The 5,000-Pound Gorilla
By Mark Terry
King Kong had climbed the Empire State Building. Well, not really. It was just a giant inflatable ape on the side of the building to promote another Kong movie. Mary did what everyone else did, though, she craned her neck and raised her hand and pointed.
“Hey, nice tat.”
Mary dropped her hand and looked at the speaker, a tall smiling man with a shaved head. “What?” She knew what he’d said and her face flushed, but she was going to pretend she didn’t know what he was talking about. A little voice in her head reprimanded her: That’s not the point, Mary.
“Your wrist,” he said, tapping his own. “I saw your tattoo when you pointed. Just like mine.” He pulled back the wrist of his sweater. Sure enough, on the underside of his right wrist was a tattoo identical to hers. In ornate script it said: La Bella Vita. Unconsciously, she covered her tattoo with her hand.
“I didn’t even know it was a Lindsay Lohan song,” he confessed. “I just liked what it said. ‘A Beautiful Life.’ Hell. I didn’t even know who Lindsay Lohan was.” He held out his hand. “I’m Jude.”
Hesitantly she took his hand. “Mary.”
After letting go of her hand, he took off his sunglasses to reveal warm blue eyes. He smiled and she thought he was a lot less menacing without the sunglasses. The shaved head was kind of sexy in a badass sort of way, but he wore a black sweater over a white T-shirt. Not so badass. Kind of a nerd.
He cocked his head and said, “Another King Kong film. In 3D no less.”
Mary followed his gaze. “I’ve never gotten the appeal.”
“Me neither. Besides, you go to a mysterious island that’s got dinosaurs on it, what do you bring home? The big monkey. Go figure. Hey, I’m sorry I embarrassed you about the tattoo.”
Mary felt her face burn. “It was, sort of, well, you know, one of those things.”
Jude cocked his head. “One of those things? Like, you got drunk with friends and they dared you, or you were trying to mark something, like, I don’t know, I have a friend who competed in the Kona Ironman Triathlon, and she had the ironman symbol tattooed on her foot. Like that?”
"The second one. Marking something, I guess.” Yes, she thought. Two years after Jim died. The tattoo was supposed to be a reminder, it’s time to move on with your life. To have a life. Maybe: get a life.
A guy in a mustard-colored cardigan and a bow tie approached them, a video camera in his hand. “I loooooovvvve Kong!” he crowed. “It’s like, my favorite movie of all time! The very best!”
In a totally serious voice Jude said, “Which one?”
“The first one, of course.”
“You mean the one with Jessica Lang?” Mary knew Jude was giving the guy a hard time.
“What?” the geek shrieked. “That awful piece of—”
Mary rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop giggling. She saw the gleam in Jude’s eyes and laughed out loud for the first time in, well, two years. “He’s teasing you,” she said. “Calm down.”
Jude said, “My favorite movie is Sleepless In Seattle. How about you?”
A guy who liked chick flicks. Keeping a straight face she said, “Transformers.”
He laughed. “One or two? I liked the first one better than the second one. I thought the dialogue was a lot deeper. I really—”
“Stop,” she said, laughing again. “I don’t know what my favorite movie is.”
The geek snorted and wandered away to bug someone else about the gorilla. Jude said, “Maybe you could remember over a drink. I hear there’s a smoothie bar right around the corner.”
“Or maybe the Chai Latte Mocha Madness up the street.”
“Or maybe, you know—”
“Yes,” she said, thinking about her tattoo. A beautiful life. “Let’s go have a drink. Maybe I can come up with my second favorite movie after Transformers.”
She and Jude strolled toward the corner, toward, well, what? A beautiful life? An open doorway, maybe? Jude interrupted her thoughts. “I bet your second favorite is Death Race 2000.”
Laughing, she said, “How did you know? It’s like you’re reading my mind.”
He tapped his wrist. “Must be karma.”