Catching a Flick in Morelia
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When Wizard shuttled down on the hotel elevator, Lisa was already waiting, brushing her hair, and watching his approach in the oval mirror over the wicker settee. On a surge of pure happiness, Wizard waved to her.

Arm in arm, they strolled outside. By six o’clock, Morelia’s central plaza, a broad and airy arena, lacked the chaotic hubbub defining the previous Mexican cities on their high school senior class tour. Ponchos and ceramic Madonnas were not hawked from alcoves. Tequila-soused mariachis in ill-fitting togs didn’t serenade them under the hot noon sun. Discotheques were banned – the party girls were disappointed. Instead, the spring air was brisk, yet comfortable for shirtsleeves.

They leisurely walked to the movie palace three blocks over, stood in line with other young lovers, almost exclusively Mexicans, all handsome and self-assured. Lisa, spiced with sandalwood like that first night in the taxi, impulsively towed Wizard down to her, and kissed him full on the lips. Next she nestled closer; he shelled out 5 pesos for the tickets. Nothing was spoken because nobody cared except them. That exhilarated Wizard until it dawned on him: This was their final night together.

  
 
Lisa had beautiful hair that flirted with him as they probed the theater’s semi-darkness – beautiful red hair that burned with mystery and allure.

They opted for front seats – Lisa had forgotten her glasses. In a low voice she asked if he’d miss the discotheques, the party girls who were sure they made the Latin boys pant. Wizard shook his head. They acted too immature, he hissed before a spree of brightness erupted on the golden screen.

From Easy Rider on, every Peter Fonda picture ended with his violent demise – usually by a gory gunshot. This picture, however, bucked that trend. Fonda played a quixotic draft dodger who enjoyed a one-night stand with a girl wearing a crown of daisies and a brown sack dress. They kindled a night of passion as evidenced from the close camera angles. They then parted company, going their separate paths. No promises exchanged; no questions posed; no regrets deposited. Just like that.

All along the walk back, they said nothing. Lisa smiled when Wizard opened the hotel door for her. However, he balked at entering the elevator with her but saved a mental picture of Lisa’s sad smile as the doors shambled shut. For a second, he thought that she was trying to tell him something.

***

Years later, married with three daughters of his own, Wizard haunted the movie clearinghouses and pried around the old bookstore stalls searching for the Fonda flick. No luck. He finally wrote to Mr. Fonda’s publicity agent, describing the movie’s plot and dialogue in as much detail as he could remember.

A few weeks later, Mr. Fonda’s office replied that no such movie existed in the actor’s discography. Perhaps, the letter gently suggested, he was mistaken about who had starred in the picture.

Not until then did Wizard realize that that night catching a flick in Morelia had become almost surreal.

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