Martha took the seat next to the man sitting by himself in the front of the movie theater. “You are crying,” she said to him.
The man looked at her surprised, confused that someone, other than the action star on the screen, was talking to him. He was sallow, with skin relaxing down his face. He was well dressed, but there was a sense that the popcorn crumbs were not the only thing untidy about him. His eyes refocused and rescanned her. “Yes. I am crying.”
“Are you okay? It’s not a sad movie. Jeremy Statham is doing fine with the ass-kicking up there.”
He looked at the movie and saw she wasn’t lying. “I sometimes play hooky from the lab and take in an afternoon here. I do it alone, because it doesn’t seem to matter what movie it is, I cry. It’s usually around this part of the story, when the good guys have rallied and things are finally looking up. I can’t understand it, I discover I’m bawling, like this might be important. If it’s a release, I don’t even know what it’s for.”
Martha laughed, “Better than at work, or in the middle of traffic. Guys crying behind the wheel is kind of weird.”
“And crying in an action movie is alright I suppose.”
“Yeah,” she said. “You’re not bothering anyone.”
The man found a napkin and wiped his face. “Well, you’re here. By yourself watching a lousy movie.”
Martha shrugged. “I was with my sister, Emily. She wasn’t feeling well. She’s in the car, getting some air. I said we should go home, but she really likes these kind of movies, said she’ll come back soon. I don’t like action flicks, so I noticed you and decided to kill the time. Hope you don’t mind.”
The man gave Martha a look, an appraisal. “No problem. You can stick around, as long as you can deal with an old man weeping at well choreographed fight scenes.” They sat for a few more scenes and he caught her staring at his weeping. “You know, I am pretty much a happy guy.”
“I don’t doubt it.” She looked down at her phone. “Damn.” She moved to almost stand before her chair. “Look, I have to go, my sister, is getting pretty sick in the van. She just texted me. I got to go.”
He looked at her and then back to the screen. “This stupid movie doesn’t deserve my tears. Let’s see if I can help you out.” Martha protested, but he would not listen. He was going to help.
The man followed Martha to the back lot where the van was parked. When they reached it, she quickly went behind him and shoved the soaking rag from her bag over his mouth and nose. “Now,” she said as the van door opened. Emily and Quiet Stu reached out and dragged him in. Martha jumped in and closed the door. Emily jabbed the syringe into the man’s leg and waited for the bucking to subside.
Emily looked at Quiet Stu, “Get out of here. Meet you at the place when the movie’s over.” Emily and Martha left the van by the back door and Stu and the unconscious man were gone. “Let’s get back to the movie. Did I miss anything?”
Martha said no. “That’s the problem with these movies, you miss 20 minutes of the story and you still know what’s going on. That’s bad storytelling.”
Emily entwined her arm around her sister’s. “That’s called an action movie. Come on, we have to establish alibi.” They went back to their original seats.
“Shh. I’m watching this.”
“What’s the deal with this guy? Is he a goner?”
“What’s the difference?”
“No difference. He was just a nice old guy.”
“Dammit Martha. No, from what I know from the set-up, this is some industrial nonsense. He works at a lab making something and another company wants him to make it for them. That’s what they told me. He makes it and he’s free.”
“I hate these movies,”
Emily looked at her sister. “Hey, are you crying?”
Martha wiped her cheek. “Not crying for anyone. Just trying something new. To be the kind of girl that cries in movies. Seeing how it feels.”
Emily said, “And how is it?”
Martha let the tears come, “Not bad. I might make it a thing.”
David Macpherson lives in Central Massachusetts with his wife Heather and son George.
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