It was last Friday, and I had already spent 2 nights and 2 days hanging around and inside Toys"R"Us so that on Saturday morning I could get a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before they sold out. I looked haggard, unwashed and bone-thin, with a fast growing, unkempt beard.
Friday afternoon arrived and I stationed myself outside the store with an empty hat in front of me, singing and tap dancing for money since I had none left. I needed to call my wife. Why hadn't she even come here to see if I was okay? Didn't she care that I was doing this for us to get our very own copy of Deathly Hallows. Well, actually, she'd have to get her own copy because I wasn't lending her mine. There are certain things I don't share with my wife, and those are: my favorite books, my razor, my TV, my computer, my desk, my snacks, my kitty litter, my dishes, my utensils, my liquid hand soap, my aspirin, my salt and pepper, and the kitchen sink.
As I finished my song and dance rendition of Lindsay Lohan's "Daughter to Father", some kid walking past poured the rest of his Slurpee into the empty hat lying at my feet. I reached out to grab him by the neck when suddenly, the store parking lot was overtaken by six police cruisers. I shot my hands up in the air and pleaded, "He started it! He started it!"
As the officers stepped out of their vehicles, one looked me straight in the eye.
OFFICER: Are you Eric?
ME: Oh God.
I got teary-eyed then.
ME: Yes, I am. Yes. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Will someone appoint a lawyer for me? I don't know any. Oh God.
OFFICER: Sir, you've been missing for almost forty-eight hours.
This was the worst news.
ME: Oh God. No. Did they find me?
My wife came out of one of the cruisers. She looked like she'd be crying for days, mascara running down her cheeks, and her hair all over the place, clumps of it defying gravity.
MY SWEET WIFE: Where have you been? I thought you were dead.
ME: Dead. Babe... I'm this close to getting Harry Potter. I just have, like, sixteen more hours of this pure hell I've created for myself. I'll see you soon, don't worry. You get back home now.
MY WIFE: Everyone has been looking for you. The police, both our entire families, our neighbors, some people from your office. I've even started funeral arrangements. And you were here... all this time... for a children's book?
ME: Harry Potter, baby. It's his last adventure.
OFFICER: Why didn't you just put five dollars down as a deposit and come back tomorrow for your copy, guaranteed to be here.
ME: What? How does that work?
MY WIFE: Have fun with your book, Eric. You know, you've probably lost your job since your office doesn't know where the hell you've been these past few days. Hope it was worth it.
ME: It was.
My wife went back inside the cruiser, as did all the police officers and everyone drove away.
ME: Wait... hey... I have no money...
I was alone again. I'd probably lost my job, and my marriage. But Harry was just another day away. But I was so tired and starved then, I couldn't remember who Harry was. All I knew was that I just had to go hungry and sleep amongst garbage for one more day. Not so bad. I still didn't have any money to buy the book though. Some customers were approaching so I went back to singing and dancing; this time bursting into an oversexed remix of Fergie's "London Bridge." I needed the money.