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Out of darkness, a flash and then the retort. The twenty-foot high images behind me loom incoherently – I can’t hear them, what they saying? My ears ring with the crash of the concussion. Everything slows, the guy beside me, who’d been mouthing off, on his feet, gun waved, arm extended, him, Gary – I heard his girl call him that, yes, Gary – he falls back, arms spread, his white t-shirt fluorescing in the light of Gotham City.
Black in the half-light, splatters in an arc across the row in front, not me, thank god, not me: no bullet, no spilt brains.
The popcorn spills from the bucket in his left hand.
His girl screams, an ugly guttural noise like she might throw up. Not like the heroine on the screen.
Gary falls and time speeds up, the dead weight of fourteen stone crashes into the plush upright of the seats behind him, his skull bounces on the edge, silently; I stare open-mouthed, and automatically supply the bonk in my mind. The gun falls from his hand, skitters under the seats.
I look at Jeannie, who is thinking about screaming, she hasn’t decided whether that’s appropriate yet, but she is certainly thinking about it, her mouth experiments with an ‘O’ shape … too prissy; then a gaping letter box – no, a recycling station. I expect a deep noise from that gaping square of darkness, but she is as high pitched as a kettle.
I begin to laugh, an equally high-pitched giggle.
No, no, I say to myself, this ain’t no thing to laugh at…
The fool in the projection box hasn’t shut off the movie, but the lights go up.
Gary is lying across my lap. The giggles turn to gasps.
This ain’t funny man, this ain’t entertainment, knowwhatImean?
But I keep laughing; like the Joker – that’s it – there he is, on the screen, laughing himself sick.
Oh God I’m going to throw up.
Hey Gary, I say, inside my head, desperate not to barf, was it worth it man, to get a $4 bucket of popcorn you ain’t never gonna to eat?
How’ll I ever watch Batman without this … smell … in my nostrils – this burnt smell, and this raw meat smell, and the weight of your broken skull across my knees?
What you have to spoil my night for, huh? You think Jeannie gonna give out now? I don’t think so man, you dumb-ass … if you gonna pack heat, be ready to use it, knowwhatImean? Jeez, that guy – one mean shot … I was in the queue behind you, Gary, I heard him tell you – he wasn’t even carrying, not then, left his piece in his car – peaceable, man. Not like you, mouthing off, waving your weapon like it was a pissing contest.
Now I got your brains on my jeans. Jeez, man, don’t you think about consequences before you open your goddam mouth? I don’t think so. You ruined my night out – there’ll be cops now, askin’ what I saw, what I heard … small is what I saw, what I heard … small man talkin’ too big. Man, I heard brainless … ah man, brainless … I gotta stop this laughing, my face is starting to hurt … this is your fault, Gary, you gotta shut your mouth, you dumb-ass … corpse, you.[/private]