The Patron Saints of Planet Video
Here's a short (less than 550 words) piece I wrote when I was very active in an online flash fiction workshop. It's an marginally absurdest look at the Golden Era of videocassette rentals.
The Patron Saints of Planet Video
Gabriel D. Wollenburg
John Belushi leaned down and spoke directly into the adolescent boy’s ear. “C’mon, kid. I don’t got all day.”
“Forget it, John,” Whoopi said.
“Yeah,” said Jim. “The kids, they don’t go for that intellectual stuff you did in your day.”
“What’s that supposed to mean, Carrey?”
“Well, it’s just that, kids, man, you know... They like the low brow stuff,” said Jim, looking at his feet.
“You’re calling me heady?”
“Well, John,” said Whoopi, “be honest with yourself.”
“I am being honest. How the hell is: ‘I’m a zit, get it?’ heady?”
“Heady stuff, John, heady stuff,” said Whoopi.
John turned his attention back to the kid, who had narrowed his choices down to two: Animal House, or Liar Liar.
“Come on kid...” John whined.
Whoopee and Jim folded their arms and shook their heads. The kid placed the two boxes next to one another on the shelf. Looking back and forth between the two. Animal House; Liar Lair.
Animal House; Liar Liar.
John crouched down to the kids eye level, squatting just inches from the boys face.
“Come on kid. I’ll make you a deal,” spoke John, staring directly into the kid’s eyes. “Animal House will change your life forever. I promise you.”
“John...” said Jim. “Let it go man, don’t beg him. Have some dignity.”
John stood up, and turned to face Jim.
“That’s not begging, Carrey. Are you looking for a fight?”
Jim said nothing, instead, shrugged and gestured John’s attention back to the kid.
The kid grabbed one of the boxes with both hands, and turning to face his mom, he shouted: “Can we get this one, Mom?”
“Yes!” shouted John, pumping his fist in the air, “Yes! Yes!”
Jim and Whoopi continued to watch the mother. “Animal House?” the mother asked. “I don’t know-- What about Jim Carrey? You like him; he’s funny.”
“Ok,” The kid said, exchanging the video box in his hand with the one he had placed on the shelf earlier.
John’s jaw hung open.
“Thank you very much,” said Jim, walking over to the woman, putting his arm over her shoulder. Jim explained the video stores rental policy to the woman as he walked her away from the video wall. Jim whisked the woman and kid off to the front desk, through check out,
and was gone.
John punched his fist against the wall of videos, “Dammit!” he fumed. “Dammit!” Hr sat down on one of the shelves of videocassettes.
“Dammit,” he said quietly to himself, and shook his head slowly.
Whoopi came over and sat down next to him. “Its OK John,” she said. “Just have faith. You gotta have faith. People still believe in you John.”
“It’s Aykroyd’s fault, isn’t it?” John asked, still shaking his head.
“Maybe, John. But I think that there’s more to it than that.”
“I guess it could be worse.”
They both paused and scanned the video store, looking from patron to patron. Across the aisle, they watched Shelly Long pleading with a young couple, following them, on her knees, holding a copy of the Money Pit, crawling, and calling to them, “Come on! You like Tom
Hanks! It’s Tom Hanks!”
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