Sam bought the tickets, and the odd pair joined the crushing crowd entering the theater. Locals called it the SSS, which stood for the Sunset Single Screen. The old theater was decorated with copper exposed green, art deco, and shared the street with a prominent Greek restaurant, a prominent used bookstore, and a prominent drag club. Sam winked at the guy selling tickets.
Sam had worked at all the prominent places.
Rulash “donated his days’ wages” to purchase a bucket of popcorn. The shiftless girl behind the counter was too busy yelling at the boy making pretzels—he could read a menu—to tell him the difference between the various dishes—combos—so he just dropped a bill on the counter and told her to get popcorn. She mumbled a question. He crossed his arms and stared at the bill. He stared at her.
She flushed and rang something up on the register, got him a bucket of popcorn. Some things, apparently, did not change between realms.
The girl tried to hand him the leftover coins with her greasy fingers, and Rulash gave a magnanimous wave as he strolled away. “You can keep them.”
The girl looked down at the pennies in her hand and dropped them on the counter.
Nearby, Sam had been talking with a friend he ran into waiting outside the theater.
“So, I hear you’re keeping a man around,” said Gweniveer, straightening her racing jacket.
“It’s not like that, and you know better.” Gweniveer laughed as Sam continued, “He’s filling my assistant post.”
Gweniveer cocked an eyebrow. “I’ll bet.” She scanned the crowd as Sam slurped on a frozen squishee drink. He crumpled the cup and threw it away.
“I’ll have to buy another of those,” she drawled. “Movie hasn’t even started yet… Is he hot, or not, Sam?”
Sam looked past his friends, trying to locate Rulash. Gweniveer was the best stunt driver in the city, and she spent most of her evenings on sets. But every Friday night, she graced the same club as Sam, serving as the drag king to his queen. She wore tuxedos, prince costumes, matador outfits… They had a special friendship. Today, however, she was just Gweniveer the woman on her day off.
Sam shifted. Gweniveer would know if he lied outright. “He’s fine looking. He’s good with the animals. I’d better find him.” He turned, not wanting them to meet yet. He didn’t want to explain away Rulash’s strangeness or circumstances.
Because then it would look like you were taking advantage of an attractive homeless guy, his brain supplied helpfully. Sam cringed at his own train of thought, trying to find Rulash before
Gweniveer magically identified the man she had never met.
Then Rulash found them.