A Primitive Encounter

Jasmine Marie

© Copyright 2010 by Jasmine Marie


Sassie Goolie stood in line at the local movie theater, waiting to see the Saturday afternoon matinee. Her long hair flowed behind her, swept up in a bun. She carried on her person: a large black purse filled with candy bars, a small container of chicken, and a plastic bag of Hawaiian punch. The line moved slowly, though she was one of a few patrons, standing in line, waiting to see the movie. She was in town, a two-hour drive from home, to see the latest picture starring her favorite actor. The reviews had been dismal, at best, but Sassie considered herself faithful to the man whom she always looked forward to seeing up on the big screen. A small tap on her shoulder awakened her senses.

 “You’re not from around here? I can tell by your hairdo and your bag. Oh, what a lovely combination. You don’t see anything fancy around these parts like that! I also saw the cab drop you off? Are you visiting anyone, special?” the older woman asked. Her kind blue eyes hid the deceit that Sassie wouldn’t recognize.

 “No. Just going to the local school,” Sassie replied and wondered if she had given too much information.

 “And the hairdo? Bag?” the woman asked. She moved a little bit closer. Sassie could smell butter and pancake syrup erupting from the woman’s flowery sweater. In this part of the world, one could actually go outside on a November afternoon with just a sweater on.

 “The hairdo I did myself. The bag I got from the dollar store. I only paid five dollars for it.”

 “Five dollars at the dollar store? Isn’t that life’s irony?” the woman asked. Sassie just nodded her head. She was eager to get inside the movie theater and begin watching her movie.

You said that you go to the local school? What are you studying? In my day, I found musical theatre to be the most exciting. I always planned on running off to New York as a gal to be a Rockette. Course that was many, many years ago, but now, I just go to the movies. I enjoy watching the matinee. By the way, my name is Myrna. Like Myrna Loy. Ever heard of her? Oh, she was so pretty when she was young, and political too. But that doesn’t bother me. Say, gal, what’s your name?”

 “I came to the matinee. For some alone time,” Sassie replied and abruptly turned her body away from the woman.

 “So rude. Did your mother give you the same amount of money when she gave you the money for that cheap bag?” the woman retorted.

 Sassie shook her head no. She could feel her bun coming loose but she blinked twice and then she was standing in front of the ticket counter.

The ticket clerk gave her a once over and repeated the same line she repeated day in, and day out. “How many tickets will you be purchasing?” she asked. Her frozen smile along with her crooked teeth made Sassie cringe at the woman’s fakeness.

 “One ticket for the one o’clock,” Sassie said.

 “That will be seven dollars and fifty cents please,” the ticket clerk responded.

 Sassie handed the woman her money. The older woman behind her said to the woman behind her, “That’s more than she paid for that cheap bag. I don’t understand why she’s buying a ticket. This is a local theater. Not made for you,” Myrna said.

Sassie went inside the movie theater and realized that she was doing the owner a favor. Besides the cheap, faded wall-covered plush, the old, dry carpet and the bruised gold loopings that separated the back of the movie theater from the front, Sassie saw a small line of people standing in front of the concession stand. She looked up at the menu prices, and was not about to spend the last of her school money on popcorn and a soda. She passed to the right, briefly turning back to the see the woman called Myrna buying her ticket, and moving toward the concession stand.

 Sassie’s knees felt like foam dumbbells in water, and she breathed heavily through her mouth as she climbed a set of stairs to hand the second ticket clerk her ticket. He pointed to the left, tore her ticket in half and politely stepped aside so she could make her way into the theatre. Theatre #8 had a plastic sign in big, bold letters that spelled out the name of the movie. Next to the entrance was a splashy, encased poster featuring her favorite actor looming over the title of the movie and the rest of the showcase. She nodded her head in approval and headed inside.

 Of course, the movie had to be showcased inside the room with the largest set of stairs. She breathed again and hoped no one was watching as she waddled her way up the stairs and sat down halfway from the top. Sassie could barely squeeze into the seat, but was thankful that her behind was cushioned. With her purse next to her, she reached inside her bag, tore open a candy bar and her container of chicken. Though the lights were dim, Sassie’s eyes darted around carefully for any signs of a theatre usher that might ask her to put away her food. She was on her second piece of chicken when the woman called Myrna saw her and began waving as though they had come together to see the movie.

 “Well, these stairs. They certainly weren’t thinking of us when they made them. Know what I mean?” Myrna said and placed her leg on top of Sassie’s knee. Sassie’s eyes went wide and Myrna cried, “It’s hard! Your knees. But I expected all fat!”

 “Do you mind? I’d really like to be alone,” Sassie replied.

 “Oh, I get it. I insulted you? Not yet,” Myrna said. She left Sassie sitting there eating her food. Myrna returned with the theater manager. Sassie could hear the woman saying,” Oh, I’ve got a life. Yes, I realize that, but she’s not eating your food. She couldn’t even make it up the stairs without falling over into my lap. There she is.” The theater manager came up to Sassie’s row. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you for your food. I’m terribly sorry. Theater policy. She’s a regular, ” the manager whispered, nodding at Myrna. Sassie handed over her ticket. “This is ridiculous. She put her leg on my knee and I can’t afford your food! This town is too small for me. I’ll guess I’ll just have to wait until the movie is on cable.” Sassie got up and left. The woman called Myrna stuck her tongue out at her. “Can I get a refund on my ticket?” Sassie asked the theater manager. “I’m afraid not. Again, theater policy.” Sassie heard Myrna shout to another woman sitting nearby, “It was good exercise for her.” That was enough for Sassie. She marched back up the stairs, purse and all, and dumped the chicken into Myrna’s lap. “Now, you’ll smell like chicken instead of pancake syrup.” Sassie then bent over and pulled her pants and underwear down. “Where does she carry it? It’s smaller than I would have imagined,” Myrna said as Sassie, now red-faced, exited the theater.

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