A Marked Man

Kiddies, don’t try this at home…

She wanted to dress me up–in a new shirt and tie from Belks–for today’s luncheon speaking event.

But wait–what’s this? They forgot to remove the anti-theft thingy, though it must have been inactivated if it’s the kind that triggers store door alarms. I tried it on this morning, and decided to wear it for my meeting later today.

“You should be able just to pop that thing off” she said. I doubted it would be anywhere that easy. I had no idea just how complicated it would turn out to be.

I torqued it with a screw-driver, and it popped partly apart. I left it for her to tinker with.

“Are you bleeding?” she asked, seeing the dark stain around where the theft device still pieced the fabric.

Ah. Fine print on thingy say: attempt to disengage will break seal and release ink.

Not willing simply to take the shirt back to Belks tomorrow, she added to our early morning problems. Back from the shed with the wire cutters, she chomped down on the thing while holding it and the stained shirt over the kitchen sink. And BAM! it exploded, sending an unbelievable amount of brown indelible ink over the sink, countertop, wood trim, kitchen floor.

I noticed then that it was also all over my fingers–the marks of a felon-guest speaker. I guess I’ll just keep my hands in my pockets.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. This is hilarious! I guess you can’t take the folks outta the country…

    I saw over at Colleen’s that one of your pictures is in the new Floyd Hotel, and since I couldn’t see it very well in her post, I tried to find it in your pictures, with no luck. Can you direct me to it? I believe she called it January Tree.

    Hopefully the cops won’t see your hands whilst you are out in public today!

  2. Haha … I had that happen to me and I googled on how to remove those things and all it takes is a sharp file or hacksaw. Something a determined shopper could do in a dressing room so it’s more of a keep honest people honest device if you ask me.

    We removed ours without incident and I went out dressed for the evening.

  3. When I got to the part about the ink exploding, I actually said “Holy Crap!” loud enough to worry our little beagle in the room next door, who is now consoling me for what she knows is a mysterious pang — a deep, secret ache, at the very least, that my human male machoism is simply too proud to let her see. “You don’t have to say anything,” she says, with the pity that only a small dog’s eyes can muster. “I know. I know you hurt. Down deep. So then. Let me step all over your laptop until you feel whole again. Were you typing something? Listen. It will take time. Meanwhile, here are some full-on kisses, to let you know you are alive. You protest! But why? … ” And so on. Any rate, Dad, I hold you accountable.

    On your end: Did the “indelible” ink clean up? God, I pray those quotation marks do their trick.

  4. More than once I have gone through the department stores security with one of those “thingy’s” still attached to an item of clothing. I have taken the item back to the store & of course when I entered the alarm went off. However, after showing my receipt, I was allowed to go to the specific department in the store to have it removed. It was a royal pain to have to go back & now I request the salesperson to be sure the security thingy has been removed.