The night continued. Stood making a paper cup of instant coffee. The current movie ended and as I was switching videos in the VCR a wave of unbearable stench filled the small office space - it was a smell of rotting death.
I glanced over to the box office window and saw two bloodshot eyes gleaming at me - black spots in the coronas, like bad marbles. Only the neck up was visible - a bald wrinkled head blotched with liver spots, scabs, and white flakey skin. Grey shadows encircled those predatory eyes, thin hooked nose ending in long greasy white nose hairs. A toothless hole grinned making the whole face wrinkle up.
“Uh…excuse me…” He wheezed in a high pitch voice. His eyes - those fucking eyes - never left mine, no matter how I swayed and fidgeted. “Do you show any homo-erotic films at this theater?” His voice shot up an octave at ‘homoerotic’.
“What?” I snapped trying my best at annoying this fucker so he would just leave. Every time he exhaled, a wave of rotting matter filled the room.
“I asked if you show any homoerotic videos here at your theater.” He scratched his baldhead with pudgy dirty fingers - a frayed hospital band on his wrist. I noticed that he was wearing powder blue hospital scrubs over his pudgy body.
“Nah - against city ordinance. We only show straight porn here.” Damn this fucker stank.
His eyes glazed over and stared at my chest as if in a trance, “You see, in Manhattan - that’s New York City - they show homoerotic videos - wonderfully wild gay films with beautiful men having sex with each other…” He paused squeaking out a rapid fire of giggles that pinged in my mind like needles. His face goes blank, “Are there any military men in your theater?”
I pondered, taking a sip of my coffee, “Well, I think there were three navy guys that came in about an hour ago…”
Slap! Clackclack! Slam! Before I could finish my sentence the old perv slapped six dollars down on the box office counter, bolted through the turnstile, and flew in the metal door into the theater.
Not five minutes later, three handsome Navy guys came stumbling out of the theater - hands over noses, waving palms in front of their faces, look of disgust.
“Damn! That fucker stank!”
“See how that fag followed us everywhere?”
“Shit! His fuckin’ intestines must be rottin’!”
They marched into the night back to base.
Standing with my back to the concessions door, I put the straw to my mouth and lit up some more meth from the charred strip of aluminum foil that I stashed behind a pile of empty video porn boxes. My chapped lips stung as the plastic heated - the smell of melting plastic and chemicals assailed my scared nostrils. I stood there facing the wall - mouth ground uncontrollably air whistling loudly through my nose.
“Hey, man.” Rumbled a basso voice behind me.
I whirled around to see a mountain of a sweaty googly eyed black man standing at the concession door. He wore a do-rag on his head and a torn wife beater in a vain attempt to cover an obscene potbelly. His face was slack covered in a fine layer of glistening grease. He smelled of hamburgers and farts.
“Yeah? Wutsup?” I snapped with a gummy mouth - my tongue swirled in my mouth like a writhing slug. My eyes protruded, but I tried to keep my cool. Keeping my gaze on this glaring behemoth, I slipped the foil back behind video boxes.
“Hey, man.” He stated - staring. A long pause.
“Yeah? Watchawant?” I said staring back. Click click click went my tongue on top of my mouth.
“Hey.” He spat - eyes volumous and yellow with black irises and no color. The man was flying high on some shit. “You by yourself?”
“Uh…” I glanced quickly at the aluminum baseball bat by the cash register.
“Cause you a pretty fine white boy an’ these movies can make ya horny.”
“Glad you like the movies, sir.” Clenched my grinding jaw.
“Hey.” His eyebrows started shooting up and down - fat lips drooping. “You game? Ya wanna? Huh? Ya game? Huh? Ya game? Ya wanna?”
“Well, I can’t…I mean, I’m working.”
“Ya wanna? Hey, boy, ya wanna? Ya game? Huh? You wanna?”
Tired of this shit and wanting to get back to my dope, I stated firmly, “Look, dude, you gotta stop bugging me and return to the theater or I’m gonna hafta ask you to leave.”
He stood there a beat - glaring with that gaze of Hepatitis C - breathing in his sweat stained wife beater then faded back into the murk of the theater.
I sat in the foul smelling easy chair adjacent the two television monitors - one was showing an Asian cooch slobbering on the cocks of three grinning studs sitting on a couch, the other monitor was the security camera with a static black and white view of the sidewalk outside the box office window and the entrance to the theater.
Outside, always like clockwork standing for hours night after night was an old white haired man in lime green pants, sneakers, yellow polo shirt, and baseball cap. His jaw chewed obsessively on a wad of gum - his mouth a glistening wet hole. Squinting gooey eyes darted - but his body never moved. He stood in a position as if he was ready to pounce and whatever victim he deemed worthy. His only movement was his right hand in pants pocket jiggling change - chink, chink, chink, chink - forever.
Darting past him a tall rotund man in khaki shorts, summer shirt, beard strode up to the box office window and pressed his bearded face up to it, condensation formed on the glass.
“Hey, man.” He rumbled with that distinctive southern Californian accent. “I don’t wanna see a movie - I just wanna buy some porn.”
My boss also sold the vast library of accumulated porn that he kept in the office. Occasionally, some jerk would come in off the street or from the theater and purchase one or two videos.
I stood up walked to the window and buzzed the man in from a button next to the register, “Okay, come on in.”
I flopped back into the easy chair. Behind me, taking up the entire wall on a bookshelf was six tiers of porn. All kinds of shit - from your straight-laced crack addicted blonde bitches to those gay fisting horrors. All covered in dust and greasy smudged fingerprints on glossy boxes. The bottom shelf contained candies, dried soups, and small bags of popcorn.
The man came to the concessions window, “May I come in?”
“Yeah, sure.” I said not looking at him my gaze focused on the flickering image on the monitor. I wanted to get him out quick cause my high was cranking down.
“Lessee lessee lessee…” He breathed as he perused the selection. He would occasional pick up a box scan the back replace it with a “Hmmm. Oh. Hmmmm…”
Ding! Someone was at the box office, I got up to see a quivering meth junkie standing eyes sunken in skull, jaw chewing.
“How much, man? How much ta git in?” He spastically spat.
“Six dollars. You can stay until six in the morning - I shut down for an hour to clean up.” I stated mechanically.
He looks side to side, “Right. Right. Gimmee a ticket.” Slaps the bills on the counter.
I hand him his ticket and buzz him in. I return to the easy chair and flop back down. Then the guy who was looking at the porn - this fucking pervert - stood in front over me swaying his bloated hairy pale belly in my face. I grimaced as I noticed a small lump moving in his shorts. Fucker thought I’d just have sex with anybody - fuck that, I thought, I got standards!
I waved my hand in front of his gut; he smelled of cheap lotion and sweat, “Hey, man - cut that shit out! You wanna buy a tape or what?”
He backs up - eyes scanning the selection of videos, “Nah…nothing’ really here. Just gimme a ticket for the theater.”
I jolt up exasperated, snatch the bills from his hand and give him a ticket. Nonchalantly he passes through the rose colored velvet curtains in to the cinema. Shake my head in disgust as a black guy pops up in front of the concession stand.
“Hey, dude - you workin’ all night, again?” He smiles which was a weird thing to see. His eyes where popping out of their sockets, the small skull could hardly contain the distortions of withered skin. His volumous lips were white and chapped - deeply grooved like a corpse. His face was comical - nothing but eyes and lips.
I had seen this cat before - a regular costumer. He usually shows up before my shift and stays all night doing his dope. He never caused any problem, kept to himself.
“Hey, man - how’s the theater?” I smiled back, putting the money from the previous person into the register.
“Sheeeet - it getting’ crazy in there.” He rolled those egg sized eyes. “Fags suckin’ da dick and pipes flickin’ all ovuh.” We chucked and he continued. “You hungry?”
Before I could answer, the box office dinged and on the monitor was a pizza delivery boy. I glanced at screen then back to the guy at the concessions widow, “You order pizza?
“Yeah! It here?” He slobbered.
I buzzed the delivery guy in and the junkie paid. I grabbed a folding chair from the office and sat with the junkie at the door entrance to the main cinema. There was an extra folding chair already there and he sat there. There are usually - and to this day do not know why - one or two patrons that like to sit or stand at the entrance. I guess it gives them privacy or allows them to scam on potential victims sitting in the theater.
We placed the pizza box on the floor and began chomping. He then pulled a small glass pipe from his shirt pocket, held it up to his lips - flick! Inhaled the smoke - the cherry making a popping sound as he smoked.
I smiled at him, cocking my head inquisitively, “Hey, what’s that? Meth?”
He exhaled, shivered. “Nah, white boy, dis crack. You ever try it?”
“Nah.” I replied dreamily.
“You wanna?” He asked.
“Sure, why not?” I said taking the filthy charred glass pipe from his gnarled chapped hands.
I put the end to my lips and he ignited his lighter. Popping from the crack as I sucked in the grey smoke.
“Hold it in…hold it in.” He coaxed. Master and student.
The effect was much like meth - but faster. My heartbeat tripled, short of breath. I could feel blood rush to my face.
He leaned close, taking the pipe from my limp hand, smirked. “Now don’t go on and hava heart attack, boy.”
I sat feeling the drug bounce around in my system - I felt fucking great. A rush of heat flushed through my body, clicking and twitching in galvanized movements. On the large screen in front of me - a black stud slid in and out of a blonde bimbo with rapid ferocity. She screamed and squealed in amped up cracked induced orgasms. Her face was contorted her eyes bugged and gleamed in smeared eyeliner - hair cascading across her face with each viscous lunge. His body wet with sweat - the intense concentration of a maniacal killer on his masculine face. The theater smelled of chlorine, farts, and dried semen. All colors and smells where crisp and differential.
I felt better than I had in recent memory - a chaotic warm glow enveloped me as nostalgic images raced through my frying mind. Then it sputtered and stopped.
What the fuck? I thought. What happened?
“It supposed to switch off like that?” I asked, face forward eyes sweeping in his direction.
He passed over the pipe, “Yeah, that’s why you take another hit, white boy.”
I did. As he devoured his pizza like a veracious animal - I sucked on that glass pipe so nasty. Again, the hot pinging buzz enveloped me on a cellular level. I sat taking it all in - then a few minutes later it putted out like on old generator.
“Goddamit!” I muttered. I started to put the pipe back at my mouth.
He stopped me with a foul smelling hand, “Hey, hey, boy - this shit ain’t free. You want some more, slip me twenty I’ll give ya and yer good to go.”
Fuck that shit! Twenty dollars for a rock? That gives me - what? Two, three hits? Shit - for twenty dollars I can get three or four good lines of meth and be ‘good to go’ for eight hours straight. I stood up and wiped the grease from the pizza from my hands onto my pants.
“I gotta get back to work.” I mumbled.
“You gonna leave me like dat? You ain’t gonna buy shit o’ wut?”
“Nah - uh, thanks. I’ll be in the office.” I said with my back to him, folding the metal chair.
I got back to the office and reached behind the pile of porn boxes for my aluminum strip. As I took a hit, I glanced at the security monitor - there was the old man there. Chink chink chink.