The box, unlike many of the standard kiosks, opens up into four separate display areas, each with four of its own surfaces, all packed with nothing but calendars. Wall, box, datebook, those little tiny ones, you name it. She opened it all up with pretty much the same smoothness as a magician rolling that big black box around getting ready to do the cut-the-chick-in-half trick.

Padgett presented no driver’s license because, she said, she has never needed one. She said she lives in the mall during the colder months—“which really isn’t that much anyway these days”—and in various places around it during the warmer months, though she declined to give any specifics on locations either inside or outside the mall, despite several hard looks from the officer and one instance of him writing stuff down really hard while pursing his lips at her.

“It’s all good,” she said. Her hair was pretty much dry by now, and had a nice curl to it. This reporter noticed just a little makeup around the eyes that must have been applied in the restroom too, giving her an overall appearance of any salesperson who could have had her mother yell at her to get up, take a shower, eat something, get ready for work, and make sure to put some damn gas in the car for a change, say, and had then driven out to the mall, bitching at the traffic and at having to park so far away from the cheap-ass store that barely pays enough for gas and lunch, and then had gone on in to start smiling at customers.

“Well, I take that back,” Padgett said next. “It’s nearly all good, but it seems like every year once the holidays are over and we go totally 50 percent off, you get the kooks in here.”

“‘Kooks’?” the officer immediately probed, poising his pencil.

They do get purse-snatchers out here, and panty-display sniffers and people who call 911 because their car has been stolen when in reality it is one row over, so you have to give Johnny Law a break to some extent on being pretty idiotic on some things.

“Yesterday?” Padgett said, as if to make sure the officer could remember it. “It’s the midmorning lull and all? And I’m standing here”—she walked around and positioned herself on the little “Welcome to Daysy Days Calendars” mat that may well give her at least a little relief, what with the flip-flops she had on, even with the sequins in every color on the little straps—“and I’m just peacefully leaning on the counter to read some stuff about this Paul Newman guy who I had no idea was an actor, too, and all of a sudden … ”

She stopped talking for a second to reach back at the small of her back there where the jeans barely come up to and where on most women under 30 these days there is a little tattoo that generally points down. “ … and all of a sudden I feel this little coldness or something, and I spin around and a fairly cool older guy says to me, ‘Well, it looked like the coin slot right there, so I dropped in a couple pennies to see what comes out.’”

She went a little incredulous in the face for a second, as if for emphasis. “Can you believe it? Not even a dirty old man, I don’t think, just some guy maybe 40 … you ever had cold pennies on the edge like rolling down your crack, and into the crotch of your panties without any expectation at all?”

The officer didn’t write anything down for a moment and then got back to his line of questioning, which had to do with how she could live in and/or around a major mall without drawing attention, getting reported or put in jail.