on, sugar cakes. Mommy is still looking for that treatise on Grecian
army strategy that we talked about on the way over here. Okay,
here we are. Let's just settle you all down here in the childrens
section and see what fun and evocative books we can find. There
you go. All right, Ill be back in a few. Oh teenie one,
please dont wipe that there. Okay, Ill be back shortly.
Maam, that is a special order. We dont have
it on the shelf. Oh, here, the distributor says it is out of print,
but they have one in stock."
Will I have to buy it if I dont like it?
Well, maam, it is an $800 book, so I think
wed need a commitment right now.
So, do you have a book with a blue cover? It's about a guy
and a dog. I read it when I was little. Anyway, could you help
me in the music section? Im looking for a CD by Jimmie Rogers.
Its an old country record that I just know is out on a CD.
I went to the local bluegrass singalong at the uber cool grocery
store/music venue out in the country, you know, where all the
country music stars live. They talked about it like I would, like,
you know, really benefit from it.
Maam, I think a used CD store might better be able
to serve you. Oh goodness, child, please dont rip those
pages out. No really, you need to give me the book. This is not
Ha ha! Isnt she just too cute? She wants to read just
like Peyton Archie and Loretta Tammy there. Oh, darlin, just put
that book down. Okay, my little Fudgecycle, we need to go. Oh,
wait, I know what I forgot! She walks, no, strides toward
the coffee shop behind the magazines. Peyton Archie, Loretta Tammy,
and little Fudgecycle are left standing by the store clerk.
He is the young man working on his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering
with a minor in southern literature. He puts his hands on his
hips, for effect, but the mother is long gone. She calls back
over her shoulder telling the kids to stay put right where they
are which is directly in front of a rack full of Vogue,
Elle, and Paris Match magazines. Little Fudgecycle,
who cant yet walk, crawls over to the rack in about two
seconds, according to the clerks explanation later that
She saw that cover picture with the bright blue ocean and
with the half-naked lady laying in the sand and surf in some kind
of toga wrap thing, which anyone could clearly see through. So,
she just grabbed the second tier shelf like it was a library ladder,
which information would have been more helpful if Id only
known this about her. That is when the rack fell over and Fudgecycle
started screaming. Peyton Archie started yelling haw haw haw,
guffawing actually quite loud and the other one, whats her
name, Shania Faith, well, she started running around in a circle,
actually around me. She was screaming, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!
with the emphasis on the first syllable....
No, sir, I thought youd want to get the big picture.
he tells the manager. Anyway, that all would have been manageable
until I heard shouting from the Spiritual/Self Help area. Yes
sir, there was a bit of an altercation, which I could have handled
without Shanias and Fudgecycles and Peytons
help, you understand...."
Well, yes sir, that could have been the pivotal moment when
I should have stayed with the children, but there was someone
yelling so loud that even Shania stopped screaming, although she
continued running in a circle, which I did manage to jump out
of because by now she was staring at the ceiling and staggering.
I think she was getting dizzy because she started to meander in
different directions, bumping into people, including her brother,
Peyton Archie, who just shoved her away and told her not to touch
him again. Little Fudgecycle had crawled on down into the automotive
Oh, all right, back to the loud voices. You have never heard
such language. By the time I got there, one really large man,
a Mountain of a Man, if I may use that descriptive term, was flailing
around, waving a book in one hand and shaking his fist at another
man. The other man was red, almost purple in the face and, I swanee,
I thought he was having a stroke. No sir, he was on the floor.
Im thinking, oh my goodness, this man could be dead when
Shania Faith, Peyton Archie, and Fudgecycle all run up to me to
tell me they cant find their mother and so I said, hey,
why dont you all start yelling Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,
and I bet then well find her....
No, sir. I am not making this up for your entertainment
benefit. I thought the Mountain of a Man, who was now also purple
in the face, was gonna keel over on top of Heart Patient. And
sir, I must say, mocking me wont help get this information
which you will most assuredly need when the insurance adjuster
starts asking questions....
All right, the police, too. No, I havent forgotten
the police, but I believe they are conducting their own interrogation,
No sir, Im not trying to be a smart ass....
All right, Ill finish. Mountain of a Man has a self-help
guide in his hand, you know, the one with the yellow cover and
a picture of the husband and wife team who promise eternal salvation
in the afterlife and a pretty much problem-free life here on earth.
Right, thats the one. I know, can you believe people buy
this stuff? ...
Okay, I will stop smirking. Well, Mountain of a Man, still
bellowing at the top of his lungs, abruptly stops and just purses
his lipsyes sir, I did use the term purseshe purses
his lips and just throws the book squarely at the Heart Patient,
hitting him right in the chest. I know he wasnt a Heart
Patient. He looked like one, okay? Apparently, and no way would
I vouch for anything Mountain of a Man said, when Heart Patient
tried to duck, thats when he hit his head on the corner
of the bookshelf. Yes sir, I was running. It all happened very
fast, like in a split second. Yes sir, I could give you the scientific
termlike nanno-second, but I think the point here is that
he hit his head, not how fast I moved....
Why was Mountain of a Man yelling? Well, from what I could
get out of him, he was sitting on the floor, spread eagle, if
you will, next to his wife, who was sitting the same way. According
to Mountain of a Man, and I think the police will corroborate
this, the Heart Patient wanted to look at the boxed calendar sets
on the counter where Mountain of a Man was leaning, sort of using
it as a simulated lazyboy recliner. This is when Heart Patient
just kicked Mountain of a Man in the leg with his sandal. Yeah,
those velcro things you can wear to the beach. No, they were not
JC water walkers. Then he tried to act all innocent, according
to Mountain of a Man, and say,
excuse me, I was just
trying to look at this cat calendar. Having bent one of
his toes back while kicking, actually I think he broke it, well,
he lost his balance again and this time hit the calendar table
with his head as he fell. This is about when Ms. Grecian Army
Treatise shows up, shouting, Where are my children? What
have you done to my children?' She shoves past the lady pushing
a grocery cart from T.J. Maxx...."
Yes sir, Ill push it back up there when I leave. I
was aghast that Ms. Grecian Army Treatise would be anything but
ashamed for having left her children in the first place, and I
am assuming they were really hers. She could be the nanny from
hell for all I know. Yes, I know the customer is always right,
but I did save Fudgecycle from a blunt force trauma. No sir, it
means horrified, which I was. Yes sir, that is when she and her
three tots climbed right over Heart Patient. Yes, she never missed
a beat while Archie Peyton was yelling, Blood, blood, theres
blood! Look, the man is dead! No she did not shush them,
but Ms. Treatise turned and said, Honestly, I cant
believe you would subject my children to this. I will never come
to this bookstore again!
I dont think we will have Heart Patients version
until tomorrow. He was still unconscious when they put him in
the ambulance. Yes sir, I will clean up the blood, but the police
acted like I should maybe leave it alone until they were through
with the crime scene. Yes sir, they did call it a crime scene.
No sir, Im not kidding. So, I think we need to just put
a chair or step stool or something on top of it in the meantime.
Yes sir, that would block the aisle, but what about the blood?
Yes sir, I will cover it with gift wrapping paper but I just think
it will soak up the blood and I dont need to get arrested
right now. Im in the middle of midterms. Okay, Ill
tape a garbage bag over it. Hey, good thinking....
Uh, yes sir, Ill go in the back right now. Sir, am
I still on the clock?
a journalism degree from the University of Georgia in hand, Suzanne
Brunson has toiled through the years as a newspaper editor,
a reporter, an occasional columnist, a Vanderbilt fundraiser,
a freelance writer, and is the author of one novel. She is a member
of the Council for the Written Word and the Tennessee Writers