Page 1, Chapter 1
The rain was sloshing in my runners, the cuffs of my jeans heavy with puddle water. My purse was soaked, as I hurried across the parking lot of the little mini mall, digging for my keys. I dropped them; which of course is the sort of luck I've been having a lot lately. Swearing, I scooped them up from the edge of another puddle, my purse slipping off my shoulder as I did. It landed splashing my glasses. Sighing, I managed to enter the store just in time to hear the phone ringing. Our answering machine kicking in.
"Nosferatu's Video. Store hours are 10am to 10pm Monday to Sunday. Please call again." The person never bothered to leave a message, just sighed as they were hanging up.
"I know the feeling buddy." I mumbled to no one. Taking my glasses off, I wiped them in the tail of my t-shirt, as I headed around the check out counter. Stuffing my purse and coat into the closet that was in the corner of the store, masquerading as an office, I hit the play back button on the answering machine. We had six calls, three of them were frustrated hang ups, two were people looking for the latest summer superhero movie which wasn't due to be released for another month, the last one was looking for a slasher film from the 80's. I turned as the door opened exposing Vincent. "You're in early."
"I saw you stumbling around in the rain there Desdemona. You drunk? Please tell me you're drunk." he replied leaning on the counter top. He was dressed in jeans that fit every muscle as if tailor made for him, and a t-shirt in a shade of burnt copper that might as well have been painted on. He had this silver plated belt buckle that sported the letter 'V'; that on anyone else would have been godly cheesy, but on Vincent, seemed perfect.
"Haha. You are so not funny." I answered as I caught a glimpse of our reflections in the front window. Vincent's skin glowed like ripe olives in the sun under the bad fluorescent lighting. His deep brown eyes like pools of melted chocolate and able to make you just as comforted. His short dark hair showing his age around the very tip of his ears. To look at him, you'd never know he was in his late 40's. Vincent just naturally looked like he was still in his mid twenties. He was a vast contrast from my own reflection of pale skin, auburn red hair shorter than his, hazel eyes which no one ever noticed because they are always behind small wire rimmed glasses. We were about the same height, but he's three years older than I am. "Are you?"
"No sadly." he replied tapping a very heavily ringed hand on the counter. "But I did bump into Blake last night at the club. He was asking about you."
"We both know that is ancient history." I rolled my eyes at him half blushing. Blake inherited his family's flower shop few years before, when his older brother decided to move to Vancouver. They supplied the flowers to the rest of the stores in the mini mall.
"Well, history does repeat itself." he smiled showing off his dimples. The door opened as our first customers of the day came in the store. Standing up straight, Vincent took a step backwards. "Guess it's time for work." he nodded towards the customers as he left the store to go back to the coffee shop at the end of the mini mall.
Just as the first of the days' customers left with their dvds, there was a large crack of thunder as lightening flashed outside the window. I held my breath for a second praying that the lights stayed on. They thankfully did. A guy dressed in a dark suit walked through the door, looking confused. He was soaked, his umbrella having two bent spokes, his tie wind-whipped at a weird angle on his shoulder.
"I'm looking for a copy of The Master of Forgotten Wishes vol 8" he said in a very rushed voice, still looking over his shoulder.
"I've got Nightmare on Elm Street's Dream Master, but that's about it." I replied unboxing a stack of new posters. He looked at me with a mix of horror and confusion as he wiped at the corners of his mouth.
"Did you not hear what I said?" his panic seemed to rise a few notches.
"You can take a look if you'd like, but I've never even heard of that one." I gestured towards the small side room where the bulk of the horror movies were. The guy just stood there for a moment as if lost in his own mind.
"Oh my god. This is the wrong..." he continued to stare off at the wall before running back out into the rain. I shook my head in confusion of my own, as I unfolded the posters, seeing what new releases were being sent. The latest summer superhero movie, two kid's movies, and the remake of yet another 80's horror film. Nothing unusual there. There was another round of thunder as lightening flashed outside the window again, just as Suit Guy ran back in looking the same as he had two minutes before. "I'm looking for a copy of The Master of Forgotten Wishes vol 8." he said in the same tone he had the first time around, as if he'd never been in.
"I just told you I don't have it."
"What do you mean just told me? I just...oh my god!" he ran outside again into the now heavy storm.
"Maybe I should lock the door for a while and just stay closed for the day?" I mumbled to myself as I began to catalog the new posters. The thought was a strong one, as I walked across the length of the store locking it. My shoes still wet enough to squeak slightly as I did. "That ends that cycle of weirdness." I said to an almost empty rack of dvds. The phone rang, causing me to jump as the answering machine picked up.
"Desdemona. Pick up. Come on. Picks up girl, I knows you're there. Right. Okay I'm sittin' 'ere at the end of the parking lot abouts to leave after deliverin' to the hair salon right, and 'tis guy come flying mad cow style into my truck Eh? flaying his arms round like 'ta loonie bin lost 'er number. Saw him start in your direction and then run down the parkin' lot into traffic when you locked the door. You's alright?" it was Blake. "Mona! Mons. I knows you're still there, I can sees you in the window. Pick up or I'll drive the truck into the window I swears to god."
"That's a long message for someone twenty feet away." I sighed into the phone as I leaned over the counter to pick up.
"I saw you lock the door no point in knocking." his tone changed from that of worry to that of near snottiness. "Everything alright then?" he cleared his throat realizing his east coast accent was betraying the cool exterior he wanted to present.
"Fine. Just an odd start to the day." I found myself twirling the phone cord around my finger trying not to look out the window for either Blake or the strange suit guy. Hanging up I went back to work. The rest of the morning went pretty much normal. I unlocked the door about a half hour later. The storm ending quickly, as if someone had shut off a shower head. It was too convenient, like being in a movie. It had me on edge tip toeing around the store, too aware of every little sound. "Great, now I'm turning into a crazy person. Beauty." I sighed under my breath as I tacked up the poster for the big summer superhero movie. Stepping back to see if the poster was straight, I let my gaze fall across the store. The walls were an old shade of off white from age, filled with tiny and not so tiny pin holes from years of posters being added and removed. The right side of the room had two long steel racks of movies; the family and kids sections, with a small side door that led to another area for comedies and musicals. The middle of the main room had a solid book shelf of current releases, this was followed by another two long steel racks on the left side of the room that held the movies for sale. Past that was the side room that carried the sci-fi and horror, which when you continued on gave you one more little room that carried the dramas, and crime section. Looking at the clock, I decided to take the trash out. It would give me an excuse to stop in at the coffee shop. Locking up again, I lugged the two bags of trash to the bins, heading to the edge of the mini mall.
The sign over the door was scrapped and worn with weather, the apostrophe s half way faded, leaving it reading Loki Coffee Hut. Vincent was busy filling cup after cup of freshly brewed coffee, while serving homemade pie, cookies and muffins. Skillfully avoiding the groping hands of some of his more abrasive regulars. Spotting me he began to move around the tables like a tightrope walker or dancer, as he somehow managed to refill three customer's cups without raising the coffee pot from one pour to the other.
"Just put on a fresh pot. Take a few minutes. Dessie, you do me a solid and take the trash for me too?" I ended up going straight to the kitchen and grabbing up the large green trash bag heading out the back door. I didn't actually end up tossing the trash though. What I ended up doing was standing there just beyond the door, staring at the large bins, and the guy face down beside them. Turning around I dropped the trash right back where I'd found it, ran through the coffee shop to the table Vincent was standing over, and tugged his arm. Coffee sloshed on his jeans and shoes. "Hey!"
"Um, there's someone passed out...or something." I didn't wait for him to follow, just headed back through the kitchen towards the back door. "Vincent! I'm not joking!" He was little bit angry at me as he followed me out behind the mall to the back alley, complaining about his shoes being ruined when he stopped cold.
"Okay buddy. This is not the place to sleep it off." he got a few feet closer leaning over his hands on his knees. "Oh shack. Call the emergency number...this is more than just a drunk...I think he's dead."
Tune in again for another installment of the Cinema Files starring your heroine...me (straight up story. Just time for something fresh for a while.)