"Two for 'Phantom Menace', please."
The girl behind the counter took his money and tore off two ticket stubs. "Enjoy the show, sir."
"Thanks," Carlos said, passing a stub to Karen and sticking his in his pocket. "Want some popcorn, or something to drink?"
A few minutes later, the two of them were walking through the airconditioned hallways with a large popcorn and two sodas. The signs for 'Phantom Menace' were prominent, and they wandered in that direction.
As they passed one of the theaters not showing the new Star Wars movie, however, an odd noise from within made Carlos frown. He glanced through the open door as they passed--and stopped short.
"Hey, Karen." She glanced over her shoulder at him, and he jerked his head toward the theater playing "Baby Geniuses." "Look at that."
She peered around the doorframe and raised her eyebrows. "Is that allowed?"
Inside the darkened theater, someone had rigged a net across the aisle. It was held up on either side by broom handles wedged in between the seats, and there was a young man standing on the other side with a volleyball in his hand.
"Thirteen serving zero," he called, and swung his fist. The ball lofted over the net, falling into the aisle exactly halfway between the net and the far wall where the projection apparatus was set up. On the screen behind him the movie continued to play, unattended.
"Um, excuse me," Karen said, stepping through the doorway. Carlos crowded in behind her, looking around with interest. There was no one else in the theater.
The man went down on one knee, scooping up the volleyball as it rolled back down the aisle toward him. "Yes?"
"We were wondering what you're doing," Carlos interjected helpfully, when Karen seemed at a loss for words.
"I'm making a political statement," he replied, getting to his feet.
Karen cleared her throat. "What--kind of statement?" she asked tentatively.
" 'I'm playing volleyball and I'm not watching Star Wars,' " he told them. "Woo!"
Carlos and Karen exchanged glances.
"Fourteen serving zero," the man announced.
Carlos shrugged a little. "Strange," he offered quietly. Karen's lips quirked, and they both turned to watch him serve the ball over the net one more time.
It fell to the ground as it had before, and the man looked satisfied. "I win again."
"But you're only playing yourself," Carlos pointed out. "Doesn't that mean that you also lost?"
The errant volleyball player just looked at him. "The glass is always half empty to you, isn't it?"