Working at a video store
means occasionally stumbling into eldritch
pockets of unreality. Go clerking
for a few months if you think jobs of this sort
are nothing but stupid, clock-watching monotony. The monotony is interspersed with unpredictable occurrences bordering on the absurd
. When you're standing unsupervised at a counter for six hours, dealing with the people you see in town everyday and go "Wow, I wonder what's up with them?", and telling the same handful of old men over and over that you're sorry, but all the porn is still only softcore, something has to give. Often, something downright crumples.
The best part of the job in question was the sheer laziness
of it. Morning shifts would typically spit up only one customer every two hours or so, and even the busy evening shifts would occasionally bless me with an hour or so of absolute peace. I encountered Logan during one such customerless bubble, giving me ample free time to talk to him until closing. Although he walked into the store of his own free will, that was where the similarity between him and a customer ended.
I quickly took note of his teeth
, or rather, their absence. That was fairly unavoidable, as the first thing he did upon entering was to lay his elbows on the counter, grin widely and say, "So, I bet you're wondering about my teeth
, eh?" I had little chance not to stare at the lonely white ponies on their vast, rolling red plain. About a third of them were left -- and this guy wasn't old. He was maybe thirty. Compact, energetic, and in pretty good shape. I surmised that something, somewhere, had had to give.
As he started talking, I realized that something was subtly wrong with his head. He had the weird thick lisp
that typically goes with mental retardation
, and definitely the aura, but he didn't seem all that dim or anything. Obviously he could dress himself, hold down some kind of job that didn't take any more thinking than mine did, and generally find his own way through shit. His view of the world was just fairly sideways. Coupled with his earnest, deadly-serious manner and occasional frantic gesticulations, I figured I had quite the lunatic
on my hands.
"Well, your teeth would be all fucked up too, believe me, friend, if you'd been a softball pitcher
in the Special Olympics
." Like the punchline of a joke, only this dude was just getting started. Logan explained to me that due to his method of pitching, the ball tended to be returned straight down the middle, and frequently straight down his jaw. This was my first taste of his unique style. I doubt the Special Olympics
are all that exclusive, but I also doubt the organizers would let you keep pitching if line drives were constantly caroming off your mouth. My theory is that Logan was a big liar, or quite schizophrenic
, or both. This is borne out by the many other things that came out of his mouth.
"You're not a girl," he pointed out. I agreed with his trenchant summation of the circumstances. "If you were, though... you'd have nothing to fear. Believe me! Cause it's late at night, and everything. Some guys like to make trouble."
Basically, Logan felt it was his duty to protect the late-working women of this video store
(and no other) from criminals
who might come in the night. "I'm essentially a security guard, see?" This job entailed the ability to skulk in the shadows out in front of the store, and if a woman was working, peer through the window every couple of minutes. He told me about the time when a ruffian was accosting a female clerk, and he dashed in and put the guy into some sort of jujutsu
necklock. He then said to the oaf, with all the dignity befitting an honorary part-time video store security guard, "I'm sorry, but maybe it's better you hit the road?"
The guy was pretty happy with himself for his chivalry
. He was swollen like a bullfrog with pride, even months after the fact.. I didn't think it was the right time to mention that his story was impossible; women never worked at the store after five in the afternoon
, precisely because the boss feared they'd be menaced by creatures of darkness. He was either lying, or had been hallucinating
. I can't say. I've been known to do both.
I wasn't going to doubt he knew jujutsu
. He looked well suited to kick a lot of ass. But then he said he learned it in the Marines
. I don't know much more about the Marines
than I do about the Special Olympics
, but I think he was far too mad to be accepted into the organization. (I don't even think Canada has any Marines, but he might have just meant the Navy. The Navy don't let in the mentally handicapped either.) His credibility was ready to pop, but what he said next blew my mind.
He had been driving around with an army buddy at four in the morning. Then, some analog
began to tingle, and he knew
there was trouble at his favorite video store
. He got the guy to drive him halfway across town, and sure enough, the alarm was going off. The way I thought it happened, police showed up when the alarm went off at four in the morning. That's not the way Logan told it. Apparantly he called the owner, who was too sleepy and lazy to do anything about it. So he called the police himself, but they were taking far too long to show up, and he broke the door down or something. His details were sketchy -- past this point, he was far too excited to maintain coherency.
Apparantly he then discovered two fourteen-year-old kids in the store. They had sleeping bags, and candy bars they took off the counter. They were watching movies. They were having a slumber party.
This would be hard to pull off. It's a small store, and closing entails locking the door, cleaning and tidying for half an hour, then leaving. Two teenagers and their sleeping bags would have a difficult time secreting themselves from a vacuuming clerk.
The cops showed up at the same time the boys' dads showed up. This is also somewhat difficult to believe. Logan didn't specify how that part was possible. Either he was able to clairvoyantly
see what was going on in the store, or the cops were, or the dads were. But together, the cops and the dads chased the kids around the parking lot, spanking them with paddles.
These tales have been considerably simplified; the bizarre details he piled on made the story last until closing time. He told me to watch out for slumber parties
, then strutted out of there, convinced he'd saved the store's bacon yet again. Out of curiosity, I typed his name into the computer. A warning came up, dated from a few years before. Employees were not to rent Playstation
games to this customer without proper picture identification.