The Trouble With Bernie

Saturday at the Movies - 4

But Bernie did not forget the favor Clark had asked of him. Every now and then he glanced up from his sweeping and tracked the movements of Eugene McElravy and Lisa Wondermore. For a long time they stood in line at the snack bar. Bernie carefully noted that they talked some, they laughed some, but mostly they did nothing at all. When they reached the front of the line, Bernie came back around the counter to see what candy and pop choices they would make, so he could report it to Clark later on.

Lisa got Junior Mints and a small root beer. Eugene went for the Good and Plentys - a big box - and a jumbo 7 Up. Then the music from the newsreel started, and the two of them moved, along with the swarms of other kids, into the theater...

... In the darkness that enveloped him, Bernie clicked on his flashlight. He kept it pointed at the floor, walked down the long aisle to the front row, all the way across, then back up the other side. From the mini-lights on each outside seat, Bernie could tell which group of kids was which, and who was who, and what was going on. He made several trips through and around, walking slowly, one eye on the newsreel, one eye on the kids, always on the lookout for a stray popcorn bag, an empty box, a squashed paper cup.

Eugene and Lisa, instead of sitting in front, where Bernie and his friends always sat, were in the very back row, kind of in the middle, not the easiest place for Bernie to watch them. Nevertheless, to the best of his ability, he did. They were not the least bit interesting. They talked. They laughed. They ate their candy and drank their pop. It was pretty boring stuff. Why did Clark even care what they did?

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