It’s close to midnight as I cut across the parking lot. I’m wearing a faded black vest and clip-on bowtie. There are butter and oil stains on my sleeves. The parking lot is packed, but the streets are empty. The movie still has more explosions and chaos to throw across the screen. A pair of cheap headphones loosely cling to my ears, spilling the bulk of the noise into the night air. I have school tomorrow. I have homework to do, but instead I aimlessly weave through the cars, wasting time in the glow of the theater’s huge neon monolith.
Eventually the parking lot dumps me into the shadow of a large car dealership. A collection of oversized trucks rest like trophies on ramps made to look like mountains. A waterfall surges down the face of the mountains into a small reservoir. Huge spot lights, brighter than the sun, shine on the cars. It’s the same sight mocking me each night as I walk home with no car, no driver’s license, and no money.
But tonight it’s different. Tonight someone tossed a bottle of dish soap into the waterfall. A wall of bubbles, glowing like pearls in the blazing light, cascade out of the fountain and into the street, swallowing everything in their wake. A car unfortunate enough to find itself on the road slams into the soap drift blanketing the street, sending tufts of bubbles into the air.
I move into the shadow of a large neon arrow to watch the disorder. In my mind, I see the movie letting out and an ocean of cars diving into the mess like eager children into a bubble bath, or maybe an impromptu car wash will break out and people will pull out brushes and towels and make the most of the soap suds enveloping the asphalt. A cop shows up instead. I decide standing under a large neon arrow might be an implication of guilt for something I had no hand in creating, so I make my way back to the house to start my homework, leaving the drifting bubbles and music spilling from my headphones behind me.
The dealership is gone now, moved to make room for vapid boutiques and people. The house I went to is gone too, soon to be another family’s memory, but the arrow still stands tall reminding me of so many nights I was alone.