Theater 22

The two men’s voices echoed inside the quiet movie theater lobby. Each stood with a small popcorn and Coke in hand, staring at the boards covered in movie titles and times. The teenage boy tearing the tickets had only mumbled the direction of theater 22, leaving the brothers to fend for themselves.

They wished their niece was there. She was supposed to join them for lunch and a chick flick. The brothers still weren’t sure how the seventeen-year-old had talked them into it. Perhaps it was their mutual love for Italy or fond memories of the tenth grade production of Romeo and Juliet or simply that their niece had her uncles tied around her finger. Regardless, there they were, at the movie theater without her.

She had been called into work on an emergency as they stood in line for tickets. The brothers were just paying when the call came in.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I really have to go. We’ll have to go out another time. Go ahead and see the movie, if you want. Let me know if you liked it.”

The brothers wanted to withdraw their order, but neither confessed it to the other.

They found theater 22. It was nearly empty, and there were only two other men there: a young boy with his mother who had no choice about it and a suave twenty-something with his mother and sister who seemed not to mind. 

They sat near the entrance in case they decided to leave. They watched previews for action movies and wished they were a few theaters over watching the latest installment of their favorite superhero franchise. Instead, they stayed seated, munching on their popcorn and waiting for the movie to begin.

The film began. The heroine and her fiancé went to Italy on a romantic getaway but spent no time together. One brother remembered a similar situation when he was first married. He vowed to never conduct business while on vacation after that.

There were letters pleading for relationship help. The other brother laughed to himself. He had been the relationship expert in college. If only his brother had listened to his advice that one vacation that turned into all business.

Before even realizing what was happening, the brothers were completely taken into the film. They started off by quietly making comments to each other. Soon the comments grew just audible to the old women in the center row. As the end drew near, they were nearly shouting at the heroine and her romantic interest.

Then the end came. The heroine ended up with the better man for her. The brothers were relieved she hadn’t ended up as Juliet had.

They filed out of the theater with everyone else, silently impressed with one another. They had never liked chick flicks. They had never even gone to one with their wives. But now things were different.

That evening, they were out again. This time, it was dinner and a movie with their niece and wives. They hurried again to theater 22 to watch their new favorite movie one more time.

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