The squatters ran outside after I pointed my gun at them. Ha! Finally, I can keep the appointment with the government guy. No more delays, or security calling at 2:00 a.m. I mean, I fired the entire security team that morning, they were useless, anyways. I must survive one night, pass the inspection, and then all is well. The following month my triumph will be the grand opening of the Carl Lewiston Galleria. The Jersey turnpike will fill with excited customers driving to my mall. Consequently, my family will be forced to admit that they were wrong about me, that a shopping mall is not a bad investment, and that I did not waste my inheritance.
The weather app on my phone flashed “16°F”, and good let the freezing air be like a cold shower, those bums need to rethink their lives. The kind of people who break into another man’s property need a kick in the shorts, they need to be shocked, and they need to thank me for it.
I thumbed past a half dozen photos before I found it. The bums had drawn my face, scratched it really, into a slab of wet concrete out in the courtyard area. The drawing was accurate enough, except one of them had drawn over my eye’s with X’s., and above the sketch they had written, “KILL CARL!” I mean—the lack of artistic subtly—astounding.
How dare they threaten me? I pounded through the encampment, and kicked the meager belongings strewn across my floor. The lack of needles surprised me. I riffled through most of the encampment, and I found no needles.
I found a pacifier under a table.
Had I pointed my gun at a baby? Certainly not. Well—perhaps I did—what of it? The bums invaded my property. I gave them plenty of chances to get out. The pacifier laid next to the baby’s tiny blanket, and the infants jacket hung on the back of a chair nearby. I feared the baby was dead already—it was 16°F outside! My eyes welled up and tears leaked out. I told myself that the situation was the parents fault. I cried anyhow.
I wandered the hollow hall of my new mall. Self pity overcame me. I had to stop my moping: Lewiston’s do not sulk—we act. My shoes squeaked as I started to run, there might be time, but everything was in my way. I jumped over some drywall, I spun around a no trespassing sign, I squished through the concrete courtyard, and I ran past the drawing of my face. I abandoned my shoes in front of the door to the employee halls.
Every pocket of my pants had a set of keys, and I fumbled with a few different sets before I found the correct ones. Panting from my long run, I dropped the keys on the ground. Every second counted, I had a life to save. Eventually, I placed the correct key in the door, I flung it open, and with a thwap it dented the wall. Once again—I ran. I reached the surveillance room at my top speed, but when I tried to stop with my socked feet, I fell.
Get up, Carl, I thought.
I searched for the family on the security screens. They were alive! Huddled together under a heat lamp on the rear loading bay. A man shivered on the sidewalk outside, but I did not care. Let him die, I had one person to save, one child to bring in out of the cold, and only one sin to correct. Perhaps, the parents could work for me. The child will have a warm bed. Since the real estate market was so good, I had thrown all the tenants out of my rental properties. The boy would have his choice of warm places for the boy to sleep.
The mother breastfed the boy, and the father pulled his t-shirt sleeves down. Apparently, the baby was not the only one who left a coat behind. Plenty of time left to get them feed and warmly dressed. The father noticed the camera and stared into it, and for a moment, it felt as though we stared at each other. He spat, gave the camera the bird, and I deserved it.
Exhausted from sprinting here I walked toward the loading bay. I noticed that my shoes and the cement mixer were gone, but I did not stop to question it. I began to run, but soon thereafter, I stopped gasping for breath. The next time the guys at my Country Club invite me to do cardio—I must accept.
He waited for me. Yes, he knew I would come, and so he waited. With his back to the wall, he held a bat from Martin’s Sporting goods, he waited for me to run round the corner. I heard the baby cry, and the mother shush him. I was there to help, to save, and to love. I was debating in my head if he would call me uncle Carl, one day, when the pain and the darkness overtook me.
The cement mixer woke me up. I opened my eyes, and he stood over me with a baseball bat. He swung and all went dark again. I dreamt that I was inside my childhood summer home, and my legs were aflame. Mother laughed and the house burned around me.
“All you need is water for that fire,” said my assailant. He spat on me. Out of his mouth a geyser of liquid drenched me. The liquid was thicker than water, must be acid. The burning returned.
When next I awoke, I screamed. My legs were covered in wet cement. When he saw that I was awake, he beat me. He laughed as he pummeled me.
Why bother with the concrete just to kill me with a bat? I passed out one final time. Now he is gone, the windows are open, I am freezing, and the concrete is mostly dry.
I am now forever—stuck in a shopping mall!