The first 50 or so zombies in the horde passed us before one must have sniffed our scent or heard Laura Lee yelling at me not to come near her until I washed up, got a haircut, and a new passport photo. Before she could get out the name of a dry cleaner, the zombies attacked. There must have been at least fifteen or twenty staggering in our direction. I just jumped out of the dumpster and despite her protests I grabbed her hand to start running down the street. Laura Lee caught on when I yanked her off her feet and dragged her a dozen yards. By then, she was limping and they were within a sour smelling burp from us. There was no place to hide and we couldn’t out run them, so I pushed Laura Lee through a storefront window and followed. That move even caught the zombies by surprise. They stopped deader in their tracks, while I picked up Laura Lee, who was too busy pulling glass out her face to yell at me. It didn’t take much for me to carry her, she was on the lean side, not skinny, no, she had lots of well-formed and well-defined curves in the places they were designed to be kept (and away from me).
The escalator to the second floor was still running so I hopped aboard and used some of my own steam to get us up even faster. We were lucky, not far from us was an elevator so we only had to walk through about thirty or forty feet of the store. It was the women’s section and as we passed the mannequins, Laura Lee now in shock, kept pointing, saying “Momma, lesbo momma.” She was strong and it took all I had to keep her in my arms. We made it to the elevator with Laura dragging one dummy along with us. She kept up the whining, “My momma, my lesbo momma… Daddy’s divorced dyke.”
I wanted to tell her to stop talking and what she was saying was politically incorrect, but the elevator arrived and I shoved her in while pushing the dummy out. Laura glared at me, a flame-thrower present in her eyes, then calmed down and said, “I hated the butch broad anyway.” She started to laugh like she’d seen an old lady slip on a banana peel and fall into raw sewage. I let her laugh and hit forty-forty, the last floor in the building. We never made it there. Laura, now in hysterics, flung her head back and kept laughing even though the elevator had stopped. It would probably have kept going up if the doors hadn’t closed on her throat.
We were lucky. The elevator doors opened on the floor where the corporate offices were, so I didn’t have to worry about any store dummies, but I kept on the alert for zombies in business suits. I set Laura Lee down, who by now was now berating me for being the worst date she’d ever had.
“I mean, you take me out, do I get a nice romantic diner, at an up-scale restaurant? No you take me to a diner and I get zombies who want to make me the blue plate special. This might be the last time I get to eat at a high-class restaurant or any restaurant and what I get is monsters with the munchies. Who set us up anyway? Don’t answer that! I know, it was a computer dating service and I hate every one of those four eye bastards. I hope they have been eaten, digested, and eaten again by a zombie chewing on the first zombie’s intestines. They do digest food don’t they? Look who I’m asking, as if Mr. cheap-skate, who smells like a city dump, would know.”
I tried not to pay attention to her and went searching for a safe place to stay until we figured out what our next move was. I opened a door, which I thought led to a full-grown room, but turned out to be a janitor’s closet complete with a janitor who for the first time in his life was on equal footing with his bosses. He was a zombie, not the brightest zombie on the planet, because he must have thought the mop that he was chewing on led to a head. When he saw me he looked down at his mop and then back to me as if making comparisons, and decided I was the juicier more delectable target. He charged at me, and would have taken a nice chunk out of my person if he hadn’t stuck his foot in the bucket and fallen on his mop, breaking the handle.
Laura Lee then saved my life, well not so much on purpose, but she tripped when her shoe fell off. This time the zombie stumbled on the broken broom handle and fell head first into her 7-inch spiked heel, which quickly pierced his skull and emerged out the back of his head, like a humane thought through Rush Limbaugh’s mind.
For a few seconds I stood there frozen with guilt, not knowing if killing zombies required a license or if it was even in season. Laura woke me from a moment of pondering in my own stupidity, by telling me that she’d prefer dating the zombie janitor over me because the color of her high heels went better with the red veins in his eyes, but unfortunately he was just a little too dead for her. Plus when she removed the high heel from his skull the hole in his face reminded her of the first man she’d seen killed. He was a dyslexic, ex-boyfriend who made the mistake of pointing a drill in the wrong direction. She always felt guilty about that because she shouldn’t have ignored him when he asked if she thought the drill bit was the right size for the gold ring he was about to insert into his wooden penis. She also should have told him that his penis had not become wooden because of a spell a gypsy urologist cast on him for not having health insurance, but had become hard when she dumped a carton of Viagra in his eggnog. Of course, she didn’t confess this to me at that moment, but later told me the story when dying her hair so the zombies we had escaped from in the street wouldn’t recognize her.
We searched the entire upper level and never found another zombie or a living person, or a living person about to become a zombie. We did manage to find a coffee machine and several hundred packets of sweet and low, three hundred and fifty two to be exact—Laura examining every single packet. It turns out that Laura Lee was a calorie counter, obsessed with counting calories in anything that had the potential to be eaten. I wondered if she’d do the same thing with me if she eventually turned into a zombie. We both wondered what happened to the people. There weren’t any dead bodies or any carcasses of executives that we’d have to guess if they were zombies or just gifted negotiators (always ready to take advantage of a situation).
It finally hit us that maybe the stock market had dropped crashed in the last two days and that most of them had probably jumped out the windows. That led us to look out the window. We saw several hundred zombies, many in business suits standing on the street in front of the building. I actually made Laura Lee laugh when I climbed on the ledge and mooned them. I know it was taking a risk and maybe stirring up zombies who had a hunger for rump meat, or were jealous of people who hadn’t invested their life savings in the market, but getting Laura Lee to laugh made it worth almost falling and becoming the feast at my own last supper.
We knew it was only a matter of time when a few hundred of them found their way up the stairs or maybe even figured out how to operate an elevator, or worse yet the coffee machine without realizing that they had to use a cup. As a youth I had a traumatic coffee stain experience mistaking it for my shadow. The odd shape of the stain caused me to become catatonic and then I convinced myself I was undeserving of an accurate reflection. When that stain refused to follow me, I panicked, losing my identity completely, thinking I was the shadow. It took a shrink who specialized in reflections and floor blemishes to convince me that I was not the offspring of a hand puppet’s silhouette. After being forced to stare into a cup of black coffee until I could see my reflection even after the shrink dropped in a teaspoon of Creamora I emerged from my stupor. For two weeks I walked around my goose down padded cell, staring into that cup of java, until I instinctively added milk and two sugars and drank my reflection symbolically ingesting my own caffeinated soul -- no longer considering myself a victim of life’s take out--heavy stuff for an everyman’s zombie story.
Laura Lee and I had to find a way out and some place to go, someplace where there were other people, other people like us, two people who hate each other’s guts, but have come together to survive and maybe, just maybe reclaim the earth for living restaurant goers.