"Excuse me young man," the woman said tapping Kevin on the shoulder.
"Yes ma'am, can I help you?" he said trying not to notice the woman's incredibly large silvery hair.
"I really hope so, I'm looking for," she paused to look at a small piece of paper, " a Wacky Racer slot car set."
'That figures,' he thought, 'three days before Christmas and this ignorant rich old bitch thinks she's gonna get the hottest toy of the year.' "I'm sorry ma'am," he said as politely and professionally as he could manage, "we're sold out of that item."
"You don't have any? Not even in the back?"
"No ma'am we don't."
"How long would it take to order one?"
"I'm sorry; we don't order any of our merchandise. The company makes the orders and they send us what they think we need."
"I would like to speak to the manager," she said sounding annoyed.
"That would be me, ma'am," he said with confidence.
"But you're so.."
"Young, I know," he finished for her.
"But what am I supposed to tell my grandson? Do you know anywhere that I could get one?"
'Tell him you were too lazy to get off your fat ass last month when you might have had a chance to get the stupid toy.' "I don't know what you could tell him." Kevin looked at her and thought for a moment and said, "I might know someone that can help you."
"Really? I would appreciate that so much. Who?"
"A friend of mine, he sometimes buys up a lot of things if he thinks they will be big sellers, then he sells them at a profit." Kevin looked around the store. "I will call him for you and find out if he has one. Meet me in front of the mall in 15 minutes and I'll let you know what he said."
"That would be wonderful, and I understand he has to make a profit. Money is no object, my grandson really wants that toy." She turned to walk away, looked over her shoulder and said, "I'll be waiting for you outside."
Kevin shook is head as he watched as the woman walked out of the store and disappeared into a mob of last minute Christmas shoppers. 'Stupid bitch, he thought, a woman your age should know better than to tell someone that money isn't an object.' He walked through a door leading to the back storage room.
Kevin never picked up the phone. Instead he sat down at the desk and looked over the monthly profit report
"Mr. Davis?"
Kevin looked up to see Susan, a high school girl that he hired as a cashier for the Christmas rush, poking her head around the door. 'Christ, what does she want now? She's already called in sick two days in the last three weeks. If she asks for time off, I should just kill her right now.' "Yes, Susan, what is it?"
Susan entered the backroom. "Mr. Davis, I was wondering if there was any way I could have Christmas Eve off."
I knew it! Just calm down, maybe she has a good reason. "Susan, you have been scheduled for that day since you started working here. One of the reasons I hired you was because you said you could work on Christmas Eve."
"I know," she said unsteadily, "but my boyfriend just asked me to go skiing with him and his family for the holidays."
'What a great reason for screwing me! You fucking bitch! Why do I put up with this shit? I should just hire men, they're much easier to work with.' He did his best not to show her how angry he was (a skill he had come to master over the years). "If you can find someone to work for you, you can have the day off. But if you can't, and you call in sick, I will have to fire you. Do you understand?" He said forcing a smile.
"Yes, sir," she said knowing it was going to be hell to find someone to work for her, "and thank you."
Kevin wondered who he could get to cover Susan's shift when she called in on Christmas Eve as he pulled his coat on and wandered out into the crowded mall. He took the escalator down to the first level and went outside. The woman was not there. He smoked a cigarette and waited.
He was lighting his third cigarette off of the second butt when he saw her come out of the mall carrying bags. 'Inconsiderate bitch, she's just been off doing her shopping, knowing that I'm waiting on her.'
When their eyes met, he forced a smile across his face. She walked up to him, "I'm so sorry," she said, " I was stuck in a checkout line, I hope you haven't been waiting long."
"No ma'am," he lied, "I just got out here myself."
"Were you able to talk to your friend?"
"Yes I did. He said he still had a few of them left. The only problem is; he wants four hundred dollars for it."
"Good lord, four hundred dollars? It's only a hundred dollar toy!"
'Money is no object, yeah right!' "I know it's ridiculous, so I asked him to knock the price down to three hundred. He said he'd do it as a favor to me."
She looked at him skeptically. "That's very nice of you, and I appreciate it very much. You've gone out of your way to help a perfect stranger. You don't see much of that these days."
"Yes ma'am," he said shyly, "I didn't really want to say it, but you remind me a lot of my mother, God rest her soul. You could be her twin."
"Oh you dear young man," she looked at him pitifully and put her hand on his shoulder, "that's one of the sweetest things I've ever heard."
'She's buying it. What a dumbass. Women are so gullible.' "Anyway, I would like to think that's not the only reason I'm helping you, but it is one of them." He shrugged, "My friend said to meet him at the park on Cedar Avenue. Do you know where that is?"
"Yes, I do, but."
"I know, it's weird, but that's how he works. He said to meet him there at eleven o'clock tonight, near the swing set. I think he reads too many spy stories. My friend is a little out of the ordinary, but he's really not a bad guy."
"Okay, eleven it is. Thank you so much for all your help. You're a very sweet young man," she said shaking his hand.
"You're more than welcome, ma'am, and Merry Christmas to you."
"Merry Christmas to you too," she said and she hugged him. Then she turned and walked into the parking lot.
"I'll see you tonight, you dumbass old bitch," Kevin said softly while he watched her walk away.