Back at the bar where Jon and his friends were gathered, they discussed these events, remembering old times.
“You can’t possibly include all of that in your speech. We’ve been here an hour already, and you haven’t really said anything yet,” Collins remarked.
“I know, but it’s all important. It’s all leading somewhere, I promise. Besides, we just got to the good part. I’m obviously not putting every word of this in the speech, but this is all part of your story; out of everyone at this wedding, there aren’t many people who have known you as long as we have. Won’t they want to know how you got to where you are?”
Collins nodded as he sipped his beer. “That’s true, but my wedding reception isn’t exactly the time or place for a full biography.”
Schmidt chuckled, saying, “Why not? You don’t think your wedding guests want to hear about your entire life story?”
“I don’t think they want to sit and listen to Jon-boy for that long. At this rate, he’s going to have enough material to write a series of books about me,” Collins retorted.
“C’mon, don’t flatter yourself; your life isn’t THAT exciting. You’d get a trilogy at best,” said Jon.
Schmidty attempted to flag down the waitress and said, “Well, if we’re going to write Collins’ trilogy down on a bar napkin, we are going to need some wings.”
“Oooh, that sounds awesome. We’re also going to need more napkins…alright, Jonny, where were we?”
- – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
The rest of the trip was rather uneventful. A couple good meals, a lot of driving around town, and then a quiet drive home. After they returned, they met up with Schmidt, who was working the overnight shift by himself. The two of them decided to keep him company and tell him about the trip while he worked.
After Schmidt got off duty, the three of them decided to go to the store and do what they liked to call “adventure shopping.” This was a tradition they had developed where they went to a store, performed a bunch of shenanigans, and timed how long it took them to get thrown out. As juvenile as it sounds, it was actually quite fun. Even Jon, who was the most rule-abiding member of the group, found it entertaining. So the boys went to the store.
“Man, I thought that greeter at the door recognized me from the last time we were here,” Collins said quietly after they walked in.
“Last time? What did we do last time?” Jon asked.
Collins laughed out loud as Schmidt began telling the story. “It was just me and Collins last time. He tried putting a bag of fun-size candy bars on lay-away. Then when they didn’t let him do it, he filled the cart with candy and started handing it out to kids as they walked by. About a dozen of them tried to leave the store without paying for it.”
Jon chuckled. “Did he tell them it was free candy or something?”
“No, he just handed it to them and told every one of them ‘Happy America Days.’ And then a bunch of them just walked out of the store.”
“Yeah, I may have accidentally orchestrated the biggest candy-heist in history.”
“I can’t believe they still let you shop here,” Jon remarked.
“I am too, considering I get thrown out of this place at least twice a month.”
Walking over to housewares, they saw a large bin full of kitchen timers, which they then set to go off five at a time at thirty-second intervals. The first set went off just as they escaped the scene of the crime, barely containing their laughter.
Moments later, the loudspeaker crackled to life, with a very annoyed woman trying to talk over the two-dozen kitchen timers sounding in the background.
“Can we get every available associate to housewares? We are having technical difficulties.”
The boys allowed themselves a moment of laughter as they meandered over to the clearance section. According to Collins, that was where all the fun props were kept. Seasonal items that were out of season, masks, toys; it was a prankster’s paradise.
Upon arrival, they proceeded to don Halloween masks and begin a three-way sword fight using foam noodles (you know, those pool toys that look like giant strands of colored spaghetti.) This went on for quite a while, and eventually made its way over to the produce section, where a toppled basket of apples alerted security to their antics. Their noodles and masks were taken away, Collins was issued a written ban notice, and the three of them were asked to leave.
Somehow, on the way out, Jon was able to get in line and buy a bag of tortilla chips and some salsa, which they subsequently popped open as soon as they made it outside. They found their way over to one of the benches out front, sat down, and had a good chuckle.
“That wasn’t half bad. I’d love to see the security footage of us gallivanting around the place,” Collins laughed.
Through a mouthful of chips, Schmidty replied, “If you weren’t such a klutz, we could have stretched that out for a while longer; they were still dealing with the kitchen timers.”
“Hey now…I don’t have eyes in the back of my head. Who puts a basket of apples in the middle of the floor anyway?”
Jon piped up, “Apparently THEY do. Can you imagine the meeting their security team is having right now? I wouldn’t be surprised if they put up fliers with Collins’ picture on them now.”
“That would be awesome. The only sucky thing is I wouldn’t get to see my own wanted poster unless one of you stole one for me or if I came back to the store.”
“Yeah, well…it’s the price you pay.”
Schmidty, in typical fashion, changed the topic suddenly. “Jon, when do you leave?”
“…if you wanted some alone time with Collins, all you had to do was ask…”
“Shut up…like, when do you move to Michigan?”
“Oh. Well, school starts in 6 weeks, so probably within the month. I’m just waiting on my housing form to be approved, and I can head up there.”
“Are you gonna need any help moving your stuff or anything?”
“No, the rooms are furnished, so everything I’m taking up with me will fit in the car.”
“Ok. How long do you think you’ll be up there?”
“School should take about two or three years, and depending on the job market, I might stay up there. It all depends on the money once I graduate. I have to go where the jobs are.”
“Fair enough,” Collins said after a moment. “Let’s get out of here; I see six security guys coming this way.”
The next few weeks went by quickly, and nothing noteworthy really happened. Well, there was an incident the day before Jon moved, but he’d rather forget the whole thing. Suffice it to say that being handcuffed to the inside of his own truck and forced to listen to mariachi music for two hours was not how he had planned on spending his day…Anyway, time came and went, Jon moved to Michigan, and then things started getting interesting. Oh, and by the way: Schmidt went back to the store a week later and stole Collins a copy of his “wanted poster.” It was quite epic.