The person lit a cigarette in my direction. They were bigger. It looks like the silhouette of a cowboy hat? I didn’t want to move foreword.
“Have a good ride?” They finally spoke. It was a man’s voice. He sounded old, his voice was gravely and shaky. “Did you have a good time riding around on my bike? Now don’t stare, love. Come here.”
“Who are you?” I didn’t move.
“Well,” he slowly let out a drag from his cigarette. The figure looked calm. “You should know I’m the owner of that bike, for one.”
“But you haven’t paid, and I’m sure I checked it before and there wasn’t any-”
“Have you seen death?”
He caught me off guard. It wasn’t what he said, it was how he said it. I still couldn’t clearly even see his face, but the question was whispered right into my ear. As if he were right behind me.
“Does it scare you?” He was still in the same spot and the voice was still in my ear. “Are you afraid to die right now? I bet you are. What are you going to do?” Another drag. “Nothing. That’s what I know you’ll do. Listen, girl,” he disappeared. Vanished into thin air.
He appeared to the right of me. He was literally whispering in my ear now. I could smell his cigarette, his horrible odor. I could feel his breathing on my ear. “You’re afraid to die right now and you won’t do a thing about it.”
He vanished again.
I started the bike and left. I made it to the front gate, unlocked it, and sped off. I rode all night to just get away from there, from whatever just happened. How did he get in there? Was he even real? Was it just some elaborate prank to avoid a rental space debt? But, I did check the space before and it was empty. I know it.
The sun was coming up as I was getting gas. I had to go back.
I pulled up to the gate at South Desert Storage and everything looked the same as I left it. Gate locked, night lights on, apartment lights on. The only thing that was different was the storage unit – 1A. It was closed now, I had left it open since I began cleaning it and now it was closed.
I shut the bike off, collected myself, and built up the strength to go to the unit. I pounded on it with my fist.
“Yo! Open up!” I was doing my best to sound intimidating, like a woman who’d seen some shit. I wanted whoever was in there to hear me outside and be like damn, that’s probably some crazy ex-bartender chick. I bet she’s had to beat the shit out of drunk people and stop knife fights. I surrender! But it probably sounded like some twenty-something year-old who smoked too many cigarettes and became bitter at an early age. But who knows.
There was no response. I had to open it. Everything was still there – the whiskey, the handgun, and machete, and dog collar and everything else. Untouched and unchanged. That was a bit of a relief. Right?
The China teapot and tea set was still there as well. It was the most beautiful thing in the small, dusty room, and I wanted to look at it closer. I picked it up. It was warm! There was warm tea in the teapot. Who’d made it? Was that man from last night still here?
Behind me, in a shrieking woman’s voice screamed “You! You bitch! What do you think you’re doing!”
I was knocked unconscious before I could even turn around.