“I don’t know why they remake classics,” I say, depositing the Netflix envelope. I close the lid and flip up the flag. “You know, why not just remake crappy movies? Ones that will benefit from new effects or re-writing?”
She inhales through her nose, loud and elegant, and we both know that no matter how many flaws I can find in this remake, she’ll be afraid to go to sleep tonight. It’s not my fault. Not hers, either, but I can use this. I eye the distance to the edge of the road. About three steps. When we get far enough from the mailbox, I shut off my beam.
She hollers, “Turn it back on!”
“Let me find the switch. I’ve lost it.”
“That’s not funny!”
She knows because I’ve done this before. I shamble the three steps to the edge of the road, out of her reach. I can hear her fumbling around for me. Probably for my neck.
I ask into the middle of the road, “What are you afraid of?”
Her reply is stillness. She’s not walking forward anymore. Though it’s dark, I think I see her outline folding its arms. The queen is displeased.
I offer, “This flashlight is old. The batteries might be dead.”
“That is not funny,” she says in a tone that would express ‘That is not funny’ even if it were saying, ‘Please pass the lime jell-o.’
“Come on. You think Freddy is out here?”
“Because he can only get you in your dreams.”
“He’s not real.” She unpacks her sentences one word at a time. Very intimidating when she can look me dead in the eye, but not so scary out here. “He’s in a crappy movie. Now turn the light back on.”
I feel air rush across my forehead as she swipes to catch me. I shamble a few paces up the road.
“Maybe Wolfman?” We watched two of the Universal classics last week. They still make great jokes. “Are you afraid Wolfman is out here?”
“It’s not Wolfman,” she says too hastily for me to be sure she’s honest. “Your bad knee. You could twist it and go right back into a wheelchair.”
“You’ve got three inches on me and you know Judo. If Wolfman is out here, you’d kick his ass.”
“There is no Wolfman. Turn the light on now!”
Another swipe of fingers, this time against the corduroy of my coat. I try to edge further away, but she’s in range. Fists curl in my lapel and haul me into the center of the road. My cheek mashes into her chest, one of the nicest things I could possibly find out in the middle of the wilderness. Then she elbows me in the ribs and gropes around for the flashlight. I stretch my arm as far from my body as I can.
It’s hard not to do this. She is the one who doesn’t flinch when we open the bills, but she’s also the one whose grip left welts on my arm at Paranormal Activity 2. 2! God, I love her.
My arm trembles, then fails and bends under hers. I try to worm away, but that arm winds up pinned behind my back.
There’s a click. We can see each other again. There is no burned serial killer or lycanthropic monster. Only a frowning woman with a green scrunchy in her hair.
I actually lean up to kiss her, but she keeps my arm in the hammerlock. That’s fair. It only takes her one arm to pin mine. Her free hand raises to tap the side of my head with the flashlight.
She commands, again unpacking that sentence word-by-word: “You don’t do that.”
“No. You’re right. I should have been much further away before I turned it off.”
Two broader beams illuminate us from around the bend. They advance until she releases my arm, and we stand aside as the Saab passes us up the main road. Its headlights shine on our right sides. Her right side looks so cordial, though her hand still threatens to break my wrist. So I ask.
“You think Wolfman learned to drive?”
I think most girls and women would have said something dismissive. All the ones who got me best, all two of them, would have said, “You’re horrible.”
Lita doesn’t. She gives up my arm and leans down to press a faint smile into the stubble of my neck. The potential for a one-liner is thick in the atmosphere and goes unbreathed. We return to the house chatting about the logistics of a Wolfman Vs. Freddy movie.
I will do this again. I will deserve what comes to me and it won’t be that bad even if I deserve worse. This is because I’ve done it before, when we watched The Descent, and 1408, and Wait Until Dark. And every time when we leave the house for the mailbox and the pitchblack of the woods, she lets me hold the flashlight.