Thursday, August 21, 2008

RiverMannonite pt. 2

Marcie was surprised to see me that Wednesday. I slipped off the 25 and wandered into the Mission Valley Center mall, watching her from across the walkway as she worked for a few minutes. I walked in and waited by the counter.

"Hi, honey," she said, annoyance painted on her face, but curiosity and concern in her voice. "What brings you here?"

I smiled and hugged her, but she let me know there would be no smooching in the store with a tight-lipped glare. She whispered, "Our regional manager is in the back with Amy. Knock it off."

I decided to pick up a candy bar and whispered my apology as I let her go with a touch of the arm. She watched then returned to the register and counting out Maia. I went to the candy bar area.

Skor, $100,000 bar, Payday. I remember thinking of how capitalistically named candy bars were. I also considered the "Toffee Fay, it's too good for kids" campaign, obviously designed to pique children's interest.

By the time I had thought over the social engineering behind candies, staring at each one and finding fault with all of them, I was no longer in the mood for a candy bar. I wanted a soda. However, I was beginning to regret my logic as critical thinking and political science classes as I considered the misdeeds of the various soda companies.

The door entry ringer announced a new customer and I looked up to see a dirty, thin man of perhaps 30 walk in, hunched and his face down. I looked to Marcie.

"That's him," she mouthed, pointing over her head as he walked, and holding her nose, then sticking out her tongue, then holding her hand to her throat and making a "choking face" to emphasize her point. She rolled her eyes and glared at his back as he made a beeline for the feminine products.

I understood. He stank.I don't know if it was her obvious discomfort, his sullen look, or my own simple sense of trouble-making humor, but I decided to join him.

I looked over my shoulder at Marcie and she covered her face, shaking her head.

I sauntered up to him. "Nice stuff, huh?" I asked.

He ignored me and stared, mouth a little agape at the Tampax "easy-applicator" tampon box he had selected. I picked up a package of "super duty" CVS-branded maxi pads and looked at them for a minute, shaking my head as if in agreement.

"These are for the real bleeders, aren't they?" I asked, showing him the box.

He looked at me with the stare of a man unsure. I showed him the package and he dropped the Tampax to take it, which I picked up and replaced on the shelf.

"Real bleeders?" he said. "These are for blood?"

His breath smelled like he had eaten swamp rat stew and his body odor was noxious. He read the label and turned the box. "Where?" he asked . 'Where does it say for blood?"

He put the box back on the shelf and looked at me as if I had kicked his dog. He spoke again, a distinct hint of German in his voice. "You are a liar."

"No, no," I said. "These are for women to wear when they have their monthly periods."

He walked to the back of the store with a wave of his hand, as if to dismiss me. He began touching the cheap bras and I shrugged, walking back to the front. Marcie looked livid.

"Frank, knock it off," she said under her breath as I put a diet coke on the counter. "I am so embarrassed. Just please go home."

She grabbed the phone and looked right past me. "Hey! You have to pay for that!" she said as he flew out the door, bra clutched in his hand, ignoring her. She spoke into the phone.

"A guy in a black wide-brim hat and a vest just ran out with a bra and didn't pay," she said. "Yes! YES! That's him. Oh, thank you."

She took my money and shook her head. "Go home," she said. "I'll see you later."

Amy came out and waved a hello to me as I started to head for the door. "Marcie, did he just leave here with a bra?"

Marcie nodded.

"Okay, that's it," she said. "He is not stealing from here again. You called mall security?"

Marcie nodded, "They said they know who he is and they know how he'll try to get away."

Marcie darted a glance at me and Amy shook her head. "Okay, well, I will be at Mall security."

I decided to follow her and see what could be seen, but it turned out I didn't have to go far, and neither did she. There he was, on his belly, two fat security men, one Black and one White, holding him down as he spit and struggled next to their parking meter cart.

The bra was a few feet away, on the asphalt, grimy. RiverMannonite looked up at me, hateful and angry, "Stupid English! Now look! Look what happened!"

Suddenly, much of this made sense. But there were questions, and as he was hauled away, I decided to surprise Marcie with the answers.