1 Mall Visit


Sara Summers went to the fragrance counter and the glass cologne bottle fascinated her. The top was the rosette pattern from a gold spotted jaguar. She undid the stopper and held the top up to the fluorescent lights in the store. Sara saw the circle and the spot inside.

“Tigre mariposo, tiger moth, how interesting.”

There was something about the spot that held her gaze. She couldn’t understand why she held the top. The glass felt warm to her touch. Sara could visualize the elusive jaguar.

“Strong creature. I wish I was like a jaguar. Maybe I would feel better.”

She carefully placed the top back on the sample bottle touching the design one last time. The sales clerk quickly rushed over to the beautiful young blond woman.

“This is a new fragrance we unpacked this week. Here, let me spray some onto the white fragrance cardboard.”

The sales clerk handed the woman the small tab of cologne scent.

“You need to rub the paper on your wrist and neck to get the full effect.”

Sara did as she was told.

The sales clerk brought out a beautiful scarf.

“This gold scarf comes with the cologne and perfume package. The company is pushing the new scents in their first promotion. The scarf was designed from a real jaguar.”

Sara touched the soft jaguar print scarf.

The sales clerk was ready to ring the sale. She pushed.

“Our store has only one scarf left of the jaguar.”

Sara pocketed the scented paper in her pocket and walked away.

“But you didn’t try the panther cologne. We have twenty of those scarves.”

Sara walked across the aisle and went to a mirror she saw at the makeup counters. Although she was tanned, the lighting made her look pale. Her hair was pulled back into a knot at the back of her head. A few loose strands fell over her sunglasses. Sara shoved the glasses to the top of her head. Her eyes blinked from the bright lights.

She wore a white cotton blouse, khaki pants, and sandals. Her purse was a camel-colored leather body bag. The young pretty woman looked like most of the normal females shopping the mall.

The beauty makeup woman approached and glanced across at the fragrance counter where the sales clerk was circling her fingers in a motion considered off-the-wall.

Sara didn’t move away from the mirror until the woman said, “I see you are standing close to the lip gloss. We have a peachy-pink that will go nicely with your complexion. The color is wonderful during the summer. Would you like me to put some on your hand?”

Sara nodded and the sales woman rubbed the gloss.

“The color is nice. I’ll take one of those.”

“Do you need mascara?”

“Mascara? Oh, yes.” The young woman suddenly remembered why she went to the mall in Tucson, Arizona.

“I need sunscreen also. There’s one that has a high SPF. I don’t remember the name.”

The sales clerk shuffled off and brought the lip gloss, mascara, and sunscreen.

“Makeup or powder?

Sara blinked and focused. The woman seemed kind. Today was a day when she needed guidance and support.

“I think there’s one that contains both.”

The sales clerk noted the lost look in the woman’s eyes and her slow reaction. This shopper wasn’t squirrel-crazy like the other clerk in the store hinted. There was sadness in those green eyes. Elaine saw all types of women in the store. Nothing got past her.

“Honey, you don’t have to remember names. I’ll find you a good one. I’ve got your perfect color down but let me try the sample.”

The sales clerk danced off to get the correct shade of makeup powder. Elaine was there to help. She loved her job.

Sara took out her credit card. The beauty makeup clerk wrapped the items in tissue, put the receipt in the bag, and gave Sara her credit card.

“Honey, you come back to my counter anytime you want. I’m the best. Ask for Elaine. I work Monday through Friday.”

Sara thanked the woman and left the store.

The beauty sales clerk, Elaine, looked over at the cologne counter and gave the clerk a thumbs up sign to show she made a sale.

The cologne clerk went on her break. She was tired of her business and snooty makeup girls.

Meanwhile, Sara went to the small coffee shop, ordered a latte, put in more sugar, capped a plastic lid on top, and crashed into a leather chair. The chairs were placed under large trees in huge green pots. The walls were wavy green tiles to change the ambience and feel of the space to a rolling desert of cacti and plants. She watched the shoppers. No one bothered her. She felt safe in the garden tree area of the store.

Buying items today was hard. She made herself get out of her depressing house. At least she could breathe better in the store. Watching people helped her forget the problems stuck in her mind. The jaguar bottle kept nagging at her brain. There was something pushing her to go back to the store. She wasn’t sure why? The recently purchased parcel was tucked beside her.

Drinking the hot latte, she thought about her dilemma. Her husband fell off a cliff in Mexico and she buried him there. She experienced the most horrific week of her life.

When she returned to her home from burying her husband in Mexico, there was a notice from the bank. Their monthly mortgage payment hadn’t been paid by Tim before their trip. He promised to pay them. Checking online, Sara found money was missing to the tune of two hundred fifty thousand dollars from their joint bank account. Tim took her money. Sara was now in the second most horrific week of her life. There was no reason for Tim to take her money.

“Where did my money go? Was I wrong in trusting my husband? We purchased the house with a little money down. The rest was put in our joint account. We were going to make a large payment when Tim received money from a job. What am I going to do? I could call my old manager to see if there are modeling jobs available. I used to make good money before I was married. My body still looks great for a twenty-six-year-old. A little weight loss the past month has been good. At least there is fifteen thousand dollars in my personal checking account from prior modeling jobs under my stage name.”

She drank almost the last of her latte. The caffeine was pushing the woman out of her reclusive shell of grief.

“Well, Sara girl, obviously you were not thinking straight for some time. The man cheated you out of a marriage by dying and stole your money without your knowledge. Way to go. You really knew how to select a future husband. The prize of the year award is yours.”

She went back to the cologne counter carrying the rest of her latte with her. The prior sales clerk was on break.

“I’ll take the cologne and perfume with the jaguar rosette and free scarf. I hope the last scarf isn’t gone.”

The sales clerk looked at her strangely.

Sara picked up the sample cologne and wiggled the bottle. The new cologne girl went off to package the cologne, perfume and free scarf. She rung up the sale. She beamed and handed the young woman her package in a red bag.

“This is my first sale. Thank you for coming into the store today.”

Sara looked inside the bag and touched the gold scarf. The jaguar designer scarf was a perfect complement for her best friend’s skin tone. She could hardly wait to give her friend, Natalya, the gift of a perfectly scented perfume and scarf.

Unknowingly, the stage became set to play out for the two friends and others. Their career and future would change. The risks encountered were more dangerous than a high-wire act over the Grand Canyon during a rainstorm.

The beauty makeup clerk, Elaine, saw the young blonde woman leave with the red bag. Elaine waved across the aisle at the new makeup sales clerk and mouthed, “Good job.”

Sara went back to her comfortable leather chair and sprayed on some cologne. Touching the jaguar top made her feel better. Her day was looking up. The coffee cup was in her hand. She removed the top. The latte cooled but still tasted sweet.

She let her mind wander. Sara kept seeing the body the helicopter rescue men brought back from the bottom of the canyon in Mexico. It was hard to tell who the person was. Her husband’s backpack and gun were also brought back. They landed close to his body. She didn’t see him fall because she went to their van to get the bottled water bag. During the time she was gone, her husband was involved in the accident.

People fall off cliffs every day. That is what the Mexican authorities believe happened. At the bottom of the mountain, they helped her store the gear inside the van. She remembered driving back to the hotel and deciding to dispose of her husband’s body. Sara found the fall hard to believe. Tim slipped in broad daylight, but he was a cautious person.

“Was he cautious or dangerously crazy to get that close to the edge?”

            She was numb from either grief or anger. Sara wasn’t sure which applied to her. The trip was going so great. They were seeing the sights and picnicking in the van. Tim usually took lots of photographs. His camera was in the backpack. The pack contained a heavy foam shell which surrounded the camera and lenses. She remembered the day he brought the thick foam home. He used her electric knife to shape the foam. She didn’t check to see if anything was broken.

            “He’s gone. Now what do I do? For some reason, I bought three hundred fifty dollars’ worth of makeup and one hundred fifty dollars of fragrance. A necessary diversion to help me think properly. Well, the makeup and scent are working. Maybe I should get my hair done.”

Sara went to her favorite salon. They put her in a chair for a trim, wash, and comb. The salon person put extra conditioner on her tresses to refresh the softness and shine. This was the second time she looked in the mirror since her husband’s death. The woman in the mirror looked much better. She left the salon.

“I’m remembering things. The khaki jacket pockets were missing the extra stitching on the flaps. Why did I think about stitching? There’s something wrong with me. No, there’s not.”

Sara took the items out of her bag and removed them from the packaging. She stuffed her makeup and cologne into the body purse along with the receipt. The perfume and scarf were left in the bag. Walking over to the garbage can, she threw her paper cup away and left her haven at the mall.

Quickly, she retrieved her keys from her purse and started running toward the escalator and the exit. Her vehicle was parked somewhere in the underground parking. She was lucky she always parked in the same area. Her van was easy to find.

“I need to check my husband’s camera. There must be something I missed.”