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April 01, 2011

A Man Dies While Watching Horror Film

There is a story that an old man paid admission to the old Royal Theater in Laredo, TX, just to get out of the diabolical heat. Thisfine film was apparently playing. He sat in the back of the theater, took off his shoes and socks and wriggled his tired and hot toes as he lit up a Raleigh (smoking was illegal in theaters, but the owners of the Royal looked the other way).

This man, in his seventies, had never seen a horror film in his life. At first, he thought the story was a classic charro film, but the suspense and terror began to overwhelm him. He began to pant and groan. Never had he experienced such fright! He started grabbing his chest and initiated an eerie moaning. But he could not turn his face away. Children (the main audience for this type of movie) thought the man was acting clownish and began to laugh. The kids didn't particularly care for "El Charro de las Calaveras" and thought the horror hackneyed and dull. Watching the old man writhing in apoplexy was much more entertaining. As the "Lobo Humano" appeared on the screen and battled the hero, the old man cried out plaintively and lost total control of his bodily functions. The kids laughed even harder as he pissed himself. Then with a sudden arching of his back, the old man's body stiffened almost upright and then fell back to his wet seat with a violent heaviness. He had finally succumbed to cardiac arrest and died.  The kids, now totally uninterested in the movie, began throwing popcorn and soda at his  still corpse, laughing like little hyenas.

Hours passed and other features played, and other patrons came and went. Most thought the dead old man was sleeping off a drunk, a very common occurrence in Laredo. At closing time, when the theater manager finally and grudgingly checked on the old man after the last show of the evening, the old man's face, frozen in a grimace of abject fear, was sticky and littered with candy and greasy salty popcorn. The manager felt his pulse, and feeling nothing, walked to the main office and called the police. The manager was surprised by how nonplussed he was by the entire incident. This was the first time anyone had ever died in his theater and he thought he would at least be a little more emotional about it. Instead he just smoked and sent one of the kids for a couple of six-packs of beer. Might as well relax while he waited for the cops.

The police finally came, checked the old man out and called for the morgue wagon. It made the Laredo Times the next day, but no one ever claimed the man's body. No one ever knew who the old man was.

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