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Friday, December 23, 2005

Special Double Update: Another Brick in the Wal

The toilet backed up on Mom at 11:30, and by 11:35 we'd given up looking for the plunger. It was gone, lost to the ages, and there we were: High and dry, but getting wetter by the minute.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands, and grabbed my hoodie and a pair of bedroom slippers and went out into the 30-degree night with every intention of driving to the grocery store down the block, grabbing a plunger, and getting back in time to catch the end of Stephen Colbert.

But here's the thing: They don't sell plungers at the grocery store. And at a quarter to twelve on a Thursday night, there's only one place that does: Wal-Mart. The local one's on the other side of town, but I figured I'd already gotten to Rivendale, might as well head to Mordor.

It was an analogy that would prove to be stunningly accurate.

It's been a while since I've been to Wal-Mart at midnight, but I'm sure we've all been during the day. You know the people you see there? Think about them for a minute. Then imagine the people that wait until midnight to swing by, shambling past the employees with tattoos and knife-fight scars that are deemed too "raw" for daytime service.

The horror... the horror.

The place was packed. It's two days before Christmas, after all, and unlike me, there's a lot of people that don't start their shopping in late October. No, they wait until it's down to the wire, lurching around with an air of increasingly unquiet desperation. But they weren't what caught my eye at first.

No, that honor goes to the goths. Apparently being a vampire involves not only waiting until the Witching Hour to pick up a fresh pack of socks, but also wearing a black faux-snakeskin trenchcoat while you're doing it. Immediately on seeing them, I completely forgot what I was doing there, and slowed my pace to follow them for a few minutes, right up until I was distracted by the teenagers in bizarre and gigantic plastic Afro wigs. They were standing around chatting in the middle of Men's Shirts, politely stepping out of the aisle as I passed.

Eventually I made my way to hardware, but couldn't for the life of me find the plungers, which by this point was becoming more and more personally important as the cold outside began to wear on me. So I sought the assistance of one of the helpful indigenous employees, asking him where I could find them.

"Well, I'm not sure if we've got any left," he said, leading me down the aisle.

"Popular gift this year?"

As it turns out, they had plenty, in enough of a variety that I had to take time to decide. I ended up going with the one that looked like a mace, like the one the guy who looks like a really buff Ronnie James Dio uses in Conan the Barbarian. I was starting to get the feeling that I might have to fight my way out, and I figured that was my best bet for defense and home repair.

Then came the long wait in the line. I looked to my right, and saw a guy about my age with an out-of-control soul patch buying nothing but an entire bag full of candy and a stepladder. There's a story there. There's got to be. And while part of me wants desperately to know what it is, the other part knows that if I ever found out, it might just destroy my mind.

I finally paid and made for the door, almost tasting the sweet, frigid air of success when the Midnight Wal-Mart threw one final fresh horror in my path. Remember the Singing Billy Bass from a few years ago? The little fish you hang on the wall, and it sings when you press a button?

Well it's back.

And it's evolved like the Goddamn Terminator.

It's no longer a fish. No, it's four times bigger and comes in the form of a singing, moving, disembodied deer head.

That is some Evil Dead shit, and somebody's going to buy it as a Christmas present.

I have no memory of making it back to my car, but I eventually made it home, and now the toilet works fine. But part of me will never be back.

Part of me is gone forever.


Blogger Philip said...

My favorite story of noticing what the people are buying involves the guy who had three things: a 12-pack of cheap evil-tasting beer, a copy of "Guns & Ammo" magazine, and a large tub of Kool-Whip. I really don't want to know what kind of evening he had planned.

12/23/2005 12:26 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My parents got one of those singing deer heads. They are in fact monstrosities (the deer heads, not my parents).
It first appeared in their house around Thanksgiving. Throughout the meal, every once in a while, my dad would say, "Well what do you think, Buck?" and press the button for the deer to make a quip and sing some song.
Pure Satanic death.

12/29/2005 2:48 PM


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