You buy two for the 3:55 show. You hand your tickets to a vacant teenager. You stare at the Free Publications rack while your girlfriend goes to the bathroom.
You mount the escalator and hold open the door to theater number six. You see two seats in the fourth row. You point at them. Your girlfriend nods.
You watch a preview for a Mel Gibson movie. You watch a preview for a Judd Apatow movie. The screen reminds you to turn off your phone, and that there’s still time to get a Coke. You put your hand on your girlfriend’s leg. She smiles. You remember how much you like coming to the movies.
Behind you, a rasp. Like a vacuum cleaner choking on a Lego.
You ignore it. You put your arm around your girlfriend. She sinks into your shoulder. You kiss the top of her head.
Cellophane, turning, crushing, opening.
You take a deep breath. You focus on Jennifer Aniston. You recall your distaste for opening credits.
Crinkle, squickle, kerplickle.
You decide that one look can’t hurt. Maybe it’s a kid, his tiny hands a-flutter over a package of Sour Straws. You kiss your girlfriend’s temple and maneuver your head to try and find the culprit.
There she is.
Her eyes are transfixed by the screen. She’s fumbling with packaging that contains more packaging. You don’t recognize the candy, but you can tell that there’s a lot of it. A banana clip of sugar bullets.
She’s big. No, big isn’t enough. Her jowls are gallon-sized Ziplocs filled with Jell-O. Her arms are the tubes of sand they sell to pick-up drivers in winter. Her legs are prisoners inside a denim penitentiary.
You narrow your eyes. She doesn’t notice.
You face forward. You lay your head on top of your girlfriend’s and try to laugh at something Pierce Brosnan said to the concierge inside a hotel that’s in Marina del Rey but that’s supposed to be in Bucharest.
Pierce Brosnan takes his bag, winking at Jennifer Aniston from across the lobby.
Behind you. Krishel, chickle, kershity-kershity hickle.
You close your eyes.
For twenty-one minutes, a pattern. She unwraps, your head whips around, she ignores it, your eyes throw daggers, she ignores them, too.
Then, finally, mercifully, it is over. You hear the last wrapper fall to the ground. You think you hear a sigh.
Your shoulders slump. Your heart slows. Okay, you think.
An action sequence. There’s an Audi and a mine shaft and a Eurotrash girl you hope your girlfriend won’t mind you looking up on Google Images later.
Then, when the older Crystal Method song stops, a death rattle.
You turn. What she calls breathing is what you call gasping.
You shake your head.
Sugar…Neck fat…Body Mass Index…Colin Farrell in In Bruges…cholesterol levels…insulin…fat camp…Biggest Loser…Americans…she’s old enough to know better…Medicare…Medicaid…I just want to enjoy this bad movie in peace…money…manatee…I bet it’s 120 degrees in her crotch.
Your girlfriend looks up at you. A whisper. “Hey. Don’t worry about it.”
You smile, turn and face forward. You girlfriend is right. You can’t do anything about it. The woman behind you is fat and lazy and inconsiderate and it was always going to be that way because of choices she made and choices her parents made and because of farm subsidies and cheap corn syrup and a lack of emphasis on physical education in schools and even though it’s disgusting that she’s five-foot-four and weighs 279 pounds it isn’t really your place to pass judgment because it could very easily have been you if things had gone a little differently and anyway let her enjoy the few years she has on Earth because there probably won’t be many more and just because she’s making enough noise for a roomful of toddlers doesn’t mean…
Jennifer Aniston waits for a kiss. Pierce Brosnan leans in.
More cellophane. New cellophane. You turn.
She’s holding a bag of Twizzlers. On the side of the package, in red, it reads, “1 LB!” She tears off the first piece of licorice and stuffs it in her mouth.
Your eyes go wide. You reach your left hand under your seat. You feel for the metal handle. You unscrew the cap. You look at your girlfriend and shrug. You stand up, the handle digging into your hand. You take a step into the aisle, go up one row, and lean across two seats.
You pour the kerosene on her head, in her lap, all over the bag of licorice. You open a lighter. You set her on fire. You run from the theater, laughing like a maniac.
Your eyes go wide. Your blood pressure rises. You vote Republican in the next election.
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