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There is nobody manning the ferry boats in place to transport guests to the island this early, so RR whips out her skim board and, having no idea how to wakesurf, sits on the board (careful to avoid the fins) and rows across the lake with her arms. Dreaming about espresso beans and sourdough, she hardly notices that she skins up both of her hands on coral reef during her row to the shore. Once RR lands on the island, she notices that one of the grocery store’s front doors is cracked open. She peeks in and sees several workers carrying boxes toward the front. RR slowly pulls the door open, just enough for her to slip inside. An event usher named BS sees her and looks startled, as it’s only 10:30 and the doors aren’t supposed to open until 1:00. BS (who is wearing a cap that says “The Flake” on it) looks around and sees that there are still boxes strewn all over the place, extension cords across the floor that are plugged into lanterns that were positioned all over the facility as the setup crews worked overnight (LC didn’t want to go to the considerable expense of keeping all the grocery store lights on all night), and a huge spill of something in the corner that folks will have to pass to get to the area where The 360 race will finish. After surveying the shaky state of preparations, BS tiptoes up to RR and says, “Hey there! Come on in!” BS reaches down into one of the boxes stacked near the front of the store and pulls out the promotional giveaway for the day’s festivities: a miniature wakesurf board with a deck made of titanium steel and fins coated in chrome. The board says “The Flake!” across the deck, with a “Skinner F.C.” logo underneath it. The mini-surfboards are a big draw. SS, a potato skin tycoon (“Skinner’s Skins”) who is in the process of purchasing a D-3 English football club and is looking for opportunities to market his brand, learned recently of a product recall on the boards due to a manufacturing defect that caused them to catch on fire at speeds of more than 2 mph, not to mention a design defect: the nose of the board was, for some reason, serrated and sharp to the touch. He reached out to “Board Silly,” the company that manufactured the defective surfboards, and asked if he could buy what he assumed was worthless inventory from the recall, thinking they would give him a cool and unique way to advertise his football club as a giveaway. Board Silly saw an opportunity to salvage its junk stash (and market its own brand at the same time) but, in a moment of clarity and conscientiousness, decided to sell them to SS only after he assured them that his plan was to market the boards strictly as souvenirs. Satisfied that the boards would do no more harm, Board Silly sold thousands of the recalled products to SS. But once SS figured out after handing the Skinner F.C. boards out at several potato skin conventions as well as his new fleet of food trucks that they were in high demand, he began selling them. Sales of the boards now finance Skinner’s Skins’ food truck


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operations. When LC approached SS with the idea of funding a surfboard giveaway for the Flake Grand Opening, SS jumped at the opportunity since it would mean the Skinner F.C. logo would end up on bookshelves all over the Dallas area (but hopefully not in kids’ playrooms) and all over Instagram. RR happily takes a mini-surfboard from BS and asks where she should go to register for The 360. BS shrugs his shoulders but points RR toward the frozen section. Just then, the front doors fly open and hundreds of people start flooding into the grocery store. Many ambush BS and other ushers near the entrance to get their giveaway surfboards. Others (at least those who avoid wiping out on the mystery spill) zip toward the 360 finish line to get a good spot. Some are instead drawn to the Ancho Pesto Salted Mozzarella (APSM) samples. A few are forced to duck as PM, the sushi- suited guy, winds up and aimlessly fires the ceremonial first pitch to no one in particular. As a swarm of people rush past RR (who had stopped on her way to the frozen aisle to admire the oat, coconut, and almond milk offerings in the refrigerated section), several of them trip over an extension cord and knock her to the ground. As she stretches an arm out to break her fall, one of the lanterns is kicked toward her and she manages to avoid it with that hand — but the titanium board in her other hand strikes the lantern and shatters it and the bulb inside it into a thousand pieces. One thick shard of glass lodges just above RR’s heel. She’s pretty sure she’s ruptured her Achilles tendon and is crushed that she’s not going to be able to wakesurf today — or lovingly race through the grocery store to 360 glory. From 45 meters away, another usher named MK sees RR crumpled to the floor and begins to triple-jump her way toward RR . . . hopping over a pile of empty boxes that once contained titanium mini-surfboards . . . skipping over a huddled-up group of shoppers mesmerized by the hummus selection . . . and jumping over waves of customers running and skidding throughout the store . . . until she reaches RR. “Hi, there,” she says to an embarrassed RR. “You OK?” “Not really,” RR replies, noticing MK’s “The Flake” cap and quickly drying her eyes. “Just a little clumsy, I guess. I didn’t notice all the people running because I was captivated by all your non-dairy options. I sure loves me a good grocery store, you know.” MK politely nods and offers to take RR in a golf cart to the lakeshore so she can take her seat in the grandstand bleachers for the wakesurfing portion of The 360. After they get outside and to the bleachers, MK checks RR’s ticket and eases her to her seat, which is fortunately on the bottom row of the grandstand. CMur and JSm are already in their seats,



telling RR that SA suggested they go ahead while she got her wrist and the gash on her face bandaged up. But they don’t know where EL is. RR leaves a couple empty seats between her and CMur and JSm, and she texts SA and EL to see where they are. Neither responds. As she looks up from her phone, RR notices DMo, a woman down the row from her, wearing a Houston Astros cap. RR has an urge to hassle DMo about how the Astros disgraced the game of baseball by using video cameras to steal catchers’ signs, but then a better idea occurs to her. Just feet away from the corner of the grandstand where she’s seated, RR sees a large metal trash can. On the trash can is the “Flake” logo and the words “DO NOT REMOVE.” RR ignores her pain and reaches her mini-surfboard toward the trash can and lugs it back toward her, placing it in SA’s still-empty seat next to her — and then starts banging on the trash can with the giveaway board, hoping DMo will turn toward her and catch the full brunt of her stepped-up heckle game. Because the doors opened much sooner than planned and customers are now milling all throughout the grocery store and have filled up the grandstand at the lake, LC decides to start The 360 early. A local sports reporter named LMc has brought a camera crew with her to file a story on the unveiling of this brand new watersport. With the accelerated start announced, LMc’s crew (all of whom are UFC fighters) scrambles to get set up along the lakeshore. Everyone is asked to stand for the National Anthem, but RR doesn’t hear the announcement over her trash can cacophony and, sitting in the front row, doesn’t notice people behind her rising to their feet. Meanwhile, as RR keeps her little percussion concert going, a duo walks out onto a slender but lengthy platform that extends from the shore into the lake: it’s her friend EL along with a guy named MS. To CMur’s and JSm’s surprise (but not RR’s, as she doesn’t even realize what’s happening), EL is there to sing the Anthem — which she leads into with her trusty rendition of “Ice Ice Baby” — accompanied by MS dropping hip-hop and dance beats, a performance made even more unique by the fact that LC insisted that MS drop his beats while balancing on one of the promotional wakesurf boards. He begrudgingly agreed to do it to get the viral social media exposure that this extraordinary opportunity is sure to provide. SA, with her left wrist splinted from the parking lot incident, finally reaches the bleachers and looks confused when she spots RR — because there seems to be a trash can in what she assumes is supposed to be her seat. RR, who doesn’t notice that SA is ambling towards her, continues to gleefully bang on the trash can, fully oblivious to what’s going on around her or on the

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