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It Ended With A Whistle
“It’s going to explode! Get out of the way. Move!”
I sighed, and shook my head. “It’s not going to explode, Drew.” I looked at the pile of boxes a little skeptically. Unless boxes could spontaneous combust, it was not exploding.
Straightening my manager badge on my chest, I put my head in the air and walked away from frantic Drew, hiding behind the metal shelves and staring at the boxes with fear in his eyes.
Black Friday. The greatest day in sales of the year. I had never worked Black Friday before, and I was more than excited to experience one of my favorite traditions. I had only been a manager at Wal-Mart for a few months, but I was finally going to prove myself by greasing Wal-Mart’s hinges and conducting this day smoothing. This would be the greatest Black Friday ever.
“Molly! I mean, Miss Carmichael!” I turned, almost out of the storerooms, and saw Hunter McKee running towards me. I sighed. Hunter was worse than Drew. He not only believed that boxes could explode, he could make them explode to prove his point.
“What, Hunter?” I asked. He paused for a second, pulling at his blue polo nervously. I sighed. “Spit it out, Hunter. I don’t have all day.”
“Well, Mol—I mean, Miss Carmichael, we’re opening.”
Hunter winced, but I smiled. It was time to prove myself.
“Right,” I said, nodded. “Get everyone in position. Have the storeroom people ready to fill shelves as they empty. Make sure the cashiers are in super-fast mood. Is all the expensive stuff up front?”
“Yes, Mol—ma’am,” Hunter said, nodding.
“Good. How’s the line?”
“Horrible. It wraps around the whole store.”
“Good. Open the doors.”
“Me?” squeaked Hunter. “They’ll kill me, Molly!”
“They’ll kill me!”
Hunter took a deep breath, eyes close. He stuck his chest out and moved purposefully towards the front doors. I gave the storeroom a last glance before I headed out into the store. The time was now.
I stood in a prime location: the center of the store. Appliances lay to my left and electronics to my right. The forty-two inch plasma screen TV exhibit was right behind me. I knew people would be heading in this direction, especially since the price of the TVs was split in half.
Happy smile on my face, “How can I help you?” on the tip of my tongue, I waited. Just a few more seconds they would be here, wanting my help. I would help, and nothing would go wrong. Nothing.
Then they came. They were running. People were shoving. I had never seen death in the eyes of so many people at one time. One woman even tripped another as she rushed off towards the i-Pods. I backed up against the TV display and attempted to become invisible.
“Back off, Blondie!” screamed a woman, grabbing my arm and throwing me away from the TVs. Her husband shoved through the crowd, pushing a metal cart that looked like it was about to fall about. She dragged out of the TVs off the gray shelving and started to slide it onto the cart.
“Help me, you idiot,” the woman snapped at me. Too horrified to speak, I nodded and scurried over. I tried to help her, but she shoved me out of the way. “Forget it. Back off.”
Eventually they got the TV on the cart. The woman shoved purposely through the crowd and her husband plowed people over with the rickety cart. I watched in awe, but still couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go at all. These people—they weren’t humans anymore!
I don’t know how long I stood there. Twenty, thirty minutes. Maybe longer. Soon, however, I realized there was one TV left. I looked around, and for some reason I grew nervous. A feeling of dread built up in my stomach. I was afraid of what was going to happen next.
Then I saw it. Two women. One was coming from appliances, and the other was coming from electronics. They paused upon seeing each other, and I imagined two bulls. They snarled and growled, digging at the ground with their feet. Then they were off.
I couldn’t figure out which one to watch. My eyes darted to and fro, but the two women were even. They would arrive at the same time, and something horrible would happen. I actually hoped the TV would explode before that something happened.
“It’s mine,” snarled Electronics Woman, grabbing onto one end of the TV. Appliances Lady shook his head, grabbing onto the other half of the TV. Eyes narrowed, she pulled. Electronics Woman did not relinquish her grip. I was stuck in the middle.
“Um,” I said.
“I’ll pay you for it,” offered Electronics Woman. “How much do you want? Ten? Twenty? Twenty-five is as high as I’ll go.” Reasoning. Good.
“No.” Appliances Lady was not giving in.
“I need it,” begged Electronics Woman. “I promised my family. My husband. He got laid off. My kid has polio. Chicken Pox. Leukemia. My mom died. My brother got everything. My house was flooded. There was a tornado in our yard. Please.”
Electronics Woman’s methods did a complete one-eighty. She removed a hand from the TV, pulled back her arm, and swung at the Appliances Lady. I gasped, and swerved out of the way, falling on the TV.
Both women gasped, and stared at me laying on the TV. It was crushed.
“Well, that’s perfect,” snapped Electronics Woman. “Thank you—Molly. Manager? How could you possible be a manager? Do you see that? Manager!”
“Horrifying,” agreed Appliances Lady. Both women stormed away, Electronics Woman muttering about talking to my boss.
There was a soft whistle and I sat up, looking around. Hunter and Drew sat huddled behind a shelving unit. They smiled maliciously, and I knew. My days as Miss Carmichael were over.