The ringing tills. No. That was ten years ago. They’re all silent touch screen now. Still, the till tray sliding out and receding with a ‘ping’ makes me nauseous. My head feels like it’s been attached to a horse, a carousel horse, spinning incessantly like the greasy gloved operator has fallen asleep, mesmerised by his own workplace.
All around me rustling polyurethane, held by sweaty, feverish hands that are covered with the bacteria from dirty queens – money that is. Children race excitedly, slaloming around and between striding legs. Brats and future consumerists – numerous, ubiquitous, vociferous. I’m sick of this.
The blood is draining from my head. I feel vertiginous and grab a hold of a flimsy promotional cardboard cut-out for a game, and if my eyes would work as a team I could have identified which one. A filmic quality clouds my sight. I’m really not feeling well.
‘What the fuck are you staring at?’ dies in my head, not to be said or voiced as some moron observes from their leather jacketed safety.
I stagger on bumping into bags and people, bags mostly. The sweats have started, rising from my skin like obedient watery soldiers to officially announce to the world that I am not well.
‘Imagine all the people…’ pops into my dizzy head. Not now Lennon! There’s nothing I’d rather do less than imagine more fucking people John, there’s too many. And why are they here so early?
Reduced. 50% OFF. Sale. Reductions.
Ominous signs, like clouds, forming all around me, bullying my subconscious to empty my wallet and join the masses. I start to get that shoot of juice straight from the stomach that announces an impending vomit. This isn’t what I had in mind. All I wanted was to park, get out of car, buy film and exit, all in one fluid move, a one take scene.
Catching sight of some glittery tubes of wrapping paper poking out from a bag nearly sent me over the proverbial edge. I looked to my left trying to ease my panic, my churning stomach, knowing the nearest toilet was a floor down. All I saw was people. More people.
‘That’s your Aunty taken care of.’ This vile sentence had sounded from a middle aged woman to her daughter as they walked by, a severe note of joy and accomplishment. I could only assume the bag of Anne Summers items wasn’t for her.
And then I saw it – two staff members of a snooty clothes store arranging decorations, a bauble here and there. Company policy I assumed. What a fucking embarrassment.
My pace quickened. Everywhere I looked, more. More of it. Tinsel, wrapping paper, snowmen. Panic, panic. The unmistakable surge of puke was beginning. Desperately I tried to shuffle through people, onto the escalator. Waves of nausea hit me, battering at my resolve, the acidic juices tickling the back of my throat, a little taster before the main event. Future projections of embarrassing situations flashed through my mind. The horror of the situation increased steadily, in some sort of reverse half life.
I made it on to the escalator. And noticed a lace was undone. A momentary distraction.
What happened next was to go down in mall folklore. My mind distracted by the shoelace/ escalator death-trap scenario was free to allow the puke to surge upwards and out of my mouth in a trajectory that would baffle scientists. Chunks of liquefied breakfast shot onto the heads, and bags, of a man and woman on the escalator going up.
I hate Christmas. I catch sight of a marked off calendar in a card shop, and it’s only September. That’s sick.