Jim Bob didn’t just want that 55-inch flatscreen with surround sound &- he needed it. NASCAR wasn’t the same without it. The roar of the circuit needed to be felt, and this television was like being in the pit.
Jim Bob did his best to be polite at dinner. He ate the turkey and mashed potatoes, the stuffing and cranberry sauce; he passed the candied yams and bourbon gravy, and cracked a few ribs when he crammed in half a pecan pie. The food was good, but his eyes were on the prize.
Throughout dinner, his heel was tapping against the leg of his metal folding chair, although nobody could hear it over Leanne’s sister, Nanette, who couldn’t stop prattling on about how handsome that Mike Huckabee was. Jim Bob’s cordiality extended all the way to the dessert buffet being cleared, and then Leanne let go of the leash, but only on the condition he buy her a few things as well.
Still in his Sunday best, plaid and denim, he grabbed the six-pack of High Life he’d been keeping on ice, hopped in his F-150, and drove to the Walmart. He arrived at ten, and there was already a line, some shoppers in tents. Every person ahead was one more standing in the way of him and racetrack rapture, and he was determined to have one of those televisions mounted next to the deer head in the living room.
He set the alarm on his cell phone for 3:50 a.m., unfolded his lawn chair, and sipped his suds into the wee hours.
A loudspeaker roused Jim Bob from his turkey-pie-High Life coma at a quarter to four, saying the store would be opening in 15 minutes and everyone should enter the store in an orderly fashion. He folded his lawn chair and kicked the empties over the curb into the lot. Looking around, he checked out the competition.
“That iPhone is mine.”
“I’m getting a camera.”
“I’m all over those Vaios.”
“I’m stocking up on so much Vitamin C. Swine Flu can kiss my ass.”
“I swear to God I will stab someone with a rusty butter knife if they’re outta Wii by the time I get in there.”
“I’ll bring the hurt on all y’all if y’all snatch all the grills “fore I get one.”
“I’ma get me a new .45. And once I got it I’ma blast my way outta there.”
“I’m gonna drop bows on anyone who goes near my flatscreen.”
“Not f–king likely,” Jim Bob mused to himself.
People had already begun to abandon the line. They formed en masse outside the doors and started pressing against the glass. At first everyone was just vying for position, like kindergartners at the water fountain without the teacher. Then they began shouting.
“LET US IN! LET US IN!”
With fists pounding, the doors finally slid open. The crowd poured in like Coke from a rattled can. The wailing and pushing created a mad frenzy. Jim Bob saw something fall but kept on pushing. There was so much energy. He shoved through the entryway and into the store. Tweaking with excitement, he jerked his head looking for Electronics. When he found his beacon, he sprinted to find the Sony. He reached the televisions and started scanning the boxes to find the right one.
“Two left &- Hot Dog!”
As he lifted the box, an alarm went off. “Did I win a prize?” Someone came on the PA system and firmly ordered everyone to stop shopping and stay where they were. “F–k that!” was shouted back by more than one shopper. Jim Bob glanced around to see what others would do, and since everyone continued shopping, he hoisted his toy and made a beeline for checkout, forgetting his wife’s wish list.
But when he arrived, none of the aisles were attended. He saw a crowd of blue vests near the entrance. “What the hell are they doing over there? I got my TV and I’m ready to go.” As Jim Bob tried to figure out what was going on, flashing blue and red lights could be seen coming through the doors. “What happened, someone trip and get a boo-boo? “
Jim Bob hefted the television over to where the Walmart employees were and saw a worker lying on the ground. The man wasn’t moving. The paramedics were there and were performing CPR. “Get up, ya bum,” someone in the crowd shouted. Jim Bob realized the man had been trampled. “He’s dead,” someone barked. A collective “Ugh’ was let out by the crowd. Some shoppers were disgusted by the corpse, but most were angry &- this was interrupting their shopping.
A policeman yelled into a bullhorn. “Attention everyone, this is now a crime scene. There will be no more shopping. If you have any items, put them down and proceed to the front of the store for questioning.”
“Ah, this is bulls–t.”
“Just get “em outta here and let us shop.”
Jim Bob did not get his big screen. He still goes to Applebee’s to watch the races and tells the bartender how some a-hole ruined his NASCAR holiday season.8212;Matt Doran is a creative writing graduate student.8212;This fictional piece does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.