“Run!” I scream to my sister Michele as I shove a cop with a broken arm into a display of folded t-shirts. Michele bolts, darting around the Joskes Juniors section like a squirrel on speed, scrambling for an exit route. I shuffle back and forth in front of my cop, blocking, while her partner, a barrel-bellied bully, gives chase to Michele.

“Hold it right there, little girl,” he booms, which stops my sister in her tracks. Behind a table of tank tops, she glares at the cop, narrowing her eyes and puckering her mouth the way she does when she’s really pissed. No one calls her little, even though she is, and for a moment, I think she might jump the cop just like she does the boys at school when they tease her, a battle she always wins, but the cop lunges, sending her back into a tailspin of escape.

The weekday crowd watches without interference, their drama deprived faces grateful for an injection of excitement. A woman in a pink polyester tracksuit removes a bag of cashews from her purse and begins to snack.

“How do I get out of here?” Michele hollers as she knocks over a mannequin wearing a patent leather raincoat and hot pink galoshes.

“Through cosmetics,” I shout as my broken-armed cop whacks me with her cast, which catches me off guard and makes me wobble on my stilettos. She pushes me back, spins me around, then slams my arm up to my shoulder blade, just like Chuck Norris might, which normally I would think is way cool, but since I’m the one getting slam-armed, I’m not so impressed.

My snakeskin mini-skirt rides up my ass and my spiky studded belt pinches my belly against the table of Jordache jeans. “You’re hurting me,” I whine to the cop.

“Too bad,” she quips as she cuffs me.

Out of the corner of my eye, I can see my sister skittering around a rack of sundresses, her Mohawk a fin of stalagmites, while the bully cop hikes his waistline rounding a corner. Michele races past a stroller mom then disappears into the cosmetics department.

“She won’t get away,” my broken-armed cop says as she snaps the cuffs around my wrists.

“Yes, she will. My sister’s a really fast runner,” I insist as I turn back around to face my captor. She’s much older than I expect. Too tan for a cop. And for a split second I notice that she looks like my friend’s mother, and my mouth waters anticipating the snickerdoodle cookies she always makes when I come over.

“We’ll see about that,” she says, snatching me away from my snickerdoodle dream.

Just this morning, Michele and I start out like any other day. We eat Cheerios watching Scooby Doo, we argue with our step-mother Juanita about laundry (we never do it right), we practice our cartwheels in the back yard, we wreck the moped again, we hide from dad, we practice throwing our stars and stilettos against the garage door, Bruce Lee style, and we flat-iron our hair, all before 9am when we all leave for the day.

Dad drives a red Nissan sports car – one of those turbo-injected things that makes people drive like assholes. We’re not even two blocks out from the house and he’s already cussing some old man for driving too slow. I wonder if the old guy is on his way to the hospital, dying of some incurable disease. Or maybe to visit his cancer riddled wife. Or his daughter, dying from ebola. Or his son, back from some unholy place.

Dad swerves around the old man, flipping him the bird, and despite being labeled blind by the courts, a “disability” that only seems to flair when he doesn’t want his child support upped, it doesn’t hamper his driving, his dancing, or his ability to run three businesses. He also chainsmokes Virginia Slims, and I often think that if he didn’t smoke so much, maybe he might see better.

“Can we have ten dollars?” I ask him as we pull up to the mall.

He fingers a ten from his money clip and hands it to me. Michele and I worm out of the backseat. “I’ll pick you up at 8.”

“Ok,” I say looking at my Snoopy watch, crunching the numbers. Eleven hours to kill.

“What do ya want to do?” I ask Michele as we walk up to the mall.

She takes a pack of Marlboros out of her purse and lights one. “I don’t care. Grease?” she asks, exhaling.

I shrug as we walk inside the mall and head towards the dollar theater.

Sometimes, we spend all day in the theater watching movies. No one ever checks between showings, so we only ever pay once. It’s an easy way to kill time, and since Dad regularly drops us at the mall (he figures this is better than leaving us at home to our own devices), we always have a lot of time to kill.

Grease is our favorite movie of all time. We’ve seen it a gajillion times, and we can never understand why our brother likes Star Wars better, even though Hans Solo is a badass hottie.

After two viewings of watching Sandy become Apollonia, another one of our heroes whom we both model our fashion sense after, Michele tells me she’s hungry, so we head out.

The food court provides little entertainment. Only overweight taxpayers who color inside the lines. Michele orders some French fries and I get a Dr. Pepper.

“Now what to do you wanna do?” I ask Michele.

She rolls her French fry in ketchup, considering. “I’m bored.”

“Me, too.”

Six hours left to kill.

Author Ellen Parr once said, “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

I contend that curiosity will land you in jail with a hooker from Pecos City and a donut lady who killed her good-for-nothing husband with a frying pan.

“You think anyone would notice if I take this?” I ask Michele as we peruse the clothing in Joskes. It’s a leopard print shirt that matches my favorite parachute pants.

Michele scans the perimeter. “Nah. No one’s looking.”

I snatch a large plastic shopping bag from behind an unattended register and shove the shirt, still on the hanger, into it.

Michele hands me a belt.

“Cute,” I reply, then stick it in the bag.

By the time we’re done, we have two bags full of clothes still on hangers, and we head towards the exit to conquer another store. As soon as we step foot outside the threshold, the cops jump out as us, sending us running back into the store.

My cop, the one with the broken arm, catches me immediately. Michele manages to make it all the way across the mall before the bully snags her.

“How old are you?” My cop asks as she rifles through our purses.

“Fourteen,” I sniffle. “She’s twelve.”

The bully cop laughs. “Sure you are.”

My broken cop pulls a paycheck stub from my purse. “Gotta be sixteen to work. Let’s take em in.”

“But I promise, I’m fourteen. Please, we won’t do it again. Don’t take us to jail.”

“Honey, you girls shoulda thought about that before you crammed a thousand dollars worth of stuff into those bags. Anything over a thousand is a felony.”

My face drops. A felony. I’m a felon. Will they give me the needle? The chair? Will I be forced to eat eggs like Cool Hand Luke? Or work the chain gang in these stilettos?

Cuffed and crying, the cops parade us through the store, an example for all the preteen bystanders, and escort us into a police car that smells like hamburgers.

“What will mom think,” I whimper to Michele as we head out of the parking lot, the mall becoming a shadow behind us.

Michele erupts, a volcano of sorrow and snot. “What will Jenny think?”

Jenny is our dog.

I wind my finger around hers, a gesture that provides little comfort on a day that started out like any other day.

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When she isn't making movies or music, DUCKY WILSON serves as a spy for the Bokonon Underground Army, living by the foma that makes her brave and kind and healthy and happy. Her poetry has been published in several literary magazines, none of which you've ever read, and her nonfiction work can be read exclusively on The Nervous Breakdown. Currently, she is in development on her next film, an offbeat musical about misfits looking to belong.

52 responses to “Any Other Day, Part 1”

  1. An awesome story! Sorry you got caught, though. I don’t know why, but I always route for the ones being chased by the cop… Even when the cop has a broken arm.

    And it’s good to know someone else in this world skips from movie to movie, only paying once. I did that as a kid, and I still do it. In fact, I’ve pulled that little trick on three continents!

    • Ducky says:

      That experience was so traumatic for me. At the time, I really hadn’t thought I was doing anything that wrong. It just didn’t click in my brain that I was stealing, though we obviously were. To this day, I hate shopping. I always feel like I’m being watched and I go out of my way to make sure everyone sees I’ve paid for everything.

      • I was never really into shop lifting. I stole some stuff when I was in university and old enough to realise how easy it was. As a kid I was just too scared. When I began working in shops I realised that no one really watches the general customers – they always pick out one person and watch them.

  2. Lenore Zion says:

    i absolutely am obsessed with your sister wondering what the dog will think. can you guys please be my friends?

    i remember the shoplifting experiments i did in middle school. i never got caught, but i stole a hell of a lot of crap. and things i didn’t even want.

    but i was never so awesome that i cared about what my dog would think about it all. seriously, i’m so in love with that detail. it’s the most fabulous.

    • Ducky says:

      She was such a cute, funny kid. I don’t think I laughed at the time, but I howl about it to this day.

      You can absolutely be my friend, but Michele retired her mohawk and went the way of hardcore religion, so…

  3. Irene Zion (Lenore's Mom) says:

    I know I got here after Lenore, but I was blown away with caring the most about what Jenny would think about you being arrested. I totally understand it. My dog was way more important to me than any member of my human family. Go Ducky!

  4. Ducky says:

    The sad thing is that I still form closer relationships with animals than I do with humans. I must not be very evolved. Far too connected to that animal world.

  5. Wonderful post, Ducky. Recalled my shoplifting experiences growing up. One of my most memorable ones was from a time back in Jersey. I was in high school. It was during a time when my parents were going through a divorce. I swiped an old Saturday Night Fever soundtrack from a discount bin. Man, I didn’t even *like* Saturday Night Fever. Just goes to show you how messed up I was over the divorce.

    One other thing, Ducky. Send me some poems!

    • Ducky says:

      So glad to know more people have shoplifting experiences as a youth. It branded me for a long time.
      Working on three new poems just for you. As soon as they’re just right, I’ll pop them over to you.

  6. Matt says:

    Ah, Ducky, I love this. The one time I ever tried shoplifting as a youth, I got caught. But I was a solo operator. Maybe if I’d had an accomplice, things would have turned out differently.

    Can’t wait for part 2.

    • Ducky says:

      Needless to say, it nipped any future attempts. And I’m one of those people who get caught just about every time I do something wrong, so I tend to keep to the straight and narrow these days – for the most part.

  7. Zara Potts says:

    What will Jenny think? That is so funny!
    I stole a keyring once from a hardware store when I was twelve, I felt so guilty that I couldn’t sleep all night and had to sneak back into the shop the next door and put it back. I just didn’t have the nerve required to be a shoplifter.
    Oh there was the time I stole the 20 bucks from the Red Cross – but I never considered that stealing!
    Nice piece, Ducky. I love your descriptions, they put such great pictures in my head.

  8. Ducky says:

    Thanks, Zara. And as you can tell, we weren’t the best shoplifters. Didn’t even have the good sense to take the clothes off the hangers. I want to hear the Red Cross story.

  9. Megan DiLullo says:

    This is a great story, Ducky. I’m thrilled that you wore parachute pants… And lived to admit it.

    I wish I had shoplifted something to add to the comment storyboard.

    But, on a different note, regarding your bio, I once fed the members of Ed Hall lasagna. Somehow they ended up crashing at my apartment after a show when I was 17 and I made them all lasagna at 2am. I have no idea why they were at my house or why I had the contents.

    Another one of life’s great mystery’s.

  10. kristen says:

    Nice post. Recalls so well those hazy and meandering mall days, back when the world rarely felt much larger than a mall.

  11. Oh man. I loved this. I loved that you knew how to get out of there in a jiffy (even if you did get busted.) I love that you had so much sass to mention how fast a runner your sister as and most of all I LOVE your new headshot, you sexy thang!

    • Ducky says:

      Hey, older sis has to at least try to get younger sis out of trouble. I’d take the heat for her any day.

      re: runner line, it always strikes me as funny that I said that. Kids have weird brains. Obviously, she wasn’t fast enough. (I was really shocked he caught her. She really is a fast runner.)

      Re: headshot. Ugh. Brad made me use a real pic. He wasn’t feeling the mysterious Ducky. I don’t have many pics here. My band pic happened to be on my computer. Just cut the boys out. Everything’s in NYC still.

      Thanks for being my girl.

  12. jmblaine says:

    Ducky Ducky Ducky

    where you been?
    This was awesome in so many ways
    You been holding back.
    That first line.
    Sandy becomes Appalonia
    Overweight taxpayers who color inside the lines.

    Man I loved this.
    and at the end
    a sneak peek of your face.

    You look like some First Avenue chick.
    A good thing.

    You’re still holding back aren’t you?
    Something’s up here.

    • Ducky says:

      Always here, brother. Channeling Thalia. Or Calliope. Or whomever will lit on my shoulder while I’m hunched over the keys.

      I still heart Apollonia.

      No holding back. I yam what I yam.

      First Avenue chick, huh? I hope you don’t mean the crazy crack whore I always see picking her nose.

      • jmblaine says:

        Do you know how much
        I love that you know those girls names?

        You were (are?) in Vanity 6
        arent you?

        First Avenue is the club where
        Apollonia hung out.

        • Ducky says:

          DOH! Did not remember that about Apollonia. Score one for JMB.

          Have you seen her lately? She still looks hot.

        • jmblaine says:

          Since you are my favorite new TNBer
          and its been a few days
          allow me to hijick this joint

          Vanity (Denise Matthews) quit the Prince camp just before Purple Rain, some say due to religious reasons, and was replaced by Apollonia – which of course
          became Apollonia 6.

          Prince, The Time and Dez Dickerson played First Avenue but Morris’ girls
          made their debut at a smaller club called “The Taste” performing
          Sex Shooter.

          I was obsessed with Purple Rain when I was a kid.
          This guy down the street worked at the mall record shop and he gave me the promo poster which was like 5 by 6 foot tall.

          I have this bootleg which is like the real complete Purple Rain
          soundtrack – It’s 3 CDs and has all the Time songs, Apollonia 6 songs,
          all the Prince songs in the film but not on the PR CD and the film score.
          ah, Prince.
          I played a lot of Prince in that coffeehouse gig.
          When You Were Mine is great on acoustic.

          I saw Vanity on the religious channel the other day!

        • Ducky says:

          We must be the same age. It was such a generational movie, though I contend it holds up.

          In dance class yesterday, we did a little move that reminded me of Morris. I love that old moves make comebacks. My teacher looked at me like I was high when I screamed out his name.

  13. Oh man! Don’t you hate being that person who always gets busted when they do something wrong?

    • Ducky says:

      Yes, Simon. It does. I can’t even speed! Once, I got arrested for not having insurance, even though I did. A future TNB post, I’m sure.

  14. D.R. Haney says:

    Is the sequel going to amount to Scared Straight? One hopes!

    Also, while curiosity may not have a cure, it apparently has a number of preventatives, since curiosity strikes me as being in very short supply these days.

    • Ducky says:

      You’ll have to wait and see, Duke. And I’ve never been short on curiosity. It’s gotten me into some jams, I must admit. But I wouldn’t trade it.

  15. I loved this snapshot of your subversive youth…. are kids really given the room to even consider being curious anymore? Hmmmm…. I suppose if you have to consider it – you’ve given up hope of being truly curious.

    • Ducky says:

      I’m the kid who was annoying because I always asked why. Why? Why?
      Teachers hated me.

      Our world has become so narrow. If people would be a bit more curious, there might not be war, famine, plague. We might wonder about the other person, walk in her shoes, understand her better.
      Who killed Curiosity? Is there even time to wonder? I don’t know.

  16. sheree says:

    By far the best writing I’ve ever read on this site. Too many wonderful lines to point out just one. Thanks so much for the excellent read.

  17. When can we expect part two?

  18. sheree says:

    Yeah what Mr Wills said…..
    Soon? Heh, sorry I just really enjoy reading your work. I can hardly wait until your books can be found in a book shop or online. You’re a natural born writer. Not many of those left in the world. You appear to write from the gut, while others write from a formula driven base. I hate that kind of dribble. Looking soooo forward to your next gajillion posts!

    • Ducky says:

      Sheree – I thank you for your kind words. And while I might, perhaps, be a natural born writer, I definitely was not a natural born editor. That metier has taken years to develop, and I fear I have much much more to learn . But thanks for your enthusiasm. It is a bolster to my day.

  19. sheree says:

    Holy spit limb licker……. You do your own editing too! I am beyond impressed! Cheers to you and your total commitment to the written word!

  20. […] her French fry in ketchup, considering. “I’m bored.” “Me, too.” …Click Here Commentaires […]

  21. Marni Grossman says:

    I’m so so behind on everything.

    This is great. Particularly liked this line: “Dad drives a red Nissan sports car – one of those turbo-injected things that makes people drive like assholes.”

    Amen to that.

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