The Night the Moon was Full
The Night the Moon was Full is a short work of fiction about store clerks who experiences a change on a full moon night in Tecumseh. #folk lore #full moon #short fiction #Quickie Mart
The first time I spotted the big orange moon hovering between the clouds like a giant spy eye in the sky was when I on my way to work the graveyard shift over at the Quickie Mart. That fat moon’s glare was so intense it bounced off the windshield of my car and played tricks with my eyes.
What happened before the night the moon was full
The last time I remember noticing something hang against a dark sky so bright was when they brought a police helicopter to track down the guy who robbed the Quickie Mart about a year ago.
It’s a good thing they sent that chopper around. They found the dude hiding in the alley with the front of his blue jeans covered in blood. The robber shot off his right testicle when he tucked his gun into the front of his pants. That would have hurt like hell.
What happened to the testicle sharpshooter the night the moon was full
He almost bled out in the alley, but they found his sorry ass in the nick of time and called an ambulance. Events like the testicle sharpshooter make Tecumseh a quirky place to live. The neighborhood where my store is located is full of oddball people. The last thing I need tonight is that big old moon up there in the sky. Every freak in the city will be flying their flag proud and high before I clock out at the end of my shift.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a superstitious man. No spooky moon is ever going to get to me. The way I figure it, people always use a full moon as an excuse to do whatever they want. They go off the chain for a night, and the moon is the one who catches the blame.
What we know about the nights the moon gets full
That’s why hospital emergency room staff, police officers, and convenience store clerks see a lot of action on a full-moon night. Humanity is one giant crock of crap when it comes to passing the responsibility for the failures off on another. The one thing I’m sure about is I didn’t want to work the graveyard shift over at the Quickie Mart on a full-moon night.
It took me fifteen minutes to make the trip across town, which made me fifteen minutes late for work. The moon followed me the entire way. I could have sworn the old man up there winked at me when I stepped onto the asphalt and swaggered toward the entrance of the store. I could see Thelma was waiting on three snot-nosed kids as soon as I moved into the Quickie Mart.
It looked like they emptied out their piggy banks or broke into a pop machine to get the money to buy their sweets. Every single one of the rug rats was paying for their candy bars with nickels, dimes, or quarters. Thelma was going to be late clocking out. She was known to get as mean as a grizzly bear around quitting time. The woman wasn’t famous for being long on patience on a good day.
I was in no mood The night the moon was full
I was in no mood to deal with one of her mood swings. The first thing she did when she finished waiting on the pint-sized juvenile delinquents was to pull her drawer and stomp toward the back room. A short time later, I hear her slam the big metal door attached to the front of the office safe.
“I’m glad I’m not you tonight. Even if Lard Ass paid me a million bucks to stick around, I wouldn’t. Stuff is about to get real at the Quickie Mart,” Thelma said when she moved back into the front of the store. Her short sandy hair with the bad dye job was tucked under a knit hat, making her look like an angry trucker.
“I don’t see what would make tonight any different,” I said, keying numbers into the cash register.
Where Thelma got her information about the night the moon was full
“It’s that moon up there. Mark my word, people are going to act all sorts of crazy before the night’s over. I read all about the effects a moon like that can have on a person’s mind in the National Enquirer. They did a whole story on it not long ago.”
“I don’t believe any of that superstitious malarkey. The way I see it, a man is the master of his own fate. There ain’t no moon with a giant ego problem that can cause a fellow to act against his will. We steer our own ship. We’re the authors of our own fate. What it all comes down to is how fast and hard you decide to row.” I was trying to sound intellectual. I remembered reading that master of your own ship stuff somewhere. I wasn’t sure I said the words right, but Thelma wouldn’t know the difference.
Before Thelma left work on the night the moon was full
Thelma shoved her fat hands into a pair of knit gloves, which matched her hat. She let out an evil chuckle. “You keep telling yourself that junior. All that make your own destiny crap is why you’re working the graveyard shift in this dump. Must be a part of your ten-year plan.” She gave me an evil laugh before she started her journey toward the door. She hesitated before she pushed it open and stepped into the night, staring out into the unnaturally lit parking lot like she was afraid to leave.
I was beginning to think there might be something serious the matter with Thelma. It wasn’t like she was the most stable woman in the world to start out with, but she was acting weirder than usual. I figured she might have had a problem when she balanced out her drawer. The boss wouldn’t tolerate a discrepancy in the money. “Did everything come out all right when you balanced?” I asked.
Thelma was passed a counterfeit twenty on Thelma leaves work on the night the moon was full
“One of our customers passed me a counterfeit bill. I didn’t catch it when he handed it to me. I had to pull it from my drawer. I’m twenty dollars short, and the police will have to be called. Lard Ass will fire me when he comes in on Monday. I can’t say I’m going to miss this place.” Thelma shot a grin in my direction, showing all her missing teeth. I always thought she would be pleasant to look at if she had a full set of dentures, but at that moment, her smile gave me an odd sense of comfort.
At least Thelma was holding herself together long enough to walk out the door. She could take off like a rocket after she moved into the parking lot. It wouldn’t be any of my concern after she moved past the door.
Lard Ass was our tyrannical boss. The name didn’t do him justice. I would have picked something a whole lot more descriptive if I was the one who gave him the nickname. Everybody was already calling him that when I got hired at the Quickie Mart.
The staff didn’t figure there was any point in messing with a long-established tradition. The man was a hundred pounds overweight, balding on the top and sides, and had a squeaky condescending voice whenever he shouted orders in your direction. “Maybe you should put a twenty in the till and get rid of the counterfeit,” I suggested.
“Yeah, I thought about that, but they don’t pay me enough to take money out of my own pocket to break even. You be careful tonight, junior. I have a bad feeling about that moon. The way I figure it is it’s out to get all of us before this night’s through. Just like it made me miss the counterfeit twenty. ” The little bell over the door jingled when Thelma stepped out into the night.
Thelma is out of here
I watched her climb into her old junk heap of a car and roll down the window. She lay rubber when she squealed out of the parking lot. I couldn’t help but think I was looking at a woman filled with a quiet rage. She turned the corner and disappeared into the dark, leaving behind the odor of cheap perfume and chewing tobacco in the Quickie Mart. I never would have thought Thelma would turn out to be a prophet.
Quickie Mart Customers on Thelma leaves work on the night the moon was full
The night progressed in the typical pattern. I waited on some potheads with the munchies. A couple of cops who needed a free cup of coffee to survive the mid-night shift stopped by. We had an interesting conversation about how the Quickie Mart was a crime magnet, which attracted all the riff-raff in town. Some teenagers who tried to pass for twenty-one and buy alcohol with a fake ID sauntered up to the counter and set down a case of beer before I shooed them away.
I was starting to think Thelma was crazy with all her moon talk until the two plumbers walked through the door. Indeed, I knew they were plumbers because of the business logo attached to the side of their truck. They had a blue tarp spread across the bed like they were trying to hide something from every inquisitive eye in the neighborhood.
They looked nervous as they ambled through the aisles of the store, picking up items as they passed. After two guys grabbed a six-pack out of the cooler, they moved in my direction. There was an edge to the expressions they wore on their faces. I was pretty sure I was about to get robbed. Maybe their plumping business was doing poorly, or they were looking for a little excitement on a full-moon night.
I couldn’t be sure what was on their mind, but my guess was their intentions weren’t good. All I know for sure is events started to spiral out of control the moment they sat the beer on the counter. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Leroy move across the parking lot in the direction of the Quickie Mart.
Leroy shows up at the Quickie Mart the night the moon was full
That was nothing out of the ordinary. He was in here almost every day picking up something or other. What was odd was the ax he carried in his hand. I’d known Leroy for years, but the one fact I could testify to in court about was the man didn’t have a violent bone in his body. The closer he got to the store, the more I noticed there was something about him that wasn’t right.
When he was close enough for me to make out the details of his face, I noticed a glassy look in his eyes. It’s the same sort of stare you see on the faces of people in one of those zombie movies. The ones who get a bit and become possessed by an evil force.
Leroy turned into some sort of zombie the night the moon was full
Once those zombies got a taste for blood, there is no stopping them. I could tell Leroy was there, but he wasn’t there if you know what I mean. The plumbers glanced in Leroy’s direction with expressions of surprise spread across their faces. A suffocating silence sucked the air out of the Quicky Mart as we held our breath, waiting to see what one of my favorite customers was going to do.
Leroy came to a stop in front of the door. When I think back on the entire situation, seeing him there was the first good look I ever got of what a moon could do when it took possession of a person.
“That fellow doesn’t look right. Maybe you ought to call the police,” the skinny plumber said.
I relaxed a little. If these two were going to rob me, the plumbers wouldn’t have wanted to get the police involved with Leroy. “That’s Leroy. He’s harmless,” I said, not sure I wasn’t underestimating the situation. Leroy did look a little deranged.
“Are you sure he isn’t dangerous. He sure looks like he’s ready to do some serious damage with that ax,” the plumber with the two missing teeth said.
Leroy doesn’t cause trouble
“Leroy might be a little strange, but he doesn’t cause trouble.” The words barely cleared my mouth when Leroy started swinging the ax against the front door of the Quickie Mart. The glass shattered into a million pieces. He wasn’t done yet. He moved to the window to his right of where we were standing and started swinging like a batter at home plate.
An explosion of glass
An explosion of breaking glass echoed in the eerie soundless night. Leroy’s work wasn’t finished yet. He moved to the left side of the store and started pounding away with all his might. The light from the moon illuminated the shattered glass spread out on the asphalt like a million diamonds lying on a black silk scarf.
“Aren’t you going to do something?” the toothless plumbers said.
“I guess this would be a good time to call the police if I can get my fingers to remember how to dial the phone.” My voice sounded hollow like I was talking from the end of a dark tunnel.
“Maybe you should try to stop him,” the skinny one suggested
“I don’t think so. I need this job, but I don’t need it that bad,” I said.
Watching Leroy the night the moon was full
Leroy moved in slow, graceful motions like a ballerina up on a stage. I must have been in shock because I could swear time stood still as Leroy did his little dance out in the moonlight. Leroy knocking out the Quickie Mart windows was the oddest thing to ever happen during my time of employment at the small convenience store on the corner of Walnut and Grant.
I wasn’t sure about what the standard procedure should be in a situation like the one I was now facing. My training didn’t cover a deranged man with an ax. I dialed 911 just as he was going to work on the side windows. I had to talk loud enough for the woman dispatcher to hear me over the sound of shattering glass and the store radio playing Credence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising in the background.
A tense moment
There was a tense moment when Leroy finished breaking all the windows. He stood motionless with the moonlight bouncing off his ebony skin like he couldn’t figure out what his next move was going to be. He looked lonely and helpless, standing under the merciless moonlight like a kid who’d done something wrong and didn’t know which way to run. The sound of sirens off in the distance broke Leroy’s trance. He dropped the ax and disappeared into the night.
The plumbers leave
“We got to leave now. We shouldn’t be caught standing around when the police get here. The cops might ask questions about the tarp in the back of the truck,” the skinny plumber said to the toothless one. It was obvious they didn’t want to be caught up as witnesses in a police investigation. They had something to hide, alright. The problem I faced now was I liked Leroy. He was a cheerful guy who never caused me a lick of trouble. There was a part of me that wanted him to get away.
I couldn’t fault a man for doing something I’d dreamed about acting out almost every night since I started working in this place. If the truth were told, there was a part of me that admired the man for having the guts to bust up those windows. In addition, I was also feeling kindly towards him for not attacking us with the ax when he had the chance. Leroy’s best option for getting away free and clear was for me to get rid of the two spare witnesses.
I wanted to help Leroy
“You got about five seconds to get out of here before those cops show up. I won’t mention a thing about you being here if you take off now. The beer is on the house because of all the trauma you’ve been through. Tonight” I didn’t have to make the offer twice. They drove off into the night with the blue tarp flapping in the bed of their company truck.
I wonder if there was a dead body underneath the tarp. It was the right shape, only larger. A piece of shiny metal poked slid out of the side of the blue material when they rounded the corner. The plumbers weren’t hauling around a body, after all. They must have stolen something large and expensive to turn in for scrap. At least I could rest easy they were common thieves and not murderers.
The cops show up the night the moon was full
The first cop to show up was one of the fellows who came in for free coffee at the start of my shift. He strutted around the front of the Quickie Mart with his hands on his hips, looking over the amount of destruction Leroy caused with his ax before he shook his head before he pulled one of those little notebooks cops carry with them from his pocket. Then he approached me at the counter.
“Why don’t you start by telling me what happened here.” I knew he was mad by the tone of his voice. It was almost like he suspected I knocked out the windows myself. I gave him a quick account of what happened. “I need a description of the perpetrator and a look at your store camera,”
The store has cameras
Damn. I forgot this cheap-ass store had cameras. I decided to go vague on the details the cop wanted in regard to Leroy. If they were going to catch him, they weren’t getting any help from me. “It happened so fast. I don’t know if I can give you a good description. The guy was a heavyset black dude, with a weird look in his eyes. I bet he was hopped up on meth. He looked about seven feet tall and weighed about 350 if he was a pound. Now that I think on it, the ax in his hand might have made him look bigger.”
The cop wrote down every word I said in his little notebook. “Did you see which way he ran?” were the next words out of his mouth.
“I can’t be certain because that moon is so bright it sort of blinded me, but I think he ran south.”
The officer touched a button on his radio. “The suspect is a black male, approximately seven foot two, maybe three hundred and fifty pounds. Might have a crazy look in his eyes. Last seen running south on Walnut Street.”
Chatter on the radio
I didn’t understand the chatter on the other end of the radio. A second cop moved into the store. The sound of broken glass crunched under his feet as he made his way over to the counter where I was conversating with the first cop.
He was older than the first one and walked with a confident swagger. He started throwing orders around to let us know he was the person in charge of the scene. The two of them moved into the Quickie Mart office with me. I showed them how to work the camera. I left them alone to do their cop stuff.
They were alone in there for fifteen minutes. before they moved into the front of the store. I didn’t mention a word about Thelma’s counterfeit twenty or the suspicious plumbers when they moved back into the front of the store. The last thing I needed was for them to hang around all night asking questions.
Cops took Leroy’s movie with them
“We’re taking this tape with us. You should call your boss and tell him you need to close the Quickie Mart for the night. He needed to call whoever does your windows. There’s some glass still hanging that’s going to fall eventually. Tell him to get over here and help you secure the premises,” the bossy cop said.
The two officers strutted out of the Quickie Mart and climbed into their black and white patrol cars. I stood at the window with the missing glass, watching them drive away. The moonlight played with the taillights of their vehicles. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was going to see those two again before the nights ended. I was about to pick up the phone to call Lard Ass and tell him a deranged man had attacked the Quickie Mart with an ax, but the strangest thing happened.
What happened next on the night the moon was full
A speeding car came out of nowhere and crashed through the cemetery gate across the street. It traveled a long way before it came to a stop. I forgot about calling Lard Ass and dialed 911 for the second time in less than an hour. The same dispatcher got on the line. “What’s wrong with you people over on Walnut Street tonight?
Did the moon cause the whole lot of you to go crazy?” she said, even though I know she wasn’t supposed to talk to people calling 911 with a sour tone of voice. Later, I figured I had an excellent lawsuit because she contributed to the escalation of the events, which started to unravel like a kitten playing with a ball of yarn.
After I got off the phone, I don’t know what came over me. Like the fool that I am, I decided to play the hero. I dropped the broom I was sweeping the glass up with and headed in the direction of the graveyard. When I walked through the cemetery gate, it looked like the stroke of midnight on Resurrection Day.
Walking in the graveyard the night the moon was full
The moon cast an eerie white glow on a hundred overturned tombstones. A cold sensation of fear surged through my entire body. I might not be superstitious about full moons, but I knew enough not to mess around with dead people. I was paralyzed until I heard barking coming from the overturned car smack dab in the middle of the mess of graves.
The vehicle’s tires made a mechanical whine as they spun like they were searching for solid ground. The motor was running, and steam was escaping from under the hood. I forced my feet to move in the direction of the wrecked car before I climbed over the tombstones and made it to the driver’s side door of the fancy red sports automobile. In any event,I expected to be met by the eyes of a dead man, but I was greeted by the growl of a small dog.
The wiener dog
I glanced inside the driver’s side window and noticed a wiener dog climb over the unconscious driver’s lap to try and get a piece of me. Its reddish-brown fur bristled with rage. Steam poured out of the front end of the vehicle. I needed to pull the man and the dog out before the car caught fire. The pleasant odor of whiskey hit my face when I leaned in through the window and shook the man by the shoulder.
The canine snapped at me with his sharp little teeth when I reached through the window to try and unbuckle the man’s seatbelt so I could pull him to safety. I was about to get bitten for my trouble. The guy behind the wheel main a few times before he opened his eyes. I don’t know what he was thinking when he got the idea to mix alcohol with a full moon night, but he didn’t deserve to die for his stupidity.
The drunk started to come around about the time sirens screamed off in the distance. I told the man not to move,. Help was going to be here soon. What he did next was astonishing considering the kind of pain he must have been experiencing.
The drunk man inside the upside-down car must have been some sort of contortionist because he squeezed his body through the window and landed on the ground. He looked like a fish pulled out of the water as he wiggled between the graves under the intense moonlight. After a second, he sat up and said, “I got to get out of here. If you help me escape, I’ll give you fifty bucks.”
I’m not saying I wasn’t tempted, but I couldn’t risk getting in trouble with the law for chump change. My ex-wife is sucking me dry, and the bills manage to keep piling up in my mailbox. “Sorry, Dude. I’m on the clock. Besides, you’re in no shape to run. Why don’t you lay down here and wait for the paramedic?”
I had to get back to work
The guy reached through the window of the car and grabbed the wiener dog. The mutt didn’t seem too pleased about being rescued. He snapped and growled at the guy who carried him off down the paved path that led to the back entrance of the cemetery. The drunk was moving pretty fast for a guy who’d been in a car wreck. I figured my stint as a wannabe hero was finished. The drunk man and his dog were on their own. I made my way back to the Quickie Mart.
A police car pulled into the parking lot about the time I reached the door. The cop didn’t even bother to get out of the vehicle. He only asked me to give him a description of what I saw in the graveyard. I watched as he pulled out of the parking lot and drove into the cemetery. In a few minutes, I could see the beam of his flashlight bobbing up and down in the midst of the overturned tombstones. In the next couple minutes, cop cars were circling the block like a swarm of killer bees.
I watched the cops work
I watched them work while I swept up in the parking lot. It didn’t take them long to track down the drunk man and his wiener dog. The mutt was making so much noise with all his barking and snarling, I could hear him from where I stood in the Quickie Mart parking lot. They found the two of them scrunched down beside the concrete wall of a crypt. I can’t say I blamed the winner dog for making so much racket. I’d be mad too if some drunk decided to go joyriding and take me along for the experience
Lard Ass the night the moon was full
I was positive I wasn’t done with the full moon drama yet because I still had to make a call to Lard Ass. However, I swept some of the glass off the floor of the Quickie Mart before I reached for the phone because I thought it would go smoother if the place was presentable before he showed up to check out the damage. I scooped the shards into a dustpan while I waited for him to answer.
I used the cell phone we keep in the office for emergencies to make the call. In my estimation, a store with a bunch of broken windows should qualify under that category. He answered just as I dumped the broken chards into the trash can we keep behind the counter. I planned to take it out back to the trash dumpster behind the store as soon as the call was finished. I’m going to make a long story short by telling you Lard Ass wasn’t happy to hear from me.
As soon as I told him about the store windows, a string of profanities a mile and an inch long thundered against my eardrum. He told me not to go anywhere. He’d be right there once he threw on a pair of pants. Like I was planning to leave. I still had two hours to go on my shift. I couldn’t afford to clock out early.
What happened after Lard Ass showed up the night the moon was full
I was making some pretty good headway in the cleanup effort when Lard Ass pulled into the Quickie Mart Parking Lot. The first thing he did after he jumped out of the car was call me stupid for cleaning up the mess. He acted like I was the one responsible for the windows. “What in the hell do you think you’re doing. The insurance adjuster is going to want to take pictures of this mess. How’s he going to do that if there ain’t no glass spread around?”
“You want me to go out back and dig it out of the dumpster? I can spread it out before he gets here.” I wasn’t trying to be smart, but I guess it came out that way.
I watched his face turn red. “You really are a dumb shit. I don’t know why I hired you. Did you at least bother to take pictures with the cell phone’s camera before you cleaned up,” he snarled.
“I didn’t believe I had to. There ain’t no glass in those busted out windows. Besides, the police already took a dozen snapshots before they left. They took a copy of the video of the windows getting knocked out with them. I guess you can get what you need from them in the morning,” I said, trying to be helpful.
Lard Ass wasn’t happy
“You want to know what your problem is. Nobody ever taught you how to think a rational thought. Your people must all be backwoods hillbillies without a lick of sense in their collective heads. I’d lay money on stupid running in your genes. Get back to work.”
“I thought you said not to sweep up this glass because of the insurance company,” I said under my breath, trying to keep my anger under control. Lard Ass had no right bringing my family into this business. He had no call to talk about my kin in such an unkind manner.
Lard Ass looked at me for the first time since he climbed out of his car. I guess he didn’t like what he saw. He stuck his finger in my face. “You’re fired. Finish sweeping up and get the hell out of here,” he yelled at the top of his lungs.
I finely lost it the night the moon was full
When that finger got pushed in my face, a moonbeam jumped off Lard Ass’s hand and hit me smack dab in the middle of my forehead. That was the exact moment when the evil old moon reached down from the sky and got ahold of me. The only way I can describe it is my mind got trapped in a thick swirling fog. That’s why I don’t believe I should be held accountable for what I did next.
I took the broom I held in my hands and started to beat Lard Ass with it until he was lying on the ground. They say I kicking him twenty-seven times as the witnesses claim. Anyhow, I do remember an overwhelming sense of elation washed over me when I went into the Quickie Mart, reached for the roll of duct tape we keep behind the counter, and hogtied him right there on the concrete sidewalk. He started making squealy sounds like a baby pig from behind the silver tape.
What I did next
I do remember opening up a package of black markers to make the “Going out of Business” sign. Still, I couldn’t keep the wicked grin from spreading over my face when I taped it to the metal frame of the door. As a matter of fact, I spent the next hour marking every item in the store down to a penny. People started showing up out of the darkness like zombies from one of those old black and white horror movies.
They had the same glassy look in their eyes as Leroy. They carried off merchandise in their outstretched arms until the store shelves were picked clean. My police friends eventually stopped by the Quickie Mart to read me my rights. I was sitting on the sidewalk with the bottle of cheap whiskey I pulled off the shelf when they put the handcuffs on me. They made me drop the copy of The National Enquirer I paid a penny for when they forced me to my feet.
Thelma was right
Thelma was right. You could find all sorts of information in one of those magazines. I was reading an interesting story about space aliens landing in an Arizona desert. There’s no way I’ll ever get to the end of the article now. I sang that Creedence Clearwater Revival song I heard on the radio earlier in the night at the top of my lungs all the way to the cop shop. There was a bad moon rising, and it got ahold of me.
Me and Leroy are doing fine over here at the Tecumseh City Jail. Turns out, Leroy knocked the Quickie Mart windows out because of woman troubles. It figures. There’s always a female behind everything stupid a man ever does. I’ve been here a month, and I still ain’t gone before the judge.
They set bail, but I ain’t got any money. My public defender says I should expect to do some time because I knocked Lard Ass out cold. In my opinion, they should give me a damn medal. I was performing community service. She says an attitude like that won’t help my case. The guy who drove his car into the cemetery was extradited back to Michigan.
Me and Leroy are doing fine
Turns out, the drunk stole the fancy red automobile. From what I hear, he’s an armed robber with a long criminal record. They didn’t lock the wiener dog up with the drunk because they don’t allow dogs in the jail. They took the mutt to the city pound. If somebody doesn’t come to Indiana to claim the dog, the poor dachshund is facing death row.
When I consider his predicament, I think things could be a whole lot worse for me. The way I see it, I’m living high on the hog. I get three meals a day, a dry place to sleep, and enough paper for me to write my story. The best part of the being behind bars is I don’t have to work the graveyard shift at the Quickie Mart anymore.
I plan to spend my time learning how to be a writer. By the way, I might have a New York Times Best Seller by the time they let me go free. Indeed, I plan to put a story about what happened the night the moon was full down on paper. Who knows. It might even end up printed in the National Enquirer.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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