Last Night at the Circle Cinema

BOOK: Last Night at the Circle Cinema
10.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Text copyright © 2015 by Emily Franklin

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A division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.

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The images in this book are used with the permission of: © (film frame); © Kolett/Moment Open/Getty Images (equation); © Todd Strand/Independent Picture Service (baseball); © PhotoDisc Royalty Free by Getty Images (pocket watch); © (pizza); © (hammer); © Laura Westlund/Independent Picture Service (cat box illustration and guitar chord illustration).

Main body text set in Janson Text LT Std 10.5/15.

Typeface provided by Linotype AG.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

The Cataloging-in-Publication Data for
Last Night at the Circle Cinema
is on file at the Library of Congress.
ISBN 978-1-4677-7489-5 (lib. bdg.)
ISBN 978-1-4677-8815-1 (EB pdf)

Manufactured in the United States of America
1 – BP – 7/15/15
ISBN 978-1-46778-977-6 (ePub)
ISBN 978-1-4677-8976-9 (mobi)
ISBN 978-1-4677-8815-1 (pdf)

This book is for Sam



I'm not going to lie. If there's one thing I get in trouble for, it's being too honest. Like I'd just tell someone that they don't have the strongest backhand (since they asked), or when Marta wanted to know if I thought she could pull off wearing a blue feather clipped in her hair even though she's not Native American or on TV, I just looked right at her and said, nope.

Which was why it was so bizarre that I couldn't even begin to admit to Codman that I liked him. That I had liked him for over a year since drama elective when we had to improvise buying something at a grocery store and Codman chose two big melons (which I have—just saying for the record). I liked him when he played old records for me in the space he converted from a closet into a listening room, and I liked him when he read the short stories I wrote for the
Growing Tree
, our award-winning but poorly named school literary magazine. I liked him six months ago when we first agreed to meet outside the movie theater the night before graduation, the last night of our senior year, the “ultimate night signifying the end of our youth,” as I had written in a story and which Codman had crossed out with the stub of a pencil he always kept in his pocket. “What can I say?” He'd raised his eyebrows and licked the tip of the pencil. “I like to edit.”

He was editing now, licking the rain from his lips as though every droplet had a secret that he wasn't spilling. Had he written a speech for graduation? Probably not. And if he had, he hadn't asked me to read it.

“Are you waiting to actually drown or what?” Codman asked now. Water droplets clung to his earlobes until they couldn't hold their own weight and joined the puddles that formed around us.

“It's not my fault Bertucci's not here,” I said, even though I kind of thought it might be. “So, you got the e-mail too?” Bertucci's letter had popped up in my inbox first thing in the morning, and it freaked me out seeing it there—he wasn't much of an e-mailer, and I wasn't much of a break-the-rules person.

“What e-mail?” Codman asked. I didn't want to soak my phone to show Codman the note, so I started to describe it, but he interrupted me. “E-mail? What about the yearbook thing?”

“What yearbook thing?” I sighed—together for the first time in weeks and already unable to communicate. What e-mail, what yearbook, what anything?

The truth was that the yearbook depressed me. All those times-gone-by photos—last time we'll sprawl on the fall grass with our heads on backpacks, last Senior Fling, last look at the people whose names would slip away from us in just a few years, last class photo. Last everything.

So while I owned a
Brookville Baton
, it was in a box of crap in my room as though I'd begun packing for college. The e-mail was portable, though, and I'd printed out Bertucci's odd invitation to the Circle insisting the three of us spend the night, folded it, and stuck it in my back pocket like I needed it as evidence.

“Never mind,” Codman said, clearing his throat like he didn't want to go into why we were standing there.

I shook the plastic bag in my hand. Inside were rain boots I should have been wearing and Bertucci's ragged sweater he'd bequeathed to me the night I thought he'd finally admit his feelings for me.

“My shoes are basically fucked,” Codman said, but he wasn't looking down at his shoes. He opened his mouth up like he was intent on drinking the polluted rain. His shirt was buttoned incorrectly, like he got dressed with his eyes closed, and he noticed me noticing but didn't fix it.

Codman had this impenetrable quality that made him look supremely comfortable all the time. Like when Benny Freeman spontaneously kissed him on the cheek, and he didn't flinch. Even though everyone knew Benny had a thing for guys and Codman didn't, Codman just went with it.

“I know just where to get you another pair,” I said and touched his tennis shoe with my clog and then regretted it.

He looked the same as a few weeks before, the last time we'd really hung out, but my touch was too familiar. I looked more closely; he didn't look the same. Neither of us did.

“I don't know why we're even waiting.”

“He said ten o'clock,” I reminded Codman. I felt we had to do everything Bertucci had outlined. It was the ultimate test of our friendship, the summary of everything we'd been through together.

“Well, it doesn't matter,” he said. “Three more minutes, and then I say we head in.” He looked at his wrist out of habit. His watch had broken months ago, and he hadn't replaced it, sort of figuring his dad might give him one for a graduation gift. I kind of hoped he didn't; I liked watching Codman look at his wrist and the surprise that slid over his face each time he remembered there was nothing there.

“I hate going in without him.”

Yeah, I'd have been lying if I said I wasn't tempted to follow Codman just about anywhere—especially someplace dark, deserted, and filled with free candy—but the idea had sprouted from the mass of weirdness that was Bertucci's brain; it was his plan, and I felt it wasn't right to start off without him.

Bertucci was the first to find out the Circle was closing. He always knew things before anyone else. “Forty-two years of business boarded up just like that,” he's said as though it was his place of employment or his family's. Like it meant everything.

And it did mean something. All those matinees as a kid; my twelfth birthday when Kyla Bernhard threw up on my lap after eating too many Jujubes; the first time Jake Leftkowitz ever felt me up; all those nights Codman, Bertucci, and I would hang around outside debating which movie to see, sometimes talking so long we wound up seeing nothing, which I kind of thought was maybe the point.

Bertucci wanted us to meet here as a final farewell, the kind of night we'd look back on and remember in detail.

Codman licked his lips. “Look, waiting in the rain is pointless. He'd want us to go in, don't you think?”

I shrugged. Bertucci had a habit of being late, of wanting to arrive after the action started, to figure out where to place himself.

Codman's eyes were this super-intense shade of green, especially in the leftover streetlight, and he narrowed them like a cat. He looked evil—in a hot sort of way. He could do that—look two things at once. Like with the shoes. I was with him when he bought those shoes. He knew he wanted a very particular kind of indoor soccer shoe and where he could get them but insisted we look around at a bunch of other places first. The second store was Ski 'n' Golf. They sell only ski and golf stuff. This is printed on their sign, in their ads, and so on. But of course Codman went in there with a totally straight face and said, “Hi!” and proceeded to ask for soccer shoes. “We only sell items relating to skiing and golf.” “Oh, so you don't have any indoor soccer shoes?” “No, sorry.” Codman held up a golf shoe. “Now, see, this is almost perfect. But without the spikes. Got anything like that?” If anyone else tried it they'd get kicked out or slapped. But Codman never gets called out for it, because he's so wide-eyed. Innocent while being kind of a dick.

I felt for my phone in my pocket, my thumbs ready to swipe 'n' type without even looking. It felt good, just saying stuff to him, sending my thoughts off into space.
Waiting 4 U
. I hit send before Codman saw.

“Anyway, Bertucci'd probably show up with a hitchhiker he picked up on Route 9,” I muttered. Bertucci wouldn't have done either of those things because, of any of us, he was the kindest. A knight in a post-punk kind of way. “Okay, it's officially pouring.”

The sky was so thick with rain and clouds, you couldn't see anything specific, just a mass of water, the odd burst of lightning. A lull between thunder rumbles made for a peaceful moment. Codman and I stood there saying nothing, not touching. It was sort of cool. And sort of pathetic. Possibly it was romantic, if I had had any idea what he felt or was able to admit how much I wanted to feel his wet hand wrap around mine.

For us to talk about what was happening under the surface.

Another round of thunder made me jump. I could make out Bertucci's face in the darkness. “It was a dark and stormy night!” Bertucci always appreciated clichés.

I could feel Bertucci pause right before he hugged me, his pale gray eyes checking in with me as though he wanted to make sure it was okay. I always found it both sweet that he checked and lame, like if he just did it he wouldn't kill the thrill, and maybe I would have found him more appealing. But then I felt guilty for feeling that. I've been accused of overanalyzing everything, so maybe the pause meant nothing.

I started shivering, both because his arrival surprised me and because the weather had gotten to me. It was supposed to be warm out, and maybe it would have been, but the rain tamped down any heat. Plus it had been a cold spring anyway, the kind where you went out without a coat or sweatshirt and then cursed yourself because you were fooled again by the ineffectual sunlight. The kind where I'd watched from Codman's listening room while he and Bertucci had chucked a Frisbee back and forth, not wanting to join in because I was too cold and didn't want to borrow Codman's sweatshirt because then he'd have known how I felt.

Plus, I wanted to overanalyze the song he'd put on for me on the record player. It was called “Girls Talk,” and I'd never heard it before. It was one of those songs Betucci liked best—it sounded happy but was littered with words like
murder, pretending, living end
. I'd listened to the lyrics, carefully picked up the needle and placed it back at the beginning, all the while watching the Frisbee sail from Bertucci's hands to Codman's. Their mouths were moving, but I had no idea what they were saying.

BOOK: Last Night at the Circle Cinema
10.89Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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