You’re prepared to do some dark things. You’re prepared to get up from the dinner table on Thanksgiving and stand in line on filthy concrete for hours, bloated and disoriented, waiting for a mere chance at a large television. You’re prepared to drive alone in the dark at 4 a.m., to the next county, for that slick camera with the tasteful kit bag you saw in the circular. But you’re prepared to hover outside a great big sliding door, cold and exhausted, clutching the worst coffee McDonald’s ever made, surrounded by silent strangers, for a bigger reason – you want a deal.

Hey, I understand. Everybody wants to get ahead. Nobody ever handed you anything. You always had to get it yourself. And you’re ready to go this distance. You’ve been told that Black Friday is the time to prove what you’re capable of doing. And it is. But look, you’ve been going about it wrong. They made a sucker out of you. You ain’t supposed to attack another human being as broke and cold and alone as you for a Vietnamese television. You’re stuck at the penny slots. You’re in the wrong game.

Why are you scared? I haven’t told you anything yet.

Listen. You want to get ahead of the suckers clawing at each other for a shot to get on local news broadcasts even their flesh and blood families don’t watch? You want the big score? Here’s how you get it. Look at me. Stop fiddling with your hands. I’m talking to you because I heard you were worth it, so hurry up and get worth it. Show that I’m not wasting my time on you.

There’s a place called Panorama City. Planned community in Los Angeles. The GM plant used to be there. When it left, all the jobs went with it. The stores went with it too, and most of their buildings are boarded up, replaced by nothing. One of them is special.

There’s a Montgomery Ward building in Panorama City. Nobody has parked in that parking lot for 16 years. Weeds are choking through places you didn’t know weeds could choke. The last time somebody walked in there to spend money, Al Gore was about to be president. You’re gonna drive there.

You should be getting excited but you still look scared.

Don’t you want a deal? Why are you scared of a deal? Listen to me. You rent a van in Phoenix. You have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with your wonderful kids you don’t see enough. You wrap up a turkey leg in some aluminum foil, leave at 9 p.m., put a few shots of Jim Beam in a liter bottle of Coke, don’t forget bolt cutters and a miner’s helmet lamp, and take a nice night drive to Los Angeles. You’ve done all that before. And I know you know the roads pretty good and that’s enough.

Why can’t I do it? Look at me. I got arthritis up to my neck. I have to take more pills to sleep than my mother, I mean, not that my mother’s alive, but she used to take enough to blind a horse. I’m satisfied just to give you this deal and take a teeny tiny little cut off the top of the big one.

You cut through the gate at 3 a.m., three hours into Black Friday. You’re in the back of the parking lot now. You can see the front door of the Montgomery Ward. Electronics entrance to the left, kid’s entrance to the right. You’ll park right up front. Did I mention you’ll need an ax and you’ll need to go to work on the door for about 5 minutes?

You stroll in. Behind where the checkout used to be, there’s a little office. You walk right on in there and get the safe. You just need a power drill and a nice titanium drill bit. Then you’ll load up between 1.3 and 1.7 million dollars in a couple of laundry bags. Run it to the van, slip through the gate at regular speed, you didn’t do anything wrong, you just got a deal, and you’re back in Phoenix in your bed by 10 in the morning.

The worst that can possibly happen? Come on, you’re too smart for that. You’re too smart to die.

Go ahead. Poke holes in it. Sure, you’d need to create a distraction at the adjacent Wal-Mart. Sure, you’d need a point man to inspect the building for transients. Sure, you’ve never even used a power drill before. Those are all great excuses. I hope you enjoy being a coward, because that’s what you are.

No. Get out of my sight. You disgust me. The only respectable thing for you to do is buy a few cartons of cigarettes and give them to the night shift lifers who work overtime at $10 an hour to sustain your adorable little American dream. And hey, don’t leave yet, this is critical. Make sure you get some menthols too.

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