A Place Marked Malmart
Word Count: 831
“You hate women?” Meg Russ-Heart shot Jimi one of her looks
“You hate men?”
“I never see you, out?” Meg not letting it drop.
“No mean’s No, Right?” Jimi leaned.
His mug and her to-go cup moved in their own dance, their owners secured them keeping them from being spilled.
“Yes,” her reply automatic.
“But if you say yes the first time, you’re—“Jimi knew the argument well “easy,”
“It’s a woman’s prerogative,” Meg leaned in
“No means no, but you aren’t going to say yes the first time. You can’t win. It’s a game, I’m not playing,” Jimi blinked first and sat back.
Meg followed and played with the ends of her crimson hair. She took a sip of coffee, around them the coffee shop buzzed. People in and out, talking, working on laptops. College kids, professionals, baby boomers trying to look young and hip.
“You find her?” back to the business at hand.
“Yeah, I did, you owe me big.” Jimi took the folder from his messenger bag. “I had to enter a fuckin’ Malmart to see her. And it wasn’t one of those Hicksville-please- sterilize me Malmarts. No, no, it was upscale, a Shop Malmart because it’s the American Thing To Do one.” Jimi handed the folder across to her.
“What happened?” Meg opened the folder.
“Her Mom and Dad freaked out cause she was seeing some guy who wasn’t-- of the faith.”
“You mean he was---“ Meg, thinking of Gwen, tall long legged, blonde Dutch girl, a westsider.
“Worse, atheist, a local one. Arrogant about it. They were appalled, that’s not who they sent their little girl into the world for,” Jimi took a slug of his lemon ginger tea.
“They didn’t send her out to take her clothes off on the internet either,” Meg whispered. Meg had Jimi on retainer for a lot of things, making sure that girls who pulled a vanishing act were not snatched by a customer was one of them.
Meg ran Skiff Yee Media, an Internet company specializing in fantasy image fulfillment. Models dressed and undressed as your favorite: film, TV or other median character.
“Ok, Mom and Dad whisked her away, she’s 19.” Meg put the file in her bag.
“Yeah, they also have the money, she has younger sisters. If she ran off what do you think would happen to them?” Meg nodded, Gwen had said as much and more in the note contained in the folder.
“Tell me about your trip to Malmart?” Meg
‘Like I said they raptured her back home, deep-sixed the sinner BF. Mom wouldn’t let her out of her sight, no; phone, mail, Internet. I had to wait for two days for them to leave the house. Mom takes her shopping. A little retail reprogramming, who knows, maybe the hippie had her talking about buying local, supporting local business.” Jimi paused for another hit of the tea,
“I follow them into the Malmart; it’s a zoo, upper middle class riff-raff with too much money and not enough junk. Gwen managed to get a couple of aisles ahead of mom and I catch up to her.” Meg nodded
“She recognized me from the office, I told you letting me come and hang would pay off” Meg nodded, she already knew, Jimi was allowed past the reception for various reasons.
“She tells me what happened, I let her scribble you that note. That’s when the Mom shows.” Jimi started to smile.
“And,” Meg started looking worried. Girls like Gwen weren’t just employees they were her little sisters. Gwen had been part of the team; she’d been part of the inner circle.
“Mom starts yelling and then hits me with her purse, one of those whada you call ‘em, A Cooch bag?” Meg couldn’t help but smile.
“Damn thing burst spilling all of her unmentionables. That’s when the claws came out” Jimi pushed up the sleeves of his well-worn black leather. Under the cuffs Meg could see the deep scabbing scratches.
“Anyway, Mom slugs, the junior’s manager breaks it up. Gwen’s screaming. What a scene,” Jimi killed the rest of the tea his cuffs settle back into position.
“And then,” Meg leaned forward.
Jimi fished a couple of papers out of his jacket.
“MSP came and trespassed her. She was all kinds of red sitting in the back of that squad. I let her stew, talked to Gwen. Moms lucky I didn’t press charges. I figured one trip to the west side is enough for the year.” Meg gathered her purse trying to hide her smile took a last look at her coffee and pushed it to the middle of the table.
“One of my best girl’s gone, poor kid.” She stood.
“Someday,” Jimi looked up at her; she slugged him in the arm then bent in for a peck just below his right ear.
“Yes,” she whispered and headed for the door, no looking back.
Jimi watched her leave and killed the last of her coffee.
This Flash Fiction was in response to Patti Abbott's challenge to write a story based on the web site the People of Walmart. Jimi Osterlung and Megan Russ-Hart are a pair of characters that I have been thinking about for a while. Jimi is an Ann Arbor based PI who pays the bills doing background checks for headhunters on the east and west coast. Checking out U of M students for them and their prospective employers. He also catches the occasional background check job for the boyfriends and girlfriends of the elite who attend the U, on their parent’s behalf of course. There is also the occasional wandering son or daughter job. Megan is his only local employer; she keeps him on board for additional security and odd jobs, along with the background checks for employees. I figure that I have a couple of novels worth of stories about them floating around in my head and don’t want to say much else until I get more written about them.