University Cinemas

University Cinemas

(c) 2011 by David L Nelson, All Rights Reserved.

Julie was reticent. She’d been shooting down every movie suggestion he’d proffered without giving solid reasons. Seth finally said, “Okay, you pick the movie.” He didn’t care if she picked Mary Poppins, he just wanted to be with her for as long as possible in a quiet, secluded, cozy setting. Mostly he was interested in the low lights.

School was over for the day and the weekend was finally here. Julie had begged her dad for days to get to go on a Friday night to “the biggest movie ever.”

Her dad was unimpressed by the movie but he was willing to buy into his daughter seeing Friday the 13th on Friday the 13th. Why not. How many times could she see Friday the 13th on it’s first night in the theater on the Friday that lands on the 13th? Only this one, and if she didn’t go, then friday night dinners would be worse than when he’d sneaked a pork chop and was eating with the milk dishes. “What? it’s not kosher anyway, what difference does it make?”

His missus threw the pan, plate, fork and knife in the trash and told him to replace them. Two days after trash day, he replaced them with identical items from Silver’s antique shop in old town. Thankfully Max was a friend who, if his wife called, he would say that yes, he had understood and was willing to break up an old set that he’d been storing for months with no takers. “My wife caught me with bacon and eggs when she was supposed to be at her mother’s all day.” Max smiled into the phone. Neither anticipated she would call Max’s wife.

“I want to go see Friday the 13th, Becky’s going to with Jimmy.” Julie answered. On his forehead, Seth could feel the skin rumple into farm land. Seth didn’t know her that well but he sure did like looking at her. If she wanted to go and see mayhem and cruel murders, then he’d have to go. With her eyes just ever so slightly just a bit too close together and her nose was only a bit too long to be what most could call beautiful, Seth was smitten. But he was hoping she’d pick Where the Buffalo Roam or even Mad Max which he’d already seen.

Julie was the most beautiful girl he’d ever met, at least since last Wednesday a week ago when he met his new piano tutor. Black curly hair flowed down her neck just to her shoulders. Staring at her little white tennis outfit, racket in hand that she kept tapping on her shoes, alternating left to right in perfect time, and the white mini-skirt rounded out with a tank top that had red threading at all the seams, it just melted Seth’s heart. Then boiled it. On the grass of the High School Quad, Seth sitting with his feet crossed, Julie side-saddle between his knees , she said “I can’t go with Becky because she’s going with Jimmy”.

“Um . . .” Seth was hesitant and trying to think of a way to explain that he didn’t have a car and his mom, or hers would have to drive. Deciding which was worse was the problem his mind fumbled with.

“I can pick you up, how’s 6?” Julie asked.

“Uh . . “ Seth hesitated again as his brain slowly caught on. “You have a license? That’s great.” Seth considered the possibilities while writing down his address and directions to his house from school on a sheet of note paper. At that time, there were no restrictions on teens driving teens. At that time there were no cell phones with satellite maps either. “Maybe after we could take a long stroll on the beach or around Lake La Jolla?” She said yes and blushed. Cutting the distance between their faces in half, he leaned towards her eyes with his and whispered “Okay then” and smiled as she leaned in and cut the distance in half again.

“Okay then.” She answered and they rushed that last inch and pummeled each others lips against their teeth. As they rubbed their mouths, She sighed.

“Let’s try that again . . . a bit more slowly this time.” They kissed gently at first then a bit more like teenagers who like each other enough to not care who notices. Seth would later regret this when he moved on and Julie would regret it when she met the right man who wanted to know if she still had feelings and so on. Seth just realized later that he’d burned his chances with Becky, yes that Becky, and also Maia Grossman too. He kissed her cheek, her earlobe, her neck, her shoulder and slowly looked up. In his face, he felt what his mom must have meant when she’d talk about “hot flashes” to grandma on the phone.

“Alright then?” she asked. He nodded handing her the directions.

As he watched her walk away, Seth noticed that every couple of steps her right foot skipped just a bit. Bird Legs almost danced her way towards the parking lot. So, 45 minute walk home, eat, shower, brush teeth, pick an outfit that made him look like Jim Morrison without being able to afford the leather pants and before Jim had a beard and got fat. Do an hour of homework. Even though it was Friday he’d still do his History reading because it was the only way he could think of to move the time along. Of course, he’d also have to call the University Theater’s recording to find out the start time of the film which turned out to be 6:20pm.

At 6 Seth slapped his History book shut and was ready to go. Although it would have been better if he’d been driving his mom’s car instead, it was going to be great. Seth’s mom had simply stated that because she’d crashed every car her parents had had between her 15th and 18th birthdays, she wasn’t going to risk that with her own kids. She also forbade just the mention of practicing in the nearby Baptist Church’s huge parking lot. Even if she’d been back from work, he didn’t have a license yet. A sore spot in his relationship with his mom, it was a point he was willing to ignore this time.

By 6:10 Seth began to worry if the directions he’d given weren’t clear enough. But he’d included a map on one side and turn by turn on the other. That couldn’t be the problem. When 6:15 came around Seth began to wonder if she’d changed her mind or if she hadn’t been able to get the car or if Jimmy had stood up Becky and so now she’d decided to go with Becky. Because he remembered the gentle kiss that’d expanded to a much more interesting kiss in just moments, he gave up that line of thinking. Maybe that was the reason she’d decided not to come, she was afraid of losing control of her own passions, “please let that be the reason” he said looking at top of the door. If that was the reason and she did in fact skip then the next time she did go on a date with him, his chances might be even better. 6:20pm, Seth began to hope she didn’t show up.

Pulling up to the house at 6:23 Julie leaned over to look out through the passenger window. Sprung from the couch, he ran for the door. Gently he closed the door and casually walked down the front walk patting his pockets. No wallet. One finger pointed to the nearest cloud and clumsily he ran for the door and tripped over the landing on the way in. “Dufus” Seth shouted at the nearest mirror. Wallet in hand, he was back to casually walking to the car again. Julie’s mom’s car was a 1978 LTD Stationwagon, dark green paint, and wood side panels. Automatic the shifter was in the steering column. Crawling like a dog on all fours he craned in to give her a peck on the cheek, but she turned to say what would have been go sit down and ended up putting her lips to his. Julie giggled and said: “Go sit down. Behave yourself.” Seth did.

About the size of 2 and a quarter Priuses, the car felt like a cloud when driving straight and a formula one race car on turns. Because there were no seat belt laws, and the front seats were simply a couch in the front of the car, Seth waited for the right turn, which was a right turn, so he could slide all the way to the left across the seat and wrap his left arm around her shoulders. That happened turning onto Bridges Avenue. Julie didn’t protest, just smiled and stared forward concentrating on the road.

Late, there was no line left. The first night that Friday the 13th was in the theater and no one was there. Seth was heartened and disappointed. Maybe he’d have the girl and an empty theater. Maybe the movie sucked. Unfortunately, everyone was inside. They’d missed the first 15 minutes and the #5 theater of the multiplex was almost full. Sandy Williams in the box office, smiled and said, “first date?” Sandy was in Seth’s chem class and was pretty.

“They all are.” Seth said outloud. He’d been thinking every girl in every class he’d ever had was pretty, at least a little bit. “No I mean I was thinking of something else.” And Julie was nodding up and down before Seth could say, but he said it anyway, “no we’d rather see Friday the 13th.”

“Oh I loved that one, Mrs. Jantzen, you know, Corrine’s mom who owns the theater, well she let us come in early to watch the movie so we could tell you all how much we liked it and stuff.” Sandy replied.

“Did you?” Julie asked.

“Did I what?” asked Sandy

“Did you like the movie?” asked Seth. In his hand he held out $8 in ones but was folding them and pulling them back again.

“Oh, that, it was great.” She grinned, “$8 please.” and she held out her hand. Seth put the money in her palm and she continued, “there’s only a few seats down in front on the right side, but there might be two together.”

“Maybe we should get our money back and go somewhere else?” But Julie was already dragging him inside.

On the way into the #5 theater, because Becky’s eyes were already accustomed to the light she saw them in the dark. “Julie!” but one of the football players shushed her. “Talk after, K?” answered by “K”.

Down in the front, there were 3 empty seats. Seth was caught between a rock and a soft place. Julie on his left and another jock, Rodney Hicks from the swim team on his right. Julie got to sit next to the empty seat because she would have had Billy Terner next to her. Billy was a husky guy with too many pimples and D&D book in his hand everywhere he went. Just like Seth’s older brother Jordan had said, Julie was immediately gripping his arm and nestled into his shoulder. Grinning he felt good, elated, anticipation filled his mind and heart.

Just then it happened. From behind the scary curtain, or the scary door, or in the scary shower, the Psycho slasher music ramped up! Okay it wasn’t the violins from Psycho, but who remembers the music to Friday the 13th anyway? Julie screamed. Shrieks slashed Seth’s left ear point blank. They were splintered chicken bones for the soul. The soul which had just been liquefied by Julie. Split soul soup.

But that wasn’t the then-it-happened, this was: Becky laughed. Becky couldn’t help it, she knew Julie’s voice anywhere, they were like fraternal twins parted at birth, their inside joke was whose mom was the real mom, and it was always Becky’s because she let them stay up an hour later. Becky laughed her head off. Moments later, Julie let out another mind numbing blow to the souls of those surrounding her. Becky laughed her head off. After a couple of minutes Julie squeaked in horror. Not that no one else’s date screamed, they did. Becky laughed her head off.

Many were chilled but few were frozen with fright, like Julie. But by the 3rd or 4th screech, many were laughing their heads off with Becky. Seth in his mind’s eye, could see the blood running down Britney’s neck because she’d decided she wanted a new hole in her lobe. During English which was right after lunch, and such a dry teacher, so she just made one with her earring. Must have been stoned. In his memory the clarity of the picture made him reach up and touch his own left ear.

Not long later, audience reactions were approximately half and half, mostly the young women in the theater would shriek, or scream, and most of the men and a few of the women would mercilessly laugh their brains out. Laughers laughed at screamers for the rest of the movie.

After what turned out to be the best comedy of 1980 was over, Becky and Julie laughed and giggled for several minutes about how Becky had recognized Julie’s voice, “nobody screams like you Julie, it’s like a blood curdling train braking while running over a family picnic.”

Ambling towards the LTD, that little slice of Ford’s heaven on earth, Seth slipped his hand into hers and interlaced their fingers. As he leaned in to kiss her, she stumbled on a little rock and side-stepped a couple feet away withdrawing her hand at the same time. He didn’t even realize that anything was wrong. She shoved the key in the door and when she looked up, he was next to her. That close to her face he could see little bitty tears in her eyes, which he attributed to how much she’d just been screaming for an hour and a half. He smiled. She didn’t. Kissed him on the cheek, and said, “get in.”

While it didn’t take him long to figure out that they weren’t headed to Lake La Jolla, he still continued on in the mistaken hope that he might be going to a quiet secluded place alone with Julie. At last she was pulling into his street when he asked, “um so what’s going on?”

“Oh, everything’s fine, I’m just tired. That’s all.” Hands in lap, she stared at the steering wheel. “I, uhm,” she paused. “I just don’t feel like going out anymore.”

“Oh.” Seth paused. “Maybe tomorrow? We could do brunch in the morning and go to the Lake after that.” he smiled his most endearing half smile and widened his eyes a little in his practiced puppydog way.

Julie looked up at him, sighed, cocked her head to sideways towards where a headrest should have been and said, “No thank you.” She could feel her right foot grinding into the carpet. As her left eyebrow raised just a hair, she said, “don’t call.” Seth thought of the end of Willy Wonka and wondered if there was a gobstopper he could pull out of his pocket.

In his pocket Seth could feel his fist clench. “Stupid movie.” Staring at the glove compartment and considering that he’d tossed $8 out the window, it began to dawn on him that at least it was the funniest movie he’d ever seen. When he turned to his left again to say goodnight, he saw the glossiness in her eyes was still there. He’d done something wrong. He didn’t know what it was. Reflecting that Joseph K was accused and indicted without ever knowing who the witnesses against him were, his mind ran over all of Julie’s conversation with Becky. What did Becky say? Nothing. Nothing that stood out as an indictment of his behavior. Door cracked open, he turned his head left again and watched her chin quiver like a baby before it cries. “I’m sorry Julie, whatever it was.”

“Just go.” she whispered.

On the curb in front of his house, watching heaven drive away, he finally remembered Becky’s words, “I was laughing as much at his laughing at you as I was at your owl screeches.”

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