Monday, December 7, 2009
A Night at the Movies
Today's muse: Daily Writing Practice
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A Night at the Movies
“Butter on your popcorn, sir?” Frank shook his head at the pimple-faced teen behind the concession counter.
“Don’t be ridiculous, you can’t have popcorn without butter.” His wife’s nasal voice attacked him.
“I don’t want butter,” he murmured.
“Fine!” Barbara snapped. “I do. I’ll have a large popcorn with butter. No…make it extra butter.” She sneered at Frank, knowing that paying for the extra butter would anger him.
He pulled a worn leather wallet from his coat pocket and, with great care, removed the bills to pay for their movie snacks. The smile that played on Frank’s lips went unnoticed by his wife as she walked away with her popcorn and soda.
As they walked down the hall toward the theatre, Barbara continued to berate him, preaching about popcorn etiquette. The woman just never let up; her harping was a constant assault. Nothing satisfied her, least of all Frank. Five short years of marriage felt like fifty. From the moment they were married, Frank knew it was a mistake. Even at the wedding reception, she had lectured him on how he held his fork. She was happiest when she was humiliating him. Frank sat in silence and ate his dry popcorn while his wife badgered him. Her tirade ended only when the lights dimmed and the film began to play.
Barbara’s choice of movie was an art film, which he was certain she selected simply to annoy him. With little dialogue in the picture, the stillness of the movie theatre was punctuated by the crunching of popcorn as moviegoers shovelled handfuls of fluffy kernels into their cavernous mouths. Frank sat motionless in his seat, staring blindly at the screen throughout the entire film, listening to the deafening sound of snapping corn echo off the walls.
The movie had barely finished when he gathered his empty popcorn bucket and drink cup. Without looking at Barbara, he muttered, “I’ll meet you at the car.”
Frank took his time walking along the corridor, gazing at the colourful posters of movies that played in other theatres—movies he would have preferred to see. From the corner of his eye, he watched the staff open the doors to the theatre in preparation for the exodus.
Several minutes passed before one of the gangly teens entered the dark theatre. Frank heard shouting, then turned back to scrutinize a bright poster as several staff members ran into the theatre. A high pitched scream carried down the hall and a few people turned to look with mild interest. The manager came running and spoke in hushed tones with a uniformed boy who was quite agitated by the sight in the room.
“Everyone is just sitting in their seats, sir.” The lad’s breath came in short bursts as he recalled the scene. “They’re in their seats, all staring at the screen, with half-empty buckets of buttered popcorn in their laps.”
The manager squeezed the boy’s shoulder. “Thank you, Craig,” and he walked into the theatre.
“I think they’re all dead, sir,” Craig called after his supervisor.
A faint smile played across Frank’s face. He thrust his hands in his pockets and walked out of the theatre alone.