The Legend of Old Stabby

Some time ago, I worked for a video store to aid in the funding of my education. I worked the night shift, stocking shelves, sweeping popcorn and generally dealing with tweaked or burnt-out clientele.

Fredericton after hours is a funny place.

My first encounter with the man who would later become known – at least by the video store staff – as Old Stabby was at first quite jarring. He was a taller man, with unruly long hair and dirty jeans. He was standing just a little too close to a couple of new releases, so I walked over to see what he was up to. He was using a knife to slice open the backs of DVDs and slide the disks into his coat.

When I got his attention, he turned around and pointed the knife at me.  I backed away slowly.  All I could think was ‘cool buddy. I’m not getting my ribs knifed for minimum wage, no sir.’ He was just as frightened as me, and took off. Cops were called, etc., and the legend of Old Stabby was born.

Weeks later good Old Stabs returned, less armed than in our first encounter. He would stand at the edge of the counter where staff would enter and stare, unblinking, straight up at the TV screen where a movie was playing. He would look away only to retrieve more free popcorn, reaching his hands into the mouth of the popcorn server with his sausage fingers and carefully placing the pieces one by one in his mouth.

Other customers would come in and give the staff looks like “who’s this guy?” and we would assure them, “Don’t worry, it’s just Old Stabby. He’ll be on his way soon enough.” And, given time, he would make his way out of the store.

After a while, the visits from Stabs stopped. We as staff were shocked. I had come to rely on the rush of terror I got from seeing him to keep me awake until the end of my shift. There were many speculations as to why he stopped coming – maybe one too many run-ins with the cops, maybe he was banned from the store by a higher up. There was even a rumor that he had graduated from knives to a gun and knocked over a store in our area, but this was never confirmed.

And so Old Stabby passed into legend.

But every now and again, when I catch the glimmer of artificial light off of a blade, I think fondly of Good Old Stabs.

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