When was the last time you visited a mall?
It’s been years for me, which is ironic. When I was a kid, malls were a big deal. You spent the day there. Your entertainment was provided by the video arcade and movie theater. You were fed by the food court. You were watched over by mall security – and every middle-aged lady who had kids of her own and thought your parents were monsters for leaving you unsupervised at the mall.
It was fun while it lasted. We cruised the mall in gangs, seeing and being seen, listening to the pop music that was so trendy at the time but now sounds impossibly dated, and basically enjoying our teenage years. In small towns across America the kids hang out at fast food joints. In big cities it’s the clubs. For suburban America, at least in MY childhood, malls were the place to be.
I went to the local mall the other day. I had to. The battery in my watch died and a jeweler there could replace it in a minute flat for only $15.
It was sad.
The mall was nearly deserted. The hallways were dark and eerily quiet. Many of the stores had closed, and those that were open were not the kind of stores you would have seen back in my day – overstocked shoes, As Seen on TV, bargain outlets. It was depressing. The food court was mostly empty, the theater closed, the bookstores gone, and a crappy arcade with air hockey, old-fashioned pinball machines and one of those dancing games were all that remained.
It was as if my childhood had died.
BUT ... before I left, things began looking up. Or standing up. Stiffening up. However you want to put it, heh heh.
I wandered the mall, hoping against hope my jeweler was still in business. When I reached the wing where his store had been located I found that the concourse had been blocked off by one of those accordion barricades. A sign announced the replacement of that part of the mall with condos.
Who would live in a condo that had once been a KB Toys or Sharper Image store? Apparently a lot of people, especially if the price was right. The cost of housing was out of sight, along with everything else. Malls were becoming subdivisions, which reminded me of an old Rush song I heard on Spotify the other day.
I peered through the metal slats in the barricade. The hallway was dark. I could see the ghostly outline of storefronts that once held bright lights, display windows with colorful merchandise, and throngs of customers. There, on the right, was my jeweler. The store was black and empty.
I turned and wandered aimlessly back up the concourse. I needed to find a place that could install a new watch battery, and I also needed to find a men’s room, as that second cup of coffee I had drunk before leaving the office was beginning to make its presence felt. I remembered another jewelry store, one that had belonged to a chain, up the concourses and to the left, so I decided to see if it was still open.
It wasn’t, but another jeweler had taken its place. I stepped inside and nobody was about. The lone salesman behind a glass display case looked up hopefully. A customer? Was it possible? Like snow in July, or all your lottery numbers falling into place. At least that’s what his expression seemed to convey.
He was a young man, in his mid-twenties I’d say, with a fair complexion and thin, blonde hair. His face was angular, framed by high cheekbones, almost lady-like eyelashes and a cute little button of a nose. But what immediately impressed me were his fingers. They were very long and elegant, the nails trimmed and buffed to perfect crescents at the tips. Fingers fit for typing, or playing the piano.
Or gripping a cock.
He asked if he could help me and I thought I detected a note of desperate gratitude in his voice. Was he really that starved for business? How disappointed he would be when he found out I merely wanted a battery for my watch.
Except he wasn’t. He seemed more than eager, and brought me around to another display case where the batteries were stored. I got a chance to size up his body once he got from behind the counter, but I couldn’t see much. He was wearing a suit and that concealed all.
I gave him my watch and he expertly popped off the back and set about removing the thin disk of a battery. I was embarrassed by how dirty the watch was; when he took off the backing a piece of accumulated grime fell off. But if he noticed he didn’t say anything. He got the battery replaced in no time and the watch reassembled and ready to be worn.
“We don’t get many of these old Omegas in here,” he said, turning the watch over in his palm, his fingers waving like Harry Potter wands over the face. “In fact, we don’t get many wristwatches period. The young people these days tend not to use them.” His face curdled into a frown. “They check the time on their cell phones.”
I glanced at his wrist. “Where’s your watch?” I asked.
He smiled sheepishly and blushed. “Uh, yeah, about that...” and we both burst into laughter.
“I know, I’m one of those disgusting young people who doesn’t wear a watch. If it’s any consolation, I learned how to tell time on an old-fashioned clock, you know, the kind with minute and hour hands. So I don’t need a digital clock to tell me what time it is.”
“Is that a problem with kids these days?”
“You don’t know the half of it,” he said, lowering his voice, as if I were a trusted confidant. “They can’t look at a clock and tell you the time, just like they can’t make change, balance a checkbook or subtract on a piece of paper. Talk about crippled.”
I nodded. Truth is, I too had forgotten how to subtract due to my using calculators so often. I started forcing myself to add and subtract manually so my brain would remember the process. Now I’m working on my multiplication tables. Next it’ll be multiplying and dividing fractions. Technology is handy, but it’s also a dangerous crutch that can rot your brain.
“I don’t suppose you could do one more thing for me?” I asked him. His eyebrows arched hopefully. “I don’t suppose you could tell me where the nearest men’s room is? I’m having a serious bladder attack.”
“I’ll do more than that,” he said. “I’ll show you, because I need to go too.”
He went into a back room for a moment, then returned. A middle-aged woman emerged right behind him and said, “Don’t be too long, please. I’m right in the middle of a polishing job.” She regarded me with a subtle look of suspicion.
But the young man didn’t notice and motioned for me to follow him. We headed off down the hallway.
We chatted as we walked. He talked about the struggles faced by the jewelry store, and how their latest survival scheme fitted around bejeweled cell phone cases. Considering how often I dropped mine, that didn’t sound like a workable idea, but I didn’t tell him that. I didn’t want to diminish his hope. Our conversation enlarged to include the mall. I told him my stories about hanging out at the mall as a kid, and how wonderful it had been. I wondered where young people hung out today.
“Snapchat,” he said. “Instagram.”
“That’s it?” I asked. “Sounds kind of lonely to me. Don’t people your age get together in person anymore?”
He snorted. “Only after they’ve been vetted through an app.”
Ugh. That didn’t sound like fun.
We reached a discreet hallway about midway down the concourse. It was brightly lit with fluorescent lights that were much brighter than those that illuminated the concourse. The men’s room door was on the right at the end of the hallway. We walked there, our footsteps and voices echoing in the hallway. He pushed the door open and held it for me.
The bathroom was surprisingly clean and roomy. The ceiling was lower, which made it feel a little more cozy. Clearly it was not used often, which made me wonder if it had even been here back in my day. Directly in front of the entrance was a vanity with a pair of sinks and a large, sparkling mirror. To the left were two urinals, one high, one low, and to the left of that was a single stall, which was very large. One of those baby changing tables was mounted on the wall.
I headed immediately for the high urinal and unzipped. I really needed to pee, and the pressure in my bladder seemed to double just from me thinking about the moment I could unleash a torrent into the ceramic bowl.
I let it flow, and oh God, the sensation was heavenly. I had not realized just how badly I needed to pee, but now that I was getting relief, I felt a warm sense of relaxation seep into my muscles and spread across my body. I should have taken a whiz before I left the office. I mentally made a note of that – next time, be sure to hit the men’s room before heading out to run errands.
As I peed, I finally noticed the salesman wasn’t standing at the urinal beside me. Nor was he in the stall. I cranked my head around and glanced over my shoulder, and what I saw caused me to catch my breath.
He was leaning against the wall behind me. He had his pants unzipped. He was stroking an unbelievably long, impossibly thin dick. The thing had to be 8 inches if it were an inch, but it probably wasn’t 2 inches in circumference. In fact, the width didn’t seem to change from stem to stern, giving it the appearance of a tree branch that might break if you pulled on it too hard. But it was bone rigid, standing straight out of his crotch. His hand was slowly sliding up and down its dizzying length.
His eyes were on me.
I forced out the remainder of my piss and shook my dick – quickly – then turned around without zipping up. I guess the look on my face must have communicated my interest, because he smiled and gestured for me to approach him. I did and immediately sank to my knees.