“Come on,” Brian persists, “I’ve seen that ‘personal film vault’ of yours. You’ve got hundreds of movies in there, a number of which are still in their original cannisters as I recall. And I know you’ve already had most of them copied and transferred onto devices that can be used on modern projection equipment. So, what’s the holdup?”
Eyeing him coolly, I respond, “Firstly, I have over a thousand films that have been transferred and are ready for use. Secondly, there are still another 500 films, which you already pointed out are still in their original cannisters, which I’ve only recently been able to begin the process of getting them restored. Once that process has been finished, then they too will need to be transferred and copied.”
At this point Lisa jumps in with, “Got any of the missing Dr. Who stories?”
Rolling my eyes, I nod, “Yes, and I’ve already sent copies of what I had to the BBC. Unfortunately, most of the ones I gave them, they already had. However, several of my copies were in better shape, so it wasn’t a total waste. Plus, there were a few they didn’t have, for which they were very grateful.”
“I’m going to want to see those,” Brian tells me.
No surprise. He’s almost as big a Dr. Who fan as I am, and Lisa’s just as bad.
“But getting back to that thousand plus movies in your possession. Would any of them happen to be...” he begins.
“Yes,” I cut in, sighing heavily. “A number of them are films that were believed ‘lost’ to history. Which is the big reason for my dilemma.”
At this Lisa frowns. “What’s wrong with them?”
“Nothing’s wrong with them,” I answer snippily. “For your information, a number of them are considered ‘classics’, which is why so many historians have been spent years looking for any remaining copies of them.”
“And you’ve had them all this time?” she replies eyeing me suspiciously. “Holding out on everyone and just keeping all the goodies to yourself, huh?”
With a dramatic groan, I answer, “Most of them I got a hold of decades ago. And even back then, a fair amount of them weren’t in the best shape. With Otto’s help, I tried to preserve them as best we could. A number of these were shot from the 1910’s through the 1930’s, which was before anyone really thought about preserving films. In fact, it wasn’t until 1935 that the New York Museum of Modern Art made the first real effort to preserve old films. And by then a bunch of the silent ones had already been lost, because the material they used to film them weren’t chosen for their ability to last over a long period of time. Plus, that stuff was also highly flammable.” Here I pause and add quietly, “Believe me, I know. I was one of those rare fools who would run inside a building where they were stored which was on fire, trying to grab whatever I could, before we all wound up as extra crispy.”
“Seriously?” father and daughter cry in unison. I’d never mentioned this to either of them before. Why? Because I’m a very private person… most of the time.
After a moment, Brian regains his composure and asks, “You were rushing into burning buildings just to save a few old films?”
“I was specifically trying to save certain ones at the time,” I explain quietly. “But between having flames closing in and structures starting to collapse all around me, I just grabbed whatever I could and got the hell out of there. Only after I was safe did I get a chance to go through the ones I had grabbed and find out their titles.”
Coming over to me, Lisa places a hand on my arm and says gently, “Those films you were after must’ve been pretty special, to you.”
“Oh, they were,” I smile and nod.
“And the ones you did save are all in that vault of yours,” she continues.
“Carefully stored in a special climate-controlled room,” I nod.
“Good,” she smiles, “So, is this vault of yours nearby? Or do we have to take a plane to Los Angeles, or somewhere else?”
“Actually, they’re quite close,” Brian smiles, before I can reply. “In fact, it’s carefully hidden within the walls of one of your favorite hangouts.”
At that Lisa turns to me excitedly and squeals, “You’ve got them at the mansion, don’t you?”
This time it’s my turn to smile mischievously. “Ooo… you’re cold. Very cold.”
She rolls her eyes at that. You know, for someone so ‘mature’ she’s very easy to get going sometimes. Of course, the fact that both her parents and I used to tease her with the old ‘Hot and Cold’ game quite a lot while she was growing up, probably doesn’t help. Especially, when we pulled it on her seventh birthday. At my prompting we had stashed her presents all over the house and made her look for them.
Needless to say, the novelty of the challenge wore off rather quickly and ended with tears. Clearly, it had not been one of my brighter suggestions.
So, upon hearing this, one might’ve thought I would have learned from that experience. But no, I pulled it again on her just last year over at the mansion. Only to quickly learn that time had not improved her attitude about the game one bit. In fact, being older and basically an adult, she was able to express her displeasure with me in much more colorful terms than when she was only seven.
Deciding I’d best not play that game with her now, I’m about to tell her the location when she suddenly bursts out with, “You’ve got them hidden somewhere in the building, where The Crypt is located, don’t you?”
Immediately, Brian starts clapping. “Congratulations, you are correct. Someone, give that girl a coconut!”
Both Lisa and I turn and stare at him for a second.
“A coconut?” she repeats in disgust. “First of all, I hate coconuts. Secondly, if that’s all I’m going to get, it better be made of solid gold.”
“On my salary?” her father gasps, “I’m lucky to be able to afford a regular coconut.” Then he shifts his gaze to me. “Nathan, you’re the moneybags of the family, you give her one made of gold. Then I can steal it in the night, melt it down and take off with my wife to parts unknown.”
“Wait! What about your kids?” I ask.
“You’re their godfather, you take care of them,” he smiles, “They can be your problem.”
In response to that Lisa snuggles up to me, sending one thought racing through my mind, ‘One of them already is.’
Mind you, it’s not that I’m not fond of Lisa. Quite the opposite. I both love and adore her. And yes, I’m also attracted to her. Extremely attracted to be honest. But I’m also attracted to her best friend Marisa, and I don’t want to complicate things between them. Especially, since both of them, by my standards anyway, happen to be a bit on the ‘young’ side. Admittedly, they’re both in their early twenties, but I want them to explore their options and experience life. See who and what is out there for them, before trying to decide whether or not they really want to settle for someone who must avoid daylight and live a night owl existence.
‘Someone who will also more than likely outlive them,’ I add silently.
Although, if I’m being honest, I think I worry more about that last part more than either of them. And it’s because of that fear, I have considered doing the one thing I know would change that outcome. In fact, I’ve thought about it more often than I like to admit. But I’m not about to offer that option to either of them. At least not at this time…
“So, are we going to check out your vault or what?” Lisa asks, interrupting my train of guilt. From the annoyed tone of her voice, this is probably the 3rd or 4th time she’s asked the question, and I clearly wasn’t listening.
Giving her a sheepish smile as an apology, I nod and say, “Sure, why not?”
TO BE CONTINUED...