Just outside my office, in a small area between the office door and the hallway, there sits an old beat up recliner. I don’t even remember where it came from, but it’s my favorite chair in the entire Bunker. Over the years, it has been worn to the point that it is the perfect fit to this world weary meatsack.
I was sitting there reading my treasured copy of “Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In” (Yes, I have read it many times before. But, like many holy books, it always pays to re-read it.) when I heard the outer door open. The Bunker is separated from the outside by a short utility corridor and a huge steel door. Even with the hallway in between, when that door opens you can hear it all through the building.
I looked up curiously at the inner door because I was fairly certain that everyone was here. Who would be coming in? The door opened and, with a large grocery bag in his hand, in walked Aoife.
“Oh, hello Doctor.” He smiled warmly.
I guess the idea of him not knowing where the bunker is located is out the window. I smiled back while wondering who I have to kill. He reached into the bag, pulled out a box of chocolates, and tossed it to me.
“Happy discount Valentines’ candy day!”
I told him thank you, looking at the box. Yeah…this stuff was discount chocolate even before Valentine’s Day.
“What do you watch for the day of love, Doctor?”
“Not really my favorite genre, but I’m not entirely a stranger to romantic films. If I have to pick a favorite, it would be 50 First Dates. Love and relationships can be tough and a lot of work. No one puts in as much work as Adam Sandler as he courts Drew Barrymore. The problem is that she has no short term memory. It’s very funny, and very touching,” I answered.
“Oh, that’s a great one!” Aoife beams as he turned to approach the hallway. He only makes it a couple steps before Belladonna enters the small area.
“Hello, Miss Belladonna. What was on your screen for Valentine’s Day?”
She gave him a look like she just smelled rotten eggs.
“Oh, come on now.” He smiled at her. “Even you have a heart, my dear.”
“Sure I do. It’s in a jar on my shelf.”
Aoife laughs. “I know, I know. But, I bet there is something you would watch for Valentine’s Day.”
“Well, sure. There is such a thing as romantic horror. Nothing says love quite as much as do-it-yourself necromancy and killing sprees with your lover, like Bride of Chucky. Maybe a little less relatable considering they’re dolls, but close enough. Introducing Jennifer Tilly to the franchise, Chucky and Tiffany set out leaving a trail of terror behind them, as they rekindle their former relationship while searching for the artifact that can return them to humans. You don’t need a whole lot of backstory for this, just enjoy the weird and fun (and violent) ride. What more could you need for a romantic date night movie?”
“Awesome choice, Miss! I totally love romantic horror. I watched Warm Bodies. The inner dialogue of the zombie main character is hilarious and really makes the movie. I also like that it doesn’t spend much time explaining the zombie apocalypse just “it happened, moving on.”
Aoife reached into the bag and pulled out a teddy bear. There’s that rotten egg face again, until he held the bear out to her and squeezed it. It suddenly growled, grew fangs, and gained evil, bloodshot eyes. I think I actually heard Bella squeal slightly as she grabbed the bear, clutched it, and take off back to her room.
Aoife, with a spring in his step, moves down the hallway out of sight. I shot Mike a quick text as I heard Aoife knock on Richard’s door. The door opened with a bang.
“What do you want now, asshole?!?! Oh…sorry, Aoife. What’s up?”
“No worries, my friend.” Damn, is there any way rattle Aoife? “How about some candy?”
“Shit yeah. Thanks.”
“What did you have going for V-Day?”
“Hitch. It is a hell of a Valentine’s Day movie. Will Smith plays a suave pick up artist that tries to hook up Albert with Allegra. Throughout the movie, it’s all about how easy it is to get different emotions and the trials that one can go through to set things right.”
“Great choice, my friend!” I heard what sounded like a high five, and the door closed.
“Hi, Aoife.” That was Baylie. I guess she opened her door when she heard Richard talking. “Water Lilies is an amazing movie. I mean, it’s French, after all. It’s a coming-of-age tale, and the three girls (Marie, Anne, and Floriane) work out friendships and dating and synchronized swimming. Bonus point: it’s an LGBTQ+ film, written and directed by Céline Sciamma – an activist outside of and within the film community. She considers it a trilogy alongside Girlhood and Tomboy, but is absolutely worth watching all on its own.”
I heard him rustle through the bag to give her something as I got a text alert. It’s from Mike.
“In keeping with your rental themes over at the bunker, I highly recommend ‘This Means War.’ Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are CIA operatives in pursuit of the same woman. I mean that woman IS Reese Witherspoon and according to reviews left in our Discord, apparently you ‘love Reese and can’t wait for another Legally Blonde movie!’ Anyway, it’s cute, corny, and chaotic, and of course it’s available here at the Video Playground!”
I’m never gonna hear the end of the damned Legally Blonde fiasco. As I’m about to send a reply, I get a call from Parker over at the Ground Zero. I answered; he tells me about this new 35mm print of Galaxina that he picked up, so I figured I’d ask him, too, about his go-to V-Day film.
“Oh, without a doubt, my Valentine’s Day movie is High Fidelity. Once upon a time, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, I had the acquaintance of a wonderful young woman who was a MASSIVE Bruce Springsteen fan. If you know the movie, you can imagine her surprise when he appeared on screen. She wanted to thank me for introducing the movie to her in a very ,er, intimate way. Needless to say, thank you, High Fidelity, for a night I am not soon to forget!”
Well…alright then. An unexpected answer bordering on TMI. I heard a knock on the door farthest from my vantage point, which is Crystal Dawn’s.
“Why, hello there, Ms. Crystal Dawn, “ Aoife nearly drawled. Her accent is so thick, sometimes we all end up getting a little on us. You can almost hear him taking off his non-existent hat and holding it in front of himself for politeness’ sake. Which is laughable, considering who he was chatting with.
“Aoife.” I could hear the frown in her voice. I might have a fight on my hands over who’s going to land the killing blow over who told him how to get here.
“And how did your Valentine’s Day treat you?” he began. If only I would have noticed the tactical nuke he carried in his pocket, I could have saved myself a lot of future pain… “Did Doctor Camp get you anything nice for the holiday? Tell me he at least cuddled up with you and watched your favorite Valentine’s movie?”
The silence, all point zero three milliseconds of it (that stretched for years), was deafening.
“Ex. Cuse. Me?” Her emphasis was biting.
“Well, er… You know, Ms. Crystal Dawn. I mean no offense, but I had hoped…”
“You hoped what, Aoife? Spit it the fuck out.”
“Well, ma’am, it’s just that I thought that you and the Doctor were…”
“No. No, Aoife. Oh, HELL no. I don’t know where you got this misbegotten idea about myself and Doc, but you can cut it out right now. There is nothing on this earth, heaven above, or hell below that would EVER convince me that having anything to do with Doc like that would ever – EVER – be a good idea. Not if we were the last two people on this earth. Do you understand me? [It was at this point she started picking up volume.] Richard, for all that he’s at least fifteen years my junior, would be a more suitable option than the Doc. I cannot believe you people! Everyone seems to want to see us coupled, but does anyone ever ask us? Noooooo… Everyone just assumes. Do you know the ol’ saying about assuming, Aoife? Do you? Well, I’ll have you know, sir, that I spent the evening curled up in my favorite chair, in the viewing room, with my favorite boys Jack, Johnny, and José, and watched the absolute best love story ever committed to film: Smokey and the Bandit. And do you know why, Aoife? Why is this the movie the best? First of all, you have Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Jackie Gleason, and Sally Fields as the human stars. Second, you have the pinnacle of American automotive achievement as the actual star, the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am. That car is the fucking triumph of that film and is why I have one sitting outside this building at this very moment. THIS VERY MOMENT, AOIFE! I HAVE 6.6L, 403 CUBIC INCHES OF ALL AMERICAN MUSCLE AT MY DISPOSAL, COMPLETE WITH T-TOPS, AN 8-TRACK PLAYER, AND A C-FUCKING-B INSTALLED CUSTOM BECAUSE OF THIS MOVIE. THIS CAR IS ALL I WILL EVER NEED IN THIS LIFE – NO FOOD, NO DRINK, NO MAN WILL EVER COMPARE!”
There was a brief pause before she stated, much more quietly (and my ringing ears will remain grateful), “I think you should leave, Aoife.” And with that, she snagged his grocery bag from his arms and slammed her door home.