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Truck Driver Guy: A Memoir
Many months have passed since we last saw him. You’d think someone would change after not seeing them for about five months. People don’t change though. Their appearance or their general attitude. Which leads me to accuse most of the theater’s customers of mental instability. Truck Driver Guy in particular. He was quite polite though. Nothing pairs up with mental instability quite as well as manners.
He was standing in the corridor of theater five the first time I saw him. I looked through the portholes in the doors. I saw the back of his battered, plaid coat. I saw the way his hair seemed to grow down his neck and under the collar and down his back. Unclean. The way his chin managed to twist past his left shoulder as he eyed me suspiciously. Deranged. I moved away from the portholes and tried to remove myself from the area. I tried to wander back to the lobby unnoticed. But then I heard the doors to theater five open. Abruptly. I kept walking, despite the fact that I’d have to turn around eventually. Eventually.
“I’m sorry,” he said; his hands rubbing themselves together. He seemed to be panicking inside. “I’m sorry, but I’m just waiting on some friends. I’m up here from Missouri. I’m a truck driver. I just thought I’d take in a movie.”
I waved my hands around in an attempt to quiet him down. I feared I had disturbed him. I had previously seen him near theater twelve. Near theater eight. Near theater two. Now theater five. I wasn’t going to ask to see his ticket though. It was Monday and I didn’t care.
“No, no. Take it in. Take it all in. I’m sorry if I startled you.” I was polite.
“You didn’t startle me. I’m just a person. I’m just a person with characteristics like any other. Instincts. Yeah, instincts would be a better word for what I’m trying to describe to you, boy.”
I apologized a second time and turned back toward the lobby. His voice wouldn’t let me leave though.
“Got the time?”
“I do.” My fingers scraped against the fabric in my pocket as I tried to pull my cell phone out. “7:18.”
“So it’s 7:20, then?”
I shrugged and looked to the floor. Three kernels of freshly dropped popcorn. I swept them up. One at a time Waiting for Truck Driver Guy to just walk back to his movie.
“Well, I’m just saying, boy. What does two minutes matter?”
I finished sweeping up the popcorn. I finished tangling each flake of popcorn up in the broom and carrying them into the dustpan. I finished biding time.
“I don’t know.” I said.
“That’s ‘cause it doesn’t matter. Not if you’re just asking someone for the general time. Not if your just expecting a general answer. Now maybe if you’re near death. Maybe if you’re submerged beneath an icy pond and you’re desperately trying to calculate and estimate the number of minutes you have left. The minutes of air you have left to breathe. Maybe then. Only then. Two minutes matter.” His voice was suddenly tense. A capricious man. His rectangular eyes beamed forward and he often wiped a gathering of saliva from his lower lip. A subtle foam.
I walked away. I finally entered the lobby. He walked away from theater five. He followed into the lobby. The stench of Missouri followed him.
“I’m sorry if I creeped you out. Why don’t you ask me a question now?” he said from behind.
I signaled a girl working at the concession stand. My friend Liz. We had a gift of speaking with our eyes. And I was screaming, “help.” Liz got the message and threw fresh popcorn onto the floor below. I rushed away from Truck Driver Guy and began sweeping up. He followed though. Customers never follow. Not when you’re busy with something like popcorn. Never.
“Got a question for me, boy?” he asked, doing his best to come across as kind.
“Your friends coming soon?” I asked. It was the only legitimate question I could think of.
The truth of the matter was, Truck Driver Guy’s friends weren’t coming. Not that Monday. Not the next. Not ever. Truth of the matter was Truck Driver Guy came every Monday for nearly five months and he only bought one ticket and he used it all day. He stood in the corridor of each theater for about 15 minutes. He never watched a film in its entirety, either. Feared he had no time.
He was back now. Five months had passed. He was back now. He approached me near theater eight.
“I’m not doing nothing wrong, boy. I’m just waiting on some friends. Do you have the time?” he asked me. He had no recollection of me. None what-so-ever. I looked at my cell phone.
“8:30.” I said.
“Thanks,” he said. “My friends should be coming any minute now.”
He plodded back into theater eight while I watched him from the hallway. I looked at my cell phone again. 8:28.
“They’re coming. Any minute now.”