Stan and I come in early to decorate VideoPlay for Halloween. We’ve got fake spider webs, plastic spiders to go in them, and a couple of ceramic jack-o’-lanterns. The jack-o’-lanterns have LED lights inside; candles are against the fire code or something. Stan brought some dry ice to break out later once it gets dark.
For our costumes, we’re wearing our green VideoPlay polo shirts and khakis, but we spend an hour smearing dust and gunk on them. We’d rip them, but the shirts cost like thirty bucks apiece. Then we paint our faces white with some black around the eyes, so it looks like we’re zombie video store clerks.
Stan has the bright idea to grab a couple of old VHS tapes from the rack. He breaks them open and then we start to pull the tape out to drape over our shoulders. “Why do we still have these things?” I ask.
“Beats me,” Stan says. “Man, I remember when all we had were these things. They were such a pain in the ass. Spent all day rewinding the tapes because the lazy jerks wouldn’t do it themselves after they were done. Still you get some little old lady bitching because her Driving Miss Daisy wasn’t rewound.”
Perhaps out of vengeance, Stan shatters the empty VHS tape on the counter. He incorporates the pieces into our window decorations. Then I put on a copy of Dawn of the Dead—the original, not the remake—and we start up our usual discussion about where we’d go during the zombie apocalypse.
“These guys got the right idea,” Stan says. “The mall’s got all kinds of shit. You could live there for years.”
“Yeah, but what would you eat? Pretzels and cookies?”
“There’s the food court.”
“I don’t even want to eat there now, let alone for a couple of years.” We go through this every year. I gesture to the Wal-Mart across the street. “That’s where you go. They got most of the stuff as the mall, plus the grocery store.”
Stan’s just broken out the dry ice at six o’clock when we get our first customer in costume. The guy is dressed up as a zombie in a tattered shirt and pants. His face is covered in dirt, puss, and sores. He’s even got the smell of the living dead. He shuffles like a George A. Romero zombie over to the racks of VHS tapes. He browses for a few minutes. I get ready for him to ask why we still have tapes, but instead he picks one out.
He shambles over to the counter and plops down a copy of Love Story. “Getting something for the wife, huh?” I ask him. He just growls in reply. He must be staying in character.
He gives me an ID card, a really old one that looks like it’s been through a washer a dozen times. I can’t scan it, so I type in the numbers. The computer says Scott A. Pyle hasn’t rented anything from this store in twenty years. “That’ll be three-fifty,” I tell him. He drops a five on the counter and staggers off with his movie before I can get his change.
“That was weird,” I tell Stan when he’s finished with the dry ice. “Guy doesn’t rent anything in twenty years and then he rents Love Story—on tape?”
“This Pyle guy.” I show Stan the file. His face goes Goth pale. “What is it?”
“Dude, that guy died twenty years ago.”
“Yeah, dude, I used to mow their lawn. He keeled over from a heart attack.”
“Must be some kind of joke then.”
Then I hear someone bang on the glass. I just about drop a load in my pants when I see a herd of undead out front. Some of them are even more decomposed than Mr. Pyle was, just skeletons with a few bits of clothing left. “Holy shit.”
One of them figures out how to get the door open and then they stream inside. Stan and I cower behind the counter to wait for them to eat us. But they don’t. They just clean out every romantic VHS tape we have.
“Dude, what the hell was that?” I ask.
“I guess it’s date night for the undead,” Stan says. After that, we make sure we always have plenty of romantic VHS tapes on hand for Halloween.Tweet