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The day Black Friday 'transformed'

December 03, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: Well, by now, you know the drill: Turn on "White Christmas" or another favorite holiday classic, settle into your most comfortable chair with a cup of the finest cocoa and enjoy the vivid imagination of long-time Clarion News family member Wade Bell, as he tells "his" version of the Bell family's Black Friday adventures as only he can. However, before we begin our twisted tale of the year's biggest shopping day, the following is a note from the author:

This story is true … OK, only partly true … OK, believe what you want. Only the fictional names have been changed and deranged so I don't get a cease-and-desist order. Everybody else, well, you know who you are.

(With apologies to Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay and Hasbro)

Illustration By Karen Cable
It began the night before, Thanksgiving night, at just after 7 as a loud and thunderous boom was heard across the nighttime sky. Calls to the Crawford County Sheriff's Department and dispatch offices found nothing. The National Weather Service also knew of no strange phenomena that was taking place. There were no smoke trails in the sky indicating an incoming meteor or anything to indicate a supersonic aircraft. What we didn't know was the boom was announcing an oncoming war that would change Black Friday forever.

Friday morning came early, well not early enough for some who popped their tents up in line at stores across the country for those early bargains. For us, it came at four o'clock, though we were awake much earlier than that. My wife, Peggy, and I got in our PT Cruiser and went to pick up our daughter, Kara. From there, we took off for the Wal-Mart Supercenter at Corydon.

But something strange happened on the way there. Without warning, the car stopped just before reaching S.R. 66. The doors flung open and out we flew. As we stood there and watched, the Cruiser came apart and stood up on two long legs. We didn't know whether to run or faint.

"Hi there, kids," the car said. "Just call me Biz."

We gulped then watched as Biz blew his horn three times. Out of nowhere came a gold Volkswagen, a red Hummer and a black Mac truck that Peter built. Suddenly, the other three came apart like the Cruiser and transformed into three more giant robots. Kara fell into a nearby ditch, Peggy went for the anxiety pills, and I tried to pick my jaw up off the ground.

The Mac bent down and looked me square in the eye with his bright headlights and oversized grill.

"My name is Optimus Prime Lending Rate," it said. "We are autobots. The Volkswagen is Honey Bee. The Hummer is Rhino, and, of course, you know Biz. We are here because of the Misconcepticons."

"The who?" I said with a gulp.

"The Misconcepticons are here because of The Card," Optimus said. "The Card is something that can be used as a terrible weapon. We believe they are coming here to use The Card to bankrupt the planet, and we are here to stop them. They are led by one named Creditron."

"OK," I squeaked.

Without warning the four autobots transformed back into the vehicles they had rolled in on. The doors to Biz opened up and the radio told us to jump in.

"Don't worry," Biz said. "We'll take care of you."

"Autobots," Optimus Prime Lending Rate said, "let's roll!!"

So off we went for the annual Day After Thanksgiving day of shopping, with a little more than apprehension. We all had a feeling this was going to be a bad day and didn't know what to expect.

We arrived at the Wal-Mart store and our premonitions looked like they were about to come true. There were many more people in the store than in years past and the nerves were already showing on some, Debby Allen and Ashley Bullington being two of them. It had been 10 years since Bullington had been out for the annual Black Friday sales.

"This is nuts," Bullington said with wide eyes as she watched the people around her. Even before things were to begin, Bullington said they were ordered not to touch any of the items on the rack in front of them.

"I never expected anything like this," she said.

Fifteen minutes later, it began. Like a wave, the sounds grew from the north side of the store to the south. The war had begun. The sound of metal crashing into each other could be heard all around the store. Not only that, but the Misconcepticons attacked, as well. A large metallic leg came blasting through the store and its owner announced his presence.

"I AM CREDITRON!!" yelled the robot with a booming voice.

Alan (The Rookie) Stewart was making his first Black Friday trip to the Corydon store. Roadblock, a 1980 Ford Pinto, tried to keep him from making it to the toy section, but Honey Bee came to the rescue, kicking Roadblock in the rear end. Roadblock suddenly exploded high above the store, harming none of the shoppers below. Stewart, looking weary from his own battle, came back for a cart and went to the produce section to get away from the fight.

"WHERE IS THE CARD?" Creditron boomed above the shoppers. "GIVE ME THE CARD!!"

The situation was worse by the electronics department, where things nearly came to a standstill as carts locked together in the mayhem. One unknown man took a side route to get out of the chaos.

"It's a madhouse," he said as he raced by.

Lisa Bean and Mikki Oppel seemed to enjoy the chaos, with Oppel beaming with a big smile as she held up her trophies. Ryan Bean had also come to the store, but his main purpose was to make it into this story.

We got through the checkout and Biz was already outside with the doors open for us to hop in. Optimus Prime Lending Rate and Honey Bee ran interference for us while we headed for Target in New Albany. From there, it was a matter of outrunning two other Misconcepticons, Bank Breaker, a white Dodge Challenger and Divestor, a midnight blue Ford Edsel.

Inside Target, it looked quiet, but the back of the store was much different as shoppers crashed into each other in both the toy and electronic sections. Garry Schenk, who was looking for a way out, thought I was in need of medical attention by my looks.

"You need to see a doctor," he said as he passed by me.

We escaped the Target store, but again found ourselves being chased by Bank Breaker and Divestor. As we shot down the hill toward the Sherman Minton Bridge, Bank Breaker met his vanishing point as he didn't see two bulldozers on the side of the road, the only thing left being the trunk lid and right rear tire.

We went next to the Mall St. Matthews only to find many people sitting in the dark, hoping not to be discovered by the Misconcepticons. While we were there, we got a call from our other daughter, Kayla Bell, in Bloomington who told us of an ATM machine that transformed into a 20-foot robot named Bailout that was spitting out money to everybody.

"We should have gone up there," Kara said.

At The Mall we found Hal Pearson and Danny Schmidt looking for pennies. They must have known they wouldn't survive the war as they went to visit their heroes in a sports memorabilia store to relive days long since gone. Meanwhile, Creditron and Optimus took their battle to the east side of Louisville. Divestor had plugged into an Internet cafe and sent a virus all across the city. That was evident in The Apple Store, who was having a fruitful day as shoppers took home new computers to replace the ones that had been bugged.

The Old Generation Navy store at Oxmoor pulled out all the stops in their battle against Creditron, but the giant robot upped the percentage rate by 16 points, melting the store registers. Divestor, however, met his doom when a 5-year-old proved to be smarter than him, sending the robot a virus that turned the Misconcepticon into a toaster oven.

That left Creditron surrounded by all four autobots at the Green Tree Mall as a news helicopter circled overhead. Surprising everybody, Optimus Prime Lending Rate pulled out The Card from his sleeper cab.

"We're closing out your account," Optimus said.

"GIVE ME THAT CARD!!" boomed Creditron as he charged at Optimus, who made a sidestep, tripping Creditron, who knocked Santa out of his chair as he fell into the middle of the mall. Optimus shoved The Card into Creditron's mouth and the low percentage rate was too much for the Misconcepticon to handle. The robot suffered a complete meltdown and the threat was over.

We made a stop at the Corydon Wal-Mart to see the aftermath, but the Clean-Up-On-Aisle-Six crew had the store back in order by the time we had returned. Rhino and Honey Bee went over to Culver's to check out a 1965 Corvette Stingray and 1955 pink Chevy Nomad sitting in the parking lot. Optimus Prime Lending Rate stood guard over the area as shoppers finished their day.

Biz took us back to the house where we learned of even fiercer battles in other parts of the country. It had been the worst Black Friday that most could remember.

There was one more thing we wanted to do, though. We had to go find that Bailout.

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