Over the following two weeks I lived under the threat of being murdered. A nervous, frantic existence. Panic, fear. Each night I raced home from the theatre, looking behind me at every corner, running away from him.
The man who killed Else…
Then rebellion set in and I decided I would run no longer.
I went to the police, showed them the handbill featuring the girls in the chorus with my picture circled and explained how I met the grotesque-looking man who left the death threat.
Sunday afternoon. Light rain drizzling down the windowpanes in long liquid streaks that never ceased. Sitting in a café, I hummed along to the charming tune the violinist played, drinking coffee, aware the policeman was close by, though I didn’t know what he looked like.
For my safety, I was told. If I didn’t know who he was than I wouldn’t give away his presence to the murderer.
Still I did not feel safe in the city of Berlin. But where could I hide?
In a movie theater.
The Marmorhaus. Marblehouse.
This wonderful old movie palace built in 1913 was nearly six stories high with a white marble façade. When it hosted the premiere of the silent film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, in 1920, the Golden Age of German Cinema began. No longer were films deemed unimportant since the number of movie theatres in Germany had grown from less than thirty in 1913 to two-hundred forty-five by 1919.
Soon after the government abolished all censorship and the moving pictures gave the public what they wanted: sex. Lost Daughters and Prostitution attracted big audiences during the era of Weimar Berlin, which also gave the world of cinema such classics as Metropolis, M and The Blue Angel.
Leaving my wet umbrella in the checkroom, I found my way upstairs and took a seat in the nearly empty balcony. I looked over my shoulder. No one was following me.
Where was the plainclothesman?
I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The air became heavy, my nerves frayed as I sat quietly, the projector grinding out the film in jerky movements, a silly costume drama I’ve long since forgotten. I became restless and was about to get up and leave the theatre when–
The sharp prick of a knife pinched the side of my neck, making me gasp. I took in a deep breath and the pungent scent of spicy cloves hung in the air like a pestilence creeping into my bones.
“Don’t move, Fräulein,” I heard a man’s unpleasant voice saying, profoundly disturbing me. “Or you shall not leave this theatre alive.”
To be continued…
Lady Eve Marlowe