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Ali Kazaam's House of Fun

Ali Kazaam's House of Fun

Vorschau lesen

Ali Kazaam's House of Fun

Länge:
112 Seiten
1 Stunde
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Oct 25, 2014
ISBN:
9781311117977
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Ali Kazaam's vast toy-filled Warehouse of Fun is a kid's version of paradise, but when David and his friends take the fun a little too far, what happens to them is anything but heavenly.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Oct 25, 2014
ISBN:
9781311117977
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Oh dear. It's not that I don't like to talk about myself. I really do. Tiresomely. And at length. Just ask my friends. But you and I have only just met. And my interview and my stories will tell you so much more about me than my bio ever will. So go read those. And then if you still want to know more about me, we'll talk... Why are you still here? Go read.


Buchvorschau

Ali Kazaam's House of Fun - S. M. Davidson

Ali Kazaam’s House of Fun

Published by S. M. Davidson

Smashwords edition

Copyright 2014 S. M. Davidson

Smashwords Edition License Notes

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Table of Contents

Beginning

Acknowledgements

When I was a little kid, I thought heaven must look like Ali Kazaam’s Warehouse of Fun. Ali’s is a two-story dilapidated warehouse painted in pink and blue stripes so bright they hurt your eyes in the summer sun. The whole building is parked like a squat candy stick at the end of a cracked, pitted, and potholed stretch of parking lot behind the Midtown Mall. On a hot afternoon, kids are drawn to its pulsating pink and blue splendor. They drag their sneakered feet across the rutted pavement like zombies called from the cool of the mall to wander mindlessly across the heated landscape, Ali’s distant oasis of fun burning its imprint on their retinas as they shuffle unstoppably toward the front doors.

That’s how I always felt anyway. Once I discovered the place, I could no more keep my feet from carrying me there than I could keep from stopping to watch a turned-on TV or keep from staring at Aimee Swithers in seventh period study hall. Actually, I think it’s possible that no one can keep from staring at Aimee Swithers.

You have to actually see the inside of Ali’s to believe it. It’s all done up in this Arabian Nights Flying Carpet theme with murals of onion-domed palaces and tasseled Persian rugs swooping down from the ceiling. And unbelievably, there was even a giant glowering fiberglass genie rising out of a brass teapot in a swirl of pre-fabricated plastic smoke that looked like sculpted shaving cream. The genie was a faintly metallic bronze color, and his upper body, from belly to beefy crossed arms, to pointy beard, to twisted blue turban stretched nearly to the ceiling. The genie smiled a wide white smile down on shoppers while colorful flying carpets swayed around him in the ventilation like a swirl of dragonflies stuck in suspended animation.

It’s pretty impressive—especially to a little kid. But even the giant genii and the kitschy castles couldn’t hold a kid’s attention for long. That’s because Ali’s Warehouse of Fun is filled with row on row and aisle on aisle of towering shelves piled with toys: board games, balls of every kind, puzzles, stuffed animals in all shapes and sizes, models, dolls, video games, action figures, play sets, sports equipment, pool toys, and more.

You name it. If you can play with it, it’s on Ali’s shelves somewhere. Want to buy your own inflatable bounce house castle with a slide on top? Back row. Need a shark big enough to ride around your swimming pool? Pool toys aisle and look up, up, up. Tilt your head back until your neck hurts, and there it will be, all the way at the top of the shelves, dorsal fin almost at the same level as the top of the turban, nearly poking a particularly hideous pink and turquoise flying carpet.

Then there was Ali Kazaam himself—but he was not nearly so impressive.

When I was little, I thought Ali was a genie, too. He had the same bristly black brows and white teeth. He had a wound-up magenta turban with a big fake jewel glittering on the front of it, too, and a lot of sparkly rings on his hands. Ali’s skin was kind of a coppery color. He had black beetle eyes and, like the genie, he had a way of crossing his arms and looking imperiously down at everyone shorter than he was—which was practically nobody.

I once heard my dad tell my mom that Ali probably modeled the giant genie after himself to make himself feel tall. I could see Dad’s point. Heck, I was almost a head taller than Ali by the time I graduated sixth grade. Ali was short. And on top of that, his little pot belly bulged out over top of his belt.

Ironically, for a guy who owns a place called the Warehouse of Fun, Ali Kazaam clearly didn’t like kids. He didn’t like them touching his toys or making noise or running up and down his aisles and messing up his displays. A whole army of employees used to scurry fearfully up and down the aisles, frantically putting items back and calling out I’ll get that for you, before someone’s precious child could reach out with sticky smeared fingers and ruin the fake fur on a life-like stuffed puppy. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure Ali Kazaam liked grownups that much either. Possibly, he also wasn’t all that fond of toys.

What he was fond of was money. Lots and lots of money. And he was making it hand over fist. Glowering fiercely down at little kids and making them cry was probably just a bonus.

Admittedly, Ali’s glower was fearsome. And his voice often went from a velvety smooth Can I help you, madam? to a thundering Don’t touch! with no warning stops in between.

I don’t think it was any better for his employees. As little kids, we all learned fast to stay out of his way. I suppose store employees did, too—as much as possibly anyway.

But there was an age right in the middle, when you were too old to be scared by him and too young to work for him, a short, grand period when a kid could roam up and down that incredible bonanza of toy-filled bliss with total freedom and leave your fingerprints all over the glass cabinets shielding rows and rows of video game boxes without worrying because someone was going to come after you and clean up, and if you had money in your pocket, and were a bona fide paying customer, you were even more likely to be tolerated.

That was the age we discovered unexpectedly how much fun it could be to needle the guy just a little bit. Just enough to make him glower and glare and grumble and waddle imperiously up the aisles trying to impose order on his kingdom. After all, what was he going to do to you?

That was the age I discovered the most important reason to love The Warehouse of Fun. Veronica. As in Assistant Manager Veronica M. which is what her nametag said.

Remember what I said about Aimee Swithers? Well, fast forward Aimee a dozen years; stretch her out to super model height; color her hair blonder than blonde, and give her, well, everything else that goes with the kind of girl people stop and drool over.

Not even Ali was immune. For sure, she was his favorite employee. His trusted Assistant Manager. He loved every idea she had. And when he’d say so, she’d smile the most brilliant smile you ever saw. It was like angelic lights shining out of her head. It was dazzling.

I dreamed about making her smile like that.

This was how I ended up spending most of my summer vacation and just about all the money I had squirreled away, taking the bus down to Ali Kazaam’s every day I got the chance.

Before long, Veronica even knew my name.

Hello, David, she’d say. Are you here again?

I’d smile back, all dazzled by her pink lips and white teeth. Then she’d ask me what I was looking for today, and I’d forget everything I’d rehearsed on the way over in the bus. Everything. Including the way I was going to oh-so-smoothly say Hello. It’s Veronica, right? Well, Veronica, in fact I was looking for something in particular. Perhaps you can help me.

The first time she said my name and asked me what I was looking for, I blew it completely. First, I couldn’t stop looking at her lips and she had to repeat the question. Then I blurted out something like Ohthereitisoverthere. Thankyouforyourhelp, and fled into the next aisle.

The second time I avoided her Shiny Lips Trap by fixing my eyes on the giant genie like I had some kind of social anxiety disorder.

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