Contemporary Fiction American

                               STRANDED AT THE MALL

  My manager had scheduled me to work until closing, weather prediction had called for flurries of snow. No expectation of any significant precipitation this evening of January 22, 1983. I changed the price tags on the items I was conducting an inventory on. Baseball shirts, blue jeans, and carton socks folded and placed in displays. Upon finishing this task, I plugged in the vacuum cleaner and cleaned the floor. I took a dusting cloth and wiped the counters and glass displays of cosmetics and jewelry. Finally, I dimmed the lights and headed in the direction of the back entrance. 

   Unbelievable. The time now was 11:00 p.m. and there was zero disability. There were no trucks in the parking lot to scrape the asphalt. I rushed back inside to call my Mom, she answered on the first ring. She told me the roadways were not safe, so I must not try to travel home in my Volkswagen bug. Keep a look out for Dad and he would eventually be there for me sometime during the night. I began walking on the top floor where I work at American Eagle clothing store in circles to help pass the time.

   Looking through the barred doors at Spencer's gifts are some items I like : lava lamps in all bright colors, posters of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, and an alarm clock of a rooster crowing. Passing by the window of Bath and Body Works gazing at some sell prices for items on display. Hand soaps, 4 for $20.00 fragrances of juniper breeze, blueberry, winter mint, and ginger peach. There are decorative candles 2 for $25.00 in Harvest Apple or Springtime Zest. If the shop was open, I would want to sample each product at the sinks provided. Nightlight with infusions of light scents of lavender and vanilla.

   This was a Friday night and I had received my check, no time to have it cashed. As a teenager, most of my paycheck would be spent right here at the Fort Henry Mall. I tried to call home again and our phone line was busy. We only had landlines then and my mother was a worrier showing just how much in an audible way by talking excessively. Looking out the front doors, there was lights in the parking lot. It was strange not to see any managers or security guards about the place.

  I checked my wristwatch and noticed it was now 1:00 a.m. I was famished, the last time I had eaten was at 7:00 a.m. yesterday morning. I stepped into the Italian Village, to look for leftover pizza. There was none so I looked into the freezer. I gathered dough, a tomato, mushrooms, onion, mozzarella cheese. I had watched the owners twirl the dough, and I rolled mine out instead. I layered the pizza with pepperoni and sausage. As my pizza baked in the fire brick oven, I wrote an IOU for my meal. I cleaned up my mess and placed the uneaten pizza in a small freezer. It was delicious or I was extremely hungry or both.

   I went to the Record Bar next and found the sound system behind the checkout counter. I found a selection of my favorites: Bryan Adams/ It cuts like a knife, Bruce Springsteen/Born in the USA, Cindy Lauper/ Girls just want to have fun, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts/ I love rock n roll. I danced off my. over full feeling from my late meal. Turned off the sound and continued on towards J.C. Penney.

   I ventured over to the luxurious thick washcloths and towels. Into the public bathroom, I bathed as well as I could. I had collected cozy pajamas in Ghostbusters design, dressing then putting my work clothes in my sports tote/gym bag. I found a display of a sled bed with blue beeline and comforter. Nothing to do but rest until help comes and I drifted off to sleep. Two hours later at 3:00 a.m., I awoke to a large flashlight in my eyes. An elderly man in uniform stood waiting to escort out of the mall. I picked up my belongings and followed the security guard to the front entrance. Waiting at the front entrance was a law enforcement officer and my father who I was never as glad to see as I was this morning. The policeman took down basic information and said everything could be settled with a couple phone calls to my manager tomorrow. 

   My Dad bundled me up in a crocheted afghan my mother had made, carefully making our way home in the steadily falling snow. We had a good long talk, we never seemed to have time for that. In the white winter wonderland, all around us was beautiful and quiet. It was nearly 5:30 a.m. when we arrived at our residence. We had to leave Dad's car at the bottom of the hill on our street. I wrapped up in the blanket and we held on to each other as we slid on the slick, icy path. As we stomped our feet on the front porch steps, Mom opened the door and ushered us inside.

  Striding toward the kitchen, we smelled coffee brewing and mother had freshly baked biscuits just coming out of the oven for us. We sat down, relaxing as we had sausage, and tenderloin biscuits with strawberry preserves on hand if we chose to. Helping Mom clean up the dishes, we went into the living room to watch the weather report. A heavy accumulation of snow was expected throughout the remainder of the weekend. It was so nice to be at home: warm, full, and sleepy again.

   One important reminder from then, I have kept until this day. Always be observant to your surroundings. Everyone else, even those employees that were working as closers that Friday night knew when to wrap things up and leave before the storm came in. We can all use a helping hand at times. We can individually strive for self-sufficiency.

January 23, 2021 02:02

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