Popcorn

By Fletcher

Popcorn
by Fletcher

This seat, it itches.

I wish I had the inclination to get annoyed about that right now.

The man to my right, I don’t know who he is. The stark tan line on his ring finger screams Weekend Father almost as loudly as the errant child by his side. His expression is glazed, and I find myself envious of wherever it is his mind is roaming – it’s not here, not with the crowds or the animals or even his own daughter.

It’s somewhere quiet, I’ll bet.

Somewhere I would want to be.

The Fat Woman to my left, she is not so much eating her popcorn as violently inhaling it. Her hand is a ceaseless, bucket-to-mouth-to-bucket metronome. The lower half of her face contorts grotesquely as she obliterates the condemned kernels.

Obliterate. Pulverize. Masticate. Masticate rhymes with Masturbate. Ha.

Jerking off to the legacy of Orville Redenbacher.

Masturbation makes me think of sex makes me think of happiness makes me think of Elizabeth makes me think of the crosswalk on the corner of Forty Fifth and Astoria.

“What do you want to do tonight?” I had asked.

“Movie?” she’d replied.

A horn sounded. It drowned quickly in the disjointed symphony of rush hour.

“Again?”

“Okay,” she’d said. “Ooh, I know! The circus is in town. How about that?”

A screech of rubber on tarmac, and a huge yellow something swerved so close that, for a moment, I could clearly see my face in the paintwork.

And she was gone. Taken away forever by a battered yellow shark.

That was two weeks ago. Right now, a fluffy, greasy popcorn bounces off my lap; a survivor of the massacre beside me. Sweet, terrible freedom.

I crush it underfoot.

In front of me and the rest of the crowd, a group of impossibly small bodies arrange themselves into intricate structures. Clambering up and over one another, they smile white flashes as the sinews of their arms betray the effort of their craft.

Spaced around the arena, a lion, an elephant and a seal perform tricks. Animals that seldom share the same continent are wearing shining collars and identical expressions.

Clowns did this to us, they seem to be saying. Fucking clowns!

Bound within a cage of spectators, their primal instincts squashed for the public’s amusement, I feel suddenly very sorry for them. They should be given just one burst of freedom, a chance to become tomorrow’s headlines.

I want to throw rocks at them. Give them an excuse.

The Weekend Father lifts his pigtailed offspring onto his knee, evidently returned from his imagined terrain. She giggles as he bounces her up and down.

The Fat Woman unceremoniously drops her empty popcorn bucket, which halts its roll at my foot. She clamps her buttered hand around a vat of soda and grins uneven teeth at the tottering formation of acrobats.

My seat still itches horribly.

The lion sneezes and, curiously, the crowd applauds him for it.

All of this seems so distant from where I am now.

I’m done here, I think to myself.

With this seat. With these people, these animals.

With a lot of things.

I hear the bottle of pills in my pocket. The rattling sounds like encouragement.

“How was the circus?” Elizabeth will ask later, when we’re finally together again.

“You didn’t miss much,” I’ll tell her.

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Popcorn

Created: Jul 27, 2010

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