Oh my gosh, as I type this out here on the 20th, I realize there are only 10 days left for NaNoWriMo and it’s 50k deadline. Time to get nervous and stressed, lol. I’m about 15k shy of the goal, so wish me luck and make me buckle down. Here’s the chapter for Day 18. If you’re just joining me, my project is a YA paranormal adventure about five teens in 1987 who come back as ghosts and are trying to still have the times of their lives while dealing with the fact they are dead and possibly murdered. You can access all the previous chapters through The menu item at the top of the page marked NaNoWriMo 2016.
Time Of Our Death
By Paul D Aronson
There was only like two movie houses in town. The one Donald had chosen we called The Held Over House. The reason for this was because it seemed like they ran the same movies forever. While most theaters would show a movie for about a week before changing it out with something new, Grand Street Cinema ran them into the ground until the celluloid was falling apart. At least this week they weren’t showing anything incredibly old. The marquee told us though that we only had two choices: Robocop or Dirty Dancing.
As we all looked up at the marquee, an older couple came out the front door. The woman was crying, and the man looked bothered by it all. “Damn it, I was trying to get your mind off it, “ he was saying, as they approached where we stood.
“That poor girl lost her baby, too,” the woman sobbed.
“She had an abortion,” he protested. “Its not the same thing.”
They passed through us and I assumed maybe they had kids who had been on the bus with us. Even going to the movies to escape the loss wasn’t working, and now they were fighting about it. I turned my head as the both got into a Carter’s Exterminating Services van and drove off. I could see the woman had her head leaning against the window, her tears just as torrential as the rain outside.
“So, which one?” Donald asked.
“Which movie? We already know one has an abortion scene, and I’m betting it’s not Robocop.”
“Dirty Dancing does seem like it would be a lame movie, “ I agreed.
“I’ve actually wanted to see that one.”
I turned to Lori. “Really?”
“Yeah. You know, just curiosity.”
“Well,” Donald said. “I can tell you it doesn’t have Freddy Krueger in it.”
I smiled at Lori. “Okay, we’ll go see Dirty Dancing then.”
Donald protested. “Oh come on. Robocop has guns and explosions. Dirty Dancing has ugh…dancing.”
I laughed. “Lori wants to see this one.”
“Lori wants to see this one,“ he mocked in a silly whining voice. “Dirty dancing, blah, blah, blah.” He stuck his tongue out at her, and she returned the gesture with a grin. He sighed. “Okay, whatever. I’m glad the guys in the chess club cant see me now..”
It was the middle of the day. School was in session. Because of that, the theater was nearly empty. A few couple sat scattered through the gloom. A trio of girls, obviously skipping school to see the talked about movie, were giggling in the front row. The movie hadn’t started yet. Instead of the film, an animated dancing box of popcorn, a large drink, and a candy bar strode the screen, singing that they , and other refreshments, were available at the snack bar.
We decided to sit in the center, and like real live people we chose our seats and plopped down in them unceremoniously. Lori propped her feet up on the chair in front of her. Donald slumped way down in his seat, almost laying in it. I rocked my chair back and forth, happy that we chose the first theater in our town to get those kind of seats. At the other theater, Murray Marquee, the chairs were bolted to the floor, unmovable, like church pews.
The giggling girls had turned around in their seats. I suppose they heard the noise my rocking chair was making. Since the theater lights were dimmed they couldn’t see where the sound was coming from, and they returned their attention to the big screen. I, too, had my gaze fixed towards it. I rarely got to go to the movies. My dad had taken me to see “Return Of The Jedi” several years ago, and I hadn’t been to the theater since. I certainly had never been to the movies alone, nor as the escort to a pretty girl.
I looked over at Lori, who was looking up at the screen as the movie’s opening scene flickered across it in big, beautiful color. “Lori?” I whispered.
“Mm-hm,” she replied, eyes fixed forward.
“If we were still alive, do you think…”
“Shhh, stop talking,“ Donald said. He was intent on watching the movie now too. Normally, he wouldn’t be caught dead watching a movie like this, but I guess now that he was, he might as well go with the flow.
I shook my head, and sat back to watch the movie too, my question now forgotten.
It’s funny that no matter what is going on in one’s world, you can go to them movies and escape for two hours. In that, it is like a drug. Reefer for those too afraid to burn one. Like burnt out hippies we sat there glued to the screen, all of us watching the film that until now I thought was a bit over rated. Everyone had been talking about in school for weeks, hyping it up so much you’d thought God had filmed it himself and said, ‘Look kids, it’s the new bible.’ Of course, the guys I had been hanging with had called it the lamest thing ever and preferred to gush about “Full Metal Jacket” instead, and so to be cool I had agreed. I couldn’t quite agree now; it was really a good movie. Even as I watched Johnny trying to teach Baby how to dance up on a log, I smiled at the celluloid magic. Though I didn’t get to go often, I would miss things like this. Just about everyone took these type of moments for granted. Simple pleasures that we experienced, and then skipped along to the next one, never fully appreciating or relishing the fact it could be our last. Watching the movie with Lori on one side, and Donald on the other, I realized nothing was really trivial. Every moment had its place, every memory was just as important as the one before. I closed my eyes and wished that in the next life, if there was one, I’d take nothing for granted. I felt something touch my hand and looked down. Lori’s fingertips were laying atop mine on the arm of the chair. Her black nail polish, the soft touch of her skin, the overall nervousness that overcame me. These were the small moments one should always remember.
After the movie, we didn’t linger. We walked back out into the day, preparing to shield our eyes from the bright light. We didn’t have to worry about light and dark now that we were ghosts, but old instincts are hard to kick.
“Nobody puts baby in the corner,” Donald said. “How lame.”
I grinned. “Yeah right, Donald. Admit it. You liked it.”
“Never. You can’t get me like that.”
“I think I saw his eyes glistening in there,” Lori teased.
“No way! I wasn’t crying.”
“I didn’t say you were, “ she said. “But you just did, so there ya go.”
I laughed. She gave me a high five, and as her hand returned to the side, I wanted grab it in my own to try and recapture the tender moment in the theater, but it was gone. A missed chance. A lost opportunity. Story of my life. And now even my death.
“What do you think he went home for?” Donald asked.
“Huh?” I tried to remember the scene in the movie he was talking about. “Johnny didn’t leave. He came back for baby, “ I said.
“No. Brian. Why do you think he went to his house? He had no desire to go before.”
“Sounded to me like his dad was a drunk,” Lori agreed.
“Even drunks can end up getting their son’s love, “ I replied. “We can be dogs in that sense. We keep getting abused and coming back to lick the hand that feeds us.”
“Sounds like you know what you’re talking about, Christopher,” Lori said.
I shook my head. “Not from personal experience. But I’ve had friends who’s home lives haven’t been the most ideal. When I was little everybody hung at my house because it was so peaceful.”
Donald nodded. “I remember. Those were the days, for sure.”
“Yeah. Maybe if Brian had been one of those kids, he would have turned out differently.”
He shrugged. “That’s doubtful.”
“We could go see,” Lori said.
“Go see what?”
I raised an eyebrow. “If he wanted us to come, he would…”
“Yeah, I know. He would have invited us.”
“I have no interest in Brian or his home life,” Donald said. “He’s never liked me as anything more than a punching bag. I say, leave him alone.”
“You’re not the least bit curious what he went home to do?”
“He probably went home so he and Kelly could do it.” He grimaced. “Man, I don’t need that image in my head.”
Lori began to walk down the street, and we followed her like two tag along boys. “He was let into our homes,” she said. “Even though none of us like him, we let him inside our houses to see our lives. I think it’s only fair we see his.”
“What about Kelly’s?” I asked.
“You would want to know about hers, “ she replied, with a smirk.
“What’s that mean?”
She shrugged. “Nothing. Forget it. I’m going to Brian’s. I want to know.”
“He’s hiding something. There’s something he doesn’t want us to know or see.”
“You don’t know that, “ I said.
“I can feel it. Call it my woman’s intuition I never grew up to have. Aren’t you the least bit curious?”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” Donald replied.
“We’re dead already. Curiosity can’t hurt us.”
“We don’t know where he lives,” I reasoned. “I know the neighborhood, but not the exact house.”
“I know which one it is, “ sighed Donald, as if he were resigning himself to the fact we were going to do this.
I looked at him. “How do you know where he lives?”
“My mom used to sell Amway door to door. Sometimes I’d go with her. She had a list of everyone in town she got from census records at the library.”
“Wow, “ said Lori. “My mom was being a slut, and yours was being a creeper.”
“Nah, it’s not like that. She would use the list to map out her route, so that when people answered their door, she could call them by name. Made the sales pitch more personal, she said.”
“So, you have his address then?”
“Mom does. But I went there with her one time. I didn’t know it was his house. He and his dad acted all nice to us, but the next day he dunked my head in the boys toilet. Go figure.”
“Show us,” Lori said.
Donald knew there was no point to argue. Lori was a girl, and everyone knew when girls got their mind set on something, nothing less than hurricane could stop them. Looking up at the sky, with its thunderous clouds and raging rain, I hoped one wasn’t on the way.