“Look at all these Jedi,” Mark Bradford said as he surveyed the line of fans that stretched for almost an entire block. He had sandy blond hair and eyes that seemed to be forever glancing at his shoes. He wore dark robes and a hooded cloak, there was a plastic lightsaber at his hip and a half empty can of Yoo-Hoo in his hand, “I should have worn my Stormtrooper uniform.”
“I thought you said you lost the codpiece,” Alec Stratton was slumped back in his lawn chair, his gray curls anchored under a faded The Empire Strikes Back baseball cap. He wore a t-shirt and shorts, exposing his spindly white limbs to the world.
“It’s got to be somewhere in the attic.”
“I still can’t believe we’re doing this, lining up again and for a do-over no less,” Alec rubbed his chin, “I just don’t know if the best way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Star Wars is by remaking the original trilogy.”
Mark shook his head, they seemed to have this discussion every day, “George Lucas knows what he’s doing.” None of the fans or general public had expected there to be another Star Wars film after Revenge Of the Sith, especially after the cancellation of the Star Wars TV shows and the general drying up of the franchise’s merchandising market share. “And what better way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the old Star Wars then by re-imagining it for a new generation?”
“Re-imagining! It’s going to be a disaster,” Alec said. When the internet started to buzz with rumors that George Lucas was planning a new project for his 70th birthday no one expected that he would be back behind the cameras for something like this, “It’s a remake! And you just know it’s going to be tarted up and dumbed down. I mean for God’s sake they’ve got Johnny Knoxville playing Han Solo.”
Mark corrected him, “That’s Academy Award winner Johnny Knoxville.”
For the next three years rumors and grainy digital photos had trickled in to fan sites, images of the new cast and green screens.
Alec shifted in his lawn chair, “Back in my day you earned your chops to become an actor, now Hollywood is all just ex-porno chicks, circus geeks and CGI… things.”
“Then why are you here?”
“It’s Star Wars, where else would I be?”
No one was surprised at all when fans started lining up six weeks before the premiere at Albany’s Spectrum Theater. Of all the theaters in the area this was the best one to wait at, it was close to two fast food franchises and it was on a busy street instead of in a mall. That kept hecklers to a minimum.
Alec tugged on Mark’s robe, “Why don’t you sit down you’re making me nervous. And stop worrying about how you look, this isn’t a damned fashion show, at least not in the conventional sense of the word.”
“I know. I know.”
There were plenty of other kinds of costumes in the line, Darth Vaders, bounty hunters and Han Solos but there really had been a run on Jedi, maybe it was because they were the cheapest costumes to make.
Mark couldn’t get over how lucky Alec was. Alec didn’t worry about work or rent or much of anything else. Aside from a brief and disastrous marriage, he had lived with his parents for so long that they had become senior citizens and no longer had the will to try and force him to move out. Mark admired that almost as much as he admired the fact that Alec had seen the original Star Wars during its first run - before it had become A New Hope, before digital effects and ‘Greedo Shot First’.
Mark’s first Star Wars film had been The Phantom Menace. He’d seen it at the drive-in at the age of four and it left him a fan for life. The next eighteen years of his life had become a travelogue of collectables, videos and tie-in novels.
“As soon as we’re done we have to head back to my place so we can post some reviews online,” Alec said.
Mark glanced further down the line, “Is that fat guy dressed in Princess Leia’s metal bikini?”
Alec followed his gaze and then shook his head, “You really want to wax if you’re going to wear a costume like that.”
“Well, you know when the news crews get here that’s all they’re going to show on the air.”
“Nature of the beast,” Alec chuckled, “the news doesn’t want to see normal upstanding citizens like us. All they want is a freak show to entertain Joe and Jane six-pack.”
“Actually did you notice there haven’t been many news crews around today? I wonder-” Mark paused in mid sentence, “What’s that smell?”
“I don’t…” Alec tested the air again then pinched his nose closed. “Ugh. Is that a skunk?”
Mark put his sleeve over his face; the other fans were reacting similarly, “Whatever it is it smells like road kill.”
People began pointing at a mass of lumbering figures moving down the street, oblivious to traffic. Their clothes were filthy. They groaned and growled feebly. Every trembling footstep seemed poised to send them tumbling to the ground.
“Is there are horror movie out this week?” Mark asked.
“Horror fans don’t smell like that,” Alec stood, straining to see the figures more clearly, “they smell like cheap beer and cigarettes.”
The shambling figures reached the end of the line. The fans were gasping and gagging at the smell but they refused to move and lose their spots. They stood their ground, even when the figures began biting and tearing at their flesh...