The rain was pouring and Samuel Spring was not a happy camper. His Mother Ruth insisted on him taking her to the West Denlinha Flea Market. Sam didn’t like going to the place. It was located in a rough area and the people who were vendors and those who were shoppers were not people you would want to invite home for dinner.
There were booths all over the parking lot of the West Denlinha Mall with a few shops open inside. The Mall’s tenants were once the respected names in retail but they had all moved out and on. The remaining tenants were mostly pop up type shops that were there for a week and gone.
Sam pleaded with his Mom to shop at conventional stores but she liked to find bargains and there was a man who sold fine china and antiques that she enjoyed visiting. She had bought some beautiful art and crystal vases.
The rain was steady and Sam wouldn’t let his Mom get out till he retrieved an umbrella from the trunk. In the ten seconds it took to get the umbrella, he got soaked from head to toe. He held the door open for his Mother and escorted her from booth to booth. The fine china and antique guy had been given a store in the mall to use, so they worked their way to the front entrance and entered. The place looked deserted.
The air conditioning unit was blasting frigid cold air, which mixed with his very wet shoes, pants and shirt made Sam feel very uncomfortable. He hoped that he wouldn’t leave with pneumonia.
Sam and his Mom made their way to antique guy and when he saw her he was all smiles. ‘’Ruth, I have some new items. I mean they’re new because I just bought them but they have age on them. Come and sit, your son can leave us for a few minutes, and we can do business.’’ Sam told his Mom it sounded like a solid plan and after watching her sit down on a folding chair, he took a stroll down the mostly empty mall.
There was one store that caught his attention ‘’Army Surplus and Collectibles.’’ He wondered what kind of collectibles you would buy at a store selling army surplus so he went in to check it out.
There were some guys standing around who looked like they had just walked off the set of a seventies motorcycle club movie. They were telling jokes and laughing with a guy behind the counter. When Sam walked in they all stopped for a second and sized him up before going back to their laughing and yelling profanities at each other.
Sam saw a box marked ‘’food’’ and went to see what it was. A girl with tattoos up and down her arms appeared out of nowhere. ‘’Those are freeze dried foods, they’re really good I eat a lot of them. They come from Afghanistan, they’re surplus. I like the meat and carrots. My old man is charging three bucks a container, but if you buy five I’ll let you have them for ten bucks. You can’t go wrong.’’ Sam thanked her and said he’d think about it.
A couple of the motorcycle guys left the store and the others seemed to be following. Soon, it was Sam, the tattooed lady and the guy behind the cash as the only people in the space.
Some of the items being sold were used military jackets, camouflage pants, and boots. Sam was about to head out when he saw a display case beside the front counter. As he headed towards it the guy behind the counter who was bald and had a tattoo of a sword on the top of his head said ‘’That’s our most valuable stuff, that’s why we keep it in the cabinet.’’
Sam went over to look and felt sick to his stomach. Before he could process what he was seeing, Ms. Tattoo was standing beside him. ‘’This fucking stuff is hot, if you see something you like you’d better buy it cause we can’t keep up with the demand. It’ll probably be gone by next week. Some of the stuff is the real deal and other stuff is copied, but people want it.’’
Sam was staring at knives, brass knuckles, guns, medals, helmets and other weapons all featuring swastikas. He couldn’t believe it, there was even a Nazi flag all wrapped up in the corner of the cabinet. He had to get out of the store before he threw up.
As he backed up the girl put her hand on his shoulder, it felt as cold as ice. ‘’We can sell you the frozen food and something from this cabinet for a great price. We have been selling out of flags, so you might want to buy that one.’’
Something came over Samuel like a red fog. ‘’I wouldn’t buy any of this stuff, it makes me sick. The girl took a step back. ‘’Are you a Jew, you look like a fucking Jew. Hey Earl, I think this guy’s a Jew.’’
Earl stepped out from behind the counter. ‘’You got a problem? You don’t like my Nazi display? Are you a Fuckin’ Jew?’’
Sam tried to make for the door but tattoo girl was now standing in front of it while Earl approached him. ‘’We don’t like Jews in our store. How much dried food you buying, cause you wasted our time and now you have to buy something!’’
It was like a living nightmare, a bad Zombie movie featuring Nazis. It was insane, he was being extorted and worried that Earl was going to attack him. ‘’Uh, I don’t want anything, I’m just leaving.’’ All of a sudden he felt a pain in his back and he lurched forward. Tattoo girl had kicked him hard. Earl started laughing.
‘’Jew Boy, you’re in my store, wasting my time, you gotta pay now boy.’’ Sam was trying to figure out what to do when he heard a familiar voice. ‘’Sammy, let’s go. I bought a nice piece of Crystal. I want to put it in the car, it’s a beautiful vase. We’ll give it to your Sister for her Birthday. Did you see anything here worth buying?’’
Sam looked completely horrified as his Mom was now standing beside Tattoo girl in the store. Earl looked at her ‘’ Jew Mom, we want some money from your son for wasting our time, and we’ll take some money from you for coming in to our store and smelling it up.’’ He and Tattoo girl went into convulsions laughing. Sam started to walk towards his Mom when Earl blocked his way. ‘’Give me your fucking wallet, or I’ll rip your fucking head off.’’
Ruth Spring started to scream at the top of her lungs, ‘’Help Me, Help Me, Help Me, I’m being robbed.’’ There wasn’t very many shoppers in the mall but Sam hoped someone would hear her. Things however got tense when Tattoo girl grabbed Ruth’s arm. Sam yelled ‘’Let go of my Mom’’
That’s when Earl grabbed Sam and hit him with a punch to the face. Sam went down in a heap. His left eye hurt but he saw Earl walking towards his Mother and for some strange reason the Kenny Roger’s song, Coward of the County started playing in his head. He stood up and went over to the display case. ‘’You touch my Mom and I throw this case over.’’ Earl started laughing. ‘’You break my case, I break every bone in your body.’’ Ruth had not stopped screaming and Earl walked over and violently grabbed her. He raised his hand to slap her and instead heard a huge crash. Sam had toppled the case.
Earl looked at him with venom in his eyes ‘’You fucking Jew, I am going to hurt you so bad, nobody will be able to recognize you ever again.’’ Sam looked for a weapon and Ruth resumed screaming. Just as Earl was getting close to Sam who now knew he didn’t have any options, there was no flight so he’d have to fight, two West Denlinha Police Officers walked into the store. Earl kept approaching Sam and was about to lunge at him, when the West Denlinha Police Constable pulled out a Taser. ‘’Don’t make me shoot you, stop and tell me what’s going on here.’’ Earl stopped and tried to turn on the charm. He said that the guy and his Mom had come in the store and started harassing people and then broke his display cabinet. He was just going to teach them a lesson.’’
The Constable then took Sam to where his Mom was standing and shaking to get their story. Sam told them everything from the kick in the back to the punch in the face, to Earl threatening his Mom and finally about the hate filled slurs.
The other Police officer who was looking around the store called for more Police Officers. Within minutes six West Denlinha Police Officers were putting cuffs on Earl and Tattoo girl. They were charging them with assault and ended up laying sixteen different charges. They put handcuffs on Sam and his Mom and led them to a cruiser. They were placed in the backseat and a young Black man got into the front.
‘’Hi my name’s Detective Armand Torres. Everything I’m about to tell you is strictly confidential. We’ve been keeping a close eye on that Army Supply store for the last few weeks. We know they’re up to no good so we have all kinds of surveillance equipment hidden in the store so we can see and hear what’s going on. I’m sorry we couldn’t move in faster to help you folks but we needed to make it seem like we arrived at the last minute. Mr. Spring I’m sorry about the punch to the face you took. We can only charge these idiots with assault, but then it will be their word against yours. So, they’ll spend a nigh in jail and we’ll dismiss the charges and then we’ll release them. Don’t worry, we will continue to keep an eye on them, and when the more serious charges are made, we will revisit what they did to you and lay more charges, including hate crime charges. I would suggest you go home and don’t come back to this flea market. Things here are degrading and you don’t want to put yourself in the middle of trouble.
Detective Torres, flipped his head around. Okay, I see they’ve taken the bad guys to the station, so you’re free to go. Sorry about the handcuffs but we had to make everything seem as realistic as possible. We have your information and when we do our major raid, we’ll be in touch with you. Have a Good and Safe day.’’
Ruth and Sam got out of the Police Cruiser, had their handcuffs removed and walked to their car. Sam locked the doors as soon as they got in and he sped off. It had been one of the worst experiences of their lives. As they got onto Highway 985 and headed towards home, Ruth looked over at her son. ‘’I’m sorry we went through all that nonsense. Terrible, I’m still shaking. I did however come to a major decision. I don’t need any more antiques, china and crystal. I don’t think we ever have to go to the West Denlinha Flea Market again.’’ Sam sighed a big sigh of relief, he now had proof that out of bad things, good things could happen. Not ever going back to the West Denlinha Flea Market would be a Great thing.’’