The people roared with laughter. The Roadrunner had won again as the Acme rocket chased the coyote into a wall that just magically popped up in the middle of a desert. The main movie would start soon as the theatre lights had dimmed and people were settling into the movie. Young men yawned, reached up and slid their arm over the back of the first date. Young ladies leaned into his gesture and settled into that sweet spot that made her feel protected and made him feel needed.
CL Benton didn’t really like to go to the movies, but it was New Year’s Eve and he was alone again to bring in the New Year. Staying at home would be just another lonely sad night for him. The theatre was crowded and smokey. One day someone would probably discover that smoking would kill you. But between now and then, CL would light up as many as he would like. I mean, you gotta die from something, right?
There were very few seats left as Eve came in from the back with popcorn and a Coke in hand. Eve was supposed to meet 2 of her girlfriends at the theatre but at the last minute, they had decided to go dancing at the VFW. Eve didn’t feel like dancing that night and really just wanted to be alone and fall into a movie without any strings or obligations to bother her.
The usher walked down the aisle with a flashlight looking for seats while Eve trailed along behind as if the flashlight were a lighthouse and she was trying to find a port in the darkness. Standing at the end of the aisle, the usher flipped his lighthouse beacon towards the empty seat and motioned Eve to the empty port.
The light and the action caught CL’s attention. Looking towards the light, all he could see was that the usher was pointing someone to sit in the empty seat to his right. And they were coming from the left side. Jeez, now he’d have to get up. And who needs just one seat? There couldn’t possibly be one more lonely bastard in the world on this New Year’s Eve. CL was sure that he had that lonely bastard market cornered.
Eve could see that she’d need to maneuver in front of several people to get to her seat. “Excuse me, pardon me” she whispered as she slid sideways down the aisle. People moaned a little but repositioned themselves to let the young lady by.
The usher turned his beacon off just as Eve was getting to her assigned seat. CL was preparing to bend up a little bit to let the new guy come in for an irritating landing. He’d probably be this thug that hadn’t bathed in a few days and would make CL’s movie miserable.
The movie screen light behind Eve illuminated her perfect frame as she stood above CL waiting for him to accommodate her passing in front of his knees.
CL sat motionless with his cigarette burning dangerously close to his fingers. Despite her repeated “excuse me’s”, CL sat frozen solid in his seat.
His body was suddenly heavy and immovable as he stared up and absorbed the most captivating silhouette that he had ever seen.
Suddenly he leapt up and said “ouch!” and then “dammit!” and then “I’m so sorry ma’am”. As the cigarette had burned completely up and in his stupor, his finger had gotten burnt. CL had just proven what he was thinking earlier; cigarette smoking can kill you. CL quickly extinguished the cigarette remains a twisting toe of his black Wing Tips.
Because of the sudden pain and CL jumping up, Eve was knocked backwards. CL had no choice but to grab her by the waist to steady her as she balanced her concessions and her purse.
Dressed in a knee-length dress, Eve Langley was a proper woman. A woman of good upbringing and standards and had never been grabbed like this before. Standing there, Eve had the advantage because all CL saw was her silhouette. But the glow of the screen behind her displayed the most handsome man-face that she could conjure up in her dreams. Perfectly parted black hair sat above large brown eyes which sat above a dashing and waxed mustache which, in turn, sat above a dimpled smile. And so it happened that night in the crowded theatre that instead of falling into a movie like she had wanted, Eve immediately fell into CL’s smile.
“SIT DOWN” people began to insist as she stood there all googly-eyed and holding her purse, popcorn and Coke. CL’s hand still braced the curve of her hip to keep her from falling backwards.
“My apologies” he leaned over and whispered as they settled back into their seats and returned to the movie playing in front of them now.
“It’s ok, I’m a bumbling oof, sometimes more than others.” she said back to him quietly as she faced him. At that moment CL saw her in the flickering full light of the movie playing in front of them. She giggled and said ‘what are you staring at?’
“I’m, um, well”…and he felt his palms get wet as he looked off in the other direction from the most breath-taking woman that he’d ever seen in person. Her dark brown hair had a curled up flip to the side held in place by a shiny pearled pin. Her eyes were large enough that they glistened with the reflection of the movie playing in front of them.
Eve snickered a little bit as they turned back towards the screen. It was a moment that happens when few words are needed.
After a few minutes, Eve tilted the popcorn box over towards CL offering him some. He took a handful of popcorn and mouthed ‘thank you’ as to not upset the neighbors anymore.
The movie was hard to follow for both of them. There remained occasional giggles and intermittent stares that were caught which followed by mutual smiles. They both realized that they were making a bit of a scene so in tandem they both slid down in their seats to not be so obnoxious in their movie theatre encounter.
CL reached into the popcorn box while pretending to look at the movie at the exact same time Eve had placed her hand in the box. One lonely hand found another lonely hand and CL had no intention of letting the soft dainty hand go from his hand. Without saying a word, the two young people sat in silence until intermission just holding hands. That’s all. No words were spoken. Just hand holding and enjoying the feel of each other’s hands hidden from the world in a box of now-stale popcorn.
Soon, “Let’s All Go To The Lobby” played and the lights came up. It was easier to get up and leave than it was to sit there and get trampled. So they both slid up in their seats, sat the popcorn box down and let go of each other’s hands. I mean, now people could be looking and anyone around them knew that they had just met. Eve was brought up on the side of the tracks that would have disowned her if they knew she was holding hands in a box of popcorn with a total stranger that she’d just met in a movie theatre.
In the lobby, they stood by each other silently for a few minutes. Then he turned to her and said: “what do you think about the movie?”.
“Meh, it’s ok. Not really what I thought it was going to be. You?”
“Bout the same, but in its defense, I’m a bit distracted tonight”.
They both laughed.
It was raining outside as they stood in the foyer and watched the passersby walk in front of the lobby. Across the street, The Golden Cup was open and serving coffee and pie on clean white China with silver serving spoons to its late-night customers.
“Say, you like coffee?” he asked.
“Not so much. But I do love pie. Especially since I didn’t get to eat all of my popcorn. And it just so happens that I adore the pie at The Golden Cup” she said as she smiled with bright red and perfect lips as she looked up at CL.
‘So do you wanna forget this mediocre movie and I’ll buy you some pie to make up for eating your popcorn?’
“I think I’d love that”.
Opening the door and motioning his hands while saying ‘this way ma’am’ for his pie-date, CL left the theatre feeling taller than when he went in.
“Why thank you, kind sir.” Eve said as her heels clicked down onto the sidewalk from the carpeted foyer. Cl lit a cigarette as he stepped out of the door behind her.
Standing outside under the awning and out of the cold raindrops, they waited for a break in the rain before crossing the busy Atlantic Avenue.
Turning towards his fellow movie patron that turned into a date, he said “CL, my name is CL. May I ask the name of my coffee and pie-date?”
“Of course, you may. My name is Evelyn, but my friends just call me Eve.”
“Eve? Really? You’re kidding me?”
“Yes”. With a smile and an adjustment of her collar in the cold night air. “And what’s wrong with my name?”.
As he reached down to take her hand and make a run across the wet street to The Golden Cup on Atlantic Avenue, CL exhaled a long and slow cloud of smoke into the night air and said to her:
‘Eve is indeed a lovely name for a lovely lady on an absolutely lovely….
New Years Eve.”
And that’s the best that I can tell about it,
HAPPY NEW YEARS 2018!