Thursday, October 31, 2013


A pair of high school age young men come into the store one evening. Fernando has never seen either of them before. They are loud and abrasive and general annoyances who run up and down the new release aisle opening case after case, then replacing the plastic DVD houses on the rack, still ajar.
Hey, how come these are empty?” one of them asks after they've gone through and peeked inside the case of every film on the Top Ten list.
I find it a risky proposition to keep my wares out on the floor where anyone can help himself to them without oversight. Is there something I can help you with?”

Rather than take Fernando up on his offer, they depart.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Still Not a Time Traveler

The Conjuring is a film that a not insignificant portion of Fernando's customer base had been waiting on for some time. When, sometime in September, he was finally able to give people a release date, he was inundated with requests to reserve a copy for whomever on said date. Fernando pointed out that he wasn't even sure how many copies he would be getting, exactly, and that he did not want to pull an airline and overbook the reservations and leave some poor souls hanging, so he told the people, “Come back mid-October, like the fifteenth or so, and ask again then.
So, it's now mid-October, and an older woman comes into the store with grandchildren in tow. Fernando says “grandchildren” because this lady is, for all intents and purposes, a rental proxy for her daughter, someone Fernando rightly told off way back in the day when he informed her that she had thirty-eight dollars in late fees dating back to 2006 and that, no, he would not rent to her unless she put money towards it. Fernando still rents to her, since she pays off the inevitable late fees racked up under her name.
The kids are set loose in the family section while the matron wanders the floor yammering into her cell phone and getting snappish with her conversational partner, since all the movies said partner desired (The Heat, Hangover 3, and This Is the End) were absent from the rental racks, and they stubbornly remained absent even after the old lady asked Fernando if he was hiding copies behind the counter. The matron also took the opportunity to make a passive-aggressive jibe to the person on the phone at Fernando's expense, because, after all, “the guy running the joint doesn't know anything.”
Then she asks, “Do you have The Conjuring?”
Sorry, that doesn't come out until Tuesday.”
It says there that you have it.”
Fernando's eyes rotate in their sockets to double-check his sign in case someone had tampered with it, but, no, the header still reads UPCOMING RELEASES FOR OCTOBER 2013. “It's not yet the twenty-second.”
I seen it on display at Wal-Mart.”
Perhaps you could then go to Wal-Mart and buy a copy. I'm not surprised they have access to better time travel technology than I do.”
With that, the woman returns to the rental racks and eventually decides to rent This Is 40.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

That's Why

Late one evening, a few scant minutes before Fernando is set to close for the night, a scruffy man enters. He wears a sweatshirt stained with dirt and food, and his jeans are likewise worn and besmirched. He also has sheath upon his belt which holds a knife with a blade maybe four inches long, and he smells of pine resin.
Fernando chalks him up as an out-of-town hunter.
Hey, do you have Open Range?” he asks without preamble.
Fernando scratches his cheek. “I had it at one point, but somebody rented it a while back and failed to return it.”
I've been looking everywhere for that son of a bitch movie and can't find it.”
Well, if you like, I could order in a copy for you to buy. I don't know how much it would be, probably around ten bucks or so, and it might take a couple weeks to get it in, but I'm more than happy to if you'll be around to pick it up.”
Yeah, do that.” The guy turns and marches towards the door.
Um...I'll need your name and number.”
What for?”
So I can tell you the price and let you know when it gets in, if you end up interested in ordering it at that price.”
I already told you I'm interested.”
I know. But this way you'll know.”
So the man leaves his first name and a cell phone at which he can be reached. The area code, once Fernando besought Goo-Gol's insight, turns out to originate from southern Indiana. This bodes quite well, indeed.
But, Fernando is a man of his word and he performed the appropriate research, locating a copy of the film in question and pricing it for the gentleman. After opening the next day, Fernando calls the number provided and leaves a voice message informing the gent what the price will be and that he will go ahead with the order once he receives confirmation, and once a deposit of five dollars has been placed.
Time passes, and a few hours later the phone rings. The caller ID reads OUT OF STATE.
Hello, Dominion of Movies.
Yeah, this is Greece. You called me about the movie?”
I did indeed. I just wanted to let you know I've got a price for Open Range and I'll put in the order on that once you come down to place a deposit.”
Just go ahead and order it.”
Right, I will, but I need the deposit first.”
Don't worry about it. I'll come in to get it, don't worry.”
That's nice, but I still need the deposit.”
I told you that I'll come in to pick it up, and we'll square up then. I really want that movie.”
Then it shouldn’t be a problem coming down to pay the deposit.”
A long pause, at least ten seconds in duration. “Alright, fine.”
The guy hasn't yet come in to provide aforementioned deposit.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Man is a Virgin

A group of six high schoolers come into the store around 8.30 on a Friday night, two girls and four guys. They fan out through the store and browse the racks for a few minutes.
Then, one of the young ladies approaches the archway separating the office from the rental floor. “Hey, do you have anything here about virginity?” she asks.
Fernando swivels his chair about and looks at her, then thinks good and hard, as this is a question that he never thought would be posed to him and, therefore, he had no immediate answer. He ruminates in his chair for a good thirty seconds, and the young woman waits in the archway.
Finally, Fernando says, “Superbad,” missing, of course, the eminently obvious responses of 40 Year Old Virgin or any film he has which features the character of Young Jesus Christ.
But, rather than take Fernando's recommendation to heart, the clique determines that The Devil Inside is an appropriate film to enjoy this evening. Maybe that one is virginally topical too? He'll defer to the customers' wisdom on this one, as horror is not his bag.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Crawling in My Skin

 “What's that?” asks one of Fernando's regular customers as he peers over the counter and into the office, the one whose input and ideas are always taken with utmost gravity.
Dungeon Crawl:Stone Soup,” replies Fernando, turning towards his keyboard and monitor for a brief moment before swiveling his gaze back to the customer.
It looks kind of like Diablo,” the customer says.
You're...not wrong.” Fernando is rather surprised by this insight. “They're kind of similar genres, though this one is way harder.”
It doesn't look hard. It's not even moving.”
It's turn-based. Things don't happen until I move or otherwise choose for them to happen. And I've played this thing off-and-on for, like, six years now. Never beaten it.”
Maybe you're just not good enough at it.”
There is an argument to be made on that front, absolutely. It takes a lot of skill to beat one of these. At least it's somewhat fair in that it doesn't obfuscate information from the player like similar games.” COUGH Nethack.
Hey, Fern, do you know if you have The Croods?”
I do indeed.” Fernando rises from his chair and crossed to the shelves on which the movies sleep to pick out a copy.
Oh, I don't want to rent it. I was just wondering.” He turns and leaves.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

That's Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man

One afternoon a semi-regular customer who waitresses at a greasy spoon diner-slash-gas station in nearby Peeweeston comes in. She browses the Adopt-a-Movie Box for a short while before selecting a title from it to claim as her very own. As Fernando retrieves the film and inspects the disc to make sure it doesn't look like someone knifed it, she tells him, “A weird lady came into the restaurant last night.”
Weird? Weird how?” Fernando asks, snapping open his rental case and moving the movie in question to its new home.
Well, she was really quiet and kept to herself. Like, she didn't talk much even when I went to serve her. So she comes up to pay and then she asks me, 'Do you guys do a lot of business here with people coming through?' And I'm like, 'Well, yeah.' And she said, 'I thought the sign would maybe turn people off from coming in.'”
This establishment, you see, does not adhere to a Fernandesque view of keeping the personal and business life of its proprietor good and separate. No, the owner of this joint instead proudly puts his politics on display, not in the last through a rather large sign which reads, in big bold letters, “DEFEAT OBAMA.”
This is the deep kind of political discourse Fernando's rural neighbors embrace.
Fernando's customer continues, “So I looked at her and I said, 'I don't know why you would think that,' and she goes, 'The man in the shirt over there doesn't help things either.' So I look and there's a guy who always comes in and he's wearing the same shirt I've seen him wear a bunch of times.”
And which shirt is this?” Fernando asks, more out of obligation to be a good conversationalist than because he finds this tale of any interest.
It's one of those ones that reads, 'Twenty years ago we had Johnny Cash, Steve Jobs, and Bob Hope. Now we got no cash, no jobs, and no hope.'”
Classy,” Fernando says in a deadpan tone.
Right? Why couldn't she just keep her opinion to herself?” his customer says, mistakenly believing that Fernando's thrown his lot in with the bumpkin who attires himself with puerile talking points.
Fernando shrugs. “Why be upset?”
Nobody needs to hear about any of that.”
I notice you don't seem to have any problem with the guy in the shirt.”
No, why would I?”
Because he's doing the exact same thing.”
No he's not. He's not bothering anybody with it.”
Weird. It sounded to me like it was bothering somebody.”

Fernando's guest looks at him for a moment as though she is about to retort with something, but instead she closes her mouth, scoops up her movie, and departs.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Conspiracy Conspiracy

One afternoon Fernando is trying his hand at Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup when a man enters the Dominion. He approaches the counter and Fernando greets him.
Yeah, do you have any documentaries on 9/11?” the man asks.
Not really documentaries, no,” Fernando replies. "I've got the Oliver Stone picture, off the top of my head, if that was something you would maybe be interested in.”
No, I'm looking for ones that are about covering up the truth.”
The...truth? No, sorry, I know I don't have anything you're looking for with that particular...slant.” Documentaries are piss-poor renters to begin with, and the most recent one in the store is Michael Moore's Sicko...which came out around two years before Fernando even took hold of the Dominion's reins of leadership.
Notwithstanding most social and political so-called “documentaries” are attention-whoring malarkey with an investigatory and explanatory outlook about on par with the average 24-hour news channel, in that the creator holds to a normative position, rather than an empirical one, and then seeks out examples to shore up this preconceived notion. No scholarly or investigatory work can be wholly objective, as the researcher always imprints some of his or her views into the investigation at hand. But biased, histrionic bullshit is what sells to the average American; and even then “sell” is grossly overgenerous. As stated above, the Dominion's customer base doesn't care to watch the newest Michael Moore schlock; and Fernando would rather spend money on titles that turn a profit rather than pandering bullshit which, while it aligns itself politically with the plurality of nearby ignorant customers, they still don't rent.
Anyway, the guy wandered the store for a few minutes and then left.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Future Is Then

A older gent comes into the store one Sunday afternoon. He's a visitor from downstate, one of the myriad hunters who heads north only during the time of year when the slaughter of delicious, delicious deer is condoned by The Powers That Be. He has stopped by the store every year for at least the past six, and Fernando had never had any issues with him, even though he is an entitled, hypocritical old guy who, for example, proudly informs Fernando that he steals his cable and internet from others in one breath while in the next complaining about “handouts to lazy people while hardworking folk like you and me get nothing”--this being White Person code for denigrating the coloreds, in case you didn't understand.
Anyhow, he stops by for the first time this year and makes small talk at Fernando about how he hacks into satellite relays and using this to get free access to DirecTV. Fernando nods and smiles because it is his job to nod and smile, and the man decides to rent a couple of movies and bring them up to the counter.
You get a lot people who run off with your stuff?” he asks as Fernando fills out the slip.
Normally when people ask this or similar questions, Fernando has a tingling itch creep up his spine and he braces himself for a world of idiocy. He has no desire to share the status of his inventory with a man who only comes to the store maybe four or five times every year. The tingle of ire and snark swells, but the Keeper suppresses it. Instead, he replies, “It comes and goes. Nothing I can really do about it ahead of time if one day someone decides to wake up on the asshole side of the bed.”
Code Talker Santa chuckles, pays, and leaves.
The movies do not come back the following day, nor the day after. At this point Fernando digs through his records for the man's contact information. A local number had been provided, and Fernando tries that one first. No answer.
Fortunately, because the man is a vagrant visitor to the Dominion's environs, Fernando also took down the gent's cell number long long ago, and now as he punched in those ten digits he prayed to Hel that the number would remain in service. Fernando made a promise of burnt sacrifice to the Norse goddess when, after a few seconds which felt like eternities, he heard ringing.
On the fourth ring, someone picks up. “Hello?” It is a man's voice, but not the man whom Fernando sought.
Hi, this is Fernando calling from the Dominion of Movies in Saladolsa. May I speak with Code Talker Santa?”
Yeah, hang on.” A faint clunk as the phone is set down somewhere, then an echoey shout of, “SANTA! SOME GUY ON THE PHONE FOR YOU FROM A MOVIE PLACE!”
After a few more seconds, the phone is lifted and C.T.S. says, “Shit. I totally forgot to return those movies.”
Indeed you did.”
Well, I'm back home in Pakistani Creek right now.”
If I may make a suggestion, perhaps you could mail the discs back. This isn't the first time I've had something like this happen.”
Yeah, yeah I'll do that. Jesus Christ, and to think I was asking you about people who stole from you when I was just in there.”
The coincidence is palpable,” Fernando says in a dry tone. “Anyhow, I just wanted to touch base with you on that. Thanks for mailing those out to me.” Fernando realizes that the mailing has not yet been done, but, by acting as if it already had, he hoped to exert psychological pressure on C.T.S. to complete the task before him, self-fulfilling prophecy-style.
Sure thing. I'll square up with you next time I'm up there.”
Excellent. Thanks again. Have a good day.”
You too. Bye.”

Once the movies arrive, perhaps Fernando will post an appropriate UPDATE as he did when the lady no longer wanted to own A Single Man.