Fiction Fragment Friday
I have never camped out overnight or waited for a store to open just to get a good deal on a Black Friday. I do however remember going to a twenty-four hour Walmart with my mom to get a VCR for my dad. I was young enough to get under the crowd and get to the box on the pallet when they unwrapped it. I never saw any of the fighting that the news covers. I don’t doubt it happens, but think it is probably sensationalized to be a better story.
I have gone out on Black Friday to shop as an adult, but I am not a morning person. I would go after the initial crowds are done and see what it left that has already been picked over. I once ordered a Dutch Oven online from Sears to be picked up at the store. I walked past the long lines of people trying to check, out picked up my items from an empty counter, and walked out getting dirty looks from all the people who hadn’t thought to do so.
If you are out shopping today be careful. If you aren’t then just relax and enjoy my story.
There it was sitting on the nearly empty shelf, the last Laughing Leo the Lion in the store. It was a creepy looking stuffed lion that had more electronics in it than my car. It could dance and carry on simple conversations with a child. It was a gift that I just couldn’t normally afford, but it was also the only thing my daughter wanted for Christmas. There is was sitting on the shelf currently half off for Black Friday. The object I had camped out overnight in the parking lot for a chance to buy was just half an aisle away.
Glancing up I saw another parent at the far end of the aisle. Our eyes met and I found the same cold emptiness that was in my own. These were the eyes of someone who also had not slept last night. I was looking at a parent who like myself would do anything to bring that ridiculous purple lion home. This was my adversary, and I instinctively knew them to be a worthy opponent.
Without a word we both broke into a full run. I pushed an elderly woman out of my way and my opponent sent a worker spinning when she slammed into their side with her cart. I realized that I had a disadvantage. That cart was a weapon, and I was unarmed. I needed to neutralize it or I would be run over myself. Glancing over I saw the shelf was full of Peggy the Prancing Penguin boxes. No one wanted Peggy, she was last year’s toy.
Reaching out my right arm I pulled boxes from the shelf and flung them at my opponent. The act slowed me, but she had to duck the incoming boxes, so she was slowed as well. My aim was poor, but eventually I was successful. Boxes wedges themselves under the wheels of the cart robbing it of its momentum. She had to shove the cart to the side and abandon her only advantage. Now the battlefield had been leveled. Just person vs person pitting their will and physical prowess against each other without any painful steel in the way.
As I reached for the box containing Laughing Leo the Lion, I realized that I had severely underestimated my opponent. I had six inches and at least seventy-five pounds on her. I had assumed that I could just muscle my way through and take the toy. What I did not know was that my opponent was apparently a freaking ninja or perhaps a professional wrestler. As the last moment she dropped to the ground and flung her feet out at me. I was hit by a drop toe hold and found myself smacked against the extremely dirty floor of the department store toy aisle. She applied just enough pressure to let me know she could have made it much worse before releasing the hold.
We both scrambled to get to our feat. Neither of us looked particularly graceful, but it didn’t matter how good we looked. The only thing that mattered was the toy. I grabbed the shelf for leverage, and it collapsed under my weight. The Laughing Leo the Lion toy came down with the shelf hitting the ground and sliding away from us . My opponent was much quicker at getting to her feat, but I was able to wrap my arms around her legs went she tried to follow the toy and brought her right back down to the ground. She reached out to try and stop her fall by grabbing a shelf on her way down causing it to collapse on top of us.
We lay there on the floor covered in toys, panting, and groaning in pain. I imagined my daughter’s smiling face when she opened the gift, and it gave me the energy to shove the metal shelf off us and get moving. Then I was smacked in the face by a toy box. I’m not sure what the toy was, but the box had and open front and hard plastic pieces. I felt something break and wasn’t sure if it was the toy or my nose. The blood that started flowing answered my question.
“Mommy look a Laughing Leo the Lion.” The adorable voice came from a little girl who picked up the doll. My opponent and I both looked at her in horror. The girl clutched the toy tight against her chest. We both signed in equal parts frustration and exhaustion. We had been defeated. The little girl turned to look at us and whispered too quietly for her mother to hear. “Too slow bitches.” Then she ran off with our prize and put it in her mother’s cart. We watched as it disappeared around the aisle.
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