The store’s security chief has you in the back room and he wants to know what you’re up to.
“Did you see me steal anything?” you ask him. “You might as well call the police if so.”
The security chief says you and he are just having a conversation. “I’m just curious as to what your plans might be for my store. You’ve piqued my interest. When I see a man come into a furniture store every night at around a half hour before closing, and I watch him walk around the store leaving bags of Cheetos and Ritz Bitz in the show room before walking out without buying anything, I’m compelled to chat with that man.”
Maybe he knows, you think. Maybe he wants to know if you know too. It’s too uncertain.
“I’m just forgetful,” you say. “I misplace things. And I like to look at furniture.”
The security chief nods. “Say, you bought that Southport Storage Cube a while back. How’d that work out for you?”
You bristle when he mentions the cube. Does he know how the children communicate with outsiders? Does he know about the note you found inside the cube, telling you that by day Crate and Barrel might be a showroom for not very affordable furniture, but by night it’s a safehouse for children who’ve run away from their parents because their parents are too religious and wouldn’t let the children have crushes on boys and girls they were crushing on, so the children ran away in couples, to experience the highs and lows of puppy love without interference from their God-fearing parents. According to the note, the children found a way to sneak into the Crate and Barrel and they get to sleep in the same beds with the boys and girls they’re crushing on, and it’s just about the greatest thing in the world. The only problem is they get hungry at night.
Can you bring us some treats? the note asked of you.
“I’ll tell you what I’m doing,” you say to the security chief. “I’m honoring the heart of the little boy I used to be. The boy who fell for a pretty girl when he was twelve, and then his parents had to move to Chicago because his dad got a new job. That boy could have run away and lived his young love but he didn’t. He was scared. And he’s regretted it ever since. Some boys aren’t so scared as me. And they deserve to be cared for.”
The security chief grabs you by the lapels, letting you know he knows what you’re talking about.
“You listen to me, pal. This is my store. Now I may not have been able to capture those little kids yet, but I captured you, you understand? Now you’re gonna stop bringing food in here because those little kids might be able to elude my traps and my cameras and my alarm systems when they’re healthy and full of grub. But if they get hungry, they’ll get weak. They’ll get tired. And I’ll catch ‘em. Stay out of my store, you hear?”
“Arrest me!” you dare him. It’s not you talking now. It’s the twelve-year-old you long to be again.
“Stay out of my store,” the Security Chief repeats.
“It’s a public store,” you tell him. “It’s just an Ikea with high price tags and it’s open to every man, woman, and child who wants to come in here. You want to keep me out; you file a police report saying I’m trying to feed a group of lovesick little kids that you can’t catch. I’m sure everyone’ll get a kick out of reading that.”
He lets go of your lapels.
“As long as there’s a little kid trying to hold onto love in your store, I’m bringing him some Cheetos, you hear?”
The Chief steps away from you. You walk out the door. Your heart beating so hard in your chest you’re worried you might have a heart attack. It’s 8:50, almost closing time. As you walk to the door you think you see a pair of eyes peeking out from underneath one of the bedroom sets. Those little eyes look like they’re smiling.
Happy You’re Just Trying To Drop Off Some Snack Foods For The Children Who Live Inside The Crate and Barrel Day!