This true story was posted at Octopus Overlords over a period of months in 2005. I'm modestly pleased with it. Since recent events have called to mind how impermanent the websites we surf can be, I'm taking the opportunity to preserve it here. All names, including my own, have been changed to protect the guilty. As the most guilty party, my last name is rendered here as "Smith."
This morning I made my way to the seaside city of Wilmington North Carolina to have a conversation and breakfast with Andre X. We ate Dolly Madison donuts and coffee.
For the past three years Andre has had a problem with customer service at Defendant's Department Store, the one off Litigation Lane in the Mall.
Andre was so dissatisfied with his shopping experience that he enlisted the help of a specialist in dispute resolution. Even with expert assistance Andre still could get no satisfaction.
Feelings were bruised, one thing led to another, and Andre said some very uncomplimentary things about both the Department Store and the Mall. To make matters worse, he published them at the county courthouse.
The Mall has called upon me because I help to resolve disputes myself. We're going to get to the bottom of this, Andre and me, and set everything right.
I've never before had the pleasure of Andre's society, so introductions are in order. I learn about Andre's birthplace, his educational achievements, his work, his family, and more. There's a lull in the conversation, so to fill it I ask Andre whether he's ever run afoul of the law. You know, just between us girls.
I'll be the first to admit that's a forward question. I sense I've gone too far when Andre makes a face and asks, "Why do I have to tell you about that?"
Then I put my foot into it. "I didn't come here to answer your questions sir. You are here to answer mine." Andre's friend leans over and whispers something into his ear. I didn't hear it, but it must have worked, because our conversation resumes. And believe you me, my ears turn red when Andre tells me of his adventures.
- assault on a female
- assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury
- attempted arson
- breaking and entering
- cruelty to animals
- possession of cocaine within 100 yards of a school
- second degree kidnapping
- second degree rape
- taking indecent liberties with a minor
And so on and so forth.
Introductions out of the way, we come to Andre's problem with customer service. It seems that Andre, Junior Bug, and Deion walked to the mall to kick it and hang. While they were kicking it, Andre realized that he needed a new pair of pants. Andre couldn't afford pants at the time (Andre hasn't worked since 1996), but knew he would be coming into some money, so he decided to try on a pair at Defendant's Department Store. That way, when Andre got his money, he would know what size to buy.
So Andre browsed in the men's section, found a nice pair, and tried them on. Right in the aisle next to the shelf. I interject:
"Were you wearing pants when you entered the store sir?"
"Did you take off the pants you were wearing before trying on the new pair?"
"I wanted to see how they would fit?"
"You mean the new pair of pants?"
"Does the menswear section of Defendant's Department Store have private rooms for changing clothes?"
"I think they do."
"If you wanted to know how well the new pair would fit, why didn't you go to a changing room to take off the pants you were wearing when you entered the store?"
"I always wear two pairs of pants, so I needed to see how these would fit over the pants I was wearing."
"You always wear two pairs of pants?"
"Let me make sure we're on the same page. Are you talking about underwear, long johns or the like?"
"You always, every day, wear two pairs of pants, one over the other?"
"Why do you always wear two pairs of pants?"
"In case it get cold."
"So when you tried on the new pair, you were wearing three pairs of pants?"
"Naw. That day I was wearin one."
"But every other day you wear two pairs of pants?"
TO BE CONTINUED…
Andre tried on the pants.
Andre was wearing two pairs of pants. On almost any other day, Andre would have been wearing three pairs of pants now, but today, he was only wearing two pairs of pants. It's funny how life works. Of course, wearing two pairs of pants was business as usual for Andre, so he thought nothing of it. That's when Andre saw his friend.
"Who was this friend?"
"I don't know."
"Are you referring to Junior Bug or Deion?"
"No. Junior Bug was at the water fountain."
"Where was Deion?"
"He was at the Shoe Show."
"Well, if this person was your friend, why don't you know who he was?"
"We went to high school together."
"What is this person's name?"
"I don't know."
"Had you seen or spent time with your friend since high school?"
"You were 36 years old at the time of this incident, Mr. X. Correct?"
"So you hadn't seen this friend for about 18 years?"
"Okay, 17. You hadn't seen this friend for 17 years, but you still remembered what he looked like?"
"I have a good memory."
"Yet you can't remember your friend's name?"
"Not at this time."
"If you remember it later, you'll tell me what it is, won't you?"
"Where was your friend when you saw him?"
"In the parking lot."
"Where were you?"
"Next to the shelf."
"The shelf from which you had removed the second pair of pants you were wearing?"
"What was the significance of seeing your friend? Did he witness this incident?"
"I don't know."
"Was he anywhere in the area when the incident occurred?"
"Did your friend ever come into the store?"
"How far was the parking lot from the menswear department?"
"About fifty feet."
"Did you speak to your friend on the day of the incident?"
"I tried to but he booked."
"When did he book?"
"When he saw what they was doing to me."
"Tell me about that."
"I saw him and wanted to greet him, so I went to the entrance to the store, to say hello and see how he'd been doing."
"The entrance from the parking lot?"
"So this would also be the exit from the store?"
"You could call it that."
"Did you take off the new pair of pants before walking to the store exit?"
"I was gonna take em off when I finished shopping."
To make a long story short, Andre informed me that he had a very unpleasant encounter with representatives of Defendant's Department Store or the Mall on the sidewalk adjoining the parking lot. Physical contact occurred. Andre believed that a hot oily substance was poured into his eyes.
Andre feels that the Store and the Mall do not afford this treatment to all of their shoppers. In fact, Andre believes that he was treated in this fashion because the Store and the Mall nurse ancient grievances which are alleged to prevail in this part of our country, against Andre and people like Andre.
The employees of Defendant's Department Store and the Mall had informed me before our breakfast began that they disagreed with Andre's account. This presented me with an enigma. Was Andre correct? Were the employees correct? Was everyone mistaken? Perhaps others could give me guidance.
"Do you know of any witnesses to the incident Mr. X? Apart from the people we've already discussed, Mr. Y, and officers Z and A?"
"The high school friend in the parking lot whose name you don't remember?"
"He might have seen it."
"Did anyone else witness the incident?"
"Has Junior Bug told you what he saw?"
"What is Junior Bug's real name?"
"I don't know. I call him Junior Bug."
"If I wanted to speak to Junior Bug, how would I do that?"
"He got shot."
"Did he die as a result of being shot?"
At this point Andre's friend interjected:
"Off the record if you don't mind Mr. Smith."
"Not at all."
Andre's friend, to Andre: "Was that the boy in Leland?"
"Naw, he was from Jacksonville."
"No, I mean was Junior Bug the one who was shot in Leland? About a dozen times?"
"I think so."
"The one they found in a field with his pants round his legs?"
In a curious coincidence, one of those tricks of fate, Junior Bug was found in a state of partial undress, with his pants pulled down to his ankles.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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