Black Friday by Matt Micheli
You ought to see this one guy. He brought his whole family out here: his wife, his kids, too young to be outside in this cold weather. What an asshole. I hear him secretly telling this other guy while his wife distracts the kids, that he’s here for the two-hundred dollar iPads, one each for his six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter, both with hands too small to operate the damn things. I wonder what fucking planet this guy is from, and you wonder why our economy is in the shitter.
This other girl, her belly is bursting to get out. She must only be fifteen or sixteen which means she got pregnant at fourteen or fifteen. Her deadbeat boyfriend is standing there, shaking and nervous. He keeps looking toward the front of the line and then the back, up and down on his feet. I hear him say to someone excitedly, but trying to sound cool, that they’re here for the Xbox. And you want to tell him that they don’t need an Xbox, and maybe they need to worry about the baby – some diapers, some formula, some clothing and blankets, some baby food – not no damn Xbox. I look at all of these people standing here, an endless line of consumers, consumers, consumers.
Consumers = sheep.
I check my watch. It’s almost 3 a.m., and that’s when they open. The line livens and starts moving more. There’s a crispness to the air that wasn’t here a couple of hours ago. I see that family again with the irresponsible dad and then countless other families, and I wonder how their Thanksgiving dinners went.
“It’s been too long Mom, Pops, but we gotta go stand in line at Wally-World. See you next year . . . unless they offer deals on Thanksgiving Day, then we’ll be at Wally-World, and we won’t see you.”
The line is becoming more active and alive, all the while extending and extending. There are a few security guards here to keep order, but not enough to really do anything if the sheep get out of control. Last year, two people died. They were trampled to death when the doors opened. No one knew of this until several hours later when a seventeen-year-old female employee found the bodies shoved up against the basket area; moved out of the way. The lifeless bodies were beaten and tenderized, stepped on by thousands of feet. The young employee was thankful it wasn’t her.
The crowd is loudening as it grows, and it’s almost time. The countdown begins. Everyone is standing and smiling, excited to spend, spend, spend on things none of them (nor anyone else) need, need, need: iPads, Xboxes, laptops, toys manufactured by kids younger than yours working out of sweatshops, inhaling massive amounts of lead-based paint fumes.
I see the pregnant teenage girl shivering. Her loser boyfriend hasn’t looked at her in the past ten minutes, preoccupied with the thought of that toy game system. And you wonder what kind of father can a boy really be, and then if they have other kids, and what’s this world coming to?
You say to me, “Can you believe these people?” and then add, “And you wonder why our country is in the shitter.”
“I know. I’m only here for the TV. Time to upgrade the one in the garage. It’s only a fifty-two inch.”
Matt Micheli is a transgressive fiction writer out of Austin, TX. His analytical, sometimes satirical, and often times blunt views of love, loss, life, and beyond are expressed through his writing. For him, writing is an escape from the everyday confines of what the rest of us call normal. He was the 2012 Halloween Book Festival winner, and his recent publications are at Red Fez, SALT., Paragraph Line, Foliate Oak, and ULTRA by 1889 labs. Catch him on his site: www.violentsleeper.com or @micheliworld.