ONE CLOWN SHORT, page-46

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
IT’S A STAMPEDE!
The phone woke Mandy with a jolt.
"Quick, turn on the news."
The TV was on. She had dozed off on the sofa.
"It was a rough day for holiday shopping," said the reporter. "Here at the Big Top Supplies
store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, shoppers were lined up for the doorbusters. The doors opened
promptly at six a.m. and the mad dash began. One woman fell in the stampede for bargains and
lost her wig. But being beat to the bargains wasn’t going to stop her from looking her best while
shopping." The clip showed a woman lying on the floor, reaching for her wig that had flown off
in the chaos. She and her precious headdress were being trampled by the crowd rushing in
behind her. She stayed on the floor until she got it back onto her head. Once she got up, she
primped her hair with her fingers and started running along with the rest of the shoppers. All
this took place in the entrance of a Big Top Supplies store.
"Who is this?" she finally asked into the phone.
"Gary. Can you believe that? I’ve seen the video at least five times tonight."
"Wow."
"Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day."
"Let’s hope. Get some sleep. Call me at the warehouse tomorrow."
Mandy turned on the TV in the morning as she was getting dressed. Again the video clip
was played of the woman and the wig. She saw it a third time when the national morning
program came on, starting with, "At a Big Top Supplies store . . ."
The warehouse was buzzing. The phones were already ringing off the hook. "Send this!
We’re out of this! Anything, send anything!" By ten, they were out of order pads. Mandy was
scratching out orders on a piece of scrap paper when her phone rang again. "Hello, this is
fulfillment. Mandy speaking."
"Oh, Mandy, I got you!" "Who is this?"
"This is Mabel, Wilbur’s wife in Minnesota."
124"
"Wilbur?" She thought for a minute. "You mean Gramps?" "Gramps, that’s him."
"How are you, Mabel? It is nice to finally talk with you." "Mandy, we need stuff to sell. You
know, that whole wig thing happened right here. She was just the sweetest girl. And pretty—
why she felt she needed to wear a wig is beyond me."
"You talked to her?"
"Sure I did. I helped her pick out some other things when she didn’t get the balloons she
wanted, because they were all gone by the time she got that wig back on. We had a very pleasant
conversation."
"Mabel, thank you so much for your fine customer service."
"This place is a hoot. Wilbur and I have more laughs now. Finally there’s something to keep
us going. You know, busy hands are happy hands."
"What do you need for the store?"
"Those balloons sold out right away. And we don’t have any face makeup or red noses left.
We had over a hundred juggling kits and they’re all gone. The shelves are looking pretty bare.
At least I’ve been able to give them a good cleaning. They hadn’t been dusted off in some time, I
can tell you that."
"I’ll fix you up, Mabel. Give my best to, uh, Wilbur."
"He’ll be so excited when I tell him that I talked to you. You keep up the good work."
"Thank you, Mabel. Bye." At least Mabel had managed to put a smile back on Mandy’s face,
if even only for a brief moment.
"Violet, I’m going to see if I can help the pickers fill some of these orders. No one has been
by to pick up any new orders from us lately."
Violet was talking and vigorously writing and waved her off, so Mandy headed down the
hallway toward the picking and packing area. It looked strangely different to her, but she
couldn’t quite put her finger on why. She spotted Biglar reading what looked like a huge plaque
hanging on the wall that Mandy had never noticed before.
"That’s it. All the boxes have been cleared out of this hallway.
That’s what’s different," she said to herself.
Biglar turned when he heard her voice. "Yes, the place is starting to shape up, isn’t it?" The
tone of his voice seemed normal for a change.
"What are you reading, Biglar?"
"This is the building dedication plaque. I remember well the day it was placed here. My
mother was a wonderful woman. I was very blessed to have been a part of her life."
Mandy began to read the plaque aloud.
On this 5th day of November, 1960
Big Top Supplies dedicates this, its
First warehouse.
125"
May the joy and laughter of the circus
Fill its halls forever.
To Biglar, My Beloved Son.
Love, Mom
"Wow, isn’t that special? Biglar, that should warm your heart."
"I’d forgotten that it was even here. I hope that people will come by and begin to realize the
passion and commitment that built this company. That was not what destroyed it."
"I think they know that already or they wouldn’t be here pitching in on their day off."
"I’ve been acting so terribly lately. I hope you’re right. Look at me—I’m a wreck. I’m
smoking again, for crying out loud." He held up his hand to show her the lit cigarette.
"Biglar, a cigarette is not going to solve your problems. You need to get rid of that. Go take
a walk or go to a yoga class. Do something that will help clear your mind."
"You’re right." He impulsively threw the cigarette down the hall.
They stood in silence for a few seconds. "Biglar, why didn’t you ever get married?" Mandy
was curious about Biglar since the day she met him.
"Aah, Mandy, I’ve never been very lucky in love. I had one true love in my life—Dolly,
Louis’s wife." "Louis’s wife?"
"Yes. We met in college and knew we were soul mates from the moment we met at a
fraternity mixer. We planned our life together—marriage, children, a white picket fence. We
were two peas in a pod."
"What happened to make her decide to marry Louis?"
"We had a little spat one day. I don’t even remember what it was about. She wanted to hurt
me and she knew that Louis was my best friend. So she put the moves on him right in front of
me. I was devastated but young and too full of pride to confront her. I was best man at their
wedding. I sobbed uncontrollably during the bridal toast, and Louis’s brother had to take over for
me. I locked myself in my bedroom for a month after that."
"But now that Louis is in jail, along with all his cohorts, don’t you think she’s regretting her
mistake?"
"She still has a special place in my heart, after all these years. I don’t wish her any ill will.
And then I met Bebe."