Miss Take and Hugh Jerra

(Pun? I don’t know what you’re talking about.)

Miss Camilla Take was lost. Lost in a fog of her own design, figuratively. Literally lost in the internally bewilderingly and deliberately incoherent Mall of America. Light seemed to come from everywhere. There were no right angles. It was possible to see bogglingly vast distances, but only in ways that made it particularly hard to navigate to nearby locations. There were no clocks. Slightly irritating music seemed to come from everywhere at a volume slightly too low to be conscious of. There was an unnerving echoey quality to the space. Everything about the place seemed to conspire against moving quickly through it with purpose.

Hugh was working the counter at Pickles and Plums, a pickled fruit fast food joint. He was mopping up a spill of blueberry pickle juice–that blue did not come out of the tile grouting easy–when a seemingly flustered young woman wandered aimlessly up to the counter. She stood next to the counter, but she was gazing off into the greater mall space area place. Hugh cleared his throat. “Welcome to Pickles and Plums, the only place for pickled fruit and sundries!” Hugh declaimed, repeating the standard line. The woman jumped a little. “Er, hi,” she said, scanning the board, mouth slightly open. She picked up a laminated menu and sort of bent it back and forth still staring at the board. Hugh stood there, still holding the mop. She said, “I’d like the Pickled Beep, I mean, Beet Juice Frappè with the celery garnish.” “Coming up!” Hugh said. “That’ll be $6.79.” He hustled to the back to make her drink, came back a few minutes later, and handed it to her. She gave him some money and wandered off, first going left, then going right. “Your change!” Hugh called, but she was gone.

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