I was raking in some overtime as a rent-a-cop in the local department store; they wanted some extra bodies on hand during the Christmas rush, and I figured, what’s the worst thing that could happen – some kid’d piss on Santa’s knee?
Easy money, right? Boy was I wrong.
It was near closing time on a Saturday, the last one before Christmas, when the ruckus started. Two ladies screaming at each other in the toy section, both of them pushing shopping carts filled will all manner of holiday crap. A big lady, and a little lady, and by big I mean fat, her polyester blouse and pants stretched to nearly bursting, and the little one so skinny you could nearly see every bone in her body poking through her sequined Christmas sweater.
Anyway, the big one was yelling something fierce, going on about how she saw the last whatever the hell it was on the shelf, so it was hers.
The skinny broad tried to turn away quick, pushing her cart down the aisle, when the big one blocked her path. I was just coming ‘round the sporting goods section when I seen them going at each other.
“But that’s my furbie,” the big one wailed, “I was just going to get it off the shelf.”
The little one shrugged. “I got it first. It’s mine – my daughter really wanted –”
“I don’t care what your daughter wanted – I let you pass by, just to be polite, and you took the furbie right out of my hands.”
“It wasn’t in your hands, and anyway, it was sitting on the shelf –”
“Waiting for me to pick it up.”
“The furbie was waiting for you to pick it up? You?” The skinny lady cocked an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, you must be kidding.”
“We’ll see about that.” The fat lady opened her purse, and bent over it, shuffling around, and, standing up, stood at attention with a lump of metal in her hands. I blinked. Damned fool lady had a gun.
The skinny one stepped back, “What’re you –”
“That’s my furbie – you better put it back you bitch.”
“Fine, whatever you say,” the skinny lady plucked the stuffed animal from her shopping cart and dropped it on the floor. “Here, get it.” She kicked it over.
As the fat lady bent down, the skinny lady made a jump for her, trying to climb up on her shoulders, while the fat one waved her arms, the gun still in her hand.
I stood at the top of the aisle, not sure how to break this one up. “Uh, ladies, if we could all calm down and settle this –”
The fat one started spinning in circles, the skinny lady still on top of her, and that gun waving away. Ducking behind the metal shelving, I peered out, cursing the state’s concealed weapon permit policies.
I tried again. “Ladies, if you’ll excuse me –”
The skinny one got bucked off, and shot across the floor, laying right beside the furbie. She moved to grab it, and the fat one held out her gun. “Don’t even move.”
The skinny lady whispered a bunch of words, hissing and sounding kinda croaky, like, maybe a foreign language or something.
“Are you all right, ma’am?”
The skinny one looked up at me, her eyes blazing, and I got a sudden chill. The fat lady moved to grab the furby, and the skinny one just sat there, watching.
As the fat lady picked up the stuffed animal, she let out a howl, screaming like all get out. I stared at her, trying to figure out what was going on, and suddenly blood started spurting outta her nose and mouth, she bent over coughing, blood dripping down her polyester blouse and onto the floor.
She dropped the furby on the ground beside her and kept coughing.
“Uh, ma’am, you need some medical attention – let me be of assistance,” I stammered.
The fat lady just kept coughing, her chest heaving and hips shuddering as she bent over, then she started puking; only it wasn’t really puke, some kind of whitish membrane bulging out of her mouth, with ever retch it grew bigger, a slimy white thing, like a sock turned inside out nearly reaching the floor.
I stared, it was like her insides were coming out.
And then she collapsed, falling flat onto her stomach. Her back rose and fell a few times, hitching in as she gasped for breath, then nothing.
Then slowly, air or something just went out of the fat lady, she deflated, shrivelling like she was a leaky balloon or a toy losing its stuffing.
All the while the skinny lady just sat there watching.
“Uh, I gotta call someone,” I said, mostly to myself. Stunned, I reached for my walkie talkie.
“That won’t be necessary,” she smiled at me, an icy smile. I shivered a little, she seemed so cold.
As I stood not sure what to do, the damned stuffed animal rolled slowly across the floor, plastic eyeballs staring upward and landed at the skinny lady’s feet. Standing up, she picked up the furby, and dropped it into her shopping cart.
Turning back down the aisle, she started to push the cart away, and nodded at me. “Have a good day, officer. I’m sure my daughter will love her new stuffed animal.”
I was left standing in the aisle with the fat lady stretched out on the floor beside me, a big white thing protruding from her mouth, and as I watched, she seemed to deflate a little more.
Like a toy losing it’s stuffing, I thought.
Fotohack is a photographer by day, and spinner of tall tales by night. When he’s not busy taking pictures for Twisted Sister, you can reach him at https://leftofurban.wordpress.com/