I got the first idea something was wrong when Mark wouldn’t tell us what movie we were going to see.
“We’re seeing ‘Manhattan’, right babe?” Barbara asked, flipping down the passenger side mirror to check her hair. “I love that Woody Allen. He just seems so… smart.”
“You wouldn’t know smart if it bit you in the ass,” Mark replied easily. I hated it when he talked to her like that but Barb just gave him a babygirl pouty face.
“Don’t be mean, babe, it’s date night.”
“I mean, it’s not like I want smart to bite you in the ass.” Mark chuckled a little at his own cleverness. “I like your ass just the way it is, cute and dumb.”
Barb wasn’t dumb, not really, but she went back to checking her hair as if he hadn’t said anything at all.
I turned from my spot in the backseat of Mark’s car to check the position of the sun on the horizon. It was getting dark, nearly past dusk, and I didn’t really recognize where we were. Mark was Dennis’s friend, not mine, and kind of slimy, so you can see why I’d be a little worried.
“Where are we going?” I asked Dennis. He shot me a grin and put a hand on my knee, jiggling it back and forth in a way that was meant to loosen me up.
“The movies, hon.”
“No, I know that,” I said. I was making a real effort not to sound scared or naggy but Mark was driving down this dark road I didn’t know – way too many trees around for us to be going to the movie theater in town. Maybe we were going to a drive-thru I didn’t know about?
“To see ‘Manhattan’, right babe?” Barbara said again.
“What movie are we seeing?” I asked Dennis, ignoring her.
“Don’t get your panties in a twist, Pammy,” Mark said over his shoulder. “Den, tell your chick to chill.”
I didn’t trust Mark as far as I could’ve thrown him but I trusted Dennis, so I put my hand over the one on my knee and made earnest eye contact with my boyfriend.
“Dennis, we’re going to the movies, right?”
We’d been dating since sophomore year, we’d lost it to each other at prom, I knew him more than I knew any other person on the planet and that’s why I was able to see in that moment that he didn’t want to lie to me anymore. He started to, I think, but I gave his hand a little squeeze and he cracked.
“Mark, we can tell ‘em now, can’t we?” Dennis said.
I pushed his hand off my knee.
“Tell us what?” I asked. We made a left onto a road going into the woods, leaving behind the main road, and I twisted in my seat to sneak another look at the sun as it set.
“We better not be seeing that movie ‘The Dark’,” Barbara said. She was reapplying her lipstick now. “Looks like alien-horror-bullshit. Plus I hate scary stuff.”
“You’re not gonna be too happy with me then, babe,” Mark snickered as he flicked on his headlights.
“Dennis, tell me what the hell we’re doing,” I said urgently. It was darker in here now that the thick-leaved trees were blotting out the last rays of the dying sun and I was starting to get nervous.
Barbara flipped up the mirror, tucking her lipstick back in her purse, and looked around as though she’d only just noticed where we were.
“Hey, you fucker, if you think I’m gonna do it in a creepy old place like this you’re crazy!” She turned around to see me. “Where are we, Pam?”
“Ask your dumbass boyfriend,” I spat, thoroughly out of patience. “He’s the one driving.”