Blue &—beneath—black patches shift. Ovoid small screen. “The glad hand.” No! Elle & me. At the Nickelodeon. She warned me— “Adam. I will let you down.” Elle told me about the bad memories her therapist reclaimed. A television set. Same as the televisions we watched at home.
While Elle turned a chrome clothes rack at Filene's Basement she asked me, “Do you know what we’re here for? I need to buy a dress. For tonight.” Elle was my date to the semi-formal dance.
On either side of the screen were dark curtains. “He’s getting to know me.” Every lost page made Elle tremble. We were alone in the theater & a man in the front row who wavered. “There are pages torn out that is real….” We were afraid.
Elle told me about her beautiful twin cousins. She didn’t want me to meet them because “Adam, you will fall in love with them.” Her cousins screamed. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Quit trying to hold on so tight.” Elle’s older brother was a filmmaker. He recut, on video tapes, When A Stranger Calls (’79). What he left was all terror.
Behind the screen was a hall. The only light red “Exit.” Credits rolled & the man from the front row stood. Elle whispered, “My boyfriend is t-r-o-u-b-l-e.” He wasn't a warning, he was the truth. We couldn’t open the door to leave the theater.
We held each other. Elle put on the dress she bought with me earlier, she dressed in the bathroom at my high school. We stowed her street clothes in my locker where she would forget them. We danced in the gymnasium. No one knew Elle & no one spoke. “Are you my best friend?” She had to go home.
Our own houses frighten us. We walk warily through. Hide when we see our parents. My bedroom walls were pure white, lit white with fluorescent lights mounted on the walls. “I’m your friend always.” My dark suit over the back of my desk chair. Growled from my cassette deck: “the black dog runs at night / the black dog runs at night / the black dog runs at night.”
Elle was in a booth at her hometown Friendlies. She wore her new dress and the blue corsage I pinned above her breast. Her boyfriend arrived. He was a piece of shit. I climbed out my bedroom window & wandered my dumb empty town. Listened to the signal box click loud. Dark caught up in the leaves. Change from green to yellow to red.
[ Photo: Lottie doll blue velvet outfit set, courtesy of Lottie Dolls Outfits Pinterest page. ]