Slick Mitchell and Penelope Ross stood in the parking lot until the cops arrived. Both Tommy Tool Towners wore expressions of self satisfaction. Another thug had been stopped in his path. Merchandise had been recovered. All in all, not a bad start in the world of retail chaos. For a brief moment in time, Slick Mitchell thought it might be a terrific day. He thought that until the ambulance pulled in.
"Did you call an ambulance?" Mitchell asked Penelope Ross.
It was a ridiculous question. Penelope had stood her ground, with her Nike'd foot on the thug's chest. She hadn't made a call. Unless she'd summoned the EMT's with her mind, she wasn't responsible for their presense. Her response was equally odd.
"No. Did you?" she asked. Slick Mitchell still held both drills. He leaned casually against the side of the Mercedes. He hadn't moved an inch since the capture.
"I did not," Slick Mitchell replied, glancing back at Penelope.
"Mags," the two said in unison.
If Tommy's Tool Town had a yearbook, Mags Davidson would be voted most likely to get beaned with Tommy merchandise. Some things were just predictable, and Mags was one of them.
Each time a truck arrived, Slick Mitchell participated in logging in the inventory. At least he pretended he did.
That's about to change, Slick thought to himself.
Hundreds of products arrived, and the same thought always ran through Slick's mind, How could Mags get injured by this one?
Giving his employees the benefit of the doubt was one of Slick's best abilities, so in Mags' defense, he ran through some other possibilities, as he waited for the cops to exit their vehicle.
Maybe Stockwell was in a sugar coma. This was a possibility.
Maybe Miles Longworth had a heart attack. Dodging his wife's constant suspicion (justified, of course) must keep the poor guy's blood pressure in a constant danger zone.
Perhaps Kitty had hung herself with her miles of garish necklaces. Another possibility.
Maybe Bernice Long's injuries were real this time. Not likely, Slick thought.
He stood quietly while the cops put the thug in cuffs, then suggested they take the statement in Slick's office, thus putting him and Penelope inside the store, so he could better observe the situation taking place within.
The cops complied, after securing their suspect in the back seat.
Slick led the foursome to the front doors. A crowd had gathered around someone lying beside Register 13. Slick's earlier intuitions were proven correct. Mags Davidson lay in a heap. Bernice, although pale, appeared unscathed.
Stockwell was pacing, probably working off a fritter buzz.
Miles Longworth looked like a Cheshire Cat.
Slick would get to the bottom of that one at a later time.
Kitty Richardson and Barbie Baxter knelt beside their friend, each clutching one of Mag's hands.
"What happened here?" Slick asked one of the EMT's. The other, an older woman, who reminded him of his mother (Freud would love that one), was cracking open an ice pack.
"Mags got beaned by a two-by-four," Kitty said, answering the question before the EMT could speak.
"Dear God," Slick said.
"Actually, she got hit by several of them," Barbie piped in.
"You all right, Mags?" Slick Mitchell asked, kneeling amongst the Tool Towners who had gathered.
"I will be," Mags moaned, well enough to hold her own ice pack. "I need to call my husband."
"I can call him," Kitty offered. "What do you want me to tell him?"
"Tell him what happened, and have him work on his alibi," Mags said, sounding forlorn.
"Why?" Slick asked, genuinely interested. He cared about his employees. That much was undeniable.
"My medical records read like a battered wife," Mags said, as a couple of tears ran down her cheeks.
"They all coincide with our incident reports," Slick reminder her. Mags had her own file, and it was bulging.
Slick Mitchell stepped away for just a moment. A contractor, almost a pale as Bernice Long, stood holding a cart filled with two-by-fours. Slick figured it was the evidence.
"You all right, sir?" Slick Mitchell asked the customer.
"I feel just awful. Is she all right?"
"She will be. Mags bounces back pretty quickly."
"She didn't seem to bounce. She hit that floor like a ton of bricks," the contractor said.
"She's gotten pretty well conditioned to it," Slick Mitchell replied, and the contractor smiled a weak smile.
"Is there anything I can do?" the contractor asked.
"Well, in the future, if you see Mags, keep a good radius around her."
"I will. This is gonna bother me for a long time," the contractor groaned.
"If it helps, there might be a support group for customers who've injured Mags. It's a sizable group."
"No, but we might want to think about having one," Slick Mitchell said considerately.
"Accident prone?" the contractor asked.
"If you Google 'accident prone,' you'll get a nice photo of Mags," Slick Mitchell explained.
And if you Google spoiled rich guy with an ongoing mommy problem, who just had a serious epiphany, you'll get a photo of me, Slick thought.