We’re in the middle of Moonlight Madness at the store. Three days of extended hours/giveaways/red dot blowouts/prices so low you’ll think you fell and bumped your head. It makes people crazy. Five minutes before midnight, old Barb McCormick comes in like she does, trying to combine coupons on a bottle of Chanel No. 5. People are always trying that kind of thing. They think they can do us any old way, but me and Mo are ready for them.
“I’ll make sure you never work a perfume counter again, girlie,” Barb says after Mo quotes store policy.
“Lord, what’ll I do?” Mo puts her hand to her forehead like she’s gonna pass out, and we laugh. I tell her not to worry when Jackie writes her up—we can’t just take whatever customers dish out. There’s gotta be limits or things fall apart.
Every time somebody like Barb McCormick cusses us out, we put a dollar in the Florida jar. We’re up to $83. I got the idea from this tape I listened to a while back, about how people all over the world are changing their lives just by picturing a new reality for themselves. It’s called positive visualization. I hold my breath, let my heart kind of swell, and think about the jar being full. I pretend Miami is already happening. We’re laying in the white sand, all greased up with Ban de Soleil, frying ourselves, and it feels good. Mo says she’s gonna wear a thong, so I put that in there, too.
We’ve been on this shift as long as we can remember. I probably spend more time with Mo than Jerry, which works out great for everybody, especially Jerry. Once, I asked him for a footrub, and you’d have thought I asked for a hot pink Cadillac. Give him his druthers, he’ll go down to Ziggy’s after work and throw darts at the wall, trying to get good enough for the pro circuit. He’s got dreams, too, stupid as they are.
Mo’s got a whole other set of problems. Last year she found this tarty orangy-red lipstick in Bruce’s truck. Peep Show, it was called; Mo’s worn Champagne Embrace since high school. Sometimes she cries about it. She cries about a lot of things.
A couple of months ago I started a new jar Mo doesn’t know about. I’ve got this plan. I’m gonna watch her smiling on that beach in a bigass hat, cooking up like a griddlecake. The water’s gonna stretch out before us like it’s holding our wildest dreams, all we gotta do is run into it. When the sun goes down, I’ll tell her about the jar and the apartment. Then our lives will start.
After we close on Thursday, Mo says “Let’s make the mannequins look like they’re humpin’.” I clap my hands and hop up and down—why hadn’t we thought of this sooner?
Friday is the red dot sale for the early birds, the baloney in the Moonlight Madness sandwich. When Mo ratchets up the gate at 7 a.m., people will charge in like their last shred of hope is hidden somewhere in this store. They’ll trash the place—snatching at sauna pants, fat cream, and bamboo steamer baskets that they won’t ever take out of the box. Snatching because it’s there, because it’s got a red dot on it.
When the gate comes up in the morning, all those ladies with big empty spaces where their hearts should be see the sportswear mannequins with their hands down each other’s pants, digging for gold. They see Tippy, the lingerie mannequin, bent over the pantyhose display, her nightie hitched around her waist while Sloan from Men’s Suits stands behind her, his pants around his ankles. They’re like an old married couple that’s gotten sick of looking at each other.
It’s Oh, my goodness, Gloria and Come quickly, Jesus, and then Jackie says she’s sorry but she’s gotta fire us. Store policy. Mo looks like she’s gonna cry. When Bruce finds out, there’ll be an eggplant moon under her eye that I’ll have to put steak on, because that’s what you do when somebody’s had the bejeezus beat out of them. You make that steak stretch over their whole life, if you can.
“Everything’s gonna be okay,” I say as her eyes fill to the brim and spill over. “Let’s get our coats.”
I get the jar out of the safe, and we walk to the bus stop. Mo slips her hand into mine and all I can think about is Miami.
About the author:
Emily Koon is a writer from North Carolina. She has previously published work in Meridian, Juked, decomP, Camera Obscura and other places and can be found blogging nervously at thebookdress.com.