Video Pirate

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Erotica  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Deke loved movies. Even old movies made long before he was born. But, the store he was renting from didn't carry just old movies. And the price for renting might have been too high. But, by the time he learned that, it was already too late.

I'm only a mile or so from home now, Deke thought, as he trudged along the sidewalk. The unexpected, but predictable, breakdown five miles back had forced him to try to hitchhike home. It was an attempt doomed to puzzling failure. He'd thumbed innumerable cars during the long walk home without success. Now, as he came up on the strip mall that he knew to be less than a mile from his apartment, he gave up trying to hitch a ride. As Deke walked past the row of shops he found himself paying attention to them for the first time. From the comfort of his car it had been just one of those anonymous strips of buildings, full of anonymous businesses that seldom merited a second look. As he walked along the sidewalk fronting the row of shops Deke hitched his pants back up from where they had settled, and read the business signs clustered on the roadside marquee out of boredom. Insurance agent, computer store, counseling, trophy store, video store, trophy store...

Deke stopped for second to verify that he'd read that correctly. He pulled at his lip ring in a nervous gesture and shook his head in disbelief. The sound of delicate sterling silver chains whispered as his ear piercings jingled. Two trophy shops. He mulled over the notion. So far as he was concerned this town wasn't winning any awards. Even if there was enough business for two trophy stores, who in their right mind would open one in strip mall already occupied by one? Although he'd only lived in Merritville for three months, Deke had already formed strong opinions about the town and its inhabitants. So far as he was concerned, this had just confirmed those opinions. He resumed his slow walk, pants slouching once more southward. As he came up to the Video Store he decided on impulse that, as long as he was going to be forced to spend the evening home, he'd stop and pick up a movie.

Deke walked up to the door but couldn't see inside. Light shone out dimly through the glass, too dusty to see through. He pulled at the door. For a moment he thought the store must be closed because the door seemed locked, but after a moment's resistance it gave in to his pulling and opened suddenly.

Deke stepped in to the brightly lit interior, the florescent lights leaching the tan from his skin, making him look pale and sickly. His metallic-red and blond-streaked dreadlocks fought successfully against the effect, retaining their unnaturally vibrant hues. He stood in the entrance-way as the door closed slowly behind him and stared unbelievingly at the staggered rows of shelving. A mirror at the far end of the room caught their reflection weirdly, making the shelves seem to recede into rows of infinity.

Videotapes. Only videotapes.

Who even rents videotapes? he asked himself. Deke shook his head, clinking softly, This town and all its inhabitants are stupid! He almost turned around and walked back out, but the prospect of a long, empty evening in his apartment stopped him. He remembered having an old tape player crammed in a closet. Might as well find a movie.

He walked directly forward and, ignoring the cold eye of the clerk, wandered down the length of the store's center aisle of movies. He didn't see any section markings to help guide him.

"Hey," he called to the clerk. "Where can I find a funny movie?"

Without looking the clerk flicked a pointing finger behind Deke. Deke turned and saw, for the first time, The Wall.

The store's low ceiling unexpectedly rose toward the rear of the store, and the wall along the back took full advantage of the height available. It rose, ten foot high, rows of video tape boxes lined up along shelves. Instead of being sorted by genre or title, as Deke expected, they were arranged by color. The colors were grouped in such a way that The Wall almost resembled a butterfly's wing, with the colorful tape boxes serving as the feathered scales. Deke walked along the row he was in until he reached a cross aisle leading to the back wall. As his eyes left the wall he thought he saw a flash of color. When his eyes returned to the wall he could almost convince himself that the pattern had changed.

It must have been a car driving by, he told himself. The headlights must have shone through the window and along the wall. That created the illusion of movement. Yeah, that's it! he thought, satisfied. Just a trick of the light.

He scanned the titles before him; none were familiar to him, which he thought odd. Deke considered himself, among other things, an expert on movies. Finally, a familiar name jumped out at him. "Marx Brothers!" he crowed, nearly jumping at the sound of his own voice. Something about this place was getting to him. He decided to just grab it and get out of the store. "Rain In The Doorway," he read. Another surprise. A Marx Brothers film he hadn't seen yet. He felt pleased at that. It was his first piece of luck tonight. He turned and walked to the register, never noticing the pattern of color on The Wall shift, almost like the flapping of a butterfly's wing. When the illusion of movement stilled, the empty space where he'd taken the movie had been filled.

Deke approached the checkout counter. The clerk's appearance was as unexpected as the store's. He was tall, almost too tall for his frame, and his skin seemed almost shiny, as if covered with fine translucent scales. He looked like what you'd expect if a snake should decide to sprout arms and legs in order to go work in a video store. The impression was powerfully reinforced by the flat nose on his face, the thin lips, and his habit of playing with the toothpick in his mouth by moving it around with his tongue. The toothpick, flicking back and forth, looked to Deke like a rodent's tail, spasming in the last moments of life as the mammal was slowly engulfed.

"I'd like to rent this movie," Deke said. "I don't have a membership, though, so--"

"Sign your name here," the clerk said, not waiting for Deke to finish. "The store rules are on the back of the membership card," he continued after Deke had signed, placing a card on the counter.

Deke took the card and put it in his pocket without bothering to read it, guessing it outlined late fees and return policies. He was slightly more interested in noticing that the clerk's hand seemed to be covered lightly in body glitter. Oh, he thought. He's just some kind of pervert. Deke found the thought oddly comforting.

After paying for his rental Deke walked quickly away from the store. He wasn't sure what had made him so apprehensive in there, but now that he was outside again it all seemed faintly ridiculous. Maybe the long walk had been more tiring than he'd realized. Still, he started the last leg of his journey with renewed energy and made it back to his apartment in fifteen minutes. He'd really been closer to home than he'd realized. It seemed kind of funny, now that he thought of it, that he'd never noticed a video store just down the street.

Deke dropped his keys and the tape on the table by the door and, turning to his right, was immediately in the galley type kitchen where he drank directly from the sink's faucet. After quenching his thirst Deke rummaged around the efficiency apartment until he found where he had stored the old VCR. After that, it was only a mater of swapping a few cables around and he was all set to watch the movie. He collapsed into the room's only chair, propped his feet on the bed and started the tape, impatiently fast-forwarding past the copyright notice at the beginning.

Sitting in the darkened room Deke found himself engrossed in the film. The Marx Brothers were riotously funny. Their madcap antics while running a department store, and the eccentric way in which they treated the public, were funnier than he'd hoped. Deke found himself laughing uncontrollably more than once. When the credits rolled two hours later, the disappointments of the day seemed far removed.

That may have been their best movie ever, Deke thought. He decided that he needed to go on-line and write a review for the Internet Movie Data Base. As soon as he typed the title in, he ran into a problem. There were no entries for "Rain In The Doorway." That's weird. Maybe it was originally released under a different title? Deke changed his approach and called up the filmography for the Marx Brothers. None of the movies listed sounded likely. In fact, he remembered seeing most of them. As he sat, wondering how to proceed, the videotape machine, which had begun to rewind automatically at the end of the tape, made a thunking noise as it reached the beginning of the tape and stopped. I know, I'll restart it and see what year it was made and who the Director was. Hitting play Deke fast-forwarded again past the copyright warning and then paused the tape at the title. "Rain In The Doorway" Directed by Leo McCarey. MCMXXXIV.

OK! McCarey, 1934...

That offered no improvement. In 1934 McCarey had only directed two movies. Neither with the Marx Brothers. Deke dug deeper, and confirmed that McCarey had only worked on one film, ever, with the Marx Brothers; "Duck Soup" in 1933. For that matter, the Brothers themselves had not made any movies at all in 1934. Their next movie was in 1935, "A Night At The Opera."

Deke frowned as he struggled with the facts. He hit play play on the VCR's remote again and watched the credits continue, mystified.

"Based on the Novel by Thorne Smith."

Deke searched for the title "Rain In The Doorway" on Google and found that the book by Thorne Smith, which had been published in 1933, had never been made into a movie. True, Smith had had several of his books made into movies, but those were limited to the "Topper" series.

Deke left the computer and returned to the chair in front of the TV where he sat and stared, unseeing, as the Marx Brothers replayed their frantic efforts to run a successful department store. His thoughts were confused, and only came back to one conclusion.

The movie was impossible. It had never been made. It wasn't possible that he had watched it, or that it continued to play on his TV. Deke sat in the dark room, lit by the flickering black and white shadows. Unmoving.

Deke's head jerked up as the videotape machine, which had begun to rewind automatically at the end of the tape, made a thunking noise as it reached the beginning of the tape and stopped. Black and white static hissed on the television, filling the room with dancing shadows and white noise. He sat disoriented for a few moments, wondering at the events of the evening and then he laughed out loud.

I dreamed it all! I was so tired from all that walking today that I probably fell asleep as soon as I sat down. Deke was still smiling as he got into bed, burrowing under the covers after turning off the TV. That was a crazy dream! he thought. It seemed so real.

The next day Deke awoke earlier than was his habit...a result of his unusually early bedtime. When he'd first woken at six a.m. he'd laid in bed for as long as he could, but when he found that he couldn't get back to sleep in the next half hour he gave up. Well, there was the car to attend to, and there was no telling how long it would take to repair it. Might as well get an early start on it. As he made his coffee, hot water from the tap with a spoon of coffee and four spoons of sugar, he thought about the strange dream of the previous evening. I wonder just what the movie I slept through was actually about. He sat down with his tepid coffee and started the movie, fast forwarding past the Copyright Notice with a snort of annoyance. Why do they even bother to put those things on the beginning of movies, he mused. It's not as if anyone takes them seriously. His coffee cup was halfway to his mouth when the titles came up, and it stayed there while he stared in disbelief.

Rain In The Doorway. Starring the Marx Brothers.

Two hours later, coffee long forgotten on the table next to him, Deke watched the last of the credits scroll up the screen. During this viewing he'd not laughed, despite the hard work and comedic talent of the Marx Brothers. He'd just sat, letting the movie wash over him, with the same thoughts running over and over in his head. This movie had never been made. It's not possible that I'm sitting here watching it. I am sitting here watching it. What does that mean? He'd not been able to come up with an answer. With a click and a whir of the motor the VCR began to rewind the tape, and when it 'thunked' at the beginning Deke ejected it from the machine. He picked up the case, put the tape in it and snapped it closed.

Deke's movements were slow and deliberate as he left the apartment, carrying the tape in one hand. During his abstracted walk to the video store, his thoughts slow and fuzzy, he finally decided upon his next course of action. When he finally arrived at the store it looked as closed as it had the night before; he wondered what he would do if it weren't open. Probably just drop the tape in the return slot and do his best to forget about it. That would be the wise thing to do. But the door, after a momentary hesitation, opened and everything was as he remembered it from the night before. Some part of him was surprised by that fact. Putting the tape carefully on the counter he met the clerks eyes defiantly and asked, "Where would I find the fourth season of the Star Trek TV Series?" The clerk flicked a finger at The Wall. Deke nodded slowly. "That's what I thought," he said. Where else would you expect to find the season after the series was canceled?

After renting the tape Deke stopped at the computer store before he heading back to the apartment. He'd thought of a way to objectively prove the impossible, and perhaps to profit from it as well. Once home he connected VCR to his computer. While he watched the first two episodes of the fourth season of Star Trek he recorded the video on his computer. When he'd finished watching he reviewed what he'd captured, and then saved some stills and a short video clip. The clip he put on You-tube, with a link at leading to an eBay auction.

On eBay he listed "Star Trek the Original Series - Series Four! Episodes One and Two! Lost for 45 years! The never before seen adventures of the crew of the Enterprise, filmed but never aired before cancellation! Recently found in a forgotten storage unit on old 1" R2R video tape.

"This is the genuine article! A truly irresistible piece of Star Trek memorabilia. Burned to DVD-R, with menus. I'm sorry the resolution is not the best, but it's amazing none the less."

He mulled over what he should charge, and decided that a "Buy It Now" price of eighty dollars was as good as any. "Amount available..." hmmm. Deke looked at the spindle of DVD blanks he'd bought. Might as well use them all. "Only twenty-five available!"

Deke then mastered and burned the first disk and checked out the finished product on his DVD player. It looked good, so he spent the next couple of hours burning copies, until all the blanks were gone.

Deke was feeling pretty good at how much he'd accomplished and was making a sandwich when it suddenly occurred to him that his car was still lying abandoned by the side of the road. "Dammit!" He yelled out, exasperated. He grabbed his backpack and toolbox and headed out the door; beginning the long walk back to his car, muttering under his breath.

Probably the carburetor. It was always the carburetor.

It was evening before he pulled into the driveway, the car loudly announcing its arrival from a block away. Deke man-handled the car door open and slammed it several times before it finally caught. He slouched into his apartment, dropping his keys on the table on his way to the bathroom. The reflection that greeted him was sweaty and grease-stained.

After washing the worst of the grime away, Deke decided he could manage to drag himself to the kitchenette for a sandwich. On his way he stopped at the computer. Might as well see if I've got any bids.

There was a stack of unanswered questions about his auction. There must be a hundred questions. That's gonna take forever to answer. He looked at the amount for sale. "What!"he said out loud, forgetting about eating as he sat down, clicking the screen. "Zero for sale? What?" He said again uncomprehendingly.

And then he was jumping out of his chair, dancing in place and singing, "They all sold! They all sold. That's incredible! That's fantastic!" He ran to the door, opened it and shouted at the unreliable car outside, "That's it! You're outta here!"

The excitement of the auction restored Deke's flagging energies, and the long hot day sweating over his car's repairs was forgotten. He drank his last beer in celebration, but wasn't able to relax and after a while decided to get things in the mail as quickly as possible.

He grabbed his keys and, after fighting the car's door open, drove to the local drug store where he bought all the mailers he needed. Realizing he was hungry, he grabbed lunch meat and a six pack of brand name beer. Soon he was back at home, sealing the disks in the envelopes and taping the address labels he'd printed off the computer, all while eating a hastily slapped together sandwich. He finished both tasks at the same time and, feeling like he was rolling downhill and gathering speed, he went back to the computer, changed the auction status to "shipped" for his buyers, gathered up the packages and sailed out the door. He stopped short of closing the door after him, with his hand on the door knob.

There are a lot of movies in that store that movie geeks would pay butt-loads of cash for. I've barely scratched the surface, and I'm sixteen hundred dollars richer. I should pick up a few more movies on the way home. Might as well return the one I've finished while I'm at it.

Deke ejected the tape from his machine and slapped it into the case, snapping it shut. Then, with everything under his arm, he went to his car and headed back out. He stopped at the Post Office first and, using the self-serve parcel machine, weighed and stamped his packages, listening with satisfaction to the little 'chunk' as they slid into the parcel drop.

Deke was still grinning widely as he pulled up to the rental store. Getting out of the car he tried the door, but this time it would not budge, even when he put some real effort into it. He peered through the dusty window, but could see no movement in the dim interior. There were no hours posted. Deke shrugged and dropped the tape in the return video slot.

Well, I'll have to catch them tomorrow after work.

When he got home it didn't occur to him to wonder at the lack of lights inside his place. He hadn't paid attention at the time and didn't to recall that he'd been in such a hurry that all the lights had been left on when he'd left.

Deke opened the door and stepped inside, hand reaching automatically to the switch by the door. It clicked, but no lights came on. "Crap!" he said, taking another step. And then the darkened room suddenly seemed to go away and everything got blacker.

Deke awoke to the feeling of swaying and the sound of water slapping against wood. The room was dark, but he could smell sour bodies and mildew, and he felt closed in. Suddenly a hatch in the ceiling flew up and light glared, blinding him.

"Wake up me hearties!" He heard shouted from above. "'Tis time ye came above and seen your new home."

Deke heard laughter as he struggled to his feet, finding it hard to maintain his balance as the floor moved beneath his feet. Around him others, strangely dressed, some in little more than rags, and others in odd looking costumes. One man, with an obvious wig white curly wig perched ridiculously on his head, moaned once word shakily. "Shanghaied!"

The group of them struggled to the deck, where Deke saw that he was on a wooden sailing ship. There was no land in sight, no matter where he turned, and as the man who had called them above deck began a speech that Deke, in his shock, heard not at all.

Deke put his hands in his pockets, and hunched over, trying to understand. His hand touched the card he'd been given at the store. He pulled it out and read, "Warning! Pirating of videos shall be punished by two years before the mast."


Submitted: February 05, 2020

© Copyright 2021 T. R. Kaley. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Storywriterx

LOL. I'm never renting another movie on VHS again after reading ths.

Sun, February 9th, 2020 5:16am

Author
Reply

Hey! You're safe as long as you respect Interdimensional Copyright Law.

Sun, February 9th, 2020 1:17am

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