Sunday, October 28, 2012

Suit Night

One day in September Cortez, Ronaldo, Teodor, and Alfonso got it in their heads that they should spiff up the weekend D&D session. They got out fancy pants and suit jackets and ties and wore such attire out into the world. When they arrived at the Dominion for pregaming, they sauntered in like nobody's business, making a beeline for Fernando's forbidden back room.
Naturally, the customers in the store at that time asked a great many questions of Fernando, mostly in the vein of, “Why did four men in immaculate suits just enter your store like they owned the place?”
Fernando, ever caddy, responded, “Uh, um....”
Are you okay?”
This question of concern fostered an idea in Fernando's mind, a fine way to pass the time and make excellent use of an upcoming occasion. “Oh, yeah. Yeah, I know those guys.”
This puerile reassurance seemed to be enough, for the questions ceased and the transactions completed with no further ado. D&D time arrived, bones were rolled, and afterwards Fernando said to Ronaldo, Cortez, and Alfonso (for Teodor had to return home with utmost haste), “So, I have a plan.”
Fernando would remain the “face” of this operation, but it remained important for his companions to assist him in fostering its verisimilitude, a task with which they all agreed. Fernando undertook a great campaign through the social media outlets to which the Dominion was attached, dropping hints as to the nature of this great plan. He procured material components for this masterwork spell he planned to weave and practiced the verbal aspects as well. Everything progressed as desired, and the day draws nigh.
The plan is to unfurl on the final day of the month of October. The face of the Dominion would not be the same.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Turtlefoot Enterprises, Mach IV

It is one of those impossibly slow days where absolutely nothing is happening in a wealth-garnering sense. The weather is fairly nice, there are high school football and volleyball games which everyone is attending, and to top it off the week's releases are profoundly lackluster. Even the random traffic passing by on the highway before the store is minimal. As a result, Fernando has spent most of the day reading Fark and ruing the fact that the new vanilla-walnut flavored coffee creamer he procured about a week prior had not been the wisest of purchases.
The phone rings. Fernando jumps at the call because, hey, maybe this means he will lessen the deficit he will have incurred through having had the store open today! He looks at the caller ID.
Okay, what did I do and to whom to deserve this?” Fernando asks aloud. No one is around to answer, for even his Guardian Spiders have gone off to the Land of the Unending Sleep. He sighs in resignation and meanders over to the phone, picking it up on the fourth ring.
Hello, Dominion of Movies.”
Hi, is this Fernando?” It's a new person, neither Kevin nor the sultry lass from before. This woman's voice is irrepressibly bubbly and chipper. It reminds Fernando vaguely of hearing Tara Strong in...well, just about any role she's ever voiced.
This is he.”
This is Nepal, calling from Turtlefoot Enterprises! How are you?”
Yes, yes, obligatory social niceties. “I'm well. Yourself?”
I'm great! The weather is pretty nice here, how is it for you?”
Now for the small talk. Okay, not like there's much better to do. “Actually, it's been fairly bad. Lots of clouds and rain. Frost in the morning. Typical October weather, really.”
This does not dissuade Nepal's cheer. “Oh, that must be good for business! It's nice now that fall is here and summer is over! Kids are back in school, people want to stay inside now and have everything fall into place!”
Well, if there's not a football game of the high school or professional variety, nor any other kind of sporting event, nor any other kind of event. Then things tend to fall into a different kind of place.”
Oh, Fernando, I'm sorry to hear that!”
What will be will be. One has minimal control over the choices others make in life.”
There's a brief moment of silence, perhaps as Nepal mulls over how to turn the conversation away from its headlong rush to the bottom of Bleakness Chasm and back on track to Positive Land. Surprisingly, this does not happen; instead she barges full-tilt into the sales part of her spiel. “Fernando, have you reconsidered signing up with Turtlefoot and getting your movie for much less than what you're paying now?”
Sadly, I have not. The stars have not yet aligned.”
Finally, her facade of mirth cracks and allows a minute bit of frustration or disappointment to seep into her vocal tone. “Oh, well, we'll be in touch then down the road then. Have a good evening, Fernando!”
And you as well.” Nepal hangs up.
So continues the Turtlefoot Saga.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Fernando is making small talk with a customer one evening as our hero fills out the rental slip. As Halloween draws near, the topic of conversation invariably turns to movies of the horror genre.
You know what movie's fucked up?” says the man. “Hostel.”
Little bit, yeah,” Fernando says. He's never seen the movie himself, but that's because he does not find torture porn particularly enthralling. He just hoped to play along well enough until the point at which this conversation had run its course and he no longer had to spout bullshit on a subject with which he had no actual experience.
I don't know how those places can be allowed to exist in real life.”
Which places?”
Well, they provide a relatively inexpensive place for people traveling about the globe to sleep.”
Yeah, but if you stay in one you'll get tortured.”
I think you've confused the word 'hostel' with the phrase 'torture chamber.'”
No I haven't.”
Can't argue with that.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Video Club Movies

One afternoon the phone rings. The caller ID reads “Private Call.” Since this usually means someone's calling from a cell phone, Fernando picks it up. “Hello, Dominion of Movies?”
There is a woman on the other end. “Yes, my name is Guatemala. May I speak with the owner or a manager please?”
This is he. Why is it that you are calling?”
My name is Guatemala,” the woman repeats, inadvertently telling Fernando, who had worked as a telephone center call-drone back in his college days, that she is reading from a script. “I am calling to see if you would like to sponsor some advertising. Could I get your name please?”
She stops speaking, and not just the normal half-second, pause-for-breath lapse in conversation. Fernando ignores her question in favor of asking his own: “For?”
Well, as you probably know, the Saladolsa Chum Buckets cross-country team will be participating in a state-wide competition later this month. We were wondering if Video Club Movies would like to have ad sponsorship at this event.”
Video Club Movies? The hell is with people soliciting Fernando but not getting names right? “No, sorry, I think I'll pass.”
Sir, if you could just hear out our rates perhaps you will find one that fits your price range.”
Oh, what the hell. Fernando throws advertising bones to the football and basketball teams once in a while; no reason the cross-country team should automatically be excluded. “What is your least expensive option?”
We have a one-by-two ad that will feature the store's name, Video Club Movies, and either your street address or a greeting or show of support like 'proud sponsor of the Saladolsa Chum Buckets.' Those are sixty dollars.”
Mmm. Guatemala would never know exactly how tempting this offer suddenly became to Fernando, who spends significantly less than that on a full month's advertising in a local periodical which some people in the Dominion's sphere of accessibility actually read and which would not feature the name of a completely different store. Though maybe the address option was provided so that the seventeen people who go to cross-country meets could maybe use that to ascertain that the Dominion of Movies was actually Video Club Movies? “I'm sorry, but I'm just not interested.”
Sir, your support would mean a lot to the Chum Buckets and--”
Indeed, I'm sure it would. However, I am not interested in providing sixty dollars worth of support. Have a good day.”
Fernando hangs up.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


One day Fernando comes into the Dominion to find that the grassy island separating the road/parking lot before the store and the highway had sprouted campaign posters for assorted local politicians, advertising their zealous bids for power. Sadly, the Dominion claimed jurisdiction over none of that particular parcel of land and so Fernando is unable to just go out there and tear them all out of the ground. He could perhaps have acquired posters for the individuals' opponents and thrown them up in the interests of overall balance, but his job is movies, not politics, and he did not want anyone to believe that the stink of local elections and inevitable partisan bickering had permeated the store any more than they already had through the grace of those posters twenty feet away.
So he did nothing. The posters stayed where they were. They were blown down one day on which Mother Nature decided to smite the Dominion a good one but the following morning saw them standing back up.
About a week later, another poster appeared. This one was shoved into the dirt a mere fifteen feet from the store, but, lamentably, still not on or in front of Fernando's property. Fernando groaned and rolled his eyes and did his best to ignore them. None of Fernando's customers ever mentioned the posters, and that was fine.
On one afternoon in October, a gigantic white pickup pulls into the Dominion's parking lot. A young man, maybe twenty-five or so, steps out. He wears a pressed blue button down shirt and his hair is styled with significant amounts of gel. The chimes tinkle and the man comes up to the counter with a huge shit-eating grin on his face.
Hey there, I noticed you have a Ted O'Mop poster out in front of the store. I'm with his campaign. How are you doing today?”
Fernando does not rise from his seat to give his guest a more polite welcome. At this juncture it seems good to mention that Fernando does not particularly agree with Mr. O'Mop, the cohorts who share his political inclinations, and the policies they seek to enact. He does not blame Mr. O'Mop personally; the man is barely older than Fernando and is serving his first term, so his personal input on policy decisions within his chosen political party is minimal. However, one who sleeps with dogs wakes up with fleas, and Fernando does not like having to break out the shampoo.
I am well. However, those aren't my posters. I assume they belong to the gentleman who owns the vacant lot over there.” This vacant lot, by the way, is a scant bit larger than the one on which the Dominion rests. It lacks any sort of building or permanent fixture, yet the man who owns it values it at roughly triple the price of the plot of land on which the Dominion rests—this is including the building in the math. There is little mystery why this lot has remained vacant for over twenty years, ever since an old grocery store which had been there burned down.
Oh, I see. Well, would you like a poster for in front of your store?”
No thanks. It's not appropriate to involve my business in politics.”
How about one for at home?”
Apartment. Sorry.”
This does not faze the man. “Okay, well then. Have a nice day then!” He leaves and climbs back into his truck.
About thirty seconds later Fernando hears metallic clanging coming from outside. When Fernando exits his office and peers out his front door to investigate, he sees the well-groomed man and an associate in a blue t-shirt. The second man uses a hammer to pound stakes into the ground near the rather small Ted O'Mop sign. They then erect a larger sign, maybe four by three feet, to loom above it as a patriarch might loom over his brood of young and cast judgmental looks earthward.
It never ends.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Felis, Chiroptera, Video

A woman enters the Dominion one afternoon in early October. She immediately comes up to the counter. “Do you have that movie with Catwoman in it?”
Which one?” Fernando replies. “The Dark Knight Rises isn't set to come out for a while yet, so I'm afraid I've only got Batman Returns and Catwoman with Halle Berry.”
Either one of those will do. I'm dressing up as her for Halloween and I want to make sure I get the costume right.”
Hmm. Though the internet exists and there are a great overabundance of stills from assorted movies, cosplays, and so forth of assorted women portraying Catwoman, Fernando does not mention this source of answers to his customer, not yet. “Well, they have different costumes in each of them,” Fernando says. “It's a pity I don't have any of the old Adam West Batman here so you could see how they costumed Julie Newmar's Catwoman as well.”
You have the other ones, though?”
Absolutely.” Fernando rises and retrieves the two movies for the woman. He feels momentarily guilty that he is subjecting another living human being to Catwoman, but he shoves this ill-advised empathy away.
The transaction goes through without issue. “Thanks a lot,” she tells Fernando when she gathers her movies together. “I hope this will be good enough to show me how to do it.”
Now Fernando can be the good guy and impart upon her the boundless knowledge of the electronic sphere. “Well, if it isn't, you can always search online for ideas and maybe even, uh, fabric-cut out-guide-things.”
Yep, that's probably the word I'm looking for, thanks. Catwoman's a fairly popular sort for ladies to cosplay as.”
Oh, cool. Thanks for mentioning that, I never would have thought of it otherwise!”
My pleasure. Best of luck in your costume endeavors.”
Whether these investigative efforts will have yielded fruit is a revelation only the future holds.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Like most places in the Northern Hemisphere, the beginning of September heralded a noticeable drop in the breadth of arthropod life filling the outdoors. The more enterprising members of various species migrated to warmer places, such the inside of the Dominion, any chance they had.
Fernando does his best to remove creepy-crawlies from places that his customer base frequents, but he cannot deport all of them, and it happens that the aforementioned customer base inadvertently provides a convenient means of ingress for these adventuresome invertebrates.
Fernando had just finished helping out a customer and is heading out to put some rental tags back on the floor when he sees a grasshopper in the middle of the aisle. This is one of those ginormous mothers the length of the average human's pointer finger. Fernando looks at it for a few seconds and it pays Fernando no heed.
Fernando retrieves an empty box from his back room. He hopes to herd his uninvited guest inside of it, transport it outdoors, and set it free so that it might consume delicious grass or be consumed by a wandering insectivore. Circle of life, and all that.
The grasshopper has other plans, though. As Fernando's creeping footsteps draw near, it bounds away toward the front of the store. Its leap carries it into a wall with an audible kreck. It falls down and reorients itself, unfazed.
Fernando pursues it. He is quicker this time, and managed to get the grasshopper inside the box. It does not take kindly to Fernando's meddling, though, and jumps out of its freedom haven. It lands in the middle of the next aisle, in the comedy section.
You are being a right bastard, you know?” Fernando says to the cheeky insect. The grasshopper does not deign to reply.
The third time's the charm. Fernando wrangles it inside the box again and it seems that the grasshopper is content to sit there. Fernando hurries back to the door before it changes its mind.
The grasshopper, having just grown discontented, leaps out of the box again. This time it does not simply fling itself to a random part of the floor. Oh no. This time it jumps directly into Fernando's face. Its spring-powered, tiny mass slams into Fernando's nose and lips and its chitinous exoskeleton audibly packs against Fernando's teeth. It tumbles to the floor as Fernando drops the box, lurches away with his arms flailing, and makes a noise somewhat resembling, “MAGRAFLAGGAIEEEE!”
1d6+1 rounds later, Fernando has regained some of his courage. He carefully skirts around the Grasshopper of Doom, keeping a safe distance, and uses a roll of paper towels to extend his reach and retrieve the box.
He uses it to smack the grasshopper. The blow does not kill it, it doesn't even inflict lasting damage. The grasshopper teeters and reflexively kicks its legs, but it is only stunned and still very much alive. In a few moments it would regain its full faculties and make Fernando's life wretched.
Before this can happen, Fernando scoops it into the box, opens the door, and flings the fell beast out into the parking lot. It somehow rights itself in midair and lands on the asphalt. Its antennae twitch.
Fernando, wanting no part in an altercation he knew he would lose, wisely retreats inside the Dominion. The grasshopper does not follow, and he is safe.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Best-Laid Plans

It's New Release Tuesday and one of Fernando's quasi-regulars appears in the parking lot about fifteen minutes before opening time. He comes up and pulls at the locked door, then taps on Fernando's large office window. He hadn't been to the store in a couple weeks now.
Since Fernando has no other housekeeping to do, he figures he can open a little bit early.
Hey guy, what you got that's new? Anything I'd like?” the man asks .
This guy asks Fernando this question every time he comes in, so rather than the usual “Well, that depends what it is that you like,” answer-that-is-not-an-answer-but-lets-Fernando-give-a-better-answer-answer, Fernando cuts right to the chase and selects two movies in the genre the man Fernando has learned he prefers. One of them is a title that had just come out today, but Fernando does not mention this fact to the man.
After the man leaves, at around six in the evening, the phone rings. “Hello, Dominion of Movies,” Fernando says as he picks up.
Yeah, it's Jordan, Jordan Amman. I was in there earlier.”
Indeed. What can I do for you?”
This movie that I got, it's all scratched up.”
Oh, Freelancers?”
No, The Hole.”
That's odd.”
Yeah, I wanted to tell you that it won't play at all.”
Really now.”
Yeah. I ain't asking for no free rental or nothing [dear Baba Yaga, those negatives!] but I figured I'd tell you so you know.”
It was like this when you got it?”
There's a short pause. “Well, yeah.”
You realize, right, that you're the first person to rent it. It just came out today. I put that movie in its rental case about six hours ago and it looked fine to me.”
The silence is longer this time. “Oh.”
Oh.” Now Fernando pauses for effect. “So it's scratched up and won't play, you say?”
N-no, I think it's actually good. Maybe it's just my player or something, I dunno. Just got a new one, maybe that's it.”
Yeah. I hope that's the case and not that a brand-new disc is wrecked.”
The gentleman on the phone starts speaking quickly, almost babbling. “Well, I'll go try it out again and see if that does it. I'll, uh, I'll get it back to you tomorrow.”
Indeed. Good-bye.”
When the movie appeared in Fernando's drop box the next morning, an inspection of the disc's underside revealed it to be pristine.