Annie stood inside the Justice tween girls clothing store in the mall peering into darkness.
“They’ve been camped out all night,” she said. “This is all over social media. Even the commercial went viral my little sister says.”
Hundreds of shadowy images wrapped in blankets huddled together against the cold, their faces illuminated by cellphone displays.
“It’s a huge crowd. All girls, I bet.”
“We’re ready for ‘em,” Annie’s manager said.
The woman looked at the displays of handguns in hot pink, lime green and turquoise perched on little pedestals like shoes. She reached into a case to rearrange the matching ammunition belts and clips packaged like Tic-Tacs. She smiled. Annie’s idea to include bullet-riddled targets from the firing range added panache. She made a note to tell Human Resources.
“Check to make sure the rounds are displayed with the cute little weapons. Customers need to see they match, too,” the manager said. “It’s an impulse purchase.” She added this with a sly smile.
“The Hello Kitty ones with the pink candy stripe are here…and the Doras with green polka dots. Oh dear, the Justin Bieber rounds signed in turquoise are missing.”
Annie ripped open box after box in desperation, rummaging through the ribbon-tied bags printed with glittering crosshairs.
“Oh, here they are,” she said with a sigh of relief. “At the bottom.”
“They’re supposed to have re-order info. See it?”
Annie turned the bags to the light to read them. “Yes. Five shot. Ten shot. Twenty. Right?”
The manager nodded then looked up at the clock. “Five-fifty-five,” she said, “Let’s go”
The two women shrugged into their purple Kevlar vests with the Justice store logo embroidered in silver and stuffed the shipping cartons behind the display cases.
At six the automatic doors slid open with a hiss. Shrieking girls flung themselves through the entrance, scrambling and pushing.
The manager’s eyes grew wide.
“Annie, stand back,” she shouted. “If a customer levels her weapon at anyone duck.”
Two hours later, the candy-colored weapons, clips, ammo belts and rounds were gone. The display cases lay in a heap of tangled metal and glass shards. Spent cartridges littered the blood-soaked carpet. The first ambulances had arrived and departed.
Annie crouched in shock on the floor beside the lifeless body of her manager. She stared above the wreckage at the hot pink, lime green and turquoise neon sign flashing The NRA Loves You.