There used to be this dude who worked behind the counter at Prime Pics Video in the Lakeshore Street mall on the corner of Geneva Street, the same tiny plaza that housed the big A&P supermarket and a Pete's Pizza to boot. One-stop shopping, that place. He was probably in his mid-thirties, with Robocop-glasses and a Billy Ray Cyrus mullet going on in the back. Too-tight Polo t-shirts for his slightly-pudgy frame. Always seemed a bit jittery, providing a running commentary to the, in retrospect, not-so-complicated process of checking out a video: "Okay, if I could just get your card...very good...okay...and your password...super...no tape protection for you today?...okay...that's fine...everything's great...you're looking good..."
At some point my buddy, whose friend's family owned the joint, told me that the guy was fired because he stole some money out of the till to feed his coke habit. (Or so said the rumor.) He seemed like a nice enough fellow. Didn't appear like the type who was doing hard drugs. (Not to my twelve-year old eyes, anyways, but then again my eyes have never been good.) And maybe he was a little bit too old to be working at a video store, but I'd never thought about that little fact much either, because money and adults were both mysteries back then that didn't form a path in my head. Maybe he sticks in my brain because he was the first person I even casually knew from a distance who had had some kind of tough break. Now everybody seems broken to me.
He's probably out there now, twenty-six-or-seven years later, somehow getting through life, like we all sometimes do. Or maybe he passed away years ago, his grave right at this moment covered in snow somewhere down in St.Kitts.I haven't thought about him much over the past quarter-century, because why would I? He was just a local guy who rented me some movies. Yet I suddenly woke up this morning and hoped he was doing all right.