Larry Strikes Back
A Short Story by Tim Josephs
Written using the suggestion "Snake"
Originally featured on 01-30-2008
As part of our series "Zodiac Thriller"

Larry entered the movie theater and squinted into the darkness. There were a few people scattered around and he was happy to see a row in the middle that was completely empty. He preferred coming to movies during the day, much less crowded.

As he made his way into the center of the row, he glanced up at the screen. A noisy coming attraction was still showing. Larry groaned as he sat down and looked at the glow-in-the-dark hands of his watch; he always tried getting to his seat twelve minutes after the movie was scheduled to start so he could avoid the numerous trailers, commercials, and inane trivia.

He sat back and grabbed a handful of popcorn. On the screen several cars were zooming through crowded city streets, narrowly avoiding scrambling pedestrians.

“Aw, shit!” someone said behind him. “That looks awesome.”

Larry rolled his eyes and took a sip from his diet soda. After the car-chase trailer ended, another green screen popped up.

“C’mon,” Larry muttered.

“Coming this summer,” the loud, raspy voice-over said. “From the producers of Bad Boys 3 and the director of Mission Impossible 4.”

There were shots of Tom Cruise and Scarlet Johansson running through a train station, jumping off a building, scuba diving.

“I thought you could see into the future!” Scarlet yells as she clutches Tom on the back of a speeding motorcycle.

“I can,” Tom replies, as a big car bears down on them. “But only seven and a half minutes into the future!”

The motorcycle hits a ramp and flies into the air.

“Awesome,” someone else said.

Larry bristled and nearly turned around to see who was behind him. When another preview began, he glanced at his watch again; it was now eighteen minutes past the movie start time.

The screen filled with quick shots of people in business attire holding briefcases and coffee cups boarding a ferry. As they find seats and wait in line for food, the camera switches to a low-angle and the music turns menacing. When one bald man opens his folded newspaper, a large, green, computer-generated snake jumps out and bites his neck. Now there is screaming and shots of frantic people running around and jumping off the boat as huge snakes slither after them. Cut to a gruff-looking black man working behind the snack bar. He looks around and then yells “We gotta get these God damn snakes of this God damn commuter ferry!”

The people behind Larry cheered.

Larry had had enough. He dropped his popcorn bucket on the seat next to him and stood. Three guys were sitting a couple rows behind him and they were as he expected: late teens or early twenties, baseball caps, baggy clothes. All three had their feet up on the seats in front of them.

“I hope that was a sarcastic cheer,” Larry said.

The guys stared at him.

“I take it from your confused expressions it wasn’t.” He sighed and pointed to the screen. “Do you seriously want to see that crap?”

At 5’7” and no more than 150 pounds, Larry wasn’t exactly an imposing figure, but nevertheless, all three guys seemed embarrassed and slunk down in their seats a little.

“That is nothing but swill Hollywood pukes up every couple of weeks, puts on a plate and says ‘enjoy’? Is that the kind of stuff you like? Do you like swill?”

The guys nervously glanced at each other. After a brief moment, the one in the middle wearing a white Yankee cap sat up.

“What’s your problem, man?” he asked. “Why do you care what we see?”

Larry scowled and the kid quickly sunk down again.

“You know why I care? Because you’re the reason they don’t make better movies. When they can produce absolute garbage and people like you go out and spend ten bucks on it, why should they do anything differently? Why should they, oh, I don’t know, make a good movie for a change? Something new or well-written or intelligent? Where’s their incentive? Well, boys, there isn’t one. They have no reason to make a good film when Neanderthals like you keep paying to see that junk, when you make that the number one movie at the box office for six straight weeks. And if you don’t see it in the theater, what do you do? You go and buy the DVD or get it on pay-per-view or maybe it’s a Friday night and you and the other Mensa members are sitting around looking for something to do. And maybe someone suggests Scrabble. Nah, you play that all the time. What about Masterpiece Theater? No, you’ve already seen that one. Hey, I know! Let’s go on down to the ol’ video store and pick up the latest Hollywood turd burger!”

Larry put his hands on the back of his seat and leaned down.

“But do me a favor. When Tommy or Cindy or whoever’s working the register trying to get you to buy a box of Goobers asks if you need a bag, just bend right over, drop those baggy drawers and have them shove that movie right up your ass, because that’s what Hollywood is doing to all of us. You make me sick.”

After eyeing them all for another second, Larry sat back down. There was a stunned silence in the theater; he could feel the eyes of everyone on him. Exhilarated, he picked up his popcorn and began eating again. The last preview soon ended and after a moment of blackness, music began playing. Larry grinned as the opening credits for Weekend at Bernie’s III rolled onto the screen.

Read More By Tim Josephs

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