An hour later Lotto shakes her legs out, trying to release the numbness. She finishes the last page of the final magazine, reluctant to let go. She puts her jacket back on and carries the stack back to Shelley. She isn’t there so Lotto just leaves them on the counter and turns around to make her way out.
The sun is shining as Lotto exits the library, forcing the coat she just put on to be removed. Lotto walks a few blocks up the gravelly street. The movie theater sticks out like a sore thumb or a shining star, depending on who you asked. It is a shining star hands down for Lotto. If the library is her home away from home, the movie theater is her vacation destination. She loves everything about it from the plastic booth where they used to sell the tickets to the tacky multicolored carpet that is worn in some spots but stubbornly refuses to go down in others. She thinks she may even be able to smell the butter laden popcorn they used to sell 30 plus years ago. Lotto has never seen a ticket taker so she just lets herself in, pushing one of the many unlocked glass doors forward. The lobby is empty, no sign that people of all ages used to come here for entertainment.
Lotto walks down the corridor to the fourth door on the left at the end of the hall. She pushes the black swinging door away from her and walks into the only theater that still has a working projector. Lotto had gone from theater to theater in the beginning. Each projector in all the others would burn out eventually, falling in a row of dominoes.
Lotto loves the smells here. In addition to the aforementioned stale popcorn, the cloth seats smell like cherry Icees and Milk Duds. They have become a part of the seats due to spills and being smashed over and over.
Lotto takes her seat on the aisle, third row from the back. Nobody will be accompanying her in the small room that holds about sixty chairs. She doesn’t have to check the old clock on the wall above her head to know that she has five more minutes. Lotto turns around and looks up at the window where the projector sits. “Hi George!”, she calls, waving and smiling. She hears a grunt but that’s it. The muttering that follows the grunt makes Lotto giggle. George wants her to think he is not to be messed with. But somebody who still shows movies for his audience of one every Sunday has a special place in her heart. He is a constant in life that gives her peace.
After five minutes of wiggling in her seat, Lotto hears the start up whir of the projector and the screen lights up. The opening credits appear on the screen and the music of eighties pop fills the theater. Lotto remembers reading at the library that they used to have something called trailers that played before movies. Lotto pines for those for a moment and then returns her attention to the film.
93 minutes later Lotto sighs in contentment. She gathers her stuff and stands up. When she turns around to walk out the door, she sees movement out of the corner of her eye. She sees an older gentleman stand up and start to walk towards her with a smile on his face. Lotto hesitates. He is tall for a senior citizen, she thinks. She hasn’t seen many people his age but the ones she has tend to be hunched over by gravity. He is dressed nice but not too nice. His denim jeans are dark blue, with fraying at the bottom and some holes around the knees. He is more bald than not with white fuzziness starting at the top middle and making its way to the back. His face is a map of roads that have seen life, good and bad. His blue eyes are watery with a nose that has grown with age. His black striped scarf gives him an air of sophistication, making him look like he belongs in a classroom teaching young minds. His grey wool sweater hangs on his thin frame. All of Lotto’s instincts shout at her that this man is a friend but she doesn’t trust them so she bolts for the door. She is out of her beloved theater in 60 seconds.
When she is two blocks down and around the corner, Lotto stops and catches her breath. Her thoughts are threatening to overtake her and she needs to count. She counts to 10 combined with some deep breaths. This calms her nerves and allows her to focus. Who was that man? She has been going to the theater for over a year and has never seen another living soul (aside from a bug here or there) until today. And why did she get the feeling that she knew him? Frustrated tears threaten to overtake her. Lotto blinks them back, refusing to give in to her emotions. She puts her head back down and starts the walk back home.