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PROMPTS:

  1. They seemed to feed off the crowd
  2. No, ma’am, I don’t think so
  3. One hundred sailors

BEGIN WRITING:

I hadn’t been to that particular mall before and the drive was a little longer than I really wanted to make, but I couldn’t resist. The announcement on the radio came just as I was putting away the toaster and making lists in my head of things I needed to accomplish today.

Casey Carpenter’s deep rich voice filled my kitchen. “Ferndale Mall is all set for the biggest sales day in its history!” he proclaimed. “Every item! Every store! If you miss this one you’ll regret it forever!”

Well, I tossed the dishrag in the general direction of the sink and had my pajamas unbuttoned before I reached the bedroom closet. My carefully planned daily list had evaporated from my mind, replaced by dreams of gathering up the greatest bargains since Monkey Ward called it quits.

Ferndale was probably twenty miles from my house as the crow flies, but I had to drive a fair amount further than that. It took me a good twenty minutes just to reach the onramp to the 616 expressway, and once I got my little blue Chevy Nova inserted between a Sunoil tanker and an SUV, I discovered that the expressway was packed full of cars. I suppose I should have expected it at that time of the morning. I didn’t know any better way to get to the mall, though, so I nibbled on a granola bar and settled myself to put up with the traffic.

By the time the crowded highway had thinned out a little and I was able to drive more than thirty-seven miles an hour, I was nearly at the exit I needed to take. I watched as the mile markers went past my window and figured that ten more minutes would put me in the parking lot. My fingers were beginning to itch. I had all day and at least two credit cards that weren’t maxed out. If only nobody else had beat me to the bargains!

Eventually I left the highway and made my way to the mall’s parking lot, where I got waved to a stop by a guard in the uniform of some kind of a security firm.

“The lot’s full up, ma’am,” he told me. “You’ll have to exit at the first driveway on your right. He looked to be about seventeen, judging from the spotty face and the retainer on his teeth.

I shook my head at him. “Oh, no, you don’t! I drove clear from Bransford for this. Ferndale has at least 100 stores and I plan to hit the sales at every one of them!”

“No, ma’am, I don’t think so,” he said as he waved a more compliant driver on past me. “You were listening to Casey Carpenter on the radio, weren’t you?” I nodded.

“Well,” he went on, “the station got it wrong. Someone made a mistake in transcribing and Carpenter took it on himself to embellish. The announcement was supposed to say ‘100 Sailors’ not ‘100 sales’. One hundred sailors will get the chance to win

PENCILS DOWN

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