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American Contemporary Fiction

This story contains sensitive content

Contains sexually explicit language

I sat in the dark next to my best friend, Dylan, in our favorite seats just a few rows behind dead center of our small town’s sole movie theater. We’d just slurped the last of our Cokes and nearly finished the popcorn and Goobers when the movie ended abruptly without a satisfactory landing. I suspected the romantic angle wedged into the story line made Dylan want to puke, but he sat quietly. French film - no plot, no tension, no explosions. 

“I heard a rumor that theaters across America were getting renovated,” I said, preparing to bid adieu to the musty space of our hangout.

“Yeah, with reclining seats,” Dylan said, dreamily. “I even heard their air conditioning was–”

“Freezing cold. But not here.”

“No, not here.”

We’d known each other forever and could usually finish each other’s sentences because we did everything together. Almost everything. There was one thing we never tried. We sidestepped all things mushy and romantic, but I did wonder sometimes what it would be like to kiss him full on his mouth. As I approached my thirtieth birthday, I couldn’t help but worry that I’d never meet a guy as compatible as Dylan. But I didn’t go there.

Between the two of us, we were a pop culture encyclopedia: me for movies and game shows and him for music and sitcoms. The final scene of the movie we’d just watched flatlined on screen and the credits began to roll, but the lights weren’t coming back on. I side-eyed Dylan as I reached for a final fistful of popcorn. He yawned, but my eyes picked up some sort of movement in the row across the aisle.

Without taking my eyes off the disturbance, I slapped Dylan’s arm. “Does that yawn mean you’re bored?”

“The movie sucked, Chloe,” he said, flatly. “We’re not staying to watch the credits to see who’s responsible for my misery.”

“The soundtrack was cool,” I offered, still totally fixated on the headful of curly hair rhythmically bobbing across the aisle. I shook my head at Dylan’s melodrama and pointed at the man. “Something’s going on between that guy’s legs,” I said, jerking my head toward the other row.

“What?” That got Dylan’s attention right quick and he looked, too. “How can you see anything?”

The theater had started out pretty full. The film probably had a marketing budget that dwarfed actual production and script writing. The remainder of the audience who hadn’t left after the first half was already trickling out, but this one man stayed in his seat. He doubled over, whispering, “Yes, yes, try that. Hurry, right there.” He threw his head back – in ecstasy I guessed – but then he yelped. “Ouch! Your knee! Your knee is on my foot.”

I drew a blank for a moment and then it dawned on me. “I think he’s getting a blow job,” I whispered loudly, hanging my mouth open and leaning against Dylan’s arm. “What balls!”

“Chloe, seriously?”

“Look for yourself.” I shrugged. Even in the darkness, I could make out blondish curls in a frenzy between the guy’s knees. He kept looking down and around, though I couldn’t make out his expression.

Dylan lowered his head and focused his eyes across the aisle. “Holy shit, I think you’re right.”

Having Dylan acknowledge me being right, and some rando dude getting his pecker waxed in a public space surprisingly turned me on. The screen flickered light on Dylan’s imperfect face. It made his scars look enormous and his lashes thick as feathers. The green of his eyes looked speckled grey. He squirmed a little, making his seat squeak, and gripped the armrest. Was he getting turned on, too?

“Have you ever gotten a blow job in a movie theater?” I asked, holding my breath that he might very well say, ‘yes’.

He snapped his head at me, eyes wide. “Me? No—” but he caught himself. “Of course I have,” he said, suddenly nonchalant and cavalier, but too red in the face to be believed.

I loved that he couldn’t lie convincingly, so I played along and pursed my lips. “Well, which is it? Are you a stud or a dud?”

“The lights have been out an awfully long time, don’t you think?” Dylan asked, looking anywhere and everywhere but at me.

In the recesses of my mind, Dylan could have taken the opportunity to be my stud anytime of his choosing. If this dude in the other row getting his jollies could spark some lust in Dylan, maybe now was a good time to test my luck. For whatever reason, a dirty joke I’d heard in elementary school sprang to mind: Two little kids, a boy and girl, were on the playground. The boy dared the girl to show him what was between her legs, so she dared him back. When the boy saw that she didn’t have a willy, he teased her, saying her pecker must have broken off. She ran home crying. The next day when the girl saw the boy, she ran up to him and said, ‘My mama told me that I don’t need my own willy. With what I have, I can get as many of those as I want.’

It was Operation Seduction Now or Never time.

“Are you getting turned on, Dylan?”

We looked each other dead in the eye. We’d never deceived each other before, no matter what. He cleared his throat and glanced for a second at the other row again. The flickering light from the film’s outtakes rolling on screen picked up a gleaming shine on Dylan’s forehead. My boy was breaking into a sweat. I took this as a good sign.

“Well?” I asked.

“To be honest…” he said. “Yeah, a little.” Then his expression took on a lusty glimmer. “We’ve never had a conversation like this before. It’s kind of…”

I maintained hope that he wouldn’t say ‘weird’ or ‘fucked up’ or ‘embarrassing’. “Kind of what?”

“Hot, actually.” He seemed to look at me with new eyes, like he’d never noticed how much attention I put into my appearance. The hours of taming my hair into finger waves, the perfectly matched foundation, the painstakingly drawn wingtips at the outer corners of my eyes, and the creamy lipstick kept in place with lip liner. Had Dylan never even acknowledged I was a woman before?

I smiled, but only with the right side of my mouth. A womanly power veiled my eyes; I could feel it. I reveled in it and moved an inch closer to Dylan. “Are you getting…” I flashed my gaze toward his crotch and arched my eyebrows. “…you know, excited?”

More shining light on his forehead and a nervous laugh. “Yeah, Chloe.”

“I’d like to do something about that for you,” I said, more boldly than I felt and placed my hand dangerously on his thigh. My heart ratcheted up into a pounding that I could scarcely handle but definitely not ignore. A swarm of heat came over me and memories flashed before my eyes like a scratchy movie reel. We’d skinny-dipped on a dare in the school pool, bashful and chattering teeth; there’d been the time we bumped into each other coming around a corner and came within a hair's breadth of kissing; when my last boyfriend and I broke up, I cried on Dylan’s shoulder and accidentally spilled hot tea on his lap. We’d had so many close calls, near touches, and open opportunities to hook up. But here now, in the dark after a dull movie, could passion rise to the surface and meld us together? Did I have the steel to go down on my best friend in a public place with the lights about to come on any second? Part of me wanted to be that bold, and part of me wanted to go somewhere private and romantic, but would we come to our senses in the time it took to get there? 

“Have you ever thought of me that way?” I asked.

Dylan leveled his gaze at me, still seeming to search for an explanation why he’d never known my feminine side. God, men.  He was making me sweat it out before answering. 

Another few seconds went by, so, impatient and annoyed, I nudged his arm.

“You’re the sexiest woman I’ve ever known. But you’re so down to earth with me and like one of the guys, I never thought you’d think of me that way.” Dylan absently put his hand on his crotch, which had swelled tantalizingly.

I smiled at him again, but with my whole mouth, and hungrily. I moved my hand up his thigh, slowly and applying just enough pressure to make sure he felt it. He let out a breathy and halting ha-ha-ha and that’s all I needed to see to know he liked the way I touched him. Still beaming an eager smile, I slid to my knees between his legs and reached for the zipper to his jeans. I could hardly breathe and kept my eyes on his to anchor myself. This was a Chloe I didn’t even know, so how would Dylan recognize this side of me?

My hand stealthily pulled at the zipper, revealing silky shorts underneath. I let out a breathless sigh in anticipation just as the theater lights came up, startling both of us. I pulled my hand away and knocked over the last unpopped kernels of popcorn. The commotion in the other row that sparked our tinderbox came clear into focus.

There was a woman on the floor in front of the guy. She popped her head up and held her hand above her head triumphantly. 

I almost gave her a high-five, but the joyful look in her eyes turned to a fiery glare when she saw me. Her face screwed up in revulsion. “Where the hell do you two think you are? Get a room, for God’s sake.”

Momentarily shocked at her audacity, I hesitated but finally said, “You should, too, you hypocrite. You inspired me, thank you very much.”

“This is not an Alanis Morissette song, idiot,” the dude fired back, turning to face Dylan and me.

“Look,” Dylan said. “I think we should bow our heads in a moment of silence for our good fortune and then just go our separate ways.”

“If you think I’m on the sticky, stanky floor of a movie theater giving my husband head, you’re mistaken,” said the woman, rising to her feet indignantly. “I was searching for my wedding ring. Thank God, I found it!”

Stunned, my jaw fell open. Whoa, wow, talk about awkward. She hadn’t been giving the man head after all. Oh my God, would that change what was happening between me and Dylan?

I wanted to see Dylan’s face, but my nerve faltered. I took his hand. “That was close. We could have gotten busted.”

“Um, we did get busted. Let’s get the hell outta here.” He grabbed my hand and yanked me down the steps to the exit. 

No longer intoxicated with the scent of fresh popcorn and melted butter, I wanted to retch. If there were familiar faces lingering in the lobby, I wouldn’t have known for the blur.

In a whirlwind, we were outside hustling through a canopy of heavy, humid air thick with the fragrance of night-blooming jasmine toward his SUV. My mind raced back and forth from worrying that we’d ruined our friendship without even getting physical satisfaction out of it to hoping our lips might still meet. I trotted a step behind him, so I couldn’t even read his face to know if we were finishing each other’s thoughts. His shoulders were hunched up, rigid and tight. I took that as a very bad sign.

Dylan slowed down and tugged gently at my hand until we were abreast of each other. He pulled me close to his side and let out a noisy laugh.

I had to admit, the retelling of this crazy little episode of our night would be funny, except I needed to figure out how to skip over the whole Chloe-is-a-slut-in-public-even-when-she’s-sober thing. 

After an inexcusable amount of time, his laughter finally died down and he caught his breath. “Listen, Chloe…” he said, in a voice that sounded like he was about to let me down easy. 

The fall from wherever my heart had ascended wasn’t going to be easy on me at all. Could I take this in stride? I didn’t know. I winced, but I wasn’t backing down now. 

He clicked his key fob and the beep-beep of his car let us know the doors unlocked. I opened the passenger door and slid into the seat. “I am sexy, you know.”

He chuckled, settling into the driver’s seat. “You’re definitely sexy.”

I tilted my head toward him. “You were about to say.”

He started the engine and gave it some gas to rev. “Have you ever thought of me that way?” His vulnerability permeated the space between us. It was tender, boyish, ripe, and fragile. The white parking lot light glinted off the pendant resting between his collar bones. I’d given him that silver “X” in a circle for his twenty-eighth birthday. It reminded me of a hug and kiss now and set in a yearning to know the taste of his lips.

“I’ve thought of you that way for a very long time, Dylan.”

He blushed and a grin pulled his face tight. “Wow. I never knew.”

So I’d done a good job over the years keeping myself under wraps. I had no idea how to feel about that. As I thought again about leaving my twenties behind, I decided I’d leave unexpressed feelings behind, too. “I’m going to be thirty soon, and there’s something about knowing we can deepen our relationship going forward that appeals to me.” How much more could I afford to reveal in this moment? I took a deep breath. “I still want to go down on you–”

“I still want that, too, by the way,” he said with a sly grin.

“I’m sure,” I said. “We became friends without much effort, but maybe we should take our time leveling up.”

“I’d like that,” Dylan said, nodding. He pulled out of the parking lot and headed east on Main Street toward my apartment.

As the car’s interior lights dimmed down, I thought maybe we shouldn’t go back to that theater for a while. Watching movies curled up with a soft blanket and microwave popcorn at his place would suffice, maybe for life. I caught myself from hurling off into the future like a starry-eyed damsel. I leaned over and kissed his cheek, resting my hand on his thigh. If we played our parts as naturally as we always had, we could write our own romantic arc into our lives without forcing it or rushing it. “I foresee a French kiss in your immediate future.”

“I’d like that, too,” he said, and pressed the gas pedal harder.

May 28, 2022 03:01

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16 comments

Richard Bist
14:43 Jun 02, 2022

Another fantastic story, Mackenzie. I love your characters - they are always so real, so relatable.

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17:07 Jun 02, 2022

Hello and many thanks, Richard! I'm so glad you enjoyed Chloe and Dylan in Roll the Credits. It was a lot of fun to write, and knowing readers are happy is putting me over the moon. Be well. Mackenzie

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April Heath
21:43 Jun 01, 2022

The dialog is so believable! I grew quite fond of Chloe and Dylan, and I'm impressed with how immersive the story is in so few words.

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17:08 Jun 02, 2022

Hello April, Thank you so much for sharing your impressions of the story and my writing. I appreciate your time and comments a great deal. Be well, Mackenzie

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Joseph Kavanagh
16:06 Jun 01, 2022

Very amusing and a bit of a steamy story. Very well written. It's a story that in a few words you are dropped right into the scene. No info dump necessary. The writer does a terrific job of this. Everything feels right & real. The story itself is very funny and handled with a subtlety that adds to the humor. Very well done.

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16:22 Jun 01, 2022

Good afternoon Joseph, and thank you so very much for sharing your impressions of my short story. I'm absolutely delighted that the humor and structure appealed to you. Be well and have a magical day! Mackenzie

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Kate Winchester
13:51 Jun 01, 2022

This was funny. I liked the buildup that you created both as to whether Dylan had the same feelings as Chloe and leading up to the *deed* lol.

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16:20 Jun 01, 2022

Thank you and good afternoon Kate, I'm delighted you found the humor in Roll the Credits. Thank you for taking time to share your impressions. Be well and have a magical day! Mackenzie

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Kate Winchester
16:50 Jun 01, 2022

You’re welcome 😉

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01:03 Jun 01, 2022

Thank you so much for taking time to read Roll the Credits. If you have any impressions to share, feel free to leave comments. I read them all. Be well and have a magical day! Mackenzie

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Elle Stockton
00:41 Jun 01, 2022

Great flow and pace like Chloe and Dylan's relationship.

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01:02 Jun 01, 2022

Thank you so much, Elle! I appreciate you reading and I'm very grateful you enjoyed it. Mackenzie

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George Beckman
07:41 May 29, 2022

Well told!

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13:08 May 29, 2022

Thank you and good morning George. I appreciate you taking time to read Roll the Credits and for leaving a comment. Mackenzie

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Amanda Lieser
07:10 May 29, 2022

Hi Mackenzie! I really enjoyed that this story had, at its core, a long term love story. I think you played up the trope of friends turned lovers very well. I also remember being a bit shocked the first time I had seen my best guy friend and he was an actual adult man. It’s a complicated transition and I think you did it well. Nice job on this piece!

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13:08 May 29, 2022

Good morning Amanda and thank you so much for taking time to read Roll the Credits. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and left a comment. Mackenzie

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