MALL TRIP

Posted: February 11, 2015 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , ,

Mounds mall 2

MALLTRIP
By David Allen

Sitting on a bench at the mall
While the wife shops
For last minute holiday presents.
Two older mall walkers, dressed in jeans
And checkered flannel shirts stroll by.
“…and I thought for sure he was going
To shoot him. Yellin’ “I’ll kill you, you dog…’ ”
The shorter man says, shaking his head.
And as his voice fades down the hall,
I wonder how that confrontation ended.

On the adjacent bench behind me,
An overweight guy in a blue Colts’
Sweatshirt rests and greets each walker
As they stroll by.
Some pass us with young, bouncy steps.
Others keep their balance by pushing
Wheeled devices before them.
“I’m timing you!” my benchmate calls
To an elderly lady shuffling behind her cart.
“You’re slowing down!”
She smiles. Her husband carefully
Walks a few steps behind,
Prepared to catch her should she stumble.

“You too tired?” a short, dark-skinned man
Asks my seatmate.
“No, just resting a bit,” he answers.
“Did three laps already.”
‘You too old!” his friend laughs.

It’s almost noon and there are few shoppers,
Strange just six days before Christmas
When the “Door Busters” sale is on
At the nearby Carson’s department store.
This former mill town has hit hard times,
Many mall shops have closed.
The Carson’s employees must now walk
To the food court for lunch
Because the MCL cafeteria across the hall
Sits empty, doors boarded up.
Next door, Bonzo’s Bounce House is closed,
Flashing lights waiting for schools to close.

“You got much shopping left?”
A middle aged woman asks her walking mate.
They each clench weighted barbells,
Widely swinging their arms as they stride by.
“As much as I can afford,” her friend answers,
Keeping up the pace, warding off the pounds
Holiday meals threaten to add

A threesome approaches.
Two men with a woman in the middle,
All appearing in their 70s.
“And I guess I’ll go to the hospital,”
The man on her left says. “Gotta see how…”
The sentence is lost to distance.

Three older women come by,
Hands gesturing as they make points
In their conversation.
“And then I put it in the oven,
But forgot to set the timer…”one says.
As they pass, my benchmate shouts,
“Merry Christmas girls!”
“And to you!” the baker says.
I’ll never know if her pumpkin pie burned.

Several walkers are soloists,
Measuring devices strapped to their waists
To count the steps, headphones
Block out the holiday tunes
Broadcast throughout the mall.
Many look old, retired, widowed maybe,
On their fourth or fifth pass by me.
Some smile, wondering, perhaps
What I might be writing,
Unknowing that I have borrowed
A few seconds of their time for my lines.

The mall is a sad place, its future in doubt.
Studies are underway to dam a nearby river
And flood the massive structure
And the half-empty nearby strip-mall shops
And shoddy residential neighborhoods,
Turning the area into a reservoir,
Providing pricey waterfront lots
For rich folk who shop online
Or at the teeming malls in Indianapolis.

Two women bundled in winter clothes
Meet in front of Carson’s,
One carries a small shopping bag.
“Last minute shopping?” the unburdened one asks.
“Got to,” the other answers. “In-laws are coming.”

Two workers from the department store
Exit behind them, chatting intimately
As they cross the hall and stand in front
Of the darkened former cafeteria.
The young woman places her hands on her hips
As the young man talks, his hands folded across his chest.
They see me watching, she smiles, gestures in my direction
And they turn and step back into their store,
Their plans for a tryst, perhaps, delayed for a moment.

Two women enter Carson’s behind them.
The younger one pushes a baby carriage
With an infant girl playing with a small ball.
The older woman pushes a wheelchair
Occupied by a paralyzed teenager.

Near a large potted plant,
A young woman in a heavy gray coat
Hands a cell phone to her right ear
And wipes away a tear with her free hand.
“Can you come out here?” she says
To someone somewhere else.
“I’m at the mall and my car won’t start.”
She shoves the phone into her coat pocket
And walks towards the exit.
“God damn!” she mutters.

“Something wrong there,” my seatmate says.
I turn to answer, but eye my wife leaving the shop.
She carries a small bag.
“Door Buster hell!” she tells me.
“Someone busted the good sales.
Not much I wanted.”
I rise to greet her.
“Whatcha got?” I ask.
“You’ll see,” she teases.
“Merry Christmas!” my benchmate says.
“And a Festivus for the rest of us,” I respond.
He laughs as we leave the dying mall.

MOUNDS MALL

 THE FUTURE?

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