Seat Rustler

"So limp over and sit in one, you asshole.  You fucking near broke my toe."

Old friends.  New movies. Picnic lunches. Reasons my wife, Kate, and I savor weekend screenings at the Writers Guild  Theater where I’ve been a member for fifty years.

We left our sweaters on our seats and headed to the lobby for popcorn.

The theater reached capacity as moviegoers surged in for The Revenant.

While  Kate talked to a friend I returned to our seats — a scowling gal sat on my wife’s sweater.  

“You can’t save seats!  Read the rules, Dude,” she said. 

I attempted to step over her to reclaim our remaining seat.    

“You’d be more comfortable someplace else, old timer,” she said, crossing her legs, blocking my passage. She wore sandals that revealed tattoos on her toes. Tats of rats. Mean little things with red eyes and slimy tails. 

“As you pointed out we can’t save seats.” I tripped on her foot, crushing her rodent-decorated large toe. Luckily I kept my balance.  Three cheers for Qigong for the elderly.

“Ouch! You ever been kicked in the nuts, asshole?” she whispered.

“You ever been charged with elder abuse, dear?” I smiled warmly. “My wife has difficulty walking.  She’d appreciate your letting her sit here.”

She shoved my wife’s sweater at me. “Asked and answered.” 

“I’ll find you a better seat and then we could have these two.”

“Whatever.  You fucking broke my toe,”  said the seat rustler, eager to get rid of me. 

On my exit I crunched her toe again. Score Two for the Geritol Generation.

I found a friend on the other side of the theater.  “I’m going to wave to you; wave back, OK?”

She agreed.

I returned to Rat Toes (who now sat on mangled toes). I claimed that I had found an empty seat next to … Leonardo DiCaprio. Furthermore his assistant was holding a seat for her.

A chance to cozy up to DiCaprio and inflict a spec script on him?  But was I gaming her?

I waved to my friend across the theater. She waved back —  

That cinched it for Rat Toes. She limped full tilt for DiCaprio-territory, body checking stragglers,  touching up her bumblebee lips.

My wife arrived and took her seat beside me. 

We watched a bewildered Rat Toes attempt to commandeer the last unoccupied seat in the theater but its future occupant tripped her with his crutch and seized it.

The lights dimmed.  The Revenant started.  An usher “escorted” Rat Toes to an exit.  She screeched louder than the grizzly that tried to make lunch out of  DiCaprio.   

Sound proof doors shut behind Rat Toes.  

Spoilers: DiCaprio scored an Academy Award as best actor for his superb portrayal of Mountain Man, Hugh Glass, set on vengeance.

In the Revenant  there were no seat rustlers or femme fatales with rat toes.

My quest for revenge pales compared to what Glass endured — unless Rat Toes reads this.


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Jaron Summers wrote dozens of primetime television and radio programs, including those for HBO, CBS, ACCESS TV and CBC. He conceived the TV and Film Institute of Canada. Funded by the University of Alberta and ITV, Jaron ran the Institute for 12 years, donating his services for a decade.

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