2013 was a busy, busy year for Fernando's more roguish clientele, though the nefarious acts of thievery came in bursts: first late February/early March, then a second wave in July, and finally an end-of-year push in November. It proved Fernando's worst year yet in terms of lost inventory; twenty-one of Fernando's beloved and not-so-beloved movies were torn from his loving embrace and taken into the unexpected custody of a great wide spectrum of ne'er-do-wells.
This is their obituary.
Expendables 2, Wanderlust, The Notebook: A lady comes into the store, one who hadn't been in since the days of the old Keeper. She had some late fees from that elder age, $21. Fernando informed her of this fact and, against all odds, she agreed to pay them off.
So how'd that work out for you, Fernando? You earned $30 only to lose about $60 in inventory. Look on the bright side: if you keep this up there may be room for you on the executive board of a major financial institution. And on the brighter side, you no longer have a copy of The Notebook available to recommend as a dumb-silly romantic chick flick.
I Am Number 4: High school kid comes in and sets up account, rents one movie, never returns it. He came back to the store on one occasion in the company of some of his less-lawbreak-y peers and Fernando shamed him so thoroughly that he actually put down five bucks towards his debt.
He still owes Fernando $35.
The Greatest Game Ever Played: Because if you're a thirty-something woman setting up an account whose sole purpose, apparently, is to steal something, best make it a mediocre movie about golf that had otherwise never been rented in all the years Fernando worked at and owned the Dominion.
New Year's Eve, War, 24: Redemption: Remember the guy from way, way back who trashed a copy of Ice Age and then visited the store not long after Fernando took over in the misguided hopes that new ownership would erase his debt? Yeah, he, Fernando later learned, at some point hooked up with a gullible young lady who set up an account and, apparently, rented for him by proxy. Three pieces of Fernando's inventory went missing but at least two of those three were uninspiring renters even when they were fresh and new and the third, while a decent, testosterone-laden popcorn flick, was not of any particular importance in the grand scheme of things.
But hey if either of them ever return to the store down the road I can feel justified affixing the "saga" tag to this affair.
Warm Bodies, Cabin in the Woods, 127 Hours: Kind of a twofer with the next entry. See below.
Beautiful Creatures, Real Steel: Okay, so, two guys in their late teens/early twenties come to the store at the same time and both of them set up accounts to rent some movies. One of them is from Happyrock, about thirty miles away; the other is more local and claims an address in Melvinsburg. Fernando checks out the licenses and gets phone numbers from them (one of which is a local land line) and rents to them.
When the movies had been out for three days, Fernando calls them up in turn to request that they bring them back in. The cell phone goes to not-set-up voicemail and Fernando leaves a message. The other one rings and rings and no one picks up. The following day, Fernando tries again. Still voicemail, still no response.
This repeats for a number of additional days until, finally, somebody picks up on the landline, a woman.
Fernando explains the situation to her and asks that she inform the young man that his movies are still out and if he could return them promptly. The woman tells Fernando that he is "out of state for work." Fernando asks that she pass along his request and to check around if, perhaps, the movies were sitting there at home. She agrees to do precisely that.
Buuuuut she never called him back, and Fernando also never did get in contact via cell phone with the guy from Happyrock.
Stand Up Guys, Prometheus: A middle-aged woman comes in to rent a pair of movies and they don't make it back. When he calls her up to find out what is going on, she tells him that she gave them to her son to drop off on his way back to school. Fernando lets her know that her son never did drop them off, and that he would appreciate it if she could double-check with him to make sure they make it back the next time he comes home.
Star Trek: Into Darkness, The Muppets: Okay, sometimes people wake up on the stupid side of life. This pair of customers set up an account back in April, after having just moved into the area, and had been absolutely exemplary renters up til then. They were genial, treated Fernando like an actual person, and almost never late; when they were, they killed off their late fees immediately.
Then, one afternoon, they rented the above movies and they didn't make it back over the next three days. Fernando found this peculiar, so he called them up. One of them answered and told him that their car had taken a dump on them and that they were terribly sorry about everything, and that they would bring them back promptly once they found someone to give them a ride down to the Dominion, for they resided well into the boonies. This sounded good to Fernando, so he wished them the best and told them they could hash out everyone once the movies got back in.
Alas, they never did, and all of Fernando's subsequent calls went unanswered. What a pity, what a waste.
Now You See Me, Despicable Me: The girl who'd gotten a sorta-but-not-really divorce from her boyfriend a few years back dropped by and rented these movies, which never came back. She ignored Fernando's requests to return them, and now Fernando's sympathies lie with her jilted ex, wherever he may be.
The most embarrassing part is that she used a full stamp card for a free rental on Despicable Me. Would she have had it if Fernando had been less kind when she initially asked him to divvy up their communal stamps?
The Purge, Disaster Movie: Fernando tries not to judge people based on their last names and familial relations, but sometimes circumstances make it so incredibly hard to do. The young lady who rented this, by all appearances, comes from a family of thieves: her parents rented some things back under the Old Keeper's watch and never returned them. Then her older sister rented some things a few years back and never returned them.
Now, of course, she has rented some things and never returned them.
Fuck it, the next time somebody with that last name stops in, Fernando is going to be King Dick and let his prejudices run their fullest course.
Not a day goes by on which Fernando does not lament the passing of every one of these unfortunate abductees. Yes, even you, The Greatest Game Ever Played, even you. In fact, your loss is felt most keenly of all.
The question remains: What promises does 2014 hold? This Fernando cannot say. Truth be told, he seems to have driven away most of the assholes and recent weeks down at the Dominion have been, well, enjoyable. No entitled women coming to manipulate him into free things. No characters from days gone by stopping by to put into motion their inscrutable goals. No curious and random new faces with wretched spatial judgment.
Just the normal, genial customer base who rents movies, returns them mostly on time, and clears up any small late fees with a humble apology.
In short, the Chronicles seem to have wound down. Like in every closed system, the occurrence of random and interesting things decays as entropy increases and said system approaches a uniform, vacuous state. Rather than continue to draw out the unnecessary by milking a franchise (such as this is) until even its bones have been rendered down and snorted by a dwindling number of consumers (such as it is), as is the case with a certain industry that revolves around the production and distribution of motion pictures, it is time, I feel, to bring this book to a close.
There shall be other happenings, other tales of woe and dread, and even occasional tales of uplifting experience, I'm certain. Entropy is almost inevitably stalled out in the short term by random occurrences. Perhaps a fluctuation in fate will jar a new wave of content appropriate for the Chronicles of Fernando H. Stevens.
But until and unless there is such a time, let me tell you of a man who, in the late summer of 2010, made the lifechanging decision to cast his lot into the realm of weblogging through the collation and recording of happenings of great intrigue and of possible interest to souls other than himself. The wrangling with irate word processing programs, the mostly-kept rigor of deadlines, and the random acts of God which threatened the stability and structural integrity of his Chronicles did not daunt him.
That man was one Fernando H. Stevens.
He had a blast, and he hopes you did too.