Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Tom Sugerland soon found himself in the confusing as hell, parking structure of the Westside Wonder Mall. The Hughes Corporation sang, Don’t Rock the Boat baby; courtesy of the local oldies station on his car radio. “Mister S-u-g-e-r-l-a-n-d"... Tom said mimicking Mrs. Dollo, "What are you doing here?” He slowed down and brought his car to a stop, he noticed the detour arrow to the Pico Blvd. exit.  He sat there for a moment frozen. HONK! HONK! Barked the car behind him. Tom looked in his rear view mirror to see an annoyed thirty-something looking woman and her two bratty kids behind him in their SUV. Tom let off the brake and gave it some gas, a BMW pulled out a few spaces ahead and Tom snaked the spot, just as Olivia Newton John started singing Let’s Get Physical… “Okay, let’s do it,” said Tom. He shut the radio off and got out of his truck.

Tom scribbled his parking info on his parking ticket and then proceeded to take the dead mans walk into the Westside Wonder Mall… a place that he had never dared venture before… he had surfed the big, killer waves at Waimea with less anxiety then this. It was just that concrete shopping tombs weren’t his deal, on a board; Tom was fluid… "The Sugerland Express" they called him in the old days at Toes Beach. But here at the mall... there was nothing fluid about him. And it was just as bad as he imagined, not a bit of outside light in the place… he imagined that he was in the below deck of the Titanic. He was just about to turn around and haul ass out off there, when an attractive Middle Eastern looking woman in her thirties bounced right past him… it somehow gave him the strength to continue on his journey up the escalator to the food court to meet Dottie Dolen, his mall contact.

Tom couldn’t miss her… and not in a good way. There she was sitting in the food court, the straw of a large mall drink in her mouth in mid-suck… somehow, she knew him? Mrs. Dollo must have described him to a tee to her. Dottie hoisted her large body from her seat and began to flaying her thick arms in the air like a drunken runway flagman at LAX. “Are you Tom?! Tom Sugerland?!” Dottie screamed across the food court. People stopped in mid-chew to gaze at the tall white haired man coming their way. Any cover Tom might of thought he had, was blown; all he could do was put on his best face and walk over greet, Dottie Dolen.

“Hi. You must be Miss Dolen---“
“Call me Dottie. Can you start tomorrow?” She said out of breath, almost like she was in the midst of an asthma attack.
“Ah, I…” Tom couldn’t get his words out fast enough.
“I need you!” Dottie said… Tom eyes darted around, to see the food court folks staring their way again. He was kicking himself, that he hadn’t taken that Pico Blvd. escape route in the parking structure.

“Look, Miss Dolen… Dottie… I just don’t know, if I’m really Santa material?”
“Mister Sugerland” Dottie reached out and eagle clawed Tom arm.
 I’m not gonna lie to you. If you don’t help me, I’m in deep pooh!”
“Deep pooh?” Tom repeated.
“Up to my neck!”
Tom just stared at her... for what seemed like an eternity.
“I’ll give you twenty-five dollars an hour. And free parking!” She said in one final act of desperation.

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