AMT-Mannequins_May-2011_QT-10_8651

On the stroke of midnight, I stopped the pretense and stood up from the small silver stool I had occupied all day. Stretching this way and that to work the kinks out of my previously frozen but now rapidly loosening muscles, it was hard suppressing the urge to emit a very loud and extended yawn. I did anyway; one had to be very careful. The guards were normally asleep by this time but who knew who or what else was out there in the surrounding darkness.

Power was out in the entire complex. PHCN had struck again and thankfully the generators that powered the floodlights didn’t automatically come on this late. Only a small emergency bulb prevented the whole place from being left in total darkness and that illumination could only be seen from inside the store itself, not by anyone standing outside or within the compound. The reprieve allowed me shenanigan a bit, unobserved.

This life is hard I tell you, don’t be fooled by the seeming ease with which I sit and pose for them to admire all day. It allows just few hours of restricted freedom, and only at these ungodly hours, before dawn approaches and one has to return to immobile duty.

Sigh.

David’s eyes were almost popping out of their sockets where he lay unseen on the cold hard floor in the adjoining changing room. Incredulous at the first sounds of movement, the urge to scream when he’d finally confirmed the source had almost been too great to stifle before common sense kicked in. A pair of knitted socks swiftly and silently picked up from a box beside his head had come handy and it now lay between his teeth, saved from being bitten clean through only by the sheer thickness of its woolen material.

His heart slammed against his ribcage, his hands shook and his thoughts ran in a million different directions. Fear turned his blood to water and shock kept him prone.

Who would have thought it possible that he, drunk beyond measure when he staggered into the mall earlier in the evening, would somehow fall asleep while waiting to be fitted for a new suit and then somehow get totally overlooked by everyone, only to wake up alone and afraid in the deserted room, several hours after the store had closed.

Who in their right minds would believe him when he told them he had been there, in hiding, frozen in terror as he watched a mannequin suddenly come to life in the show room?

Each tick of the giant wall clock echoed in the silence of the empty room, counting the seconds as I got some much needed exercise in preparation for the coming of dawn.

Life could wait.