Black Friday

by Jeff Goode

copyright © 2005

(A CHRISTMAS SHOPPER is patiently waiting in line for the mall to open on the day after Thanksgiving. She hums a carol to herself. ANOTHER SHOPPER rushes in and cuts in front of her in line. The first shopper taps the second on the shoulder.)

1ST. Excuse me…

2ND. What??

1ST. You cut in front of me.

2ND. Yeah? So what?

1ST. It was very rude.

2ND. (brutally frank) Look, this store opens in 10 minutes, and I don’t care what it takes, I’m not gonna miss out on the new Xbox, the new Dora doll and the new Elmo CD. And if you think you can stop me, I’m gonna tell you the same thing my 6-year old says to Santa when he’s sitting on his lap every year: Bring it, bitch!

1ST. (stunned) Okay. Just thought I’d mention it. That’s all.

(A THIRD SHOPPER comes in, sees the line.)

3RD. Damn! Look at this line.

(She gets in line behind the First Shopper.)

3RD. Why does this happen every year?

1ST. Well, it is the day after Thanksgiving.

3RD. I know that. I mean the line. Every year I come earlier, and every year it gets longer, so I end up at the same place in line, no matter when I wake up.

1ST. I guess you’ll have to come earlier next year.

3RD. Yeah.

(Third Shopper sulks.)

3RD. Hey, can I ask you something?

1ST. Sure.

3RD. Are you here for the new Xbox?

1ST. No.

3RD. Good, that’s good! ‘Cause that’s what I’m here for. What about the Dora doll?

1ST. Nope.

3RD. All right, great, this is gonna work out fine. Here’s what we gotta do:

1ST. What’s that?

3RD. When the doors open, I want you to just veer left, and I’ll go right, and that way I don’t trample over you in the rush to get in. How’s that sound?

1ST. All right, I suppose.

3RD. You’re not here for the Elmo CD, are you?

1ST. Nope.

3RD. Great. That’s great. So just stick to the plan, veer left, and you won’t even feel me go by you.

(The Second Shopper turns around, pissed.)

2ND. Excuse me.

3RD. What?

2ND. I’m here for the Elmo doll.

3RD. Yeah?

2ND. I’m here for the Xbox, too.

3RD. Yeah, so?

2ND. So if you try to blow by me when the doors open, I’m gonna take you out at the knees.

3RD. You think so?

2ND. I waited all year for this, and I don’t care which way you veer, if you try to get past me, I will take you down, so help me Jesus God.

3RD. Yeah, well, I think you’re forgetting one thing.

2ND. What’s that?

3RD. I’m behind you in line.

2ND. So?

3RD. So whatever happens when those doors open, you’re not gonna see it coming. You can try to stop me if you want, but if you get in my way, I’m gonna blindside you so bad you may never regain the use of your extremities.

2ND. You could cripple me from the neck down, and I would still sink my teeth in your ass and take you down with me. And then neither of us gets the box.

3RD. Yeah? …Well, if that’s what it takes.

(They turn their backs on each other. Sullen silence. Finally, Third Shopper decides to call a truce.)

3RD. All right, look–

(Second Shopper whips around, ready for a fight.)

3RD. Whoa, calm down. Let’s make a deal.

2ND. (suspicious) What kind of deal?

3RD. The way I see it, we’re both after the same things, so there’s really only two ways this can play out. Either you and I end up going at it right here in the line, before we even get through the door. And everybody else gets past both of us.

2ND. Yeah, or?

3RD. Or we can work together and form an alliance.

2ND. (likes the sound of that:) An alliance? Like on television?

3RD. If we team up, there’s no way anybody gets past us, and we both get everything we want. And that, my friend, is the true meaning of Christmas.

2ND. How do I know I can trust you?

3RD. ‘Cause you know I want that Xbox just as bad as you do.

2ND. I don’t know about that. I’d kill to get my shopping done early.

3RD. I will maim, I will kill - and if this is what it takes — so help me, I will fucking cooperate.

2ND. (convinced) All right, you got a deal.

3RD. Great. Check this out: (She pulls out a map and cuts in front of the First Shopper to show it to the Second Shopper.) I downloaded a floor plan of the store. We gotta go for the Xbox first, because they moved them up front, and they’re gonna be off to the right. Then we cut across hosiery — ‘cause the lines are gonna be shorter there - and get to the kiddie playdolls for Dora.

2ND. Or we could save time if we go through maternity. I know it’s longer, but those people stay down when you hit ‘em.

3RD. I like it. This is gonna work.

1ST. Or you know what you could do?

3RD. (suspicious) What?

1ST. You could really work together - like a real team - and get everything faster.

2ND. What are you talking about?

1ST. If you go one way, and get two Xboxes, and you go the other, and get 2 dolls - and then share them - You’ll both be done with your shopping in half the time.

3RD. That sounds like a good idea…

1ST. Thanks.

3RD. What are you trying to pull?

1ST. I’m just trying to be helpful.

3RD. You’re full of shit, you’re up to something.

2ND. I don’t trust her.

3RD. Me neither, she doesn’t want an Elmo CD.

2ND. That’s messed up.

3RD. (looks at the map) I dunno. What do you think?

2ND. It could work. ...I say we go for it.

3RD. All right. (to First Shopper) Thanks.

1ST. You’re welcome.

3RD. But I’m watching you. (To Second Shopper) What else you got on your list? If we do this right, maybe we can take down the whole store in half an hour, and I can get over Mac world for the new iPod.

2ND. Harry Potter DVD. An uber-tool, whatever that is. And one of the new choke toys.

3RD. Choke toy?

2ND. Yeah, the new unsafe toy. It can choke a kid if used correctly.

3RD. You mean, incorrectly.

2ND. No, that’s the beauty of it. A child using it correctly can get the cord wrapped around their neck or something and strangle themselves.

3RD. Why would you want one of those?

2ND. It’s not for me, it’s for the neighbor kids.

3RD. Ah. You got a problem with your neighbor kids, too?

2ND. Yeah, I can’t get them to stay out of my lawn. I tried talking to their parents, but it didn’t do any good.

3RD. Fucking Spics.

2ND. So a couple years ago, I started looking at the most dangerous toy list, and I get one or two of whatever’s most likely to kill a kid that year. And I just leave ‘em out in the yard.

3RD. And that kills ‘em?

2ND. No, I wish. But it freaks their parents out, and now they make damn sure the kids stay out of my yard.

3RD. That sounds great. I think I’ll get one of those, too.

2ND. You won’t regret it.

3RD. All right, we’re set then. (She folds up her map, and waits for the doors to open.) Have you heard about these new environmentally friendly SUVs?

2ND. I would kill for one of those.

(They notice the First Shopper, still watching them.)

3RD. What about you? What would you kill for?

1ST. Me? (thinks about it) Love.

3RD. …Love???

1ST. And world peace.

2ND. I think you’re in the wrong line for that.

1ST. Maybe. But there’s just so much violence in the world, you know? I had to do something.

3RD. How’re you gonna get love and world peace standin’ in the Xbox line?

1ST. See this coat?

2ND. Yeah, it looks new. That’s nice.

1ST. I got it two days ago. I cut a hole in the lining, and pulled out all the insulation. Then I refilled the lining with plastic explosives, and wired it to explode if I let go of this button. Y’know, if I get tackled or knocked out or something. Or if I get tasered, it’ll go off instantly.

3RD. What… the…?

1ST. Then, in a couple minutes, when the store opens its doors, and everybody crushes to get in, I’m going to set it off.

(Stunned silence.)

2ND. How is killing people trying to get an Xbox going to reduce the violence in the world?

(First Shopper just smiles. The other two Shoppers exchange nervous glances.)

3RD. Y’know, I think I left my purse in the car. My other purse. The one with my credit cards in it. Yeah, this one’s just lipstick. I’ll be right back.

(She dashes out. First Shopper smiles at Second Shopper.)

2ND. You can go ahead of me if you like.

1ST. Thank you. That’s very polite of you. (She steps past her to her original place in line.) Merry Christmas.

2ND. Yeah, Merry Christmas.

(The Second Shopper backs slow away, then suddenly bolts and runs for it. First Shopper just smiles and hums a Christmas carol to herself as she waits in line. …And the lights slowly fade.)