Saturday, November 1, 1997, 1:45am, Cambridge
Daniel shifted a little in the Brattle's uncomfortable balcony seat. They were five hours into the Evil Dead Trilogy Halloween Midnight Marathon. They were also four large Cokes, three large buckets of popcorn, a box of Raisinettes, and a bag of M&Ms into the marathon, and between the sleep deprivation and all the sugar, he was a little wired.
"Shop smart," Ash said from the screen.
"Shop S-mart," Daniel and Rodney whispered in unison with him. The woman sitting next to Daniel, voluptuous with long dark hair, turned a glare on him before looking back at the screen. Just before Evil Dead started, she and her boyfriend had settled in beside Rodney and Daniel. She was one of those people who wanted complete ownership of their shared armrest, shoving Daniel's arm off whenever he tried to claim a little territory for his own elbow.
"I think she's getting mad," Daniel whispered in a sing-song tone to Rodney.
"What, because we're at the Brattle we're supposed to show silent respect? Someone probably told her this was a Fellini remake," Rodney said. "If she hates us so much, she could have moved during Evil Dead II." The last sentence was a little louder than it needed to be, and the woman next to them glared again.
They settled back, Daniel propping his feet up on the balcony railing next to his cup of Coke, in defiance of the sign and much to the annoyance of his neighbor. As Ash ranted at the people of the castle, Daniel's legs jiggled with restless energy, and he had trouble focusing on the screen. Seeing all three Raimi films in a row had seemed like a great way to celebrate Rodney's birthday, but he'd forgotten that words like "marathon" implied endurance - especially when it came to the Brattle's seats.
"I've got underwear bigger than this seat," Rodney grumbled as he took a handful of popcorn from the bucket. Daniel looked at Rodney, then at the popcorn, then back to Rodney, and realized he had a solution to his problem.
He took a single kernel, and, when Rodney became enraptured once again by
the action on screen, placed it on the seat arm between himself and the large woman next to him, using his elbow to nudge her arm over the side. She harrumphed and moved closer to the bearded man on the other side of her. Daniel looked at the piece of popcorn, leaned back, looked at Rodney, shifted the kernel forward an inch, and then flicked it in Rodney's direction. It lofted up, hitting Rodney in the nose.
Rodney looked at him out of the corner of his eye, and Daniel would have believed that Rodney was angry if the corner of his mouth hadn't also quirked up. "What are you, twelve?" he whispered, as he fiddled with the Raisinettes box. "Behave yourself."
Daniel watched the screen, then glanced at Rodney, who was still mangling the box between his fingers. Daniel took the kernel of popcorn he'd been holding in his hand, slick with the real butter the Brattle used, and placed it on the chair arm for a second strike. As he flicked it, he saw a small brown missile come from Rodney's direction, travelling in a big, perfect arc until it landed in the lap of the woman sitting next to Daniel.
She turned, face visibly flushed in the flickering light of the film, and leaned over the arm of the seat, staring at both of them. "Do you mind?" she hissed.
"No, actually, I don't." Rodney said, a smirk lifting one corner of his mouth. "How about you, Daniel?"
Daniel shook his head, trying very hard not to laugh. "No. I don't mind at all."
The woman rolled her eyes, and, with a huge, heaving sigh shaking her voluminous breasts, stood up and moved down the stairs, her boyfriend trailing after her. Daniel used the distraction to line up another shot, hitting Rodney in the nose again.
Rodney turned the tiny trebuchet he'd engineered from the Raisinettes box, lined up three popcorn kernels on it, and raised an eyebrow at Daniel. "I have superior firepower, here." he said. "You need to admit when you're beaten."
Daniel looked at Rodney's feat of cardboard engineering, then leaned forward and peered over the edge of the balcony. "How much range do you think you can get with that?"
"Before he gets back to the S-Mart, I bet I can hit him in the nose," Rodney said, looking at the screen. He propped his feet up on the balcony railing next to Daniel's and turned back to the cardboard, making more adjustments. "I just need to find my range."
As he focused on his machina ex cistella Raisinettus, Daniel looked around the empty balcony, looked back at Rodney, and contemplated taking advantage of their unexpected privacy. He tapped Rodney's foot with his own. Rodney grunted, completely focused on the task at hand. He leaned in closer, brushing his shoulder against Rodney's, but Rodney didn't notice.
Daniel shrugged in frustration, grabbed another handful of popcorn from the bucket, and chomped it. "More butter next time," he said cheerily, wiping his greasy fingers off on Rodney's pants leg.
"Hey!" Rodney said. Abandoning his attempt at higher technology in favor of larger strike capacity, he grabbed a handful of popcorn and threw it at Daniel. Daniel reached into the nearly empty bucket, fighting him for the last kernels. Rodney stuck hs other hand in the bucket, and then Daniel did the same, peeling Rodney's fingers back, feeling all of twelve years old as they laughingly struggled, sending Daniel's glasses askew in the process. Daniel used the opportunity to plant a greasy, slippery kiss on Rodney's mouth in an attempt to distract him, and was surprised when it was returned, with interest. Daniel's foot, still resting against the balcony railing for leverage, slipped suddenly in his startlement at Rodney's unexpected enthusiasm, and he felt it skid to the top of the railing, shoving something in its wake. He turned his head to see the cup of Coke fall off the edge of the balcony railing.
"Oh, no," Daniel said, leaning forward to watch it travel in a perfect arc out from the railing to the floor below.
Rodney leaned forward next to him, resting his chin on the railing. "What a perfect illustration of Newton's laws of motion," he said.
Then both of them looked down to see where it was about to hit.
"Oh, crap," Daniel hissed. They both leaned back quickly as the woman who had so recently been sitting next to them turned her face up to the balcony - and was engulfed by the shrapnel from the soda-bomb that crashed to the floor behind her.
"Come on," Daniel said, adjusting his glasses and leaving a buttery smear on the lens, then taking Rodney's hand and pulling him along. Rodney grabbed their jackets as they ran up the stairs to the exit. Daniel hit the push bar hard, and they sprang out onto the old, rickety stairwell that had probably been there when the Brattle first opened as a vaudeville theatre in the late 1800s. They pelted down the stairs, howls of rage (some from the screen, others from the woman who'd received an impromptu soda shower) following them, and burst out onto the alley that connected to Brattle Street.
"It never fails," Rodney said as they pulled their coats on in the alley, shivering. It was Halloween, but snow was rendering his hair and shoulders silver. "Every year on my birthday, you find a way to get me into trouble. Last year you weren't even here and you managed to get me into trouble. I should've guessed you'd do something catastrophic this year."
"I wasn't the one who chose to escalate the arms war," Daniel said, tucking his scarf into his battered vintage Navy peacoat. "You built weapons of mass destruction. There are consequences for that sort of thing."
"I wanted first-strike capacity," Rodney said. "You wanted to wage a war of attrition to conquer the balcony. I planned a strategic strike."
"Well, you succeeded. Sort of," Daniel said.
Rodney glared at him, but the corner of his mouth was still quirking upward.
"Admit it," Daniel said. "At least your birthday wasn't boring."
"Fine," Rodney said. "But next year, don't you dare make the waiters sing 'Happy Birthday' to me. And don't start the popcorn war until Ash is in the S-Mart."
Daniel looped his arm in Rodney's as they walked toward Brattle Street. At the corner, a theater usher stood in front of an open door, smoking, and Bruce Campbell's dialgue floated out.
Daniel pulled Rodney just a little closer, and whispered, in time with the film, "Gimme some sugar, baby."
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