by Frank C. Modica

The flashing neon Marquee always draws my brother and me in for the weekend matinee. After Mike and I bypass the crowded refreshment stand, we enter the darkened movie auditorium, where the lights stay off except for the occasional fundraiser, when ushers pass buckets for the March of Dimes and wise guys flip flattened popcorn boxes helter-skelter through the air.

One Saturday the lights snap on before the show. Instead of ushers, burly blue- clad cops with flashlights scan the rows of kids, searching for something. We sit, afraid and uncertain. Older kids ask, “What’s going on?” but the cops won’t answer. They leave after a few minutes, the theater darkens, and the previews begin. Hours later, still shaken, we trek home under the watchful eye of the neighborhood streetlights, popcorn money still jingling in our pockets.

When we open the front door to our little duplex Mom and Dad hold us tight in the glare of the living room ceiling light. They know something we don’t know; a news story about the police looking for a neighborhood kid—it could have been a kidnapping, it could have been one of us.