Part 1: “Pre-Party shopping”
Leah and her friends were excited! Last year’s party was fun – and scary – but things worked out okay for Bunny and Berry after Leah, Zoey, Dunya, and Beanie solved the mystery of why Bunny was haunting them. (It was the dire need for Pumpkin Spice latte).
This year, the girls made sure they already had plenty of pumpkin spice just in case things repeated itself with Bunny.
The girls were a year older but still very much interested in Halloween and as a result had again planned to trick or treat with Leah and stay with Leah for a sleepover. They’d planned to trick or treat, count and divide candy, and then, end the night with a scary movie.
“I think that was a one-time thing and I bet it won’t happen again,” Leah said, as the girls walked into their local Halloween store where the girls were prepared to combine their money to get more decorations, spooky paper plates and cups, and extra candy that they could eat and didn’t have to give away to trick or treaters.
“Get more sugar straws, Leah” Beanie called out from the hard candy aisle, where she was loading up on some of the classics: Gobstoppers, Lemonheads, and mini M&M’s.
“Beanie, we have enough sugar straws. Stop asking for more and just get the hard candy!” Dunya yelled back, clearly already exasperated by Beanie’s sugar demands. Dunya was secretly sampling some of the loose candy.
Leah and Zoey laughed and continued shopping for more candy and goodies while trying to decide which scary movie to watch later that night.
“NO Zombies, Zoey. They are too scary!” Leah said emphatically.
“Ugh, Leah. You’re so scary. Okay, how about vampires?” Zoey shot back, exhausted with Leah’s demands.
“Omg Zoey! No!”
“You’re impossible Leah! Okay, I’ll just ask Dunya and Beanie and we will decide for ourselves.”
The two friends laughed and finished shopping before meeting their friends at the checkout line.
The girls waited for their turn quietly looking at the cashier.
Leah whispered to Beanie: “Look at her hands. Don’t stare.”
Beanie immediately began staring at the cashier’s hands.
The girls noticed the cashier’s hands were scared and had old bandages that were stained with blood.
“Leah, it’s a Halloween store. That’s fake blood and fake bandages, duh…” Beanie whispered a little too loudly to Leah, causing the cashier to stop scanning their items and look directly into Leah’s eyes.
Leah stared back and felt a chill go up her arms and down her spine. The cashier – whose name tag read “Pop.” Finally, Leah blurted out: “Pop? Your name is Pop?”
“The young lady was quiet and continued to stare at Leah. The friends remained motionless, all too scared to move or talk.
“No. That’s not my name.” The cashier said, after what seemed like five minutes.
“Oh, sorry. I just thought…” Leah started to say before being interrupted by the cashier.
“I have that as a reminder. My boss makes me wear it. Like he makes me wear these bandages. The cashier raised her hands to show the girls her bandages that they’d all stared at moments earlier.
Leah thought the bandages looked worse than she originally thought. They were too tight, for one, but also they just looked raggedy and bloody.
“What… what happened, Pop, uh, sorry, I don’t know what to call you. Sorry.” Leah said again, breaking the tension.
“It’s fine. Everyone calls me Pop. Nothing happened. Well, nothing too bad. My manager.. he’s.. mean. I wear these…” Pop pointed to her left hand. “They are the remains of plastic bag.
Zoey was holding the paper bag which was full of candy.
“Both wrists hurt.”
“Why does he make you wear those. He’s a jerk for doing that!” Dunya said with her usual bluntness.
“Because I was giving out too many paper bags and not enough plastic bags. I never asked, I just prefer to handle paper because it feels better. So every time I forget he ties a plastic bag around my wrist for a few days.”
“That’s sick. He can’t do that.” Leah said with empathy.
“He can and he does. This is my last day though so I don’t care. My wrists will thank me for getting out of his evil place.”
“Good. I’m glad you’re leaving.” Zoey said.
Leah looked at Zoey who was holding the paper bag and said to Pop: You didn’t ask us if we wanted paper or plastic, will you get in trouble?”
“Yea, probably. But it doesn’t matter because, like I said, it’s my last day.” Pop said.
“Well, ask us now so we can say we prefer paper” Leah asked, hoping she could prevent Pop from getting in even more trouble.
“It’s too late – ” Pop said, pointing over to where her boss was standing. He was a tall, slender man, with a long face and deep vacant eyes that gave him a gaunt, scary look.
He didn’t look happy, Leah thought.
“He’s coming over here” Pop finished.
The other three girls turned to look at the tall, slender man striding toward them with an angry and determined look on his ugly face.
“Well, I see you’ve given out paper again, “Pop”… without asking! I know you didn’t ask because I was watching and listening! I AM ALWAYS WATCHING AND LISTENING!”
“That escalated quickly” Dunya mumbled to Beanie.
“Omg” was all Beanie could mumble back in response.
“WHAT DID YOU SAYYYYYY???” The tall, slender man say, directing his awful gaze where Dunya and Beanie stood.
The girls stood perfectly still.
The manager turned his glare back to Pop.
“ASK THEM, Pop!”
Pop looked at the girls, then back to her manager before finally and with defiance asking: “Girls, do you want paper or plastic…from this stupid store?!”
The manager’s eyes widened and his face looked like it was shaking. Then he said with a deeper and grainier voice than he had used before: “Give them plastic. Now. These little smarty pants get nothing but plastic.”
After a few moments, Pop reached over to Zoey and took back the paper bag and then began taking the candy out and transferring to a plastic bag.
“There, thank you for coming.” Pop said as she began trying to take off her plastic wristbands.
“Leave them on!” The manager yelled at Pop.
“No. Today is my last day and I only have a few more hours so I quit right now.” Pop yelled back as she slammed her plastic wristbands on the small space in front of her.
“Leave them on or you will regret it!” The manager yelled even louder.
Pop picked up the remaining candy and shoved it all into the last plastic bag, sweeping up her discarded plastic wristbands as well. The wristband’s were so bloody the plastic bag Zoey was holding showed the stain of blood but it went unnoticed as the girls focused on Pop.
“Here you girls. I hope you have fun tonight. I’m done here!” Pop said as she walked past the tall, slender manager and right out the door.
The girls who had been frozen in place finally began inching out of the line while trying to avoid the mean manager.
“You girls have a good All Hallow’s Eve party. And don’t forget to recycle your plastic.” The mean manager said through his clenched teeth.
The girls shuddered and hastily exited the store, bumping into one another as each tried to quickly get out of sight of the creepy and mean manager.
To be continued….
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