The Toy Store

Working in a toy store was like working in Hell, though I imagined Satan didn’t have irate mothers screaming in his face because the latest fad-toy was sold out.  I’d been here for nine years and had learned that children were horrible monsters, parents were even worse, and no matter how many times I straightened my section, it was destroyed by the time I got to the end of the aisle.  It made a woman want to scream.

There was one highlight to the job (especially working in action figures) and that was the adorable parade of geeks that came in whenever a new figure was released.  They varied in age, from pre-pubescent teens to men with gray in their hair, but they tended to have the same look about them: pale, slightly rumpled, and determined. 

Take the one who’d been coming into the store every day for the past week.  He was in his late twenties or early thirties, always wore a suit straight off the rack that had more wrinkles than an old man, and he had a clunky pair of glasses that could’ve been bought out of Stereotypical Geek Magazine.  He came in at the same time (which made me suspect it was his lunch hour) and didn’t glance at any other toys except for the Warrior Angel collection. 

I kept my eye on him whenever he came in – geeks could be shoplifters, too – but he normally just lingered at the display, biting on his lower lip.  Sometimes, he took one of the green and purple packaged action figures down and studied the back.  I knew the company listed the figures available in the collection, or the ones coming soon, so I guessed he was waiting for a specific one to be released.

I knew there was a shipment arriving the next day and it would contain at least one of the limited edition Warrior Angel figures that had been advertised in the shopguide.  I normally put those types of action figures out immediately and let first-come-first-served be the rule of purchase.  But the heavy sigh I heard when the guy came in tugged me over to him.

“The new figures are coming tomorrow,” I said, with a courteous smile.  His head turned swiftly and he was a lot more handsome than I’d thought he’d be, save for the glasses. 

“New figures?” he said blankly.

“You’re not a collector?”  I was taken by surprise.  He fit my mental profile of a geek almost perfectly.

He shook his head, his dark hair falling over the edges of his glasses.  “No, but my best friend is.”

“And you’re trying to buy a gift,” I surmised, falling into my role as a salesperson.  I hated helping customers because they were never satisfied and they tended to take it out on me.

“I, uh…”  His cheeks suddenly pinked and he shoved his hands in his pockets.  He looked down at his feet.  “I’m trying to ask him to marry me.”

I melted immediately.  How could I not, with an admission as sweet as that?

“I thought, maybe, you know,” he shrugged self-consciously, “I’d put the ring in one of the packages. Maybe have Warrior Angel or Devilicus be holding it.  Or something.”

It was cute and romantic, and why did guys like him have to be gay?  “The limited edition that’s coming out tomorrow would be perfect.  It’s Warrior Angel and Devilicus together in one package, in their street clothes.”

He perked up slightly.  “Sean and Cal figures?”  So, he did have some geek in him.  I knew my nose couldn’t be off.

“If those are their real names,” I said.  “I can hold one for you, if you want.”

“Really?”  He suddenly smiled and I was nearly blinded by the gorgeous sight, even with the glasses.  “Thank you so much.  I’ll be back tomorrow at lunch.  Is that okay?”

“Yes.”  I smiled at him in return and watched him leave with a bounce in his step.

“I don’t have time for a stop like this.  I have a meeting at three that’s across town and I still need to drop by the office for some files.”

“It’ll only take a second.”  I heard Mr. Romantic’s voice and almost dropped the armload of action figures I held.  As promised, I’d kept aside the new Warrior Angel limited edition and he’d stopped by an hour ago to purchase it.  Then, in a bit of sneaky creativity that made me really wish he wasn’t gay, he’d carefully opened the package, put the ivy-etched gold band in Devilicus’s hand, and resealed the package with superglue.  He’d then entrusted it to me until he returned with his soon-to-be affianced, to set in motion the Proposal Plan.

Quickly, I set the Power Rangers boxes on the shelf and hustled over to the Warrior Angel display.  I took the limited edition package from my apron pocket and hung it on the rack.  My heart squished when I saw the ring beneath the plastic.

“What can be so important at a toy store?”  I darted back up the aisle right as they rounded the corner and bit back a gasp at who Mr. Romantic’s best friend was: Lex Luthor. 

The artificial overhead lights made Luthor’s skin look sallow.  He wore a crisply tailored suit with a plum shirt and striped tie.  Impatience creased his features.  I tried not to stare as Mr. Romantic dragged him over to the Warrior Angel section.  “Look!  They have new limited edition Warrior Angel action figures.  It’s Sean and Cal.”

“Clark, I already have two of them.  I got them direct from the manufacturer over a month ago,” Luthor said, pulling his arm free.  He straightened his cuffs.  “Is that what you wanted to show me?”

I watched as Mr. Romantic— Clark’s face fell and I had the strong desire to throw Sabertooth Power Ranger at Luthor’s head.  Lois Lane portrayed him to be an asshole in the newspaper and now I knew it was the truth.

“But this is a very special limited edition,” Clark said, and I was impressed by the lack of hurt in his voice.  “It’s a one-time offer, only available right here.”

“That’s impossible.”  Luthor reached for the package.  “The manufacturer knows I’ll pay more than market value for all rare and limited… editions…”

Hope and nervousness appeared on Clark’s expressive face, as Luthor caught sight of what was inside.  Luthor’s brow furrowed deeply.  “It comes with a ring?  Why would it have a ring?  I don’t recognize the design.”

“It’s a wedding ring,” Clark said, shooting me a glance down the aisle.  I gave him a thumbs-up sign, even as I patted my pocket for tissue for when this ended badly.  “I guess Sean figures they should stop pretending they’re only best friends and get married.”

“But Sean and Cal don’t even live in the same dimension anymore, and the only time they meet is when they’re trying to kill one another.”  Luthor appeared like he was trying to solve a quantum physics problem, not explain why there was a ring in a toy package.  “Besides, Cal and Hector are exclusive now, so if any pair should come with a wedding ring, it should be them.”

Clark’s lips pursed and I knew he was trying not to laugh.  My own lips twitched, too.  Luthor may have been an asshole, but he was also kind of thick. 

“Lex,” Clark said, and there was the smile that took my breath away.  He clasped Luthor’s hands around the package and got down on one knee, right in the middle of Aisle Ten.  I watched Luthor’s eyes get very big, as the pieces clicked into place.  “Sean has always loved Cal, even when they’re trying to kill each other, and he wants more than anything to marry you.”

“Clark,” Luthor said with a crack in his voice, and suddenly they were kissing and I remembered this was the reason why I voted to allow gay marriage: love.

Luthor’s bald head was somewhat rosy when they stopped kissing and his hands shook the smallest amount, which I wouldn’t have noticed if he weren’t still holding the package.  “How do I get the ring out?” he asked.

“Just open it,” Clark said, slinging his arm around Luthor’s shoulder.  He mouthed ‘thank you’ to me and guided Lex down the aisle, heading towards the front of the store.

“Open it?  Are you crazy?  You don’t open limited editions.  The drop nearly half their value if they’re opened.”

I laughed softly as their voices faded and used the tissue to blot my misty eyes.  Geeks really were the best part of working at a toy store.


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