December 03, 2014Editor's note: OK, it's the first Wednesday after Black Friday, and long-time readers of the Clarion News know what that means: it's time to take a turkey-induced adventure like no other, all courtesy of our own Wade Bell. Sure, you see him on the sidelines covering high school sports each week, but it's the hustle and bustle of Black Friday that he lives for. The only one in the Clarion News newsroom brave enough to mix with the masses at the height of Black Friday craziness, Bell shares his account of the day's happenings each year. Yet, he does so with a twist. Sure, he takes some creative license, but it's the only way to truly capture the insanity of the day. So, buckle up! It's time for a Black Friday adventure like no other.
Once upon a time, there were three blind mice.
First, there was Smudge, a little, white guy with a thick smudged gray stripe down his back. He couldn't see, but he was smart. He listened to everything the humans above said and knew when it was safe to run and not to run. His sense of hearing was stronger than all his other senses.
Next, there was Pudge, a little, brown, rollie-pollie kind of rodent with a great sense of smell. If there was food around, he could find it from more than a mile away.
Then, there was Fudge, a little, pink mouse with big blue eyes behind her big, pink sunglasses.
"I'm so sweeeeeeet," she said to everybody who passed by her.
The last few weeks, the trio had hidden in a corner of the family room at the Bell house but had to be careful when they moved around. With four cats (Tubby, Oatmeal, Coconut and Oscar) and two dogs (Lucy and Sadie) in the house, it was tough for them to get around without being noticed.
Two days before Thanksgiving, Smudge had been listening to the television, and all that was talked about was the Black Friday shopping day. It would be something if they could see Black Friday just once.
"I wonder if they like sweet, little, pink mice," said Fudge.
"There might be a way," said Smudge. "We could call The Great Zelda."
"Oh, Zelda always has lots of good snacks with her," Pudge said.
The three mice made a circle and touched canes. Then, they recited a poem to bring Zelda to them.
"Oh Great Zelda
Make Our Day
Let Us See
Zelda appeared in the middle of the circle in a deep blue robe, eating an early turkey sandwich.
"Black Friday, huh?" she said, taking a big gulp of milk. "You guys don't know what you're getting into. And it's not all Black Friday anymore. Part of it has become Brown Thursday. It can be pretty nasty out there."
"Please, Great Zelda," said the three in unison. "Let us see Black Friday."
"I'm too sweet to turn down," said Fudge.
"OK," Zelda said. "But this one time only. But be forewarned. I cannot help you out there. You'll be on your own. And when it's time to leave, you'll come straight home. See, I can do poems, too."
So, as the sun went down on Thanksgiving Day, the three blind mice suddenly found themselves hiding under the backseat of the Bells' Chevy Malibu. Somehow Zelda had got them into the car without alerting the cats and dogs. And the mice weren't blind anymore. They could see everything around them bright and clearly. Suddenly, they found themselves in a large parking lot in front of a big building.
"W-A-L-M-A-R-T," spelled Smudge.
"I've heard of this place," Pudge said. "They've got food here, too."
"I'm going to spread my sweetness," Fudge said with a smile.
The three mice made a plan.
"You two go with Wade," said Fudge. "I'm going with Peggy. This is going to be so sweet."
But as soon as they entered the store, there seemed to be things going on the three mice hadn't expected. Smudge and Pudge were standing between Wade's feet when a girl blasted by with a cart. She didn't seem to be in a good mood.
"Sorry, people," she said as she raced by. "I'm one of the crazy ones. I'm going to run you over."
The two mice followed Wade back to the back of the store where there was total gridlock, and it wasn't even 6 p.m. yet. Smudge heard a commotion over at the dairy section where the DVDs were. He then noticed Pudge wasn't around. This was not good, but a few minutes later the noise died down and Pudge came back with a package of cheese sticks.
"I got hungry," he said.
Then, came 6 p.m. A loud wave of noise traveled from one side of the store to the other as wrappings were torn off of palettes of items on sale. Carts quickly filled. Tara Carothers had her arms full of items like she was carrying wood. Smudge couldn't believe what he was seeing.
"This is a disaster," said a woman as she walked by.
Smudge saw Jennifer Withers in the children's section as carts banged against each other next to her. She appeared in a trance, trying to figure a way out.
"I'm in a daze," said Withers.
Pudge made a second run over to the cheese lane again and saw Amy Belcher trying to find her way back to the line she had just been in. It was only 15 minutes into the evening sale and the moment was already having an effect on people.
"I need to get out of here," said a woman as she pushed toward the front.
Amanda Yates Young was out for her very first Black Friday and watched with big eyes as carts crashed here and there.
Caitlyn Janes had a rough trip over by the sporting goods section.
"I'm crazy right now," she announced to where Beth Burson was standing by the sheets and pillows.
"I've heard the B-word so many times," Burson said. "This is the worse I've seen it."
Annissa Kellum Reas hoped to beat the crowd by working up a system before they came in.
"Angie Hinton, Chrissy Oppel and me all put a plan together before we got here," Reas said.
It was unclear, however, if the plan had succeeded.
Over at the towels and wash cloth section, Fudge watched as women grabbed left and right to get towels to throw in their carts. After getting bumped around a few times, she jumped up on Peggy's shoe to keep from getting squashed in the melee.
"This isn't very sweet," she said.
Over by the electronics, Heather Uhl proudly displayed her overflowing cart.
"And I did it all by myself," she said.
"This is awful," Carothers said as she carried another armload of items, "but it's fun, though."
Ruth Ory, however, found herself in quite the quandary as she battled with other carts.
"Save me, Wade," she said. "I'm just looking for dog food."
Debbie Foster had a completely full cart but was thinking of other things as she had gone without sleep for two days while her brand-new granddaughter was being born earlier Thanksgiving morning. Her daughter, Hayley, had told her going out shopping might not be a good idea, that she might be more dangerous with the cart than everybody else.
"I'm going to get what I want," Foster said, ready to take on anybody who challenged her.
Two and a half hours later, Wade and Smudge were waiting up front for Peggy and Fudge, who were in stuck in a slow-moving line halfway back in the store. Suddenly, shouting broke out along aisle No. 2 as it appeared somebody tried to cut in line. Moments later, it happened again as a second person tried to do the same thing.
"The end of the line is back there," yelled one man loud enough to be heard at the other end of the store.
A few minutes later, Pudge came walking back with his tail between his legs.
"All I wanted was another cheese stick," he said.
The three mice followed Wade and Peggy back to the car and decided to sleep the night there as they would see the real Black Friday the next morning. The first trip was to Kohl's, which seemed quieter than normal, and the morning was also slow at Target.
The three mice then followed Wade and Peggy into Petsmart where they saw Lisa Miville shopping with her sister and Robin Cox and daughter Kelci Spencer, who were just taking their time milling through the store. The mice, however, saw something they couldn't resist as they ran over to the cat boxes.
"Ha, ha, ha! You're stuck in there and we're here outside," heckled Pudge as he made faces at the cats.
"I've got more sweet than you do," yelled Fudge as she put her waving hands to her ears. "Those are sweet ears, too."
What the trio didn't see was a big, feisty boxer pulling a girl along by the leash. She was having some control problems and the boxer was coming right at them.
"RUN!!!!" yelled Smudge. "RUUUUUUNNNNNNNNN!!!!"
At Green Tree Mall, the mice FINALLY got to see the jolly old man in the big red suit, Santa Claus, who they had heard so much about. Fudge sat there with big, wide eyes and couldn't stand it any longer. She raced toward the big chair Santa was sitting in and up the leg of his bright red suit. Suddenly, she popped up in the middle his long, white beard looking Santa right in the eyes.
"I've been sooooo sweeeeeeet this year," she told Santa. "Please bring me a big block of cheese."
She then ran back down his suit, leaving Santa with a blank stare on his face.
It was finally lunch time and the three mice followed the Bells for their traditional Red Lobster meal, which made Pudge have to find a small bib for himself. Daniel and Kara Fraley had joined them, and the mice watched as three of them ate shrimp while Daniel had a cheeseburger.
"Hey," said Pudge, "Daniel is the smart one. Look at the cheese on that burger."
Peggy had gotten a call from the other Bell daughter, Kayla, who had braved the crowds in Jasper. Her fiancé, however, did his shopping in the woods and proudly brought venison back to fill the freezer.
The three mice then followed Wade to Bass Pro Shops, where a large crowd of people were still hustling and bustling. There, they found Alyssa Speed and Rochelle Richardson, who had been there earlier in the morning.
"It was packed," said Speed of the crowd.
"The line was all the way back to the fish tank and then back to the elevator," Richardson said. "It took an hour to get through."
Here, the three mice took off on their own, seeing all the stuffed animals and holding paws as they squeezed their way through all the human feet.
"Lions and turkeys and bears," the three said in unison as they went up the stairs next to the fish tank.
But it was on the next floor where they got their biggest fright of the day. Over on the back wall, they saw a man take a large knife off the rack, the stainless steel glistening in the light.
"That's the same knife that was used to cut off the tails of Tom, Dick and Harry!!!" yelled Smudge. "We have to get out of here!!!"
The three mice huddled together and quickly called for Zelda to take them home.
"OH GREAT ZELDA
HEAR OUR PLEA
TAKE US HOME NOW
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!"
POOF!!!! The three mice suddenly found themselves back in the basement of the Bell house in the corner of a dark closet. Once again, they had their canes and wore the sunglasses covering their blind eyes. Pudge already had his nose up sniffing for leftovers.
"That was scary," said Smudge.
"It made me hungry," Pudge said.
"But oooh, it was soooooooo sweeeeeet," said Fudge. "Let's do it again."