Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SHOP (01/03/19)
TITLE: Tumble Bumble
By Jack Taylor
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I counted three people in front of me and I was sure I could outrace two of them if I had to. I momentarily contemplated how I could trip up the other by hooking his ankle with an umbrella handle. His WWJD bracelet was an unfair hindrance to my conscience.
The twinkling stars I’d seen from my backyard were obliterated by the megawattage being spent here on drawing attention to all the stuff we didn’t need. My sister mocks me every year for this. “Why don’t you get it on-line?” “You’re just going to have to take it back the day after.” “Why don’t you ask for it on your birthday?” “The stampede at door opening will probably leave you in the hospital again.”
That last jab, in my books, was unfair. I’d lined up at a computer outlet two years ago for the latest laptop at $1000 off. Obviously, worth the effort. I was seventeenth in line. The guy behind me distracted me by asking what time it was just as the doors opened. When I looked down at my watch I was bowled over and run over in a tumble bumble of bodies imitating a salmon run at a fish lock.
I’d spent two days pre-scouting the most likely spot where the item would be on display. I’d even asked four of the clerks and leeched every inch of information I could out of them. Why I wanted this particular selection was beyond my ability to say. Regardless of how much those around me tried to loosen me up, before they probed to see which item I was racing for, my lips were sealed.
Shopper number two called a huddle with those of us up front. “No saving places,” she said. “Someone slips out of line for a potty break, too bad.”
Number one nodded but had to ask, “What if I slip out to Starbucks across the street and buy you all a caramel macchiato? Would you save my place?”
I voted yes, along with the guy behind me, but this was cut-throat and the others voted no. I suggested that bringing in the fifth and sixth people in line broadened things up too much but got overruled.
I wondered if praying for someone’s bladder to act up might be unfair. I hadn’t done too well in that department. I remember trying it with my teacher during an exam and that was when I realized that teachers were part camel.
The guy in front of me pulled out his phone, stuck in the earbuds and started humming the latest Lauren Daigle song. When he moved to Hillsong’s latest, right after, I considered my options.
I smiled and pointed at my ear.
He furrowed his brows and tried to look like his eyes were shut meditating.
I poked him gently.
He peered at me through one squinty brown eye.
“What are you listening to?” I lip-synched.
“Since you’re a good Christian,” I mouthed. “Maybe you should let me go ahead of you.”
“Are you a fish?” he asked.
“Why are you moving your mouth like a fish?” he asked.
“I’m not,” I said.
“Go over there and look in the window and look at yourself. You look like a gold-fish.”
Without thinking, I stepped out of line and looked at myself in the window. I did kind of look like a goldfish. When I turned around the guy behind me had filled in my space.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “That’s my spot.”
“Remember rule number one – no saved spaces,” the previous number five said.
“Legalist!” I declared. “What happened to grace?”
“She’s probably at the back of the line,” he retorted.
While we were arguing, the doors opened and I got caught in another tumble bumble of bodies rushing like wildebeests on migration across a crocodile-infested river. Somehow, I got swept in with the tidal wave and found myself crammed against the rows of shopping carts no one was using.
With the effort of a black-belt martial artist, I forced my way through the current and rushed into aisle four, down half-way and over to aisle six where I suddenly realized something.
I looked around for confirmation and sure enough. It was true. I was in the wrong store.
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