A set of headlights hopped across the parking lot as a black Escalade hit the entrance from the street. Janice nudged Linda who was sitting in the passenger’s seat of her Navigator.
“This is it.”
“What if they don’t get out right away?”
“Nuh-uh; no you don’t. Get out. We were here first; but we have to—”
“It’s cold though; and wet.”
Janice grabbed her extra-large-regular. She was upset they didn’t have what she wanted as a free sample of Dunkie’s that early in the morning. It was advertised.
“Get out Lin, or they’ll be first.”
The girls got out. Janice fobbed the car as they double-timed it to the doors of what used to be a K-Mart. Those letters had been replaced with DOMINIC’S DISCOUNT ELECTRONICS. She could still see the cleaner parts of the building where the K-Mart name had been.
They beat out the couple from the Escalade by a few steps and then exchanged awkward greetings. One of the new arrivals looked to be the daughter of the other. They had the same shoulder length black hair.
Janice glanced at her watch; it was three-thirty. “According to the flyer I got in the mail, the doors open at four AM on Black Friday.” She sipped from her coffee and said, “I wouldn’t mind if they opened a little early.” She cupped a hand to her temple, trying to see inside. The glass door had been blacked-out so she could see nothing.
Linda said, “I never get up this early. This is kind of crazy.”
Janice looked at her while sipping more coffee. “No it’s not. Think of it: forty percent off GPS navigation, thirty-five percent off 52” LCD televisions, and they carry a line of Coach at fifty percent off.”
The older woman next to Linda said, “They have Coach? Wow.” To her daughter she said, “Did you hear that sweetie?”
“Yes mom.” She was looking at Janice as if Janice had just punched her mom. A black cloud formed over her.
“Sorry,” Janice said. “I spilled the beans, didn’t I?”
Other cars were showing up in ones and twos. The people coming to the door were mostly women. At first they formed a line, but as more showed up at the door from different parts of the parking lot, the line turned into a mob.
Someone next to Janice stepped on the lace of her sneaker and it was untied. She said, “I have to tie my sneaker. I’m going to sit. Hold my coffee Linda?”
She sat with her back against the building, trying to tie her sneaker with her oversized purse still on her shoulder when it happened.
The doors unlocked and swung in.
The herd began to move. Janice pressed her feet against the concrete, pushing her back into the building so she wouldn’t get knocked over and trampled. Several shoppers tripped over her feet but stayed up. As the doors swung shut she caught a glimpse inside.
It was dark; very few lights were on. The man who opened and closed the door had a ponytail and a week’s growth on his face. He wore a black leather vest. As he closed the door, something swung from his shoulder. It looked like a gun. It looked like a fake gun because it was all black; a movie prop perhaps.
Janice was the only one outside. With her sneaker tied, she rolled to her side and got up. After straightening her jacket, she tried the door. It was locked and her heart sank. She was alone. Several ramp trucks pulled into the parking lot and positioned to carry away cars that had only just arrived.
Janice began to worry. Linda was inside and the doors were locked. Her Navigator was in the lot and cars were being hauled away. Everything was wrong.
Suddenly, what could only be the sound of gunfire erupted on the other side of the doors. There had to be several guns from the sound of it. Janice lurched back, whimpered, and then got down to a crouch.
The gunfire dwindled down to single shots here and there and Janice fled from the front of the building. Fobbing her car door after a frantic search in her purse, she got in. Her eyes welled up and a tear turned black with mascara before it raced to her jaw line. She didn’t understand what was going on. The one thing she understood was that a lot of people were on the inside when the guns were being fired. Linda was inside. She was supposed to be in there as well, but she stopped to tie her shoelace.
She noticed two men in black reaching from the roof of the building. They were removing the black letters that spelled out DOMINIC’S DISCOUNT ELECTRONICS. The last car to be hauled away was the black Escalade the mother and daughter had arrived in.
Janice was found alone in the parking lot later that day. She couldn’t say what happened. She couldn’t say anything at all for quite some time.
Did you notice the Dunkie’s link in the story?