Back before I joined the Air Force I used to work at a local cinema. The Citadel Terrace 6. It had it's perks and drawbacks like most jobs. I'll write more about those in a later post. For now I want to focus on my coworker Pat.
I started working on door (ticket taker, bathroom cleaner, grunt) but hoped to one day make it to projectionist mainly because they didn't have to wear the stupid monkey suit the rest of us did.*
There were three main projectionists: Derrik (who I had known since 10th grade and helped me get the job. And no, it's not any of the Dereks that comment here), Sean (who would splice single frames of porn films into various movies for fun) and Pat (the subject of this post, mmmmmmmyep).
Pat was a very cool guy. He was at least ten years older than me (which would have made him 27ish. About ten years younger than I am now. Fuck, that's depressing. 20 years. Ugh.) and had been in the special forces in the Army. He really missed the Army.** He was about 5'7" tall, average weight for his height and psycho.
Not "mumble-to-himself-and-twitch" psycho. More like "looking-for-fights-and-always-ready-to-dive-in-and-mess-up-someone-for-life-if-he-can" psycho. He wouldn't back down from anything. I seriously respected that.
This was an advantage on the job as well. The management would schedule him for the Midnight Movies every weekend and have him work as projectionist, door and security. A lot of people come there drunk and on several occasions I had the pleasure of watching him show a rowdy drunk out to the pavement. And they would bounce. On one occasion he came back in bleeding and didn't even notice the blood. The other guy was in worse shape and the cops had to be called. And an ambulance.
Now that you've met the main players in this post, on to the meat.
Pat was SERIOUSLY looking forward to "Platoon" being released and arranged to be the projectionist the Thursday night before it was set to open. He had keys to the theater. He told me, Sean and Derrik that he was planning an exclusive showing of the movie that night and we were invited. Management knew nothing about it. If they had I don't think they would have tried to stop him.
Derrik declined because he didn't want to get in trouble. Sean and I said we were up for it.
So at midnight we met up at the theater and Pat let us in. He unlocked a candy counter, turned on one of the soda fountains and we helped ourselves to snacks, drinks and a trash bag full of popcorn (all clean. At the end of the shift the left over popcorn was stored in unused trash bags until the next morning when it was used to refill the popcorn machines for the first movie). Then we went into theater 1 while Pat ran up to the booth, started the movie then joined us.
It was a good movie but I could tell at the end that it had kicked Pat's adrenaline into overdrive. He told Sean and me that we should go up into the booth because he had something to show us. He had a... look in his eyes.
When we were up there, standing near theater 1's projector, he pulled out a 357 Magnum and showed it to us. I was very cautious about guns but Sean was all over it, "Cool! Is it loaded?"
Pat said, "Yep" and handed it over to him. Sean looked the gun over and I was thinking, "This is how people wind up dead."
Then Pat took it back and said, "Watch this..." He then aimed the gun out the projectionists window down into the seats below and fired it.
*BALLAAAAAAAMMMMmmmmm...* FUCK! It was LOUD! Especially in the booth! I was just hoping that Pat wasn't about to totally flip out and kill us both. To be safe I edged a bit until I was closer to the stairs and Sean was a bit between us. I consider Pat one of the better friends I've had in my life (hard to believe but true.) but I had never seen him that ramped up before. Then he started laughing. After a half second we joined in.
Then he seemed to regain his senses, chuckled, and said, "Let's go see where the bullet hit!"
After about five minutes of looking we saw that it had clipped the top of a seat in the fourth row and embedded itself in the back of a third row seat. Pat was surprised that it hadn't punched through the seat, but there you go. Then we cleaned up everything and made it look like nobody had been there and left for the night.
We never heard from anyone about what we did.
Years later when I would go to see a movie there, if it was being shown in theater one, I would look for the bullet hole and when I found it tell anyone who was with me the story of how it got there while we waited for the movie to start.
Now the theater has been turned into some kind of "college". But I still have the memory.
Wherever he is, I hope Pat's doing well.
*Although like a WEEK after I finally made projectionist they amended the rules so that when we weren't up in the booth we had to be wearing the stupid vest. I hate them.
**He went back into the army after I had enlisted in the Air Force, but when I visited the old crew while in Tech School at Lowry AFB I was told he broke his back in a fall from a tank. BUT! after getting out of the Air Force I took a part time job back with the theater and Pat was working there part time as well and as a bouncer for the Deja Vu Showgirls strip club. He said his back was a bit stiff, but that was it.
The last time I saw him, about 11 years ago, he told me about how he had ejected some drunk guy from the club and the guy got into his car and tried to run Pat down. Pat jumped on the hood and rode the car down B Street beating on the guys windshield with the baton that he carried until he broke the glass and forced the guy to pull over. When the other bouncers caught up he had beaten the guy into unconsciousness. So. Don't mess with Pat.