WARNING: Contains language that one might use when faced with a tornado. Hey, Popcorn here. You know how sometimes you’re watching, like, your favorite show? It starts getting really good, you’re all into it. Like Mr. Freeze just caught Batman and Robin. He puts ’em into those super-huge cups, and he’s gonna, like, turn ’em into the world’s biggest Slurpee. Then they totally fuck you and put TO BE CONTINUED down at the bottom of the TV. Yeah, well, we kinda fucked you last week. We got right up to the good part, then slipped you the ol’ same bat-time, same bat-channel business. See, what happened was that me and Cinema, we went to see FINDING DORY. He didn’t really wanna go, probably cuz of that big corncob up his ass. Made it, like, uncomfortable to watch kids’ movies or something. But I really wanted him to go with me. He’s kinda fun to talk to sometimes. The dude knows a lot about movies and a bunch of big words and stuff. That, and, you know, I didn’t have any money. So we get there. The sky’s lookin’ all freaky, animals are being weird. But, you know. We ain’t really thinking anything’s gonna happen. Just arguing about who’s gonna sit where. Me, listening to him go on with some Aristotle shit about the weather. Him, trying to tell me about how all the tornado movies got everything wrong. Trying to tell me that TWISTER was just a bunch of crap. There’s not that many people in there. Some drunk dude passed out in the corner. A couple kids, their mom, some old people. That lady with the cell-phone. Oh, and the chick that worked there, she was in the theater too. Nobody, you know, figured on everything that went down. Tell you what, dude, I’d of made some other plans if I knew how that day was gonna go. You could hear that shit outside, but none of us was thinkin’ much about it. That kinda stuff only happens in the movies. Then the roof came right off the movie theater. It was like nothing. You could feel this really big suckin’. Kinda like one of them Adam Sandler movies, but comin’ from the ceiling. Then that shit was just gone. Gone, dude, and it was like the biggest fuckin’ train you ever heard, or maybe the engine from a Star Destroyer, like the really huge one that Darth Vader cruised around in. And it was all around us, that sound. Nothin’ but black sky up there. Shit was flying around. Like, weird shit too, that shouldn’t be in a movie theater. Street signs and tires and a toilet seat. Pretty sure I saw a dead squirrel. Everything just crazy spinning. Felt like it went on for a long time, but it was really probably only a couple minutes. Then it just stopped. That place was jacked up. Didn’t look like a movie theater in there anymore, even with Dory still swimmin’ around up on a busted screen. Seemed like all the people were okay, though. I saw that little kid and he was pointin’ over at something. Looked over there and, dude, I shit you not – there was a fuckin’ cow in the movie theater! So I turned to say somethin’ to Cinema. Oh, man. There was this big-ass piece of steel stuck in his chest. It was some of that, like, rebar. You know, those spear kinda deals they put in concrete to hold that shit in place. It kinda freaked me out. Stuck right in him, down through the chair and everything. He seemed like he was takin’ it okay at first. I mean, the dude was in pain, but . . . You know, he . . . he was pretty calm. But then we both heard it. It was like a train fulla demons, just starting to get worked up. Both of them doors were blocked. His cell wasn’t getting anything. So I’m trying to get somebody’s attention, but everyone’s . . . you know, everybody is all messed up. In shock or whatever. Like, the dude’s bleeding here – There was this blood, and . . . I lost my shit for a minute then. I start haulin’ ass up the aisle, over all that rubble. Big chunks of cement and wood and stuff. And I’m just cussin’ everybody out. Motherfucker this, and bitch that. You need to keep on that 9-1-1 shit. And you need to keep my friend company. Tellin’ those old folks to go help with the kids. Tellin’ everybody to watch out for . . . I don’t know, electricity I guess, cuz Dory is still swimmin’ up there. And I’m headin’ right for that big pile-a debris over there, where the emergency exit used to be. I must be thinkin’, I dunno, climb up there and get out, get some help. Hell, man, I mighta just been hoping to run all the way back home. But you probably heard on the news about what happened. Before I even get up that pile of debris, I could feel it. Like, rumblin’. It was just like me and Cinema thought. I barely get myself up there, dude. Just get a look over the side-a that wall. Then I drop right back down cuz it only takes a second to see that we’re so fucked. I’m like, hey, y’all hear me?? It ain’t over yet! The tornado siren’s going now. The kid is all about that cow – I mean, I don’t blame the little dude. It’s a cow. In a movie theater. But I’m like, yo little dude, it’s duck-and-cover time. The kid, he’s like, my name is Jody and my sister’s name is Buffy, and that’s a cow . . . You’re kiddin’ me, right? Cinema is startin’ to holler over there. The old dude’s got his wife, she’s all crying, and they’re kinda workin’ their way around all the junk on the ground. Looks like they’re headin’ over to the mom and her daughter. Mom has busted out her phone now too. Box-office chick is hangin’ by Cinema, just lookin’ at that spear in his chest. Cell-phone lady is still trying her cell-phone. But it’s like none of ’em are really hearing the sound out there. Like a million really pissed-off bees. Big chunks of twisted metal and shit just start rainin’ down. The mom screams and falls down. I look up and see a washing machine just go flyin’ over the top-a the building. Box-office chick is like, I think we should form a circle. Says she saw it in one-a those tornado movies. There was a bunch of people and the storm was comin’, so they held onto each other. Like Death On Walton’s Mountain or something. Somebody’s sayin’ we better pray. So I scoop that kid up, yellin’ at everybody to get back there by Cinema. And everybody’s actually doing it. Good thing, cuz it’s buzzin’ and howlin’ like a motherfucker now. Things are startin’ to, like, levitate. Shoulda seen it, man. Just pickin’ right up, right in front-a your face. Like, debris, theater seats, mailbox, teddy-bear, shoe, a light bulb. I see this purse, and all the shit inside just starts to come out. For real, man. I can read the letters on some Chapstick. Then everything starts flyin’ up into the sky. You can feel yourself just wantin’ to go too. And it went from nothin’ to this, like, real fast. Everything is screaming like the end of the world. Everybody piles around Cinema in a big huddle. Its all, like, strangers’ arms and hands together, everybody grabbin’ onto something, somebody. All those faces close, eyes closed. Them kids are crying and their mom is like, there, there, it’s gonna be okay. The old lady is all curled up against her husband’s chest. Somebody is going on with Our Father, who art in heaven. I put my hand on Cinema, cuz the dude was really like a brother to me. And this shit, man, this really feels like the end. Last thing I see before I close my eyes is Dory. She just saw her parents for the first time. Then everything goes black. When I open my eyes, there’s a big-ass STOP sign. It’s, like, right there, dude. Jammed into the ground about three feet away from the huddle. Like it just missed being jammed into one-a us. The old dude’s goin’ on about praise God. I guess I’m probably thinkin’ something like that too. Dory’s not up there anymore. But there’s a bunch of sparks and shit out there, like now there’s some electricity for real. And there’s water coming from somewhere. I’d say climbing around over there ain’t no good now. That kid Jody is all lookin’ around for the cow, but I’m pretty sure it’s hamburger heaven, know what I mean? He must think so too cuz he was pretty chill before the second one hit us. But now, dude. Now that it’s all over, everybody’s startin’ to freak. Cinema is really losing it. He’s like that dude in THE THING. Like, I know you guys have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I’d rather not spend the rest of the summer PINNED TO THIS FUCKING CHAIR!! He actually says that. I don’t even laugh though, dude, cuz he’s really startin’ to look bad. He’s even more white than usual, and I’m pretty sure he hurled in his own lap. Then there’s all that blood. I’ve got a very bad feeling about this. Turns out that cell-phone lady is a teacher. Also turns out those kids were in her class last year. She says something about emergency training, in case crazy shit happens at school. Says that if something is stuck in someone, you should never try to remove it. I mean, unless you really have to. They could bleed to death. But Cinema is losing his shit. Both them kids are losing their shit now. Old dude and box-office chick are messin’ with the door, but it ain’t moving. So they’re losing their shit. I kinda feel like I’m gonna lose my shit now too, but not in a good way like before. So I start talkin’ about movies. Like, hey, how many tornado flicks have you guys seen? Which one was better, TWISTER or something else? Y’all ever seen METAL TORNADO? Ain’t nobody really going for it at first. Cuz we’re all stuck in here and scared and how are they gonna get us out? Probably thinkin’ about their houses and cars and relatives outside of here and shit. Thinkin’ about all those sparks and the water over there, and are we all gonna, like, blow up or something. But me, I’m like, well, we can’t do anything about any of that right now. So maybe we should think about the tornado that scooped Dorothy up and took her to Oz, or if there could actually be sharks in a tornado . . . It’s that kid, man. Jody. He’s the first one to start chatterin’ back. Him and his sister got the WIZARD OF OZ video at home, and they watch it all the time. And he’s like Cinema, he’s always gotta see the special features. Always gotta see how that shit was done. So he’s goin’ on about how they made that tornado way back in the day. All this stuff about a 35-foot long stocking wrapped around chicken wire – And here’s the thing, man. The kid talkin’ about all this stuff gets Cinema to talkin’ about it. He’s lookin’ weaker by the minute, but there ain’t much that stops that guy from talkin’. He says they rigged up some kinda crane, that the tornado was hooked up to a railroad car under the stage. There was this track they put down, and dudes would push the car down the track to make the tornado move. They had wind machines and dust and stuff to make it look real. But this kid, he already knows all this stuff, and he’s just throwin’ it out there while Cinema’s going on. Like, yeah, and they made this little farmhouse and barn and fence. And they painted these clouds on some glass. And they filmed this fake tornado from all kinds of angles, then played it back from behind the actors. Then the little girl gets into it. Starts talkin’ about how Jody was playing with her dollhouse and he broke it. That gets their mom talkin’ about how the kid had their old video camera and was trying to make his own WIZARD OF OZ. The kid was for-real trying to make a movie, with, like, a garbage bag for a tornado. He’s really into them, his mom says. And I can see all this really gets to Cinema for some reason. He’s got all these tears in his eyes. Or maybe the pain is just really starting to get to him. Then the old dude and his old lady get in on it too. She’s all like, you remember when we saw that movie, Lester? I was so scared when that ol’ storm appeared, and it was enough to get you to finally hold my hand. And the old dude’s lookin’ at me like a sneaky pimp, like here’s the secret to my mondo love-magic, Sonny. Cuz you know that old lady’s always gonna be a prize to him. Then he starts talkin’ about some really old tornado movies I never even heard of. But Cinema’s heard of ’em. It’s all like, and the first twister ever to appear in a motion picture was in the Harry Langdon film TRAMP TRAMP TRAMP in 1926. But the old man’s noddin’ his head, cuz he saw that shit when it was in the theater. And it’s like he’s around a campfire now, lookin’ at Cinema and me and those kids, just tellin’ a tale. He’s going on about this Langdon dude. Kinda like Charlie Chaplin or Harold Lloyd, one-a them dudes. Like, shit just never goes his way. But in this one he’s trying to win a race and get Joan Crawford and save his dad’s business, all this crazy shit. Then the twister hits a poor defenseless little town and Langdon stands up to it. For real, he runs up on it like it’s a big bully, throwin’ rocks at the thing to scare it off. It’s, like, the only thing he can think to do. Cinema says something about a senseless action against an unconquerable enemy. The old man’s like, yep, yep, but it works. That tornado turns right around. Then, cuz this dude is the kinda dude he is, he spits at the tornado as it’s turning away. Like he was the one who changed the weather or something. The tornado keeps goin’, but it hurls the dude’s spit back at him. Like saying, alright, little man, but next time . . . Cinema, he’s all of a sudden not doing so good. It’s not like him to start takin’ a nap when somebody’s in the middle of talking about movies. Not when he thinks he can show off how smart he is. But that’s what he does now. And everybody’s kinda lookin’ at each other like uh-oh, what the hell do we do? The old man says maybe we better start workin’ on that door again. Dude, hey dude, I’m sayin’. Trying to shake him, but every time I do it’s like there’s more blood. He mumbles something, so I know he’s still alive. But I’m not gonna lie, I’m kinda scared. I mean, what’s this place gonna be like without my best friend? Still ain’t no cell-phones. The door ain’t moving. That old lady looks like she’s about to cry. Mom tries to drag her kids away. That little dude, though, he’s just standin’ there, and his eyes are looking all anime big. Like he’s waiting for me to do something. Hey dude, how ’bout TV shows that had tornadoes in ’em? He’s mumblin’ again, like gumble-gumble-ump-boop. But some of it starts to be words. I hear something that sounds like WKRP, and I say, IN CINCINNATI. He’s like, yeah, yeah, like I’m annoying him by not lettin’ him slip into a coma or something. He says a few things I can’t understand, then GUNSMOKE . . . SMALLVILLE . . . DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES . . . THAT 70s SHOW . . . MIKE AND MOLLY . . . LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE, twice . . . MR. BELVEDERE . . . ROSEANNE . . . His eyes are still closed. But I got his brain working. BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD, I say. The one where they go to the trailer park and almost get it on with those two skanks. They got their shirts off and everything, but then the storm hits – I’m Lolita and this here’s Tanqueray, he says. Yeah, dude, that’s it. Hey man, look, that kid’s still here. The one that knows all about the WIZARD OF OZ. Come ‘ere, kid. Jody, right? Your mom said you’re, like, all into tornadoes and shit. This guy here, he was almost one-a those meteor dudes. You know, those guys that study the weather – and the kid knows just what I’m talking about – meteorologist, he says – yeah, he wanted to do that real bad. Why don’t you tell him about it, Cinema. And Cinema, he starts talking. He’s just rambling, really. Going on about the girl he used to love, how she wanted to be a meteorologist first. Going on about the purple rain and how it could really happen. Going on about not giving up. The kid’s lookin’ at him kinda strange, but he says he wants to be one of those meteor dudes. That’s how the kid says it too, meteor dudes. And Cinema’s shaking his head. There’s a commotion now. Rescue workers, bustin’ through the doors. These folks are like the tornadoes, dude. They don’t waste any time. Right away, they’re checkin’ vitals, scoping out the scene, all that emergency shit you see on the television. All of them using a bunch of words that even Cinema probably doesn’t know. Left chest, third intercostal at the mid-clavicular line. Breath sounds are equal bilaterally. Airway intact, respiratory status not compromised. Rapid thready pulse. Hemorrhage steady. Just short of hypovolemic shock. One of ’em says something about a saw. Best thing you did was not trying to pull this out of him, another one says. That, and keeping him here with you. We’re going to have to cut this rebar down for transit, but they’ll get it out at the trauma center. What you did and didn’t do probably saved his life. Jody’s mom is ready to go back to wherever they came from. But the kid ain’t quite done with Cinema yet. Comes running over. He wants to know what’s the best tornado movie ever. Even stuck to a damn chair, with dudes gettin’ ready to go all TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE on the spear in his chest, Cinema’s scratchin’ his chin, ponderin’ the shit. I can see him puttin’ on that college face. Personally, I love a little indie film called TAKE SHELTER, he says. It’s based not so much on special effects, but on the quiet dread of a man who is having visions. There might be an apocalyptic storm coming, or maybe not. He fears that he might be mentally ill, but nonetheless starts to build a storm shelter in his backyard . . . Then he gets the same look he gets with me sometimes. When he thinks he’s used too many big words and he’s worried I don’t understand. He gives the kid that look. Then he says, but I would start with TWISTER. It’s not completely accurate, but you really can’t go wrong with that. – j meredith POPCORN: Dude, this is a sweet room. Cable hook-up, free food, and I think that chick was checkin’ you out. CINEMA: Yeah, because she’s my nurse. POPCORN: Just cuz she makes twice as much money as you don’t mean it’s impossible. Maybe you could request a sponge bath. Hey, what’s up with the toys? CINEMA: Wizard of Oz. Buffy and Jody dropped them off this morning. POPCORN: Heh, did Mister French come up here too? CINEMA: Heh. I thought about that too. And yeah, you can play with the toys, because I know you’re dying to ask. Did you see that we were on the news? POPCORN: Naw, man. I been too busy signin’ autographs and runnin’ from fans to watch TV. CINEMA: Uh-huh. POPCORN: Rock and roll, bitches. CINEMA: You know, it’s really quite amazing that none of us was hurt worse than we were. Those kids, and the old couple. I think the teacher had a bump on her head, and . . . well, a few days in the hospital for me. But everyone made it out of that theater. POPCORN: Oh shit, dude. CINEMA: What? POPCORN: Where the hell do you think that drunk dude went? CINEMA: Oh shit. Somewhere far away, a drunken man awakens. Grumbling, he rubs his blurry eyes and takes a look around. Beneath his feet, the road feels strange. The color isn’t right either. Even through his intoxication, he could swear the pavement is almost yellow. In the distance, he can hear high-pitched singing. Like the voices of a great many little people. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related John E. Meredith No real cows were harmed in the writing of this article. In fact, after waking in a strange, faraway land, the drunken gentleman found that a cow had somehow made its way from the American midwest to this same land. The man and the cow became great friends. It never had to worry about becoming hamburger, and they continue to have fun,alcohol-free adventures to this day.