By Audrey W.
John Gage, Roy DeSoto and his young son and daughter, filed into the movie theater with the rest of the crowd. Once inside they broke free from the line, in search of a good place to sit. Roy’s wife Joanne had asked her husband to keep the children busy for the afternoon so that she could get some thorough house cleaning done. With a six-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl home with 'nothing to do' for the day, she’d just get a room straightened up, only to turn around and find a mess started behind her.
Settling for the first four seats near the middle row, the group got situated. The movie would start in twenty minutes.
Chris sat in the seat farthest in, his dad beside him. Jennifer was between her father and Johnny. The men had sprung for a couple of large-sized red and white striped bags filled to the brim with popcorn and four sodas. They were supposed to last through the movie, but the foursome was doing a good job of chowing the snack down while waiting.
Roy listened as Johnny, with a couple of pieces of popcorn tucked in his left cheek between chews, assured Jennifer that there was no reason to be afraid once the lights dimmed and the room darkened. The father had explained to his partner that this was Jennifer’s first time to a movie theater and he wasn’t sure how she was going to react, being that she was afraid of the dark.
“If ya get scared, just tap me on the arm, sweetheart. I’ll hold your hand until you aren’t afraid anymore.”
“Okay,” came a very soft reply.
Roy grinned. His partner and children hadn’t seen each other very often in the first two years the men worked together, but when they did it was like he was accepted as a part of the family, not just a friend.
Soon the lights began to fade and the amplified sound within the theater could be heard as an advertisement about tossing popcorn boxes and soda cups in the trash can after the movie began to play.
Roy glanced at Jennifer to see how she was doing. She tapped Johnny on the arm, just as he’d told her to. She then reached over with her hand, palm up, and waited for him to take it in his. Roy rolled his eyes when he saw Johnny glance at the girl’s hand and absently put a few pieces of popcorn in it.
The blond paramedic reached over and took his daughter’s other hand in his. Jennifer smiled up at her dad, her face partially lit by the large screen, then ate the popcorn Johnny had given her.
After the movie, the foursome filed out of the theater and headed for the car. Johnny was still praising the little girl for her bravery.
"You did really good in there, Jennifer! Why, I think the first time I ever went to a movie, I was ready to leave as soon as it got dark inside. But not you. No siree."
“Yeah, and he was only fifteen," Roy kidded. He ignored the brief glare he got in return. "Do you realize what you did?” He asked Gage.
“What?" He looked around. Everything seemed okay. "When?”
“You told Jennifer to tap you on the arm if she got scared and you’d hold her hand.”
“Yeah. . .” he nodded.
“Well she did and when she held out her hand, you put popcorn in it.”
Johnny looked down at Jennifer, who was holding his right hand as they continued on to the DeSotos’ station wagon. “I did?”
The little girl nodded as well, a slight pout on her face having returned for effect.
“Oh man! I’m sorry, sweetheart.” He looked at Roy. “Man, I don’t know what I was thinkin’.”
Roy cracked a grin. “More like how. . .with your stomach.”
Jennifer giggled, as did Chris. Johnny just rolled his eyes, then laughed slightly himself. Some help he’d turned out to be. More like the comic relief.
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