Ten minutes after the failed jousting, the final PVC pipe came to rest just outside the appliance department. Kitty Richardson sat behind Stockwell's desk, staring at the security camera views of the entire store. Nearly every square inch was covered with pipes.
"Son of a ....-" Kitty mumbled. She opened her cell phone and called Stockwell. He answered on the first ring and sounded distracted.
"I think I should close the store," Kitty said.
"Why? Is your grandmother there?" Stockwell asked.
"Honestly? She could be. She could be buried in a sea of PVC. I don't know how I'd know," Kitty whined.
"PVC? What the hell are you talking about?" Stockwell asked, sounding suddenly interested.
"All the pipes fell in plumbing," Kitty explained.
"What do you mean they ALL fell?" Stockwell roared.
"I mean what I said. Like every pipe fell and is on the floor," Kitty whimpered.
"Where are they?" Stockwell asked.
"The better question might be 'where aren't they?'" Kitty clarified.
"Who did this?" Stockwell asked, although he suspected he already knew. Someone was trying to sabotage the store, or get everyone out early, but that wasn't happening. Stockwell was already hatching a plan, and when Gutz was done being interrogated by a severely hormonal JJ Patricks, Stockwell was prepared to bring the conspiracy theorist into his confidence, and share his plans for the hours ahead.
"I have no idea who did it. I think they just fell," Kitty said.
"How long have we stacked pipe like that?" Stockwell asked.
"I don't know," Kitty admitted. "At least a hundred years. That's how long I've been here."
"Nice, Kitty. Fifteen years. Fifteen years and this has never happened," Stockwell grumbled.
"I'll get it cleaned up," Kitty groaned.
"With what?" Stockwell asked.
"I don't know. This shit is above my pay grade. You need to come back. You need to fix this," Kitty nearly demanded.
"I'm coming, but I'm still an hour away. I'll be there in an hour and fifteen. Don't screw anything else up before I arrive."
"Asshole," Kitty whispered, before hanging up the phone. She was glad she was alone. She really didn't feel that way about Stockwell, but he tended to overreact, and spent his wrath on whomever was in hearing distance. She wondered if she should order a dozen fritters and have them delivered.
She did however, order a pizza and have it delivered to two old biddies who were probably fighting over primetime television.
There was no way in hell she could cope with that bullshit after a day like today.
Mickey Burger was having a hell of a good time. This was almost as good as the Slim Spin 5000, and that thing hadn't been easy to tamper with. He was wreaking havoc, and he felt no remorse.
An eye for an eye, or so they said, Burger thought.
The PVC thing was amazing.
He hardly had to do a thing.
He'd compromised the shelving, making the disaster imminent, but he hadn't planned on those two cart-riding ding bats to help his plan along.
And so well.
Thankfully they hadn't been hurt, although the skinny one looked like someone who'd just dreamed she was naked at school.
Burger made quick work of leaving the scene, pocketing a drill bit along the way, just because he could. He still had a few hours of screwing with Slick Mitchell and his pathetic mother ahead of him, and he desperately needed something to eat.
Destroying someone's life and livelihood was hard work.
Bernice Lord still had the presence of mind to ask him if he needed help as he passed.
"May I help you, sir?" Bernice asked.
"I was having trouble locating PVC," Burger said, bursting into a fit of giggles as he walked away.
"Douche bag," Bernice said, loud enough that he could hear.
Burger didn't care. He was having a fine evening.
"Who was that?" Penelope asked, crawling from beneath the PVC pile.
"Some douche. You okay?" Bernice asked.
"I seem to be. I may or may not have broken a nail," Penelope said, wrinkling her nose and examining the third finger on her left hand.
"All good?" Bernice asked.
"Yeah. Just a chip," Penelope replied.
"What do we do about this?" Bernice asked. She didn't have to explain what this was, not even to Penelope.
"We should call Kitty," Penelope said.
"Nope. We are not admitting to anything. As far as she knows, we're in Receiving."
"Are we?" Penelope asked.
"Are we what?" Bernice replied.
"Are we in Receiving?"
"Of course not. We're in Plumbing."
"Then we're guilty. They will blame us," Penelope said, sounding panicked.
"Disneyworld," Bernice mumbled.
"It's what I say when I'm stressed," Bernice admitted.
"It's the happiest place on earth," Bernice explained.
"Not really. It's all smoke and mirrors. Underneath all the glitter, there's garbage everywhere. People are rude, and the whole place smells like sweat and vomit, and don't even get me started on the rest rooms. They all look like a shit bomb went off.
"No kidding. I don't know why anyone in their right mind would eat Indian food and then ride a rollercoaster. Talk about testing your bowels," Bernice ranted.
Penelope turned a slight shade of green.
"Shit," Bernice said suddenly.
"What?" Penelope asked, no less green.
"I lost my keys. They're gone. They're in this mess somewhere. Come on, help me dig!"
"Seriously?" Penelope whined.
"Yeah. You have to. You rode with me. You wanna be stuck here with this mess? They might expect us to help or something," Bernice said.
"Jeez, Louise. You're right. Where should I start?"
"Here," Bernice said, dropping to her knees.
She dug frantically and came up with a quarter, a gum wrapper, a busted pen and a piece of paper with some doodling. The pen was everywhere, and she found herself covered with ink. She flipped the paper over, trying to wipe her ink-covered hands on it.
"Whoa," Bernice said, standing up quickly.
"You find them?" Penelope asked, without turning around.
"No, but I found this!" Bernice said, waving the paper.
"You're all covered in blue."
"I know. It will come off eventually. Look at this."
Penelope grabbed the paper and read it quickly.
"What should we do?" she asked.
"We go. It's a clue, and we need that money more than ever," Bernice said.
"Why?" Penelope asked.
"Because here comes Kitty and she looks pissed. Now we're surrounded with PVC pipes, some of which are covered in blue ink. We're totally fired," Bernice announced, taking the paper from Penelope's outstretched hand.
Bernice read it again before wadding it into her fist. The clue was clear.
Receiving at Midnight. If you're late, someone dies.