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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Holiday · #2207954
Another stirring life-changing moment during the 'hollerdaze'.
“If I have to listen to ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ one more time,” Elsie Thomas didn’t finish her threat.

Margo thrust an elbow into her friend and hissed, “Hold that thought. Only three more days until Christmas.” Margo was the clerk in the next Wallmart checkout counter. She thrust a small box into Elsie’s hand.

“What’s this?”

The store was exploding with holiday shoppers. People were fighting to wedge themselves tighter in her line. The noiser they got, the louder the store speakers blared one holiday carol after another.

“Look, stupid. Just don’t let the manager catch you wearing them,” Margo pointed at both of her ears and winked. The next customer in her isle launched himself at an inch of open space in front of her. Elsie’s friend got lost in the mountain pile of gifts being bought.

“I’m next,” a nice little old white-haired lady with rosy pink cheeks yelled above the din. On any other visit she might have come across as Missus Santa’s wife. At the moment she was a cane thrusting seasoned expert warding off a many handed creature attempting to steal her clearance items off the counter.

“It’s mine.”

“No, that’s mine.”

“I had it first.”

“Let go.”

Elsie’s ears were ringing and not from Christmas bells. In desperation, she looked down at Margo’s present. “Soundproof Earplugs.”

A manic second later, complete quiet reigned. It was like watching an old silent movie watching the carnage happening around her. Elsie cracked her jaw yawning, adjusting the earplugs in tighter. She was rewarded with the soft meditative sound of birds singing. A mountain stream chuckled in the background. A gentle breeze rustled green leaves.

“This thing has selectable built-in mood music for relaxation,” Elsie said to herself. She couldn’t hear her own words, of course. That was the intent. Every sound wave was blocked from her ears. She gave a thumb’s up to Margo and got busy.

The hyper-active hectic evening wound down without Elsie’s blood pressure rising an inch. She worked with a smile, hands blurring so fast that each transaction was over almost before it was begun. Her line thinned into a jet stream. Customers passed by so fast they came and went in a blur.

She jerked when the Walmart manager tapped her on the shoulder, signaling her shift was over. Margo came over to give Elsie a lift home. She pointed to her friend’s ears but it was too late.

Elsie nodded dumbly at everything her manager silently said. Every reply was a shrug of her shoulders and carelessly crafted ‘Uhm.”

When the manager left, Margo helped Elsie unplug herself. “You didn’t hear a word that she said.”

“I know. It was wonderful. I had no idea being deaf could be such a blessing.”

In the background ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ was rum-dum-drumming again. “The manager was so impressed by your work tonight, she offered to make you assistant manager and take you off the floor. You would have had an all-expense-paid week’s worth of training in Hawaii starting tomorrow.”

“Would have?” Elsie tried digging the embedded wax out of her ears. This sounded important.

“Yeah. When she asked if you wanted to stay in your present position and work over-time. Like, girl, she was kidding. You nodded your dumb head and said ‘Uhm” meaning yes.”

“I did? Why didn’t you do something? Try and stop me”

"I did." Margo looked a little smug.

“Thanks for helping me with your silent treatment. You were going to get that raise even before the earplugs. Now, I’m going to Hawaii tomorrow. You got my shift and your own, lucky girl. You never did listen very well.”

Elsie got out of Margo's car. She walked home to the sound of 'The Little Drummer Boy' marching in her head.
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