from her eyebrows and nose, her favorite, long black coat keeping her whole body snug.
Stepping abruptly off the curb into the wet slush, she and her fiancé, Palmer Morel, crossed Main Street on their way to the Grand Emporium for the rockabilly concert, starring Bill Alton and The Starlight Drifters, letting the white limousine with blackened windows pass slowly in front of them.
After the limo parked at the curb, Cassie looked again to her left, down east a block, just to make sure she had seen clearly through the thick flakes. She had spotted a “For Sale” sign posted on the concrete façade of the old Ibis Theater.
“Palmer. Look down the street. Isn’t that the theater you called Arliss Jackson about?”
He stopped with her, letting a few more cars pass slowly in front of them, snow tires splashing salt and melted snow onto his shoes.
The old, dark, monstrous building loomed over the sidewalk, its windows black with grime, the formerly garish lights burned out and snag-toothed around the canopy. The famous and ancient Ibis Theater still thrust proudly up into the winter sky. Palmer wanted it.
“You damn betcha, Cassie. That’s the one I told you about,” Palmer yelled against the wind, re-taking her hand carefully and helping her cross the street diagonally, heading straight for the theater. He didn’t want her to fall on the slippery mush. Cassie was about five months pregnant.
The blond tennis pro, Palmer Morel, forty years old now and finally settling down, making a family, wanted something to get him out of his present occupation in Kansas City. For over twenty years he had played and coached tennis, rising from the ranks of junior players, then playing college tennis at Ohio State University in Columbus, finally making good money as tennis professional at many luxurious country clubs across Middle America and the South. Now he was the pro at the Warwick Racquet Club.
Although he was a bit bummed on tennis now, he still had two million dollars from his inheritance to spend. He wanted to do something worthwhile with it, needing to get away from the all day tennis lessons, the racquet stringing, the temptations offered by his proximity to younger, single women. Cassie knew his weakness for women. She had insisted.
“Cassie, it’s perfect,” he hollered into the wind. “We could rehab it easily. Be in business by next fall. Arliss quoted me a good price on the phone.”
In the distance, he could barely make out the cracked and grimy ticket window, imagining the dark reaches of the old and dusty lobby, the broken candy counter with a few cardboard boxes on top.
“It’ll be like the ancient 1950s all over again,” Palmer said, pushing snowflakes off his nose, giving Cassie a careful hug. “We’ll bring back Saturday matinees and Bank nights.”