Frank DeLaplan hated his job. For seven months he had been working at a local supermarket restocking aisle 13 night after night after night. First were the canned vegetables, then the BBQ sauces, salad dressings, pickles, croutons, salsas, and ketchups. Depending on the size of the delivery, Frank had a certain amount of time allotted to stock his shelves and then to straighten them and make them presentable before the store re-opened at 6am. But tonight, Frank’s back hurt. He had a headache and he sprained his wrist while helping a co-worker lift some dog food the night before. He had had it. Tonight was going to be the last night shift he would ever work. Forget the bad economy, forget the bills piling up on the kitchen table, and forget that he didn’t have a job lined up. No more night shift for Frank DeLaplan.
He had it all planned out. He would finish out tonight since he was already there and it would make that last paycheck a little bit bigger. He would work through his half-hour lunch shift to make a few more bucks and who cared anyway, they could write him up if they wanted to.
The doors closed behind the final customers and the night workers emerged like insects pushing their carts full of supplies to their respective aisles. Frank worked through the pain, ignored the headache, and smiled to himself with each item placed on the shelf. The next time he picked up a can of corn it would be if he was buying some for himself. Eleven o’ clock came and went, midnight passed by, and while the rest of the crew took a lunch break at half past one, Frank kept working. By the time three o’ clock came around Frank was sweating and his feet were sore, but he could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
He was working so hard that he didn’t notice the Mexican music that blared over the loudspeakers had gone quiet. He was so intent on finishing his load that he didn’t notice that there were no co-workers loading carts in the stockroom. He was so excited and was thinking so much about six o’clock that he never once looked out the front doors of the market at the night that surrounded him.
Frank placed the last jar of pickles on the shelf, cracked his neck and stretched his back and that’s when he realized that the early morning crew was nowhere to be seen. He pushed his cart to the back and was surprised by the quiet of the delivery room. Aisle One was empty as was Aisle Two and Three. All Sixteen aisles were void of people. Frank walked quickly to the checkout area and all the registers were dark. When he finally reached the front doors he looked outside. It was still dark; the moon was still shining brightly. But it was morning! Where was the sun?
He pushed on the door handle but the door didn’t budge. He shook the door but it refused to open. Panic started to creep in. Frank grabbed a small wooden bench that was on display nearby and threw it with all his might at the glass door but the bench simply bounced off and came to rest on the floor with a resounding thud. Frank took off running forgetting the pain that seeped through his body. Door after door was locked, refusing to open. He checked them all. Frank threw different objects at various windows but nothing would break any of them. Everything just bounced off.
Tired and exhausted Frank slowly walked back to aisle 13. He walked past the canned vegetables and croutons and sat down on the floor in the middle of the aisle and began to cry. He was trapped, caught in a supermarket during a night shift that would never end. Waiting for a morning that would never come.