Chapter 44 Consequences
Mr. Day and the boys arrived at the theatre almost at the same time as Mr. Page and Mr. MacLeod, Sr. They were just in time to see Keith go charging through the lobby doors, shouting for Melody. They hurried after him into the theatre auditorium.
Melody lunged forward, allowing the momentum of the crazed Schattenborg's blow to propel her toward the pit door. The next instant she gave it her best pull. It opened! Suddenly, she was crouched in the dark on the pedal board of the organ console. With her tied hands she groped for switches. She found the on switch for the organ blower first. The lights that lit the pedals and the stop tablets came on. Frantically, she searched for the lift button. Pedal pipes began to sound a horrific roar as she inadvertently activated preset pistons in her fumbling haste. Finally, there it was! She punched the lift button hard. She felt a shutter as the console began to rise. Safe!
Sprawled on the pedals she began to relax a bit even as the bass pipes began a terrific roar. She could see now. The lift button caused the console spotlights to come on, too. As light poured over the console, she fumbled for the cancel piston that would silence the pedal pipes. Rather, as the console reached it's full height, she managed to press the organ's off switch instead. As the blower fans slowed to a stop, the pipes continued to sound until they wavered making a grotesque falling and dying sound until all was suddenly silent.
She stood woodenly. Every muscle seemed to protest. She thought she heard Keith shouting her name. No, not Keith. It couldn't be Keith. Tears began coursing down her face. Keith was lost. Schattenborg had said that Keith couldn't ever. . . She began to sob.
She saw movement just behind the console. It was Schattenborg! Somehow he had gotten through the door, after all! He was inching around the console, stalking her with a fiendish look on his face. She tried to scream. Nothing would come out. She filled her lungs with air and tried again. She found her voice this time and without thinking she screamed a name.
“Keith!” The name came out in one long anguish filled shriek. It seemed as if she had become someone else. She felt numb, detached, and she thought dizzily, "This can't be happening. It's too ironic," she fought to remain conscious, "it's just like being in one of the movies I'm supposed to be playing for." Then everything went black.
Keith heard the cacophony of pedal pipes and again began shouting Melody's name. Mr. Day and the boys caught up with Keith as he stood at the back of the dark auditorium. In the spotlight the organ console was reaching it's full up position, pipes were roaring and screeching, and yet he saw no one on the bench.
Wavering, the pipe noise then came to a dying, sickening halt. Keith at last saw Melody as she stood up from crouching on the pedals. He heard her begin to sob, and he flew down the aisle. He was about half way there when she threw back her head and shrieked his name in a terrible animal-like scream. As he vaulted onto the apron of the stage he then saw Schattenborg, almost unrecognizable in his madness, inching menacingly toward her. Melody seemed to whisper something then she dropped like an empty sack.
Schattenborg pounced on her like a jackal. Keith was on him in an instant, pulling him up and whirling him around. The men and the boys heard Keith cry out in wordless fury as his fist dealt a bone breaking blow to Schattenborg's head, once then twice. Jimmy and Harry went around to the other side of the console. They carefully moved Melody out of harm's way and untied her hands.
The force of Keith's third blow was such that Schattenborg was hurled into the space between the console key desk and the bench, and backward toward the place on the pedals where Melody had cowered just moments before. Schattenborg's hands sought for a handhold to break his fall. His left hand landed on the lift down switch, activating it.
No sooner had gap between the bottom of the stage and the descending console lift appeared than Schattenborg, now unconscious, slid snakelike down into the dark gapping hole, as if swallowed whole. He fell some fifteen feet into the blackness of the pit under the stage, sustaining a broken arm and leg as well as a fractured skull. Mr. Day had called the police soon after they arrived at the theatre and they came just in time along with an ambulance.
When Schattenborg, removed from the pit, had regained consciousness, he was arrested, strapped to a stretcher and sent under police escort to the hospital. By this time Mrs. Page, Mrs. MacLeod, Mrs. Day and the Killmans, had arrived. Harry and Jimmy told them the whole story as Keith completed his statement to the police.
Keith had damaged two fingers on his right hand with his powerful crunch to Schattenborg's face. They were badly swollen and bruised. Melody, though quite shaken, seemed to be all right, but she cried with joy to see Keith alive and, except for his hand, okay. However, when she tried to stand she discovered that she had badly wrenched her left ankle in the melee. Like Keith's hand, it was swollen and bruised, and painful to the touch.
In spite of his hand, Keith picked her up in his arms, kissed her and said with wry humor: “My dear, I will carry you until you can walk!”
Mr. Randolph, who had entered the auditorium just in time to see Keith K.O. Schattenborg, said: “Yes, I think it's wise not to use that foot for a while. Let's get you to the house clinic. I've called Dr. O'Shaughnessy to tend to you both. Melody, I want you to follow his orders which will, I'm sure, include staying in bed and off that foot for a while! You've had a harrowing experience today. You need rest and quiet.”
Melody, more herself and thinking clearly now said: “Hold it! Wait a minute everybody! Don't you realize that we have a very big problem here? Mr. Randolph, it is now twelve-fifteen and at one o'clock you've got hundreds and hundreds of people arriving for a major motion picture premier! There are thousands and thousands of dollars at stake, AND YOU DON'T HAVE AN ORGANIST!”
Into the stunned silence that followed Harry spoke up.
“Sure, you do!”