Goddamn VHS

The old man was mad. Nobody had told him shit and now he’d made a fool of himself driving around town looking for a damn video store. He kept looking at the fuel gauge on the dash. The fuel seemed to be draining from his car like the short term memories his mind sometimes failed to store away. Every corner he took was costing him money. He needed someone to pull the middle finger at. The car in front of him took off from the lights too slowly. He blasted his horn and shook his fist. A middle finger appeared through the back window.

After driving around the block repeatedly for an hour, he found a park and got out of his car. It had been a while since he’d been to town and if his calculations were correct, he put the time at 23 years. The last time he’d been there he had sworn it would be the last due to a fully fledged fist fight he had gotten into with a touring group of lady tennis players. He had been belted senseless with the blows of eleven tennis racquets and fifty-six tennis balls served at his groin region from an unfair distance. It all ended when he punched one of the elderly athletes into oncoming traffic causing her to be thrown some twenty-three metres down the road. No charges were laid on either party but he had sworn that no business in that town would receive a single dollar of his for the rest of the time he decided to exist on this planet.

He had changed his mind, however. That morning he had seen an advertisement in the paper for a movie he had liked the look of. Although his memory of the movie’s details were now more faded than the smell his wife’s pillow case used to have and that he had tried so desperately to preserve after she had died, he still felt a driving urge to see this film. He stood in front of where he thought the video store used to be. It was now some sort of convenience store. He wasn’t exactly sure what they sold in there, but he went inside to ask someone where the fuck he could hire a VHS.

The young guy behind the counter looked fourteen but was probably twenty-eight. There was no one else in the store so he shuffled his way up to the incredibly low testosterone specimen. “I say there young girl. Where is the video store?” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“Where is the video store?”

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure what you’re talking about,” said the young guy behind the counter.

“THE VIDEO STORE! I WANT TO HIRE A FUCKING VHS!”

“Please leave before I call the cops,” said the young man. The old man’s insane ramblings about something called a VHS were starting to irritate the young guy. He often had to deal with the clinically insane, especially on the night shift, but this old bastard was something else. The old man simmered with fury at this convenience retard’s ignorance of local history and threw a jab at his face that broke his hand and only mildly bruised the young man. They both stood there in silence, staring at each other. His hand was throbbing with pain but it did not take away the awkwardness of the situation. It had the air of an unwanted kiss and the punch had been about as hard as one. Another customer entered the store so he broke eye contact and left. His hand was still throbbing.

He shuffled and stumbled down the street glaring at those he passed. He was desperately searching for someone that looked older than fourteen who could tell him where he could hire a motherfucking VHS. It wasn’t as if he was being difficult. His machine was not BETAMAX. He had been ahead of the game when that shit went down. The slightly better picture quality and smaller sized cassettes weren’t enough to persuade him to buy into the doomed format. He was a VHS man through and through and no one could change his mind. He had heard rumours of some sort of disc getting about but like all rumours he dismissed it as bullshit like the time the doctors diagnosed him with dementia. How the fuck would they know?

He had walked some distance when he saw what looked like grey hair in the distance. For a short while he became unaware of the excruciating agony of his busted left hand and became hopeful that there was one person left on the planet that could tell him where he could hire a goddamn VHS. His hope turned to anger and then to sadness and jumped a few levels to outright fury when he realised he’d been honing in on some Christmas tinsel that lay on the branches of a small tree that stood just off the footpath. He tried to set the whole tree on fire but it wouldn’t burn. The tinsel melted and he accidentally inhaled the fumes. He wondered whether it would give him cancer.

The walk back to the car was one filled with shame. He felt the judging looks of those he passed even though he kept his eyes on the ground. He thought he heard someone across the road whisper that he was a stupid old cunt, but when he looked up there was nobody there. He was almost back at the car when he noticed a bus outside the convenience store he had visited earlier. A group of elderly lady tennis players was piling out and back to their bus, having just made a pit stop before heading off to their destination. Before the last of them entered the store he approached them and asked if they knew where he could hire a fucking VHS. “How would we know?” said one of the ladies and some of them giggled.

“What’s so funny you old skanks?” he said and he was so outraged that it wouldn’t have surprised him if these old birds had been the same group that had beat the absolute shit out of him years before.

“You.”

“What?!l”

“Well, only a dickhead would watch a VHS.”

“Oh, so you’re one of those BETAMAX whores?”

“What are you on about?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know. If you can’t help me, I’ll be on my way,” he said and continued walking towards the car. He felt something hit the back of his head and saw an apple rolling down the street. He turned and looked up at the bus. A passenger window was down and he could see what looked like a tree branch with an extended middle finger sticking out of it. He swore he heard geriatric giggles from within the bus so he ran at it and thumped its side with his good hand. “SLUTS!!” he said with a viciousness that could have only come from hell. He kept yelling at the bus and its passengers and when it drove off he kicked at it and fell over. He caught the guy from convenience store staring at him, so he got back into his car and drove it into the front of the shop. Glass and packets of chips as well as cans of soft drink collided and smashed and mixed together to form some dastardly concoction that not even the most obese of all lounge lizards would be willing to consume. Before he backed the car out he wound down the window, looked at the guy behind the counter and mouthed the word “faggot”. The guy behind the counter just stood there staring.

On the drive home he felt somewhat satisfied. He had forgotten why he had initially ventured into to town in the first place but he was happy he had at least been able to right some wrongs. The good guy had won today. He decided that when he got home he would probably watch some DVDs and maybe smoke a packet of cigarettes, but he’d most likely spend his time thinking of her.

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