Disclaimer – although I use the name of a real video store in Madison Wisconsin, the events portrayed in this blog are not specific to them and are not to be taken as a commentary on their policies or procedures.
Miranda yanked the metal handle on the door of Four Star Video with far more force than necessary, sending the chicken-wire-in-glass door flying open. It smacked against the brick exterior with an ominously ringing thud, but Miranda charged past without a glance.
There was no reason to be so upset. It wasn’t like Suzie meant to ruin Miranda’s plans. So the car broke down, and they couldn’t chase Christina. It wasn’t like Suzie wanted out of their agreement. So what they’d only learned about Christina’s intention to drive out to some place the red heads might be hiding from Cindy by accident, and weren’t likely to get another break like this anytime soon. As Miranda’s father would have said, “them’s the breaks.”
Miranda marched past the featured videos to be swallowed up by the depths of the racks. She glanced at the pictures on the cases, not bothering to read any of the titles at first. Dark colors and lots of skin. Soft porn. She’d think she was in the wrong section, but a lot of the sections looked the same lately.
Which made her mission all the harder. She wanted a video she and Vin could watch together. She wanted to sit on the couch with him and not have to worry about him getting ideas.
Kiddy section? Not likely.
She needed something Vin wouldn’t scoff at. Ratatouille might be a great movie, but Vin wasn’t likely to appreciate it.
Shallow Hal? Bleck. Coach Carter? Um…. No. It had to be something they’d both like. Miranda went through the store discarding one choice after another. Finally, in desperation, she grabbed Kingdom of Heaven. She didn’t know if it would be good or not. By the time she’d grabbed it, she just wanted out of there.
“Hi Mike,” she said at the counter. Mike glanced up, but he was already serving another customer, so he only gave her a perfunctory nod. Maybe he was having a bad day or something.
That was all right. She liked Carl better.
“Hi Carl. How’s the new bike?”
“Running smooth. I didn’t have to take the back end apart after all. So what’ll it be today?” He took the video from her and scanned it in. “That’ll be five fifty.”
“What? For one video?”
“No. That can’t be right. I paid off all my late fees.”
“When was that?”
“It was…” Mirada stared at the ceiling and bit her lip, trying to remember when she had been in last. She used to come in several times a week before she moved into Suzie’s house, but hadn’t been in much since. “About a month ago, I guess.”
“Do you have a receipt?”
“From a month ago?!” Miranda didn’t even take a receipt out of the store. How was she supposed to come up with one from a month ago? But she was sure she’d paid. She clearly remembered handing the cash over to… Mike.
“Mike!” Miranda leaned across the counter toward him and waved her fingertips back and forth. “Mike, do you remember when I was in here right before tax day and paid up all my fines?”
Mike shook his head, hardly glancing at her before taking a DVD from the next customer.
“Tax day?” Carl asked.
“April 15. Income taxes.” Miranda muttered as she pulled back. Was she imagining things, or was Mike ignoring her? “I paid. I know I did. Mike must not have credited me. Check April 15th for me,” she said to Carl.
“Nothing there.” He compressed his lips as he shook his head, as if trying to look like he regretted it.
“Fine. I’ll just pay it again.” Because she might have been wrong. She slipped her hand into her purse, looking for her wallet. It wasn’t there. Her wallet was nearly the size of the purse. It couldn’t be hiding in the folds of liner, but she groped around hopefully anyway.
Nothing. It wasn’t there. No cash, no checkbook, not even her driver’s license. Wait. What was that in the front pocket? She pulled out a few coins, gleeful to see a couple of old Sacagawea one-dollar coins in the mix. So that’s where they ended up.
“Here.” She put the coins on the counter. “That’s enough to pay for the DVD. I’ll give you the late fee next time I’m in.”
Carl shook his head, ignoring the coins on the counter.
“Oh come on, Carl. You know I’m good for it.”
“Store policy. You have to pay off your fines before you can rent again. I can put this toward your fines, but no DVD today.” He reached for the coins.
He was about to take her collectible coins and still wouldn’t give her the stupid DVD? Miranda snatched them back.
“You can’t mean this. I’m a regular customer here. You and Mike, and Ann always let me slide. You know I’m good for it. You could just look at my account and see it.”
Mike shook his head, crossing his arms now and looking grim. Carl paused between customers to watch.
Why were they acting like this? They’d always been so friendly before. She’d come to think of them as buddies. Now, when she needed them, they weren’t there for her.
Some stranger walked up, with a DVD. Carl passed it to the non-detector side without comment and without taking payment. So this stranger was a privileged customer where Miranda, who had spent hundreds of dollars at the store and knew all the employees on a first name basis, was not.
“You know what? You can just keep your stupid DVD, and your fees too. I can’t believe you would charge me the same late fee twice. Twice!” As she talked her voice grew louder and louder. “How do I know if I paid it now that you would really give me credit? I USED to be one of your best customers. You can forget that now, you two faced liars!” Other people in the store were staring at her now. Miranda felt the pin-prick of tears. She had to get out of here before she made a complete idiot of herself. “Well I don’t need all your soft porn anyway!”
Pulling her purse up against her front protectively, she rushed to the door, pushing it so hard it banged against the brick wall. She was such a fool, thinking they were her friends when they really weren’t. They didn’t care about her. They’d never cared about her.
It didn’t take long to reach the bus stop, but was long enough for her to cool down a little. At least she wouldn’t have to cry in front of anyone.
Then she realized what she’d done. Those people had never intended to be her friend. To them she was just another customer. Now they’d think she was a total lunatic. She was so embarrassed; she didn’t think she’d ever have the nerve to show up there again. Worse, she had nothing to watch with Vin tonight.