...September 25: I imagine the only person surprised that Sara and I ended up sleeping together was me. You knew it was going to happen, she knew it was going to happen, even my boss and landlady Mrs. Vinchenzo knew it was going to happen.
It was the day after our first night together that I decided it was about time I asked her for a date...
THE NIGHT BLOGGER:
The Graveyard Game
And Other Cemetery Plots
Back From The Shadows Again
Al Bruno III
...as malls go Colonie Center wasn’t all that bad, especially now that it had been re-renovated. The stores were 80% the same but the design had gone from ‘generic’ to ‘1970s rec room’.
Sara was wearing a long skirt and a peasant blouse. I had opted for my leather jacket, jeans, collared shirt and lucky straw fedora.
First we stopped by Friendly’s restaurant for a bite to eat. We made small talk, it was nice to get to know the mundane details of her life. I learned that Sara's father was a schoolteacher and her mother a home maker. She told me about her two older brothers; one in the Armed forces and the other going nowhere fast.
In return I told her that my grandmother had moved from Albany to Las Vegas in 1972 and how I was the only child of an only child. I told her that my parents and grandparents had all died in the same year. I mentioned that I had been going to college on a football scholarship but I had blown out my knee. I damn well sure didn’t tell her how any of these things had happened.
It took us a few minutes to decide what to see, most of the films playing that night were dark and scary- House At The End Of The Street, The Possession and, worst of all, Finding Nemo. Finally we decided on The Campaign, a harmless-looking Will Farrell comedy.
Tuesday night at a movie theater is always nice, no crowds and no kids talking and texting or worse. In fact, it was just us and a few old farts. We watched the commercials, the previews and the requests to keep it quiet. The first fifteen minutes of the movie were great, not because of the jokes but because Sara and I had started making out.
Aren’t those first days of a new romance great? It’s like nothing else in the world exists for you but the person in your arms. Maybe if Sara and I had been dating a little longer we might have noticed we had an audience.
The man staring at us was pudgy and gray, his grin shone through the shadows that hid the rest of his face. “Brian Foster,” he sounded just like the guy from Mary Poppins that had kept floating up to the ceiling
And I knew that voice, it had spoken my name before, a month ago on bus ’55 to be exact. I said, “We don’t want any trouble.”
“He says he doesn’t want any trouble!”
Laughter rippled through the theater. I could see other figures getting out of their seats, more gray monochrome clowns with smeared make-up and empty eyes. Apparently the forces of evil liked Will Farrell comedies.
Sara asked, “Who are you?”
“I’m Mister Jack and I’m your new best friend.”
Mister Jack took another step forward, letting us see him clearly, letting us see that his clown face wasn't greasepaint at all, it was oil, ashes and dried blood. His fellow passengers were making their way towards us, climbing over the rows of seats or shuffling down the aisles. Their oversized shoes made them clumsy and slow.
“The girl,” Mister Jack breathed, “is coming with us. The bus is waiting. She has places to do, things to be.”
By the time Sara and I had gotten to our feet we were surrounded. I wracked my brain for something intimidating or brave to say, then gave up and threw my big gulp drink right into Mister Jack's grinning face. He didn't shout or scream, he just giggled.
And then the screen went dark and all the lights went out, even the exit signs. The only thing we could see was a half-dozen toothy grins moving towards us through the black.
“Run!” I shouted but Sara was already moving. We headed the other way down our row, away from Mister Jack.
One of his fellow passengers was coming up on us from the other direction. I threw a punch, a right cross hitting him on the side of the head. The Passenger's skin felt cold and grimy against my knuckles.
The smile disappeared but there were still more coming. Sara squealed in protest when I lifted her up in a fireman's carry. My knee wasn't to happy about it either. Filthy hands clawed at me as I ran. I dodged grins and tried to judge where the emergency exit would be. I kicked over old sodas and stomped on the occasional head. Both left my shoes splattered and wet.
Finally my eyes had adjusted enough to the darkness for me to realize that I had been heading in the opposite direction of the emergency exit...
...but thankfully that meant I was close enough to the theater’s main doors.
I'm sure we made quite a picture, a guy blundering out into the lobby with a girl slung across his shoulders. My face, body and clothes covered with gray handprints. It looked like I had gotten into a kung-fu fight with a bunch of chimney sweeps. I didn't put Sara down until we reached my car.
We sped back to my place, the whole time Sara pressed herself against my right arm and trembled. Again and again I told her everything was going to be all right. I told her that I was going to call Ashley Fowler and get to the bottom of things.
What I didn't tell her was that this had been without a doubt my worst first date ever.