n America's Mall, inside a kiosk erected with hungry yet selfish people in mind, endures Marjorie who can’t sell anything. A line of camels goes schlepping by.
Marjorie works for an international multi-level marketing company selling nutritional supplements, weight management, and personal-care products, her script discarded atop fitness magazines she shoplifted from the bookstore. She wishes for the kiosk to burn down with everything in it, herself included. She is so bored.
She drops the script to consider the bomber planes zooming overhead, forgets about burning. The planes’ sharp mouths seem to cut through exposed sky.
Her commission suffers, but still she asks, Free sample? and you say No please, switching shoulders for your purse, looking for the nearest bathroom, panicked but shopping unsuccessfully for discounted sweaters.
Marjorie knows where the bathrooms are, if you bothered to ask. She has closed the stand five times already, between trips to the food court, the arcade, and the bathrooms, working and not working to upsell bystanders. The camels move deliberately slow without riders.
Marjorie clasps and unclasps her shoplifted watch, unsure of her morning exit: She stole clean underwear from her girlfriend Rebecca because she hadn’t done laundry. She will sneak them back someday, fully laundered. The bomber planes look rehearsed for an air show no one reviews online.
Marjorie hates the kiosk job: The people lately never stop and she has forgotten which supplements are for which precondition, the bottles this same blurring green stripe with matching font. The camels die expectedly from thirst. The mall fountain has been out of service for three weeks, rumors of a special part unavailable from the manufacturer.
The shifts were part time, so Marjorie sells Mary Kay door-to-door to supplement her income, but no one answers their doors for twenty-five dollars and under. She leaves print catalogs stapled to her card in the door cracks. Her sales plateaued last quarter, the number unchanged from her nephew charging an electric razor on accident.
There was trouble with steady income. The wrong credit card could crumble Marjorie’s life, and often it did. She was always mentioned in letters from creditors, phone messages to wrong numbers. The bomber planes are shot down out of the sky by surface to air missiles, built by their own government. One of them burrows into the ground next to the brand-clothing outlet.
Marjorie considers diving under the counter of the kiosk, hearing artillery fire. She ducks, taking two slugs in her right calf. Bullets whiz by her ear and through the thatched roof of the kiosk. Bleeding, she lays back remembering that morning: Rebecca had made coffee, which was a kind gesture—she saw her smile through excruciating pain—but she forgot the mug on the roof of her car pumping gas, and Marjorie couldn’t find the mug again going into work, the bold green polo marking her ready for service.
The mug, like her underwear, was borrowed. The breath, like the memory of her job, was fading. Thank god she was dying and unfit for work. Thank god no one would ever ask her about how early results could show up. Once she’d said, Start using the pills and drinking meal-replacement shakes, and if you’re not completely satisfied, corporate will issue a full refund. No longer. The line of camels starts to decompose in the awful sun.
She was happy with the way things turned out. This was the fever. She remembered selling cookies for girl scouts, how her dad took the list to work, and how it came back filled out by his employees seeking promotions or bonuses.
He would make her deliver the orders to houses alone. They drove to the mall to pick them up, but business called him elsewhere. He took a box of cookies for the secretary. He was sleeping with the secretary, and Marjorie once walked in on them wrestling.
Back to dying, Marjorie stops feeling the blood’s slow pull downward. The trickle of life escaping her leg. People are shopping all around her, unphased, including you. Someone doused the burning kiosks and now the international mid-level marketing company, removing the small drained body, installs a new attendant, Marjorie’s girlfriend Rebecca, who needs a second and third job to make ends meet.
Rebecca frowns disappointedly when transactions with potential clients (corporate jargon) don’t end in sales. The stained ground of Marjorie’s service trembles beneath her feet, temporary ceasefire.