Two Views

This is a true story in two versions. Each is very different. Both are very true.

First View

The cinema was crowded, but we found two seats on the aisle next to a man who seemed a bit dirty and smelled a bit foul. He was young, in his thirties, with a short cropped beard, short dark hair, and dark eyes. Mediterranean probably, or maybe Arab. He stared at the blank screen, motionless, his heels resting on the back of the occupied seat in front of him. He fidgeted with a backpack.

We were there to see a politically charged film set in the middle east. A film replete with guns and the slaughter of innocents. Thoughts about the man sitting next to us appeared in my mind. Worrisome thoughts. Imaginings of an angry man with a few loose screws in his head embarking on his own private jihad. A psycho off his meds, charging himself up with a movie that matched the feverish visions in his head, tightly wound, ready to spring. That backpack was easily large enough to hold a bomb or a gun. As the previews rolled my inner debate raged. Am I overreacting? Am I being näive? Parsing the probabilities, combined with knowledge of my highly active imagination, I found myself not willing to stand up and walk out. My intuition told me he was out of his mind but probably not dangerous. We stuck it out, one eye on the screen and one on the glassy-eyed man sitting next to us.

Ten minutes into the screening his phone rang. He answered it and began a mumbling conversation as if he were on the street and not in a darkened cinema surrounded by people intent on watching a movie. Someone objected and threatened to call the manager, provoking a fury of invective from the increasingly more dangerous-seeming man. I began making high-alert plans, what to do if he stands up and starts screaming, what to do if a gun comes out. Where to dive to avoid the brunt of a bomb blast.

45 minutes into the film he gathered his belongings, stood up, and left. He did not come back.

Second View

We went to a movie the other day and sat next to this drunk arsehole sitting there all by himself. He was really out of it, and he stunk. He stuck his feet upon the back of the seat in front of him, even though somebody was sitting there. After the movie started, his phone rang and he started talking on it like he was out in the lobby or something. The guy sitting in front of him told him to get off the phone, but the guy yelled back “shut the fuck up and look at the screen ya fuken douchebag!” Half an hour later he left, thank gawd!