Reeve Stockwell surveyed himself in the mirror. He looked like an idiot. The Garanimals shirt was in the trash, and he wore a Tommy's Tool Town, neon green shirt, which was two sizes too small. Pickins were slim in the Tool Town closet, and the tiny shirts were the only remaining size.
"Good grief, I look like 'The Situation,'" Stockwell moaned. The shirt was THAT tight.
Without the abs, he thought.
Stockwell's phone rang. It was Kitty calling.
"Yea?" Stockwell barked.
"Animal Control is here," Kitty said.
"So is Mitchell. Call him," Stockwell said.
"Slick is here? I haven't seen him," Kitty said, sounding ditzy.
"Yes. So is Longworth, at least he's supposed to be. That new paint company is demonstrating their revolutionary paint mixer."
"Sounds stimulating," Kitty said.
"Like watching paint dry," Stockwell retorted. Then he hung up.
Kitty dialed Miles Longworth. She didn't want to bother Slick Mitchell. Kitty liked Slick, thought he was a heck of a nice guy, who was simply born into a family that would some day become gazillionaires. It wasn't Slick's fault, anymore than it was Kitty's, that she had a family tree that had maybe taken a few too many spins in the middle of a tornado.
Longworth didn't answer. Her call bounced back to the operator's desk. Quincy, "Q" Warner, sat at the desk, with Tommy lights bouncing off her turquoise locks.
"Operator," Quincy sang.
"Q, it's Kitty. I was trying to get Miles."
"I'll page him for you," Quincy offered.
"Miles Longworth, please call Kitty Richardson at extension 992," Quincy sang through the Tommy paging system. "Oh, jeez. Is it 6:00 yet, man do I have the cramps. I hate this time of the month, I'm like a maniac," Quincy whined, unaware her words were still blasting through the Tommy speakers.
Kitty's phone rang.
"Miles?" Kitty said into the handset.
"No. It's Stockwell. Tell Quincy to take a Midol, and remember to hang up the phone, thus disconnecting herself from the paging system, before ranting about her female problems."
"Don't laugh. Just talk to her," Stockwell quipped, before hanging up.
Kitty dialed Miles again. This time he answered.
"What?" Miles said.
"That's a rude way of answering the phone," Kitty said.
"I wasn't aware I'd answered. I was trying to send you to voice mail," Miles said.
"How kind of you," Kitty complained.
"What can I do for you?" Miles asked.
"Well, the paint people are here, and so is Animal Control. They are going to set several traps to catch what they assure us is NOT a pterodactyl."
"And this is going to take how long?" Miles asked.
"They didn't say. They're back there now. Nichole is showing them around," Kitty said.
"Well, have her head toward the Paint Department. I want everyone available to be on hand to watch this demonstration. By agreeing to beta test this Slim Spin 5000, we have the opportunity to have it in our store for almost no cost," Miles explained.
"You working for them now?" Kitty asked.
"Don't be smart. Have Quincy page it out, but stand over her," Miles suggested.
"So you can shut her phone off when she's done. I don't need to know she has cramps, or that she had tacos for lunch, or that if said tacos give her the trots, she may have to ask to leave early," Miles complained.
"I'll mention it to her," Kitty promised.
Partners in Paint, the inventors of the revolutionary Slim Spin 5000, were setting up their paraphernalia in the Paint Department. A crowd was gathering. Decorating with paint was all the rage, and Tommy's carried hundreds of colors, from multiple vendors. The Slim Spin 5000 could spin multiple cans of paint simultaneously, in less than half the time, and was guaranteed to mix paint properly, every time. In a word, the machine was the Mercedes of the painting industry.
Slick Mitchell made some announcements and introduced the Partners in Paint demonstrator. The pterodactyl screamed from the back of the store.
"Seems our store appeals to multiple species. Animal Control is on the scene to remove our guest without harming him," Slick Mitchell explained.
"I like turtles," Bernice Lord said, from just behind where Kitty stood.
"Behave," Kitty said, barely turning around.
J.T. Bueller, Tommy's own paint specialist, pulled five gallons of top-shelf paint from the bowels of his department. He prepared each can to take a ride on the Slim Spin 5000. One by one, the demonstrator loaded the cans.
"Prepare to be amazed," the demonstrator said, sounding like he was David Blaine.
Ultimately, everyone was. The Slim Spin 5000 was almost soundless, nothing like Tommy's current operation, which sounded like a freight train had derailed, one department over. The cans spun at a rate of speed that made everyone take a step back.
"That's it, folks! Want to see it again?" the demonstrator asked.
No one really did, but Tommy's employees, and customers alike, were basically nice folks, so everyone humored the guy. Either the demonstrator really loved paint, or he'd been sniffing some. He was incredibly excited about spinning paint cans.
J.T. did his thing a second time, and the demonstrator walked him through loading the machine. When J.T. was locked and loaded, the demonstrator pushed two buttons, and stepped back.
"Here we go," the demonstrator said delightfully, and Bernice clapped her hands and jumped up and down.
"Bernice. Stop," Kitty chastised.
It didn't take long to figure out that something had gone terribly wrong. The Slim Spin 5000 was no longer soundless. It sounded like a washing machine stuffed with too many pillows, and the crowd backed up another foot. The demonstrator looked like he might faint, and J.T. took cover under the paint counter.
One by one, the paint cans ejected from the machine. Paint flew everywhere, dousing the crowd with every color of the rainbow.
Slick Mitchell's clothes were ruined. In a moment, his look had transformed from Maxim to Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. He moved frantically, tracking paint all over. He looked dazed.
"What the hell is happening?" Slick moaned.
The paint was still flying.
Finally, the Slim Spin 5000 stopped with a thunk. Plumes of smoke rose from its wreckage. The mayhem calmed, as the crowd surveyed the mess. Miraculously, everyone was accounted for, and nobody seemed to be injured.
No one noticed Mags Davidson.
She'd taken a nasty hit from a full can of Daisy Shimmer - Interior Satin.