“The Showstopper!”: Chapter 2

2

 

Monday, October 18, 1922

The Broadway Revue

Scourge of Broadway Strikes Again!

“Showstopper” Criminal Linked to Malicious Series of Production Accidents

By Trevor Goodwin, Staff Reporter

 

The Showstopper.

It is a name every actor on Broadway fears and despises. A name that directors scarcely dare to whisper in opening night prayers, hoping against hope that their production will not be the evening’s offering of target practice. A name that unleashes inner terrors and grants wings to fanciful imaginations.

Following his career debut in the Main Line Theater’s disaster-ridden production of The Wedding Guests almost a year ago today, this unseen fiend has wreaked havoc on playhouses up and down Broadway Row, transitioning from an amusing nuisance to a frighteningly enigmatic threat to public safety. Several prominent companies are now deep in debt from refunded ticket sales and destroyed property, and hundreds of promising young actors and actresses now wander the streets without work, their dreams of stardom cruelly smashed.

Who is this masked menace, and why has he apparently begun a one-man crusade to bring down Broadway? Speculation among the citizenry abounds while facts remain elusive.

Mrs. Susan Lepré of Brooklyn said she believes the Showstopper has an unhappy history with theaters.

“I heard the man has a wooden leg and a brass hook for a hand,” she said. “He lost them in a stage accident when he was a child, and now he has a vendetta against playhouses for life. Isn’t that just the most romantic tragedy you’ve ever heard?”

Miss Danielle Rousseau of Manhattan said she finds the danger surrounding the criminal intriguing.

“I’ve heard he can slip in and out of shadows like a phantom,” she said. “It’s some kind of ancient art they teach in the Orient. That’s how he gets in without anyone seeing him. I just wish I could meet him. He’s so daring and mysterious. I’ve fallen in love with him, so I have!”

Mr. Joseph Thompson of Queens had a decidedly less positive opinion.

“The man’s a fool, and a damn reckless one at that,” he said. “Putting innocent men and women at risk who are just trying to make honest money is the most despicable thing I can think of, and he doesn’t even have the guts to show his face. Yellow-bellied slime.”

Mr. Clifford Hicks, also of Queens, demonstrated firsthand just how many wild rumors exist surrounding the Showstopper.

“I’ve heard tell that the Showstopper’s got the wings of a bat and sucks the blood of people he can find alone on the streets at night,” he said. “Of course, I make it a habit never to put much stock into tall tales and womanly gossip. But that’s the word on the street.”

The public is not the only ones in an uproar over the Showstopper. Mr. Terrance Banks, owner of the Regal Playhouse that was attacked last month, said he is concerned that his ability to put bread and water on the table for himself and his family may be compromised.

“That maniac is out to ruin my business and my livelihood,” he said. “Thanks to the blasted Showstopper, actors won’t sign onto my payroll, my productions are being cancelled, and my company is losing money in buckets every day. He must be stopped!”

In spite of the overwhelming nature of such views, Sir Reginald Coxley, manager of a modest theater chain including the Majestic, said that his profits have actually increased thanks to the Showstopper.

“More gentlemen and ladies from outside the city are paying to see my productions now, hoping not only for quality entertainment, but also to catch a glimpse of the notorious criminal in action,” he said. “Quite an interesting study of human behavior, really, and a savvy manager will continue to reap the benefits.”

When asked if he feared his productions might be next on the Showstopper’s hit parade, Sir Coxley simply laughed and declined comment.

One question on the mind of every New Yorker during this time of crisis is where the police are in the meantime. Broadway’s law enforcement community has thus far refused to assign more men to the Showstopper case, despite increasing public outcry. Even more shocking is the fact that high-ranking members of the New York City Police Department appear not to take the Showstopper or the threat he poses seriously.

Police Commissioner Clarence Calvin, head of Broadway’s 43rd Precinct, said he believes the Showstopper case is not even worth his time.

“The man’s just another one of your standard kooks,” he said. “They pop up, give the people some cheap thrills for a while, and disappear when the gawkers lose interest. My officers and I already have our hands full keeping real thugs and murderers off the streets. We can’t afford to run around on a wild goose chase after every nut in a cape and cowl. I’ve got hangnails that are more pressing to me than the Showstopper.”

Despite Calvin’s dismissive attitude, there are other individuals who feel the threat is even greater than most people realize. Mr. Hamilton Saxby, a Bronx-born set designer, former prop master, and expert on theatrical technology claimed to have studied the Showstopper’s methods of disrupting and destroying productions. He said his findings were alarming.

“This is not just some two-bit prankster looking for thirty seconds of fame,” he said. “So far, not one of the Showstopper’s attacks has been a simple hack-and-slash job. The level of ability demonstrated here shows that each crime is carefully planned down to the slightest detail, and the sheer complexity of means and timing in the incidents so far are representative of a brilliant, if perhaps deranged, intellect.”

Mr. Saxby also expressed concern regarding the means the Showstopper uses to perpetrate his crimes.

“My examination of the few gadgets and devices recovered intact from crime scenes has confounded me,” he said. “The engineering comprehension involved in their creation must be years ahead of our time. What’s more, their specialization indicates a mind that can foresee every possible situation and build a device tailored to tackle any challenge.”

Mr. Saxby concluded with a warning to the police.

“They are tragically underestimating what’s happening here,” he said. “All the evidence indicates that the Showstopper is very real, and very dangerous. I fear that if action is not taken soon, this man–mad or not–may well become unstoppable.”

As protests against law enforcement’s stubborn inaction grow stronger every day, it seems contrary to logic and the laws of common decency that the sole line of defense against the city’s scum and villainy continue to look the other way on the Showstopper affair. If the citizens of New York cannot expect aid from those who have sworn to serve and protect them, where are they to turn?

Even in this dark time, however, hope still exists for Broadway and its population. Sources inside City Hall say that as recently as last week, several city council members proposed the passing of an executive order to force the police to mobilize against the Showstopper threat. The result of these valiant efforts by our trusted elected representatives remains to be seen.

Coming Soon: The Showstopper hits the web

Well, I finally did it: after months of talking about it, I resolved to buy my own website. Not much of a change, really, because the address is just getting shortened to kylerobertsonnovelist.com, but I suppose it’s sort of a big deal because for the first time in my life, I finally own my own website.

And why does this matter, you ask? Well, the good news is that once my domain is registered, up and running, I’ll be able to do what I’ve been wanting to do for a while now and release my debut novel to the general public. Well, re-release. I’ve been struggling a bit to get my novel writing career off the ground over the last year or so, and while I thank the many friends and family members who have read my book so far, I’m not enjoying as much success as I would have hoped. So I’m taking a page out of the books of several other pretty successful self-published authors and cutting things back to the bare minimum.

First of all, I eliminated many Amazon distribution channels for my book so as to cut down on the price of my book per copy, hopefully boosting potential sales. Don’t worry, you can still find my book, “The Showstopper!”, over on Amazon.com, and it’s even better now that it’s only $9.99 per copy. And hey, a rousing period adventure story makes for a great holiday gift for your friends and family. Just food for thought.

Showstopper

You can also find the book in the Kindle store, now for a measly $1.99. It’s only available in the U.S. now as opposed to all of Amazon’s overseas operations, but I figured it might be a smart move to scale back my ambitions a bit, at least for now until I can find a more solid footing right here at home.

Okay, I’m done boring you with the technical stuff. Now for the punchline: starting next week, you’ll be able to read “The Showstopper!” for free. Yes, you read right. For free. In yet another effort to get the word out about my book before the holidays, I’ll be putting it up in serialized installments, chapter by chapter, once a week for as long as it takes to get the whole book on the website. It might be a little while, of course: there’s around 40 chapters and over 300 pages to cover in all, but I guess that’s all for the best, right? More time for people to enjoy the story I’ve worked so long and hard on. My hope, of course, is that this will eventually drive more people, if they like the story enough, to get a copy for themselves rather than just read it and leave. But free seems to be the working default model for a lot of businesses these days, so I’ll chance it.

I’m also going to make a big effort to be more social media-savvy, too. People who know me will tell you that other than some cursory Facebook activity, I could really give a crap about the social media scene. Well, that changes now. I’ll be posting updates from this blog on my Twitter, Facebook page, and even Instagram accounts from this point forward (yes, I have one of those now). All part of the plan to get my name out there and more readers to check out the book.

And of course, every last reader I can get helps. Honestly, few things give me more pleasure than hearing from readers, be it compliments (which are certainly appreciated) or constructive criticism (which I am always in need of and open to). You can never have too much feedback.

In the meantime, enjoy the run-up to the holidays, and get ready for my first chapter of “The Showstopper!” to hit the web next week. As my favorite television character The Doctor would say, “Geronimo!”