It’s always been there, just on the edge of town. One small strip mall off the beaten path. But you remember going there when you were young. Mom would always let you pick out one movie to rent. It was the highlight of the weekend. You were so excited to tell all your friends what you watched when you met up Monday on the playground. Sometimes Mom would get take-out from the Great Wok II right next door.
After rushing from the car to the store front, you’d always look at the return slot and think “what if someone pushed a movie through there?” but that never happened. When you walked in the droning iridescent light made the yellow walls seem like a welcoming sight. Rows upon rows of aisles filled to the very brim with v/h/s tapes littered the store but those weren’t for you. They each had a label atop that said their genre “action”, “horror”, and so on and so forth. But where you would rush to was the wall. It was time to test your luck with the New Releases. A heavenly spotlight shone on their wall, as if touched by the video Gods themselves. If you were lucky, maybe Mom wouldn’t even check the rating so you could watch Mortal Kombat like all your friends had. These memories are ingrained in your mind. Walking around the store, the smell of popcorn, and the strange people of your town picking out their films. It was nearly over when you arrived at the counter. There was a sign for upcoming releases, a plastic crate filled with returned movies, and some form of the “be kind, rewind” phrase. They’d warn your Mom about late fees, you don’t want the late fees…
But you know as well as I do, that time corrodes all things. You grew up. Started to get too cool to hang out and watch movies with Mom. Started to get too cool to stay in on Friday nights to watch movies. You started to go out. You met new friends, learned about life, and all sorts of coming-of-age things. For a long time, you never even ventured to that part of town where the blue ticket stub light would flicker in the parking lot, a hauntingly beautiful reminder of days past.
One of your friends mentioned the store to you a year or so ago. These memories came flooding back so you took a drive. You nearly missed the parking lot because the lights were out. The ticket stub was gone. Great Wok’s letters were missing but their shadows still lingered, and the movies… the movies were gone. Turns out it’s been closed for a number of years. The owner just went missing one day. He was always a weird fellow. Once you realized that your childhood had ended, those nostalgic feelings washed over you while sitting your car. You called your Mother to tell her you love her. Time is fleeting, tell someone that you love them.
Now, today, the lights are back on. There is a new sign outside that reads “GateBuster”. The Chinese food place is now a deli. There was no big Grand Opening event or anything like that. One night the lights were off and then the next day they were on. It was as if the reality you knew crossed over with a dimension of nostalgia. Now, I have to tell you the truth, or my version of the truth, because everyones experience is so drastically different. Some reports have said that there is never staff working. That the lights are on and the store is pristine without a single sign of human life. Others say they are greeted by a wonderful staff full of smiling faces in their blue polos. They help those people find what they need as if they knew exactly what they had come in for. There have been other reports, but there is one thing that is always nearly the same.
The list on the wall behind the counter.
Rumor has it that there was a tub of 25 films in a box on the counter from the previous owner. On the large tub were the words “Grave Robber” etched into it. But now those 25 films are behind the counter. The list is displayed carefully on the wall. It’s just there waiting for people like…well like you, whoever YOU are or want to be. This town is full of weirdos and upright citizens who are looking for a bit of entertainment. You can rent one of these movies, but we ask that you fill out our review card that accompanies every film. 500-1000 words about you, the movie, and your thoughts. All you need to do is to let us know what you’d like to rent, we will check if it’s available, and then you return it with your review card. Simple and clean.
But please… return them on time… you don’t want the late fees…