Bewilderment would have been acceptable, some slow head-shaking, a wee bit of silent shock, the whole bit. Maybe a little more grief; seeing his Dearly Departed’s handwriting on such a strange document could’ve certainly justified that. Porter exercised neither of these options. He looked at the paper one last time, stood slowly from the tufted leather chair without saying a word, then slammed it down on the desk in front of Larry with all the force he could summon—he summoned enough to sting the very bones in his hand—and turned and walked out of the office.
Outside Larry’s sanctum, he marched past the secretary’s desk in the outer office, opened the front door, stepped onto the street. The door didn’t have any kind of auto-closer on it and he stood there for a moment with its handle in his hand, consciously deciding if he would close it gently or crash it into the frame hard enough to shatter the stained glass. He released the handle as if it were a skillet hot from the oven and walked away with the door standing open behind him. Let it close itself. Or someone else could close it. Or not. Porter Grady Hamlin did not give one happy damn.
Ten yards down the street, he changed his mind and wanted the tinkle of red and blue and green and yellow on the hot sidewalk. Went back. Grabbed the door handle. Heaved it shut with everything he had. Nothing broke, but the thud of old wood on old wood was semi-satisfying. On second thought, no, it wasn’t. He opened the door and slammed it again. Old construction.
He walked away again. Past a couple other law offices. Past the Suds-O-Mat. Past Diebold Hardware. Across the street and past Hank’s Superette. Through the grease stains of the Shell station. Hell, it wasn’t a station anymore. It was a chicken-fried convenience store with eighteen pumps out front and enough lights that it blinded you at night. Porter remembered when it was a real service station, a Union 76 with its big orange ball perched on what looked like a giant suction cup. You drove across an air hose that rang a bell and Pete Murphy came out and filled your tank. Pete died in ’92.
After stomping past the rest of Diebold’s business district, he finally arrived at the Magic. Checking his watch as he yanked open the door, he saw that he was four minutes late. Well, technically, since he was working the two-to-seven shift free of charge, he couldn’t be late, could he? Whatever. It was four after two. Teddy walked up to him and said something, Porter didn’t know what. Cared less. He was tired of being yanked around by Teddy. Tired of being yanked around by anybody. Especially tired of being yanked around by Alice Pendergast Hamlin. Enough.
Right past the concession stand and for the first time he could remember in decades, he didn’t sniff in the popcorn aroma. Down the hall. Left through the door. Up the stairs. Into his room. His room. The one with the sign on the door that said Projectionist.