“Aiye, guess what,” I say.
“What?” my visiting brother ask.
“I haul mummy off to the cinema the Sunday before you arrive…we went to see Guiana 1838.”
“Reaaally? Them cinemas still working?”
“One or two now, I think. We been to Strand. Remember? They used to say Strand, the cinema in command.”
“Cockroach and rat ain’t run over y’all foot?”
“Nah boy. It old but it clean…they clean up.”
Had a time, we growing up time, this small city had quite a few cinemas, bulwarks of wood and concrete, three floors tall, balcony, house and pit. Ceiling fans and shutters keep we cool no matter how the heat simmering outside.
In those years of banned goods and scarce items, Wang Yu, Bruce Lee and vampires used to grab the audience by they eyeballs, hold them for a couple of hours, make them forget the lean times. In them heydays, the cinemas – Globe, Astor, Plaza, Strand, Metropole – ain’t had no rat, no roach. Metropole used to declare, “Metropole, the cinema in full control.”
“You hear what happen to Jim one afternoon at the cinema?” my brother snicker.
Oh no! Not that again. Cringe and laugh battle in me. Laugh win.
Jim was one o’ my brothers’ friends, they had about a thousand o’ them, teens to very early twenties, a united nation of races, colours, height and madness. Jim was the black belt karate guy with Asian eyes and Bob Marley cheekbones. Jim always had bad luck. No matter how hard he try, things always go bad for he. It get to a point that when one o’ them boys tell a sob story, them others say he “Doing a Jim”.
One afternoon after a show them boys pile out from the cinema, yelling, “Sight this…number twenty five.” Check this out, number twenty five. “Sight this…number fifty…” And so on and so forth, high numbers, low numbers, rating the strength, sound and aroma of gas released from derriere.
Jim get overly ambitious. He holler, “Sight this…one hundred.”
As the story go, it was too much of a strain for Jim; a distinct brown stain he pants; he had to dash home to change.
Talk about losing control.
The years fly; the country get run down, slow down more and more; people flee to live in other countries; li’l jumping, biting things and roaches move in to them cinemas; them cinemas struggle to convince we to patronise them; Metropole change they slogan to “Metropole, still in control.”
“I think Metropole burn down not so long ago,” I tell my brother.
Jim never did leave the country; hard times clunk he over and over.
The other day, as we strolling around town, my brother bump into El Solo, a fella he know. El Solo say that Jim finally get a break and he doing really well, running he own business.