“Let me guess,” the shopkeeper said as I ran into his store. “You’re here to meet Mark Hamill, too.”
A look around the store revealed about a dozen or so teenage boys milling about. They all bore a distinct look of disappointment.
“You’re too late, kid,” the shopkeeper told me. “He left about three minutes ago.”
I gritted my teeth and squeezed my eyes closed for a moment. Three. Damn. Minutes.
“Ah, it’s all right,” I said to the shopkeeper. “It would have been so cool to meet him, though.”
“Yeah, he’s a great guy,” the man said. “Real friendly, y’know? He comes in here a lot looking for Beatles records. Big Beatles fan.”
“No kiddin’,” I muttered, dripping with disappointment.
“Hey, you’re welcome to look around,” the shopkeeper said as he gestured towards his store. “I’ve got all kinds of stuff you might be interested in. Have a look.”
I thanked the guy then wandered around his store. One wall was full of old rock albums on display. The Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and several other classic acts filled the wall. Beneath them was a long display case full of albums and 45’s. The display wasn’t doing it for me. I was still too bummed out about missing Mark Hamill.
The other side of the store was lined with movie memorabilia. I checked my watch and figured I still had a few minutes left before I needed to hightail it back to the Edison. A rack of movie posters caught my eye so I gave those a look.
The rack was full of one lousy movie poster after another. Some of them were old classics but none of them were movies I gave a damn about. Then, out of nowhere, I struck gold. The heavens opened up and the angels sang as looming large before me was a genuine theatrical poster from the movie of all movies: Star Wars.
I lost my breath for a few seconds as I could only stare at this treasure. For four years this poster had been my Holy Grail. I had searched high and low for the genuine article and was close to giving up on finding one. Imitations of this beauty could be purchased at any K Mart, Musicland, or Osco Drug store, but the theatrical version itself had been elusive. Here it was in all its glory.
I examined every square inch of this beauty. Luke and Leia and every X-wing fighter were sharp and clean with no smears or blurry images. The appropriate copyright information was printed along the bottom along with some “ONE SHEET – STYLE ‘A’” gobbledygook. The poster bore the hallmarks of being the real deal.
I grabbed a folded (not rolled, damn it) copy, approached the shopkeeper, and laid it on the counter.
“Will that do it for you?” the shopkeeper asked.
“One question,” I said to him. “Is this the real deal?”
“Yes, it is,” he replied. “Should I ring it up?”
“Yes, you should.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Terry was not happy with me. Not happy at all. She rarely showed anger with us in the classroom. It was such a rare event, in fact, that when she did get angry there was something almost cute about it. In five semesters of Journalism and Newspaper classes, I could only remember her getting ANGRY angry maybe three times and one of those was during a play rehearsal. Right now, she was in between cute angry and ANGRY angry.
“Where have you been?” she demanded. “Why did you take off like that? Did you want to get left behind?”
Students and adults from the other schools and even some of the hotel staff stopped to see what the hubbub was about. This was a delicate situation. In her cute angry mood she could be calmed down with some witty banter. Her ANGRY angry mood demanded absolute quiet and obedience. This was new territory here. I had to tread lightly.
“Some kid from another school came in and told us he had just met Mark Hamill,” I started. From there I shared the entire story of the effort to meet my cinematic hero – emphasizing my disappointment (in the hopes of earning sympathy points) – up to the purchase of the poster. I was respectful, avoiding the urge to be a smartass. She was much calmer by the time the tale was finished.
“So you didn’t meet him,” she said as she eyed me skeptically.
“No,” I answered. Terry knew I was a big Star Wars geek so I took a chance on playing to her cute angry side. “But I did find this cool poster,” I added with a grin as I held the poster up for her to see.
Terry eyed the poster then returned her gaze to me. “Okay,” she said with a shake of her head. “No harm done, I guess. Go join the others. They’re about to call us up to check out.”
Terry turned her attention to the front desk before I let out a tremendous sigh of relief. Susan and Jodi, two girls in our group, came over and told me how pissed Ozzie was about my quick exit. They had never seen her so pissed, they claimed.
Imagine if she found out about the hooker, I thought.