Julie, The Surrendered Scribe, is our gracious host for Friday Fiction this week. While her entry is titled, “No Idea,” you can bet there’s a good idea behind it. Be sure to check it out!
I missed last week, with all the preparations for a dive trip to Mexico, but I made sure to get another installment written for tonight. If you’re just coming to the story for the first time, click back to Part 1 first, and read through to this latest chapter.
“Ian? Is that you?” His father’s tone changed. “Are you okay? You don’t sound right.”
“Yeah, Dad, I’m fine.”
“Are you in trouble, boy? Something wrong at school? I know you should be in class right now.”
“No, there’s no trouble, Dad. I just - ” His voice broke on the emotions. “I was talking to a friend, and it occurred to me that we just never know when the last time might come to tell someone what they mean to us. I just needed to call and tell you how much I appreciate all that you’ve always done for us.”
“You don’t need to worry yourself none on that count, Ian. You’re gonna be stuck with me for a long time to come. I ain’t goin’ nowhere on any of you. You know that, don’t’cha?”
If you’d succeeded in saving him, we’d already know it. Jeff’s words echoed through his mind. Yeah, Dad, you will go somewhere, but I can’t stop it from happening. “Yeah, Dad, I know.”
“Okay, boy. You’d better get back to class, now, y’hear?”
“You’re right, Dad. I really should get back.”
“All right, then. I need to get on to work soon, too.”
“I love you, Dad.”
There was silence on the other end of the line.
“Dad? Are you still there?”
“Yes, boy. I was just tryin’ to remember the last time you said that to me. Seems when you kids reached a certain age, you just quit tellin’ your mother and me that you loved us.”
“I guess I’m just having a moment of maturity, or something. I should warn you, too, that if you mention this to me later, I’m not going to remember it.”
He chuckled. “I understand. It’s just not cool to say things like that to your old man, huh?”
“Yeah. It’s part of being a stupid kid who thinks he knows everything already, but hasn’t learned anything worth knowing yet.”
“Well, then you’d better get back to class and get to learnin’ it, all right?”
“Sure, Dad. Good bye.” He hung up the phone, and stood there leaning on it for a moment.
“Hey, pal. Are you going to just stand there all day, or can someone else use the phone now?” The guy in the business suit gave him an impatient look, and glanced at his watch.
Ian nodded, and walked away from the corner. He wandered the district, reminiscing over the businesses he and his friends had frequented as kids, and particularly the ones that had closed down in the years since.
The old theater still occupied its corner. In another five years, its single screen and outdated sound amplifiers would lose the battle against the multiplex theaters with their cutting-edge audio systems. The marquis still used large plastic letters, placed one at a time by an employee with a long handled tool. It wasn’t so bad, though, since there were only two titles to change each week. He bought a ticket from the matronly lady in the booth, and handed it to the uniformed usher in the lobby before stopping at the refreshment counter.
Faded red velvet curtains hung down in front of the screen, and music recorded by the local radio station played over the speakers to keep the few mid-day patrons entertained until the movie began. Thread-bare seats in curved rows stood on the uncarpeted floor, which before the final showing that night, would have ample sticky places where customers spilled their sodas. For the first showing of the day, though, the floor was still clean, and Ian slid sideways to the center of one aisle, mid-way back from the screen. The front rows were where you sat with your buddies, particularly for a scary movie. The back row was for sitting with a date, offering the illusion of privacy for those stolen kisses during the slow moments of the movie. The center of the theater was where people sat to just watch the movie, especially since the balcony had been closed several years earlier. Families no longer needed to worry about things being dropped on them by trouble-makers overhead.
The lights dimmed, and the main curtain was raised, while the sub-curtains parted and were drawn to either side of the screen. Random stains on the screen showed before being obscured by the colors of the advertisement for the refreshment stand, and then teasers for new movies that would be arriving soon.
He munched his popcorn as the film started, enjoying seeing the movie on the big screen again after so many years. A few other movie-goers wandered in a bit late, taking their seats as the opening credits played. His home theater system back in his own time gave better sound and picture than the old theater could offer, but there was something comfortable and enjoyable about the style and ambiance of the outdated building. Audiences would forget – they would be mesmerized by bone-rattling audio and the choice of a dozen different movies at the same theater. They would prefer the convenience of the cinema at the mall over having to park in the old downtown area to stand in line at an outdoor box office. The red velvet curtains and the local radio station would be replaced by an always-exposed screen, playing a continuous loop of commercials before the movie started. The “no talking during the movie” admonition would be amended to include no cell phones or texting, and no recording devices.
The world was going to change. He’d already lived through it, and there would be no changing the course of it, but for a few short hours, he could sit back and enjoy life the way it was, when the world still included old theaters and a not-so-old man he called Dad.
To be continued…