Sid, of Hollywood Video

Sid, of Hollywood Video

A Story by nsp

Quick short story about a kid with lofty dreams trapped in a beat-up video store.


Hollywood Video: the sign that boldly stated this was failing.  It sat atop a rusted stand that looked as though it could barely support a few pounds, let alone these large metal letters.  The formerly bright white paint was now faded, chipped away, and sprinkled with patches of rot and rust.  The rest of the building was trying its best to match the aesthetic of decay.  The brick structure was in desperate need of power wash.  Its walls were chipping away, covered in years of muck and grime.  Gone with the wind was the brownish-red color of clay.  Most of the patchwork of stone was now a dark, mossy green color. A man leaned against the wall at the front of store, a cigarette falling limply from his lips.  This was Zach, and he sold drugs outside of the movie store.  Crack, weed, or smack, Zach’s got your back.  He would always flash you his yellow teeth after he sang his little jingle.

The windows were ornamented with several movie posters.  They appeared as aged as they were.  Most of the posters on display were for movies first released on V/H/S.  Their brown, tattered corners barely hung on to the masking tape used to keep them in place.  There wasn’t really a good answer as to why the store never got new posters.  Occasionally, one would fall, and Sid would have to get on a ladder and hang it back up.  

Sid was Hollywood Video’s only clerk.  He was a young man (he had just turned twenty, actually), with long, shaggy, blonde hair, mostly hidden beneath his Hollywood Video hat.  Sid always hated the hat.  It was added to the uniform shortly after Sid began his servitude.  It had a teeny little film reel on the front.  He argued that this was a video store, not a goddamn baseball stadium.  It didn’t matter.  His bangs dangled from underneath his hat, framing a face which was sprinkled with mild acne.  His polo shirt, the same Barney purple as his hat, hung loosely off of his bony shoulders and hips.  On the shirt was the same tiny, embroidered film reel.  It had been Sid’s job to rewind the tapes, organize the shelves, mop the floors, collect the overdues, clean the bathrooms, and rot away in this retail hellhole for nearly five years now.  

I need to get out of here, he thought, as he sat cross-legged behind the purple countertop at the back of the store.  This was certainly not the first time he had that thought, but it would be the last.  He noticed that across the room, Men in Black was in the Romantic Comedy section.  He got up and slugged his way through  Sci-fi, past Horror and finally reached his destination.  Picking up the tape, he turned around.  He unknowingly turned his hat around, too.

Sid dropped Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones off in their rightful home.  As a he sat back down on his stool, the bell that signaled a new consumer rang and hit his eardrums like an icepick.  He had asked Chet over and over again to change that goddamn bell.   Something new, maybe electronic, definitely with volume control.  Chet did not ever get a new bell.  Where was Chet? If he wasn’t in by ten, he wasn’t coming in.  

Sid snapped forward, out of his trance.  While he was wandering off with the bell, the stranger had managed their way to right in front him.

“How can I help you?”  Sid said.  

“Hi, I’m Nancy.  I’m looking for Chet,” she said.  

Sid rose from his seat and saw that Nancy was short.  Very short.  Her pink hair was chopped and cut in a way that emphasized her walnut-shaped eyes; her cheeks that were littered with a galaxy of tiny freckles.  “He’s not here yet.  Is there something I can help you find?”

“No, I’m here for a job interview.  I’m going to be taking over the weekends, if I'm lucky.  Any idea when he’ll be here?“

“Could be anyone’s guess,” Sid felt something in his throat.  He wished for something to stay, something Nancy would want to here.  But, it just so happened that as Sid struggled, the bell rang once again.  “Speak of the devil.”

“Morning, Sid,” Chet said.  Sid noted that his beer gut looked especially bloated today.  His speech was gruff and low, muffled from beneath his mustache.  

Sid hated that thick, creepy mustache.  When he was closer, Sid smelled a tinge of whiskey.  Jameson.  Chet would often drink before work.  Some nights, if he continued his vice throughout the day, Chet played old country music over the loudspeaker, singing along loudly from his office.  Sid quickly decided it was not within his job description to parent his drunken boss, so he let the issue be.  Very, very rarely (if he was sloshed enough), Chet could be nice.  He’d let Sid go home early, free him from his ball and chain.

“Who’s this?” said Chet.

“Her name’s Nancy.  She’s here for a job interview,” Sid said.

“That’s right,” Chet mumbled something under his breath and gave a cheesy smile.  “Follow me,” he said as he shuffled back towards his office.  Nancy looked at Sid, and then followed.  Her hands hung behind her back in a loose lock.  Sid’s eyes followed both of them to the door, and Chet opened it, letting Nancy in.  Chet turned back around, looked at Sid with gritted teeth and said, “Turn that goddamn hat around, Sid.”  The door clicked shut.

Sid did as he was told, and then flicked his middle finger up angrily at the door.  Can’t even choose how to wear my hat, he thought.  Sid spun around in his chair.  He looked at the various movie covers strung out across his back counter.  They were all action movies, dropped off earlier by a woman Sid would’ve called a “soccer mom”.  He saw the stoic glares of the stars on the covers and imagined himself in their place.  A movie star; famous, rich, beloved.  He pictured mingling with the stars on the red carpet, drinking cocktails at the Oscars after-party.  A leading lady was by his side.  In today’s fantasy, it was Nancy.  They could travel the world and see the tropical jungles of South America; the snow-capped mountaintops of Northern Asia.  Sid had lofty dreams, and they did not involve Hollywood Video.  Yet, for now, he was rooted here, a boy selling movies for six-fifty an hour.  He forced his attention back to reality with a shudder.    

As his vision came back into focus, Sid’s eyes landed on Zach.  He was walking out of the door, his hands tucked into his pockets and the brim of his pulled low.  Sid was having Deja-vu.

“Where are you going, Zach?”

“Nowhere, man.  Just leaving.”

“You got something there?”


“In your pocket.”

“Nah, man,” Zach pulled his hands out and brought the pockets of his pants with him, to show Sid that he actually had nothing.  

“Your jacket pocket,” Sid said, pointing toward Zach’s waist.  Zach was about to respond when Chet opened his door.  It creaked loudly.

“Something wrong, Sid?” Chet said.

“No, nothing.”

“Get back to rewinding tapes.  You’ve got a lot more to go.  You’ll be staying late, if you have to.”

Sid scowled as he watched recede back into his office like a slithering bug.  He turned to face the exit just as Zach was pushing his way through the doors.  This had become a weekly routine.  Zach or some other, identical lowlife would venture in, peruse around for a bit to create an illusion of interest, and then take off with a couple tapes from the NEW! Section.  Often, Sid would leave it be, ignoring their presence entirely.  He put up with a single chat with Chet before he decided it was worth it to try and save the inventory.

Those moments were ingrained in Sid’s mind.  He would sit in the office.  The room reeked of cigarettes and the trademarked Jameson.  Sid would stare intently at an ashtray full of butts, trying his best to tone the screaming out.  Chet would pace the room, smoking.  His face flushed with blood as he ranted about sales and thefts and and money how much of a f**k-up Sid was.  Sid remembered spit hitting his face as Chet called him a p***y.  Soon after, Sid picked up a nail biting habit.  

That was a month ago.  Sid still felt the anger deep in his bones.  When it boiled over, it was an unsettling intensity that almost makes you want to cry.  Mostly, he could quell it.  What was he going to do about it?  Chet was a large guy.  Although he, nearing the end of his 30s and far past his prime, Chet would tear Sid apart.  Sid had envisioned many times how the brawl would go: he would tell Chet that he was dog s**t, swing for the fences, and miss.  Chet would scoop him up like a child and put him through a brick wall.  Cartoony, but more likely than Sid putting a dent in Chet.  

Sid checked his watch: 11:30. It would be a good time for a smoke break.  He moved his hands down his face, pulling his eyes down and taking a deep breath.  He stood up from his seat, fumbling around in his pockets to ensure his pack of Camels and lighter were there.  He made his way through Drama, and reached for Chet’s door.  He twisted the knob and pulled back.

Sid saw the back of bright red manager shirt.  Chet peered over his shoulder at Sid.  He loomed over Nancy, gripping her bare shoulders with both hands.  Chet’s lips were a mere inch away from Nancy’s neck.  Sid looked at her.  

Her eyes were even wider than earlier.  Her lips were glossy and loosely parted.  Sid thought she looked frozen solid.

Chet loosened his grip on Nancy’s shoulders.  Slowly pulling himself up and away from her neck, he cleared his throat.  “Taking your break now?”

Sid looked into Chet’s eyes.  He felt necessity overcome him, and he pulled back, launched his fist forward and landed square on the bridge of Chet’s nose.  Crack.  

Chet stumbled backwards, falling over the edge of his desk.  He reached out with his hand and found the wall. Chet held his hand flatly beneath his nose so as to catch the blood drip.  

Sid looked at Nancy, who was already looking at him.  

Her mouth now hung open.  

Sid looked at Chet, who had found his balance.  In this moment, Sid realized what had just happened.  His consciousness drifted back in, and the peril of his situation was now readily apparent.

Chet breathed harshly through his bleeding nose, clenching his teeth.

Sid turned around, put a foot forward, and the other followed.  Sid ran.

Chet followed closely behind.

Sid turned over his shoulder as he ran and saw a bloodied beast, snarling and growling as it clawed towards him.  As he made it through end of the Sci-fi aisle, he paused, grabbing the metal rack the movies rested on.  Sid slammed it towards the floor with the force of adrenaline.  Cases upon cases fell on Chet, their housing crashing down on him too.  Chet fell into the Horror aisle, which hit the floor with him.  Sid stopped enjoying himself and he sprinted out the door.  That f*****g bell, he thought as it rang in his head for the last time.  

Sid did not slow down one bit as he made his way home.  The walk usually took around twenty minutes, but he was home in eight.  He didn’t notice during his frenzied sprint, but his Hollywood Video hat had come flying off of his head.  It landed flatly next the yellow dividing line, where it was trampled by oncoming cars.  

Sid saw a homeless man wearing it on the day he left town.

© 2018 nsp

Author's Note

Few things I need help with:
is the dialogue realistic?
Moments where I'm telling where I can show?
Need new title ideas.
Is the sexual assault clear enough? I don't want it to be graphic.
General feedback appreciated.

My Review

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General feedback appreciated.

Looks like you paid attention in school. Writing has an experienced feel to it, no kid with his first keyboard whiff about this. Dialogue?, a bit forced but not bad don't be afraid of to wear out "said" if you have too, it's invisible.

There is a run of about 15 short paragraphs that are formatted: Proper noun, verb; proper noun , verb etc., etc. that is noticeable, and annoying.

Good stuff. I'll let someone else be the sex expert.

Posted 1 Year Ago

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1 Review
Added on March 8, 2018
Last Updated on March 8, 2018
Tags: short, fiction, literary




amateur who likes to write in a variety of genres. mostly short fiction. always looking for feedback. more..