The light on his face flickered with blue, red, and orange as the film played off in the distance of the dark theatre. He happened to be drunk (entirely his own doing) and inclined to whisper to her, at least during the first half of the show; those terrible whisperings of "Oh, he's going to open the cupboard!" and "He'll walk right into it this time!", even "Well, I nevah!" but there was once when she turned to find him a slimy creature with debauched features and an unhealthily red face; he said:
"I want to kissssyou. Rightnow. Come. Here." He coughed. "Love" was the last word he croaked before leering at her and leaning so far over on her side that he missed his armrest and landed halfway in her lap, awkward elbows and foul-smelling silent laughter.
She roughly shoved him back into his seat. The plot had just begun to get fairly thick, and he was being a nuisance. He might have gone to sleep, but nooooooo, he had to talk. Shame on her sense of pity. And compassion: he had been about to drive home when she found him in the parking lot. Ugh.
"No. I'm not kissing you. Be quiet." She pulled her jacket around her and leaned forward to avoid the smell of him, thankful they were nearly the only people in the cinema.
"Whyyyy not?" he said, spraying saliva over the chair in front of him. The hero of the movie tripped on a root in the middle of a major chase scene. Lame. What a dumb trick.
"Because you're Catholic." She realised what she said after she said it, not having given him a moment's thought. A giggle surfaced, then subsided as a dance scene began onscreen. "Ha haaaaaaa. I--I--ammm not!" he said, his voice breaking.
She shushed loudly, and then there was an intermission. She brought a refill of water in her empty soda cup, and he fell asleep during the second half. When they finally emerged from the stuffy theatre, the wind had picked up and the parking lot was dimly attended by orange lamps that reflected wearily off of dusty automobiles.
Driving home, the streets were cold and empty, glittering black, but eventually his roommate answered her knock at the door and shouldered him inside. The next time they met was outside the college coffee stand during a break in the middle of their Wednesday evening classes (about 1930).
"Sorry about that, the other night. I kinda remember you taking me home." He smiled in insincere apology.
"Yeah, sure." Nodding to the girl behind the counter (they'd share their Tues.-Thurs. morning class), she took off her gloves, stuffed them in a pocket, and reached for her hot chocolate on the counter. Without meaning to, she'd been a little cooler than was quite necessary.
"Well, hey--I didn't need your help. Don't act so . . . superior . . ." He'd lowered his dignity enough to apologize to her; she normally barely gave him the time of day, but he was gulping down a little pride! Shouldn't he get a little leeway? He re-shouldered his messenger bag and dropped his relaxed pose. Suddenly the breadth of his shoulders became important; so did those measly five inches that made him taller than her.
"Right. You were drunk and scratching up your car door trying to get the key in the lock . . . do you realise you were going to drive drunk?"
"I wouldn't have actually done it! I don't need to be . . . saved. I can take care of myself."
"Fine. I didn't do anything to try and save you." She scalded her tongue, and he dropped his notebook. "If you want to know, I wasn't thinking of you at all when I drove you home. My brother was killed by a drunk driver." Suddenly he became all sympathy, eyebrows creased and a concerned frown on his lips. "So think, why don't you? There are other people in the world besides you."
He thought of a few great comebacks and chewed on them; she was not his conscience, anyway. It wouldn't have happened that way; he never got into trouble when he was drunk.
She gave him an awed look, shook her head in disbelief. "I'm going back into class. See you around." He gave her an ambivalent nod, and turned back to the stairs he came from.