As clocks struck the midnight hour in the darkened department store, a curious stirring sound could be heard all through the main floor. Whispers, footfalls, muted laughter. A light flicked on in the large employee lounge, which began filling up with an assortment of differently-dressed figures.
One handsome young man, nattily attired in an expensive suit and highly-polished shoes, stood near the doorway as if to make sure everyone noticed him. Soon he was joined by a gorgeous redhead in a royal blue sequined strapless gown. Her makeup was flawless; her jewelry, accessories, and heels perfectly coordinated.
She batted her big green eyes at him and cooed, "Hey, Brad. What's up with you?"
"Hi there, Honey! I'm doing great. How'd it go today in your department?"
"My feet are killing me from standing around in these stilettos, but otherwise I'm okay.
Another attractive woman sauntered into the room wearing a silky turquoise robe over a long, matching nightgown. She seated herself on the couch beside a man apparently outfitted for hunting or fishing and gave him a friendly little punch on the arm.
"So, Tom, have you snagged any whoppers or bagged any game?" She winked, and he chuckled.
"Not a chance! I wish I could've caught a shoplifter I saw in Sporting Goods this afternoon, though. He had on a big bulky jacket, which he was stealthily stuffing with various smaller items. It was all I could do to restrain myself from poking him with the fishing rod I was holding. One of the clerks was on his lunch, so no one happened to observe him."
"What a shame! No wonder management keeps upping prices. Just yesterday Tina, who is stationed across from the jewelry counter, said she saw some guy lift a diamond and ruby bracelet. He'd had the saleswoman lay out three or four pieces for him, and when she turned her head to answer another customer's question, he grabbed one and slithered off snake-like."
Tom shook his head back and forth with a disapproving "Tsk, tsk."
Four chattering children followed, two looking ready for a party and the others dressed for play. One boy was pulling a red wagon full of toys and games, and a distinguished gentleman in a fine tweed coat and cap motioned them over to a round table in a corner.
"Here, you kids! C'mon over and play with your things where you won't disturb the grown-ups." They readily complied and were soon engaged in a round of Pictionary Junior.
Throughout the night people wandered in, finding places at the long break table or in one of the overstuffed chairs. A few glanced up when a shy slender lady clothed only in a lacy bra and panties entered and slipped in behind a potted plant.
"Oh, Gloria, you poor thing," murmured a woman in a dark-gray linen business suit next to her. "Wait here while I run to Bedding and grab you a display blanket. Although you have a lovely figure, I know you feel awkward being so skimpily clad. Also, it's downright chilly in here after-hours."
Gloria nodded in gratitude, as her friend Ruthie whisked away on her caring mission.
When she was cozily wrapped in a pretty pink fleece, Gloria stepped out from the plant's protection and sat down beside Ruthie. "I really appreciate this." She rubbed her hand over the soft covering. "I wish I could keep this with me all the time. It's so humiliating when adolescent boys come over and start making "google eyes" at me while pointing and laughing. I liked it much better when I worked in Outerwear."
Ruthie patted her hand comfortingly. "I know what you mean. I did a stint in Bathing Suits last summer, and I could have slapped a couple young fellows who stood grinning and staring for the longest time."
The woman in the turquoise lingerie walked over and joined them. "I was so annoyed this morning when a boy and girl of maybe eight and ten, started messing with me while their totally-oblivious mother browsed the racks. They ran around grabbing scarves, purses, hats, and such and draped them at random all over me. I looked like a complete clown when they were done! Fortunately, that nice assistant manager, Mr. Falk, realized what they were doing and came to my rescue."
Conversations flowed, but as morning broke, the group reluctantly disbanded. The light in the lounge was extinguished, and all the mannequins positioned themselves for another day on duty.
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