I sat in the foul-smelling recliner adjacent to the two television monitors - one showed an Asian cooch that slobbered on the cocks of three grinning studs who lounged on a blue 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, stood for hours night after night, an old, white haired relic in lime green pants, sneakers, yellow polo shirt, and baseball cap.
His rattling dentures chewed obsessively on a wad of gum - his mouth a glistening wet hole. Squinted, gooey eyes darted – yet, his body never moved. He stood in a position as if he was ready to pounce on whatever victim he deemed worthy. The 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 and summer shirt, quickly strode up to the box office window and pressed his bearded face against 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 a 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, were 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 pre-popped 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 this fat fucker out quick, because my high was cranking down.
“Lessee lessee lessee…” He breathed as he perused the selection. He would occasionally pick up a box, scan the back - replace it with a “Hmmm. Oh. Hmmmm…”
Ding! Someone was at the box office. I stood up to see a quivering meth junkie standing there outside - eyes sunken in his withered skull, jaw chewing loudly.
“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.
His head darted from side to side, “Right. Right. Gimme a ticket.” He slapped the bills on the counter.
I handed him his ticket and buzzed him in. I returned to the easy chair and flopped back down.
Then, the fat bastard who was perusing the porn - the 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 within his khaki shorts. Asshole must’ve thought I’d just have sex with anybody - fuck that, 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 backed up - eyes scanning the selection of videos, “Nah…nothing really here. Just gimme a ticket for the theater.”
I bolted up exasperated, snatching the bills from his hand and passed him a red ticket at arm’s length. Nonchalantly, he walked through the rose colored, velvet curtains into the cinema.
“Asshole!” I hissed under my breath.
I shook my head in disgust as a black guy popped up in front of the concession stand.
“Hey, dude - you workin’ all night, again?” He smiled, which was an appalling thing to see.
His eyes were popping out of their sockets; the small skull could hardly contain the distortions of withered skin. The voluminous lips were white and chapped - deeply grooved like a corpse. I found his face comical - nothing but eyes and lips.
I had seen this cat before - a regular customer. He usually arrived before my shift began at eleven and remained all night doing his dope. He never caused any problems and kept to himself.
“Hey, man - how’s the theater?” I smiled back, putting the money from the previous pervert into the register.
“Sheeeet - it gettin’ crazy in there.” He rolled those egg-sized eyes. “It looks like a damn rock concert with them lighters flickin’ all ovuh.” We both chuckled as he continued. “You hungry?”
Before I could answer, the box office door bell dinged and on the monitor was a pizza delivery boy.
I glanced at the screen, then back to the junkie at the concession widow, “You ordered 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.
Between the steel door that led out of the building, there was a short, dark hallway that connected with the concession widow and, directly across from the steel door, the entrance to the cinema itself. The door to the cinema was draped in mildew spotted, thick rose-colored velvet curtains.
There was already an extra folding chair in which he sat. Usually - and to this day I cannot fathom why - one or two patrons preferred to sit or stand at the draped entrance, hence the extra folding chair. I guessed it gave them privacy from being seen by the audience or allowed them to scam on potential victims sitting in the theater.
We placed the pizza box on the dirty, carpeted floor and began chomping. He then pulled a small, glass pipe from his shirt pocket, placing it up to his lips - flick! Inhaled the smoke - the cherry made a crackling sound.
I smiled at him, cocking my head inquisitively, “Hey, what’s that? Speed?”
The junkie exhaled, shivered. “Nah, white boy, dis crack. Ever try it?”
“Nope.” I replied.
“You wanna?” He asked.
“Sure, why not?” I uttered as I took the filthy, charred, glass pipe from his gnarled, chapped hands.
I put the end to my lips and he ignited his lighter. Popping sounded from the crack as I sucked in the gray smoke.
“Hold it in…hold it in.” He coaxed.
Master and student.
The effect was much like meth - but the rush was quicker and more intense. My heartbeat tripled, short of breath. I could feel the blood pumping into my face. I shivered uncontrollably as if wrapped in a freaky orgasm.
He leaned close, took the pipe from my limp hand, smirked. “Now don’t go on and hava heart attack, boy.”
I sat and felt the drug bounce around in my system – it was fucking great. A rush of pleasant heat flushed through my body as I clicked and twitched in jerking 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, crack induced orgasms. Her face was contorted, her eyes bugged and gleamed in smeared eyeliner - hair cascaded across her face with each viscous lunge.
His body was wet with sweat - the intense concentration of a maniacal killer on his masculine face as he pumped. The theater smelled of chlorine, farts, and dried semen. All colors and smells were 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 and took it all in – then, a few minutes later, it sputtered out like on old generator.
“Goddamit!” I muttered.
I began to put the pipe back to my mouth. The junkie stopped me with a foul smelling hand, “Hey, hey, boy - this shit ain’t free. You want some more, slip me fiddy, I’ll give ya and yer good to go.”
Fuck that shit! Fifty dollars for a rock? That gave me - what? Two, three hits? Shit - for fifty dollars, I could get five or six good fat lines of meth and be ‘good to go’ for eight hours straight. I stood up and wiped the grease from the pizza off of 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 returned 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, white man there. Chink chink chink.