ROANOKE, Va. — Bimini Padgett, 28, was arrested Tuesday morning at 9:20 just inside the silver metal gating protecting the Gap store at the Honeymilk Mall, located at the northeastern edge of the city. The suspect was awakened as she slept on the store floor and offered no resistance as a security guard, under repeated direction from a city police officer, unlocked the gate. There was no immediate explanation why the Gap store was apparently still closed when the mall has a strict 9 a.m. opening time for all its stores.
Honeymilk Mall was built in the early 1980s on 150 acres of a former family farm, by a major East Coast shopping center developer.
Padgett told the detaining officer she’d overslept, and that she had been spending her nights just inside the Gap for “I’d say four to seven weeks now, depending on how you look at it.”
Padgett was not handcuffed. The security guard was heard to mumble something under his breath to her, to which she replied, “It’s cool, it’s all totally cool. I still have plenty of time to get the shop open before there’s any chance the owner gets here.”
The officer was sipping coffee, writing in his little notebook and shifting from foot to foot in plain black shoes. “I mean half the time he doesn’t show up for days on end, except of course to close the register every night,” Padgett shrugged.
“The shop,” it turned out, was a seasonal kiosk set up between two anchors where traffic increases during the holidays. Some kiosks operate all year, some empty out right after Christmas at Honeymilk.
Padgett stretched languorously once she got to the kiosk, revealing a set of navel rings that could possibly show up on radar at the nearby regional airport. Two tiny nose diamonds and a fairly subtle tongue ring seemed innocuous in comparison to the suddenly visible tummy hardware catching the full fluorescence of the mall at about 9:35 a.m.
The officer, still appearing not quite sure what to do, followed Padgett as she reached in under her shirt to reattach her bra in the front and walked slowly to the main restrooms in the mall, where she disappeared into the ladies’ long enough for him to wonder aloud about calling in a female backup to check on things, and for this reporter to tell him to calm down and let a girl undertake the necessities of the morning the same as the rest of us.
Padgett reappeared in under 10 minutes, looking far more presentable than someone who had just slept on the floor of a major, high-markup clothing retailer has any right to look. She had on a different pair of jeans—the same low-rider-cut type she’d had on and that they all wear now—and a loose blue-and-white scarf around her neck to set off the lighter blue of her shirt. Her hair looked like she just stepped out of the shower, and she shook it in this little-pony sort of way as she came out the door, looking a little surprised to again see the officer and this reporter. This reporter, by the way, had a girlfriend who used to work at the Gap before she dumped him, so he knows a little about the markup.
“There’s really good discounts right now,” Padgett said, leading the officer back toward the area of the kiosks, one of which is those lotion salespersons that you may have come across, where they walk up to you like muggers and make you feel like you’re parking-lot litter or worse if you don’t walk away with a tube of their velvet magic.
Padgett, born in Florida but a resident of this area since she was 12, then went to work on unpacking and spreading open the big gray box that opens to be the Daysy Days Calendar Co display, which, according to Padgett, “features calendars for every interest from astrology to the zodiac, and everything in between.”