12 Days (pt. 8/12)

Buildings within buildings


Lila and Ian drove over to the mid-Wilshire area where Ian managed to find street parking some distance away from the museum.

“Saved ten bucks,” he remarked with satisfaction.

“Yeah, but if we have to make a quick escape that could cost us,” Lila remarked.

They briskly walked over to museum, paid their admission, and identified the building in which they were to meet the mystery person or persons.

Lila glanced at her watch. “Fifteen minutes. Let’s get set up.”

They walked into the main exhibit area and casually moved apart as they studied the artifacts that included footage from the 1920 silent film, Der Golem [The Golem], something that captured Lila’s attention immediately. She stood entranced in front of the screen, forgetting momentarily to pay attention to those around her.

“Interesting movie,” a man’s voice interrupted her thoughts.

She swung around nearly braining the guy with her handbag.

A thin, dark haired man in his late 50s stood slightly behind her. At her startled reaction he held up his hands in a gesture to indicate that he meant no harm.

“Yes, it is,” she replied cautiously.

“I find the golem to be a physical representation of the creative process. We create something without knowing how it will change once it is released to the world.” The dark haired man smiled grimly. “Unfortunately this can have,” he paused, “unintended consequences.”

Lila smiled. “That matches perfectly with my motto: expect the unexpected.”

Mitchell inclined his head, acknowledging her riposte.

He held out his hand. “Mitchell Harvard.”

Lila decided to play along to see where this was going. “Lila.”

Ian wended his way over to where they were standing. “I haven’t had the pleasure,” he said pleasantly.

“Mitchell,” the man held out his hand to Ian, who shook it briefly.

“I take it you’re also an admirer of silent film?” Ian queried.

“I find the subject matter particularly intriguing.” Mitchell’s gesture encompassed both Ian and Lila. “Are you early film aficionados?”

Lila laughed. “I’ve attended a couple of UCLA sponsored silent film showings, but that’s the extent of my knowledge.”

“I guess you could say we’re here to learn more about it,” Ian said carefully.

“Certainly this is a fine example of German Expressionism. Also, I think the message that one’s creation often outgrows one’s ability to control it is particularly poignant.”

Ian quirked his eyebrow at Mitchell, “And yet it can be combated by a single person, as in the film. Was the golem evil or merely misunderstood?”

“Can’t it be both?” Mitchell posed the question.

Lila mused, “First the golem saves many people, but later kills someone. Does the second action negate the first?”

Mitchell smiled politely. “Perhaps we come at this from different perspectives. I find that evil may often hide behind the face of good.” He looked around the room, noting that they were currently the only ones at the exhibit.

Lila pressed him. “Do you have a specific instance in mind?”

“Suppose a group knows that someone has created a weapon with the intent to use it for an evil purpose. The group members decide that they are willing to do anything to stop that plan. What is your responsibility if you find out about this situation?” Mitchell asked tensely.

The lights went out in the room and Mitchell pulled Ian and Lila closer to him. “Mohave Desert. The three towers. 3 p.m. tomorrow. If you are the sort who would indeed do something.”

The lights came back on suddenly, and Ian and Lila blinked to clear their vision. Mitchell had disappeared.