Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Cinema and The Park

Hunched like a giant amphibian hiding the secrets of underwater life in the shadows beneath its paunch, the movie house rests at the end of the main street. A single story building filled with faded glitz, its carpets are worn down by the thousands of pairs of dress shoes that used to pour through its double doors, used to mill around by the polished mirrors in the lobby, form lines before the kettle roaring with the pop of yellow corn, and file down one of two gently sloping hallways to a dark auditorium.
Now it is empty. The doors stand open allowing the wind to blow in from up the main street. The managers stand together dressed in suits and elegant dresses, passing the time in gossip as only the management can. The kettle is silent. Concessionists stand idle looking longingly out to the street for the absent patrons. Their uniforms are as dignified and shabby as the carpets and worn velvet curtains, white dress shirts, black slacks, midnight hued wing tipped shoes marred by scuffs, maroon vests faded by years of laundering and silky black bow ties frayed at the edges. In the dim atmosphere lit by rows of small artificial bulbs, they stand in the temple of the stars, hands resting on the polished countertops, gazing out at the harsh sunlit street, the freshness of the wind jarring their spirits.
The main street runs from the old movie house to the park in a straight line.Scores of streets cross it, all with names such as "Spruce" and "Pine", all with stop lights dangling over these intersections in merry yellow casings. Vendors adorn the clean side walk along the main drag. A flower cart bursts with the color and fragrance of fresh cut blooms. An old wooden Indian stares intently at nothing outside of a smoke shop where portly bald men in white jackets stand nodding and laughing, and gesturing emphatically with their hands. The window of a bakery gleams brightly displaying pink frosted angel food cakes, golden croissants and tea cookies powdered with sugar. White aprons, clean shirts, bright smiles, pearl necklaces, the pedestrians add a finishing touch to the street, like balloons tied to chairs at a party.
White Volvos with chrome grins, and aqua Chevy convertibles with round headlights, roar up the streets in defiance of the peaceful pedestrians plodding along its side, carrying their white packages tied with ribbons and strings. Stretched out like a lazy green cat, the park greets the street at its end. The grass is short, the trees young lean and tall. They trap the sunlight, turning it in their leaves before sprinkling it down on the lawn in sparkling splotches. Multicolored striped tents shaped like ice cream cones are scattered about the green. People come and go between them. Wearing white robes, blue jeans, fringed vests, beads, tin foil headdresses and bearing sun tanned chests, they walk through the grass, or on the little pathways leading no where in particular. Some sit alone in contemplation in the open mouth of a tent or under a tree. Others talk in groups or conglomerate around tables heaped with books. Yet others sit in pairs staring deeply into each others eyes.

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