Dead Geese and their Secret Society

I’m not sure why I have never seen a dead goose. There are hundreds in the park I walk through every day. Amber just sent me an article about how thousands of Canadian geese are moving to Colorado this year, too. I am positive that I have seen literally millions of geese in my time on Earth, but I find it almost mysterious that I have never seen a dead one. That is, aside from the ones which are presumably dead that I hit with my car in high school. In that case, I have only seen a goose’s last moments.

Deep down, I know that coyotes and foxes have got to be the coroners of the goose world: a goose will parish, and one of them will quickly swoop in to dispose of the corpse. This cannot possibly happen in the daytime, however. Sitting there, drinking my beer and hoping something interesting will happen, I could not possibly miss a mammal preying upon a dead goose. I just wouldn’t. Foxes are my favorite animal, and coyotes look enough like foxes that I would also stare them down, wishing that society would not frown upon our friendship.

“Why don’t you just Google it?” Amber asks me, in reference to the goose deaths.

“Then what would I have to write about?” I respond.

I still have not Googled it, and I refuse to. I currently maintain the belief that geese uphold their own society. Just the other day, I saw hundreds of geese in the park by my house; the Labrador in front of me scared them off. I then saw hundreds of geese looking for their herd. I saw geese smack into each other in mid-air and continue on their path like nothing had happened. I saw geese stop on the ground, look around towards the air, and take off in the correct direction of their home flock. I have seen a goose shit on a person who has previously made a conscious effort to scare off an entire flock. It is based on these facts that I believe the goose society exists; this, and the fact the I have not seen a dead one of these assholes.

I can only assume, based on the lives (of geese) I have so far seen, that the geese will drag the newly-dead goose to a secret location. This location is one in which the fellow geese will constantly bark at (what the fuck do geese do – quack? squawk?). Growing up, I can remember my mom telling me that a goose “yelling at me” was a sign that it had baby goose nearby. I have got to call bullshit at this point, as the geese “yell at me” year round. I vividly recall summers in which I had to wait for geese on my street to pass before I could drive my car; springs where the cursed bird would drive my dog (at the time) crazy, my dog assuming it could fly as well; autumns filled with geese ruining the set-up of the local park light display by outnumbering the workers by at least 20:1; and now, this winter, a supposed twenty thousand of these giant, flying rats has inhabited my state, and the geese have – in every one of these scenarios – yelled at me the entire time.

This is where I should be clear: I have seen a lot of dead animals in my lifetime. This is not something I boast about, it is just an unfortunate fact. I have seen dead raccoons, crows, dogs, cats, deer, moose, rabbits, etc., etc., though I have never seen a dead goose. Not even for a second. Not even out of the corner of my eye, as some mysterious robed figure pulls the dead bird away for a secretive ritual sacrifice. Not even then have I seen a dead goose.

“The Office” had a Christmas episode in which Dwight (one of the show’s main characters) claims that he’s found a dead goose and would like to cook it for a Christmas meal. Just as I was forced to do with my mother, I had to (at this point) sever my ties with any advice I had considered even remotely helpful in this episode. A mindset in which one believes that dead geese can be seen by human eyes is one that cannot be trusted.

What must happen is that coyotes and foxes do, indeed, dispose of the geese’s corpses, (the possessive plural of goose really is geese’s, how dumb is that?) but that this activity must happen in a certain fashion. It is my estimate that the secret goose society, which appears to fly off out of nowhere, is actually controlling its personal image as a species that will live forever. The random taking-off of the flocks is their clever way of hiding that one of their own has perished, and that they are surrendering him or her to the circle of life.

Geese are also just shady. They’re the only bird that seems to make a conscious effort to hid their deaths. Geese are also the only bird I am aware of that will not back down to a fight. I haven’t directly challenged one of these birds to a physical match, but I have had them hiss at me for coming more within more than ten feet of them. Any other bird would fly away, but I know that the goose would attack. My grandmother on my father’s side is a first-hand witness. In her old age, she had developed dementia. Through the horrific illness, she still knew that she loved me though, as my only memory of her is of scaring off geese so that we could sit and have a chat at her nursing home. I was maybe five at the time, and she knew in her old age and deep wisdom, that geese were up to no good.

I do not bother the geese these days. In fact, I make a point to not scare them off as I walk through the fields they inhibit on a daily basis. Now more than ever, I have an appreciation for this bird. The goose is a bird that will not take any shit from anyone, will protect its young against a perceived threat that is at least five times its size, doesn’t let a mid-air collision slow it down from hanging out with its friends, and can move to a new location hundreds of miles away from its home and fit in just fine. Perhaps I have a lot to learn from this love/hate relationship I have with Denver’s 20,000 new inhabitants.

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A Systematic Distaste 4. The Current ‘Political Climate’ (Or The Story of How I Almost Got Arrested as a Threat to the Current American President)

I have never had more than probably twenty Twitter followers. Twitter has never been a big or important aspect to my life, but at one point in mid-2015, I was able to consider myself somewhat funny. And it’s not so much that my humor was related to Twitter, but that it sometimes bled into Twitter, like seeing Iggy Pop and having him throw up on you, or something like that. The main essence to this comedic prose was, admittedly, probably just lots of alcohol, but I am not in the business of debating from whence genius arises.

It was May of 2015. The GOP was still figuring out who they would send forth to screw us all sideways (as were the Democrats, reader who just became offended). By this point, however, it was clearer than daylight that Donald Trump was the most incompetent, unqualified, laugh-worthy, cringe-worthy, selfish, narcissistic, delusional, useless, most idiotic, ridiculous joke that had ever even had a remote, passing thought of even maybe being president of the United States. Thus, my friend Charles and I made a constant night of drinking and watching the debates, making a joke out of everything. We would occasionally try to follow it with some drinking games, like taking a sip every time someone would mention ISIS, etc, but anyone following those actual rules would surely be dead by 9 pm. We would instead drink casually (heavily), and send out to the world our barrage of thoughts on what was happening. I used Twitter, he used Facebook. Most everything was just arguing with people in a drunken laugh, knowing that the same thing was probably happening on the other side – it had to be. I cannot recall specifically any of these arguments, only that the threats revolved around impossible, metaphysical feats. I could imagine myself saying that I would blow up the whole world if someone kept up with their stupid argument, etc, etc. Dumb drunk talk.

But now it was Trump’s turn to speak on this particular night. The epitome of dumb drunk talk.

Do I really need to remember what it was that he said, or the absurdity I felt at the entire situation I was watching in front of me? If I do, perhaps this story is not for you and you should find another blog; I am not trying to start any arguments here.

I had finally reached a boiling point, and a drunken boiling point will never really lead to anywhere beneficial towards anything. “Yo, I’m gonna shoot Trump, you cool?” I Tweeted the FBI.

Yes, the FBI. I told the American Federal Bureau of Investigations that I was going to shoot the future president. In retrospect… I have since seen evidence of successful protests which took a different route.

 

I woke up the next morning, found out that was probably a bad idea from last night, and deleted the Tweet.

I had what is probably now seen as one of my first dates with my amazing girlfriend the next day. I picked her up in the early afternoon and we went to a zoo in Colorado Springs, about an hour from where we lived in south Denver. On the drive, we listened to music and talked and mostly just got excited about our day together, everything was normal and it was great. We pulled up to the zoo and got our tickets. Not even two minutes into the park and my phone rang – my mother. It’s not that I especially dislike my mother or anything like that, but when you are on your first official date with a girl you really like, you don’t answer the phone for your mom at the beginning of it. I let it go, and we walked foreword a few feet to look at the giraffes. The phone rang again. I was already in Colorado Springs, I wasn’t going to go back now. This was my first date with Amber and I had been looking forward to it and made sure to leave a clear schedule. When the phone rang a third time, though, I knew something was wrong. I answered.

“Hello?” I said.

“You need to come home, now,” it was my mom, her tone sent shivers down my spine. It was that tone one might recognize as a child, when you would became absolutely certain that you have fucked up. The Tweet still hadn’t really entered my mind, though.

“What for?” I asked.

“It doesn’t matter, you just need to be here.”

“I’m not just going to come home if there’s no reason, though,” I pleaded. A not-so-great move to pull on your mom, I understand, but let’s keep the consequences in mind here.

“What?” she said to me, rhetorically. Then she whispered into the phone, “he’s not gonna come. I don’t know what to do.” Then there was a shuffle on the other line.

“Evan?” It was a woman’s voice. She sounded stern. Younger, but old enough to have seen some shit.

“Yes?”

“You don’t come home when your mother asks you to?”

I was twenty years old, what the hell was happening here? Some sort of covert operation to get me to spend time with my mom? “I just don’t know why I would go home, and I am far away from home,” I said, as if explaining it to a child. She didn’t know me, or why I wasn’t immediately rushing to my mother’s aid, and who was she to – oh god. I got drunk and Tweeted something. What was it…

“I’m Betsey [not really] with the Secret Service. How far away are you,” she asked.

“About an hour. Maybe longer.” What did I say? Something about that orange…

“Alright. Head home and we’ll see you here,” her tone indicated it was for something serious.

This was all real and it was all happening.

Oh, goddamn it! I told the FBI I’d shoot Trump, huh?

It’s quite an awkward moment when you realize in your mind that you have to now abandon your plans for a date, only to be potentially – and very possibly – arrested for threats against the GOP primaries.

As an anarchist punk at heart, it is also a badass moment.

“We’ve gotta go, Amber.”

She could see the nervousness on my face. I’m sure my color was lost. “Oh, okay,” she said.

It was a silent walk to the car, and a silent drive down the mountain and onto the highway, where we found ourselves surrounded in rush hour traffic.

“Do you mind if I smoke around you?” I asked. We had hung out several times, but this was the first time I had the need to ask her.

“Of course not. I’ve got friends who smoke, you can do what you want.”

I love her.

On our silent stop-and-go ride, I received a text message from a number not in my contacts.

This is Betsey. Go to [an address in the Denver Tech Center]. Let me know when you are close.

Is this real? Is this really how these things operate? Is this what the world is? Text messages telling the bad guys where to go, because traffic is a bitch, you know? They don’t have time to wait around for that.

Amber pulled out her phone and found a shortcut to our cryptic destination. She also consoled me greatly, but that’s less funny so I’m leaving it out.

I’m close, I sent as we stopped at a gas station so that I could chug a Red Bull and take a Xanax.

We got back on the highway and Betsey replied Park in the garage. Take the elevator to the 4th floor. Go left to the end of the hallway. There will be a doorbell, ring it.

At this point, I wasn’t sure how to feel, honestly. On one hand, I was terrified at the thought of strangers bothering my mother over something stupid I had done, and I definitely didn’t want to be arrested. On the other hand, however, the entire US government appeared to be working based on text messages and the honor system. I know deep down that had I responded lol jk. l8r, losers! they would have found me soon after, using satellites and FBI stuff, but I still thought that I should be let off the hook for even considering this weird, lonely adventure I was now facing. Amber waited in the car. The building was enormous, but had hardly any signs out front indicating as to what any of it could be for. The elevator was right next to the front doors. My heart was pounding now. How were we even sure that this was for sure the FBI? What if I had just offended a close, mentally unstable business partner friend?

I got off the elevator and took a left. The hallway was completely empty and was painted an extremely boorish grey. The hall took a good 30 seconds or so to reach the end. There, I found a doorbell and a wooden door with some sort of keypad on the left side. Assuming that they had somehow traced my steps to this very door and knew where I was, I felt as though I had no choice but to ring the doorbell. The door buzzed and an intercom asked who I was. I told them and they unlocked the door remotely so that I could enter. Inside was an equally boorish waiting room. There were no photos, no name or organization anywhere, nothing. Just a few chairs along the wall that looked like they had been commandeered from a doctor’s office. Straight ahead was another wooden door, to the left of that was a reception window, and on the left side of the room was another door. I walked to the reception window and spoke into the circular microphone in the glass. “Hi,” I stammered.

“Name?”

“Evan.”

“Okay, Evan. I need everything in your pockets. Do you have an ID?”

I nodded.

“I’ll need your ID first.”

I handed her everything and then sat in one of the doctor chairs like I was ordered to. I was by myself.

I waited for a good fifteen minutes, though it felt like hours, when the door to the left of reception opened up. There stood two business-casual dressed adults – one man and one woman, staring me down. “Follow us,” the man said.

They led me down a small, plain, boorish hallway to a small, plain, boorish room. The room contained a large, wooden, rectangular table and three uncomfortable, mostly metal chairs – two on one side and one on the other. I obviously sat on the one person side.

“So, do you know why you’re here?” asked the woman. It was the woman from the phone, Betsey. She was probably in her mid-40s. If I saw her on the street I wouldn’t think anything of her, but knowing that she worked for a secretive government organization, I almost laughed out loud at how ridiculous her must-be-undercover outfit was – tan cargo shorts with a long, grey tee-shirt, with some off-brand hiking shoes. Was I supposed to believe this woman?

“For Twitter,” I said, maybe more abrasive than I’d have liked.

“You got that right,” said the man. He was dressed as equally ridiculously, with almost the same cargo shorts. What made his worse was that he was wearing a Hawaiian short-sleeve, though. And flip-flops. I’ll name him Nancy.

“What did you Tweet, Evan?” asked Betsey, obviously rhetorically.

“Something pretty stupid,” I responded.

“Do you think that it’s generally a good idea to tell the FBI you are going to shoot anyone?”

“Not anymore.” I didn’t necessarily have the heart to completely agree with her. Had anyone actually been serious in Tweeting that they would shoot someone, it would make government agents’ lives much easier.

Betsey and Nancy explained that they were from the Secret Service, and that the good ol’ fellas at the FBI had generously tipped them off (my wording, not theirs). This is the point at which I am not going to pretend I was a badass. I was nervous to the point that had I not taken that Xanax, I probably would have passed out in the elevator. Regardless of this, though, I still remember myself thinking at the time Don’t they have anything better to do?

“You still live with your parents?” asked Nancy.

“Yeah, I do.”

“Do they charge you rent?”

“No, they don’t.”

“So, your parents who brought you up, raised you, I’m assuming gave you your car? How’d you get your car, Evan?”

“Well I bought it, but from my dad…”

Betsey chuckled.

Nancy continued, “Right. So your parents essentially give you everything, make you happy, keep you alive, and then you make us come knock on their door and ruin their day. You think parents like to have us come looking for their kids?”

They make me happy? I don’t even know what that means, but I pictured a parent who’s chained her child to the tv with video game controller cables, saying “You must be happy! I command it!”

I shook my head.

“I’ve got a 17-year-old daughter at home,” began a now more furious Betsey, “and if she behaved the way you do, I’d kick her out.”

“Yeah, my kids would not be allowed to do this,” Nancy added.

What the fuck was this? I made one joke about the holy-shit-how-could-he-become-president-ass-hole and now not only was I under investigation, but I was also just a rotten kid? A rotten person? I have and have always had a boastfully low self-esteem, but this was beyond me. They didn’t know anything about me or my family. I didn’t give a shit what Betsey did with her kids, and I sure as hell didn’t want to hear about it. All of these grievances I quickly overcame, when the most infuriating event ever, the single biggest event ever to justify my punk anarchism, an event to define our current political climate happened:

“What would you do if Trump were to walk into this room, right now?” asked Nancy.

Well, Nancy, being that I am in a room with two Secret Service agents, nothing. “You know, I’d like to think I’d have something clever to say, but I don’t think I would do anything,” I assumed this was the actual answer they were looking for.

“So, I’m assuming you’re a Bernie Sanders fan?” asked Betsey.

“I guess.”

“If you were to vote today, who would you vote for?”

“Honestly, after all of this, I’m pretty discouraged from voting. I don’t think I’m going to vote at all at this point.”

They both shook their heads in agreement.

“That’s a good idea,” Betsey concluded.

Let me summarize this last bit for anyone who might have just missed what happened in the climax of the story. I do not usually condone using caps lock, or making a show with text, so forgive me, but: TWO SECRET SERVICE AGENTS FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TOLD ME THAT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA FOR ME TO NOT VOTE AT ALL IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION. If that is not the clearest, most textbook, backhand to the face of American democracy, I don’t know what is.

The agents then explained to me in threatening (but obviously bluffing) detail about how I could possibly go to court for this, but that they would let me know what was going to happen. They kept telling me I was getting off easy. (They never contacted me after this.)

Now, I’m not saying that these agents were on either side, or that there was any sort of conspiracy at work here, but I do know that when any sort of person working for the federal, or even local government, tells you it would be best not to vote, it means that they have no respect for you, your thoughts, or anything you stand for. I had not voted at the time, though I could have, during Obama’s second term. I still have not voted, which I understand can be deeply offensive to some, but it’s something I almost hold dear to me at this point. My voting virginity is something I am saving for when my punk heart finally gives out, and I have to succumb to a life of knowing which things are popular, being nice to everyone, and thinking that dubstep is a valid genre of music. A life when I know the Betseys and Nanceys of the world have too far outnumbered the reasonable people.

Though I hope that day never happens, I truly do wish for a day when politics in America doesn’t seem so shitty. For when I’m not a politician isn’t a slogan for why you should vote for someone. For when it’s okay to be different from your neighbors, but have that not affect your lives. And most of all, I am saving my vote for when there is someone I truly believe in, not just a “best of a bad situation,” or an “I guess this’ll work.” I am saving my vote for something and someone I truly believe in. And those agents can go fuck themselves until then.

In the end, was it the drunk guy who was making fun of asses on tv, hoping to find one who made sense that obstructed democracy, or was it the agents who blatantly told that drunk guy not to vote?

 

Walking Is Still Honest

I love walking. My car currently doesn’t work, and so I do a lot of it. My work is about a mile and a half away from where I live, which gives me quite a nice walk through the largest local park, which has a big lake in the middle. Most days I go into work at 9 a.m., and the walk is largely empty of pedestrians. When I leave, however, the residents of the assisted-living homes really come out to adventure. On Saturdays especially, there are maybe 60 or so elderly wandering the mile and a half long trail around the lake. The worst part of walking this lake (for anyone who is under the age of 60) is the problem of passing someone. I am not a particularly fast walker, but these old people really keep an inconvenient speed. This morning, for example, I spent maybe half of my walk consoling myself that passing the old man and his assumed grand-daughter was wrong. Instead of passing them, and causing a distraction with my tattered backpack and black skinny-jeans, I stayed behind them. This soon gave me anxiety, as I felt like I was following too close behind them. “What are ya, tryin’ to kidnap my Sally?” I envisioned the old man yelling.

This thought caused me to hunch over and slow my pace even more. Now if someone saw me, I thought they’d assume I was some junkie, trying to wake himself up from last night’s bender with a walk around the park. What a disgrace.

This thought caused me to suddenly perk up. I wanted to speed-walk around these losers, show them who was boss. I wasn’t any junkie, I was on my way to work! Sure, it was at a liquor store, but I just supplied the junkies, I wasn’t one myself.

The town I live in is also not so conducive to walking, and so leaving work proves to be somewhat problematic as well. I could wait at the nearest stop light, which takes an average of 12 minutes to change – or I can, and always do, j-walk across the six-lane street with my after-work beer in hand.

This must make me look like some sort of local degenerate, but I have surprisingly never run into any problems. I am generally listening to an audiobook or music on my walk home, but sometimes I leave my headphones mute – hoping that someone will say something about me, thinking I won’t hear it. At the thought of this, I’ll turn around, call them out in front of their trembling grand-something, and I’ll prove to be the most victorious person at Clement park. What a victory.

Instead of ever actually doing this, I try to smile at everyone along my walk. Having this terrible Rambo-esque narrative in my head at the same time sometimes makes me nervous, however, and I often come off as standoffish. This is also because I am extremely standoffish.

My current after-work routine is to buy two beers, and finish one when I am halfway around the lake. I then walk to my town-favorite port-a-potty, where I know I will always have to urinate. It’s pretty crazy being in that port-a-potty. I know that it’s not going to smell as bad as most port-a-potties because it’s on a “work site” which I pass every day on my way to work, but have never seen anyone actually working in. There is one skinny, long turd sitting on top of the blue water. It’s been there since the first time I used this port-a-potty, and it has always been this way. The toilet is filled mostly with cleaning supplies, and so the smell isn’t too offensive inside. In fact, when I’m in that port-a-potty, and I’m looking up at the almost translucent white plastic that is the roof, I almost feel as though I could be anywhere. My family went to the Grand Canyon when I was little and I still remember the port-a-potties. I can relive that experience whenever I want in this one, specifically. Sometimes I pretend I’m at the Grand Canyon, sometimes it’s in the jungle, sometimes I pretend I’m a construction person in some grandiose Japanese city.

When I get out of the port-a-potty, I have one more smaller park to walk past. This is the park which is directly in the middle of the suburbs. This is the wild west of white, suburban, elderly neighborhoods. A couple days ago I was walking, doing the mute headphones thing, and I watched an elderly man with headphones on, stumbling along the dirt next to the walking path. The woman 20 feet behind him gave out an odd look and so I looked down at my feet. I heard a loud, hollow clank and looked back up. The 60-something with the headphones had ran directly into a light pole. He then tried to make it look like it was just a part of the song he was listening to; something he had choreographed in his basement and was finally trying in public. Okay, when the chorus comes, spin around the light pole. Don’t hold back, Gary, don’t hold back. The woman walking behind him looked embarrassed, almost sad. She looked like someone who would sometime soon have to share a meal with this man.

One of the other things I love about walking is the wildlife. I live in a state where people travel from all over the world to see some of the vast wildlife, but not much beats seeing the geese and ducks be assholes to each other at the park. In the daytime, the geese will often block the sidewalks; in response to almost anything the geese do, the ducks will yell at them. When people come to walk by, the geese hiss and make you feel like a dick for getting some fresh air. I’ve also seen the geese block traffic, on the main roads at that. They’ve done it since I can remember being in a car. Knowing this, shortly after I got my driver’s license, I was speeding down a hill from Taco Bell back to my high school with my two closest friends in the car. It was here that I made my first (and only) decision to kill a goose. Three geese, actually. I saw three geese being assholes, thinking that they could rule the streets of Littleton, and I mowed them down in my 2001 Ford Focus like a madman.

I also like the idea of “going to the beach” at my park and on my local walks. Sometimes I will sit on the goose-shit-ridden shores of the Clement Park lake and think to myself: I’m super glad we got to get out to the beach today.

I have sold alcohol to the many elderly people of Southwest Littleton to know that they are not necessarily my type; I have also grown up with the many dropouts who inhabit the skatepark at Clement, and come into my store routinely to dismiss life and skate the day away just blocks from where they grew up. And I can’t judge, because when I’m at that park, I hold back on my fears and failures and I just walk, and for a few minutes it’s all alright.

South Desert Storage – 6

Fuck the owner of 1A, I thought. I work here, I take care of these units, I do my job at making this place a business. Who the hell are these people to come into 1A, and threaten Bob and Joe? Or me? I want that owner here, I thought. I want to tell him to leave, to get the hell out of here and never come back.
I went to 1A and opened the door. I stared at everything in the unit – a baseball and baseball bat, some board games, Jack Daniels, old ashtrays, a twenty-something year old Honda Nighthawk (which I ended up putting back), rugs with dust on them, an antique rifle, an antique handgun, more Jack Daniels, Paul Mall Reds, a machete, a dog collar, and a pair of black cowboy boots. The China tea set was still in the middle of the room. Without thinking, without blinking, and I swear to god, without breathing I ran to that machete. I picked it up and with all of my might I swung it at that tea set. I shattered it and the Jack Daniels. I cut the board games in half, and I sawed through that dog collar. I was on my way to the cowboy boots when I heard an enormous bang.
I turned around to see the man. It was the man from before with the cowboy hat – the owner of 1A. He was holding the antique pistol in the air. Smoke was coming out of it and he looked like some zombie who’d started a marathon race. I still couldn’t see his silhouetted face, but he was about 30 feet behind the unit. Behind me.
I froze, but I still had adrenaline pulsing through me. I turned around with the machete held high in my right arm. “What do you want!” I yelled.
He slowly lowered the pistol until it was pointed directly at me.
“You’re going to kill me over some crap in a storage unit?” I asked. “What do you want?”
He was still standing in the same spot, but the word “everyone” flew into my ear as if he were right next to me. We both still didn’t move, I still couldn’t see his face.
“W-what do you mean ‘everyone?’” I stammered.
He pointed his gun to unit 2A. The door flew open and as if someone in the back of the unit had thrown it, a VCR tape flew a couple of feet and then slid right to where I was standing. Bob & Joe / Last Tape was written on a piece of duct tape that was attached to the VCR tape. I looked up when I heard the sound of the motorcycle from 1A being started.
The man was leaving. I don’t think this is the last time I’ll see him, though.
By now it was evening. I quickly locked every entrance to the units, got in my apartments, and locks all of its doors and windows as well. Then I got my VCR player out.

I rewound the tape when I put it in, but it still began in the middle of a frame. It was Joe, younger looking though. She was sitting on a wooden porch somewhere. Her face looked so terrified. I played the tape and found out Joe was at some sort of party. Someone (I’m guessing Bob) is grilling hotdogs and hamburgers. There are other people there, maybe five or six. They all look like family, old and young. They’re just talking, two kids are running around in the grass, a couple is standing off to the side. Joe won’t stop looking at something though, with that horrified look on her face. Why did that man want me to watch this? What would anything with Bob and Joe have to do with him tormenting me now?
“Grandma, are you rich now that you sold your store?” The girl running in the yard comes up to ask Joe.
“Hey,” says Bob, smiling at her. “It was my store too. Your grandma isn’t the only rich one.”
“No. No, we are not rich. Stop it. No!” Joe is in the same spot, staring the same way, but she’s yelling now. “We are not rich! Shut up!”
The girl begins to cry. One of the other adults tells the person behind the camera to shut it off. The tape goes to a black screen.
I fast forwarded the tape but I couldn’t find anything else. Just this one scene.
I need to talk to Joe again.

South Desert Storage 5

I sat down, and leaned over the table and picked up a piece of the lamp with my bare hand. No one showed up. I placed the glass down and picked it up again, thinking that maybe that would fix the problem. Again, nothing. I sat and waited, not really knowing what else to do. After a moment I could hear something. It was the sound of voices. They were quiet and I couldn’t hear what they were saying, or how many there were. My kitchen and dining table where I had been waiting were on the middle floor, but this sounded like it was coming from downstairs.

I got up and slowly inched my way down, being sure to be as quiet as possible. About halfway down the stairs I realized that the voices were from the tv. I could hear Jerry Springer, and some couple fighting over who’s grandma could be responsible for giving their child his first pack of cigarettes. I kept creeping forward until I could see someone sitting on my couch, faced away from me, watching my tv. And watching trash tv, at that.

With the confidence of my football helmet and baseball bat I quickly cleared my throat and said “Bob? Or Joe?”

The person let out a deep sigh and turned the volume on the tv down. They then slowly put their left arm on top of the couch and began turning themselves around. It was a woman. She was bigger, had dark red short hair, and was wearing a grey Mickey Mouse sweatshirt that smelled like McDonald’s. “Joe. As in Majoesaphine? What are you, stupid, girl?”

“Oh, I’m sorry I just wasn’t -“

“Wasn’t expecting a fat loser, huh?”

“What? No, I just – Sort of the opposite of this. Uh, of you…”

“Right.” Her strong southern accent was now on full display. “You were expecting some crazy son of a bitch come in ‘ere and try to kill you, like last time. It ain’t gonna happen right now so just settle down, missy. I don’t kill. I watch my shows, without being interrupted.”

“But how did you know-”

Without being interrupted, hun.”

Fine. I will just let this random woman finish her trash tv in my living room. No problem, I have lots of other things to do. Totally.

I stared at a fly trying to get out of my halfway opened kitchen window for about 20 minutes, when Majoesaphine finally called for me. Judging her that she might be somewhat needy, I brought a couple of drinks with me.

“Mountain Dew?” I asked.

“Thanks,” said Joe, as if expecting me to do this sooner. “I’ll tell you what I know, ‘cause that’s all I can tell you. If I can’t tell you something, you gotta understand I just don’t know and I just can’t tell you. Okay?” She sounded afraid. What couldn’t she tell me? And what would it matter? She was a stranger in my home, brought here by circumstances I don’t know. Who would know she’s here, and how?

“Okay, Joe.”

“Alright. Now, I know you don’t know Bob and I, even though we were sort of a big deal around these parts. Gotta commercial on tv, you know?” She frowned, “Had, I guess.”

“Yeah, what happened?” I really did want to know, I wasn’t just asking. I didn’t know how to appropriately convey that, though. I sat on the chair next to the couch and leaned in towards her.

She let out a deep sigh and looked at the floor. “We died, hun. Don’t matter how, just matters that it did, and even that don’t matter a heck of a lot now. What matters is what affects you now.”

I didn’t know what to say. “I’m so sorry… how does this affect me, though,”

“Being dead is like a fuzzy memory. Like being asleep, kind of. I knew we had lost our name on the store. I knew that our things had been packed up. And I knew that all of it had been moved here, but then it was sold.”

“Sold to who?”

She swallowed, still staring at the floor. Her eyes widened. “He’s not of this earth, girl. You need to be careful. You seem nice enough, but I can’t stay here and help you, you just need to know that 1A is bad. Bad, bad news.”

Then, she vanished.

South Desert Storage 4

“Hamburgers or hotdogs tonight, ma’am?”

“Jesus, you scared the crap out of me, Joe! I didn’t even hear you pull up!”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Lucky it’s just me and not some maniac out here though!” Joe was my boss. If you could call him that. If a “boss” is a person who often disregards things you have to say (I don’t know if it’s intentional or not), brings you food every other week so you don’t starve, and ignores almost all of your calls until they pop up out of no where behind you.

“Ha, yeah. That’s right,” I said while thinking why the hell would you say that? 

“2A, huh? Well now, I thought that unit was empty. None of this stuff should be in here,” he said.

“What stuff? Do you know what’s in here?” I asked. I could tell the unit was filled to the brim with stuff, but it was all covered over with ugly brown tarps.

“Oh, what’s in any of these units? Crap, probably. Don’t bother yourself with it, though. I’ll have this space cleared out this afternoon.”

“Why? What do you mean? You can’t just leave it here?” I was trying not to sound suspicious. Maybe he was too, though.

“Well,” he chuckled, “If something’s not supposed to be here, it shouldn’t be here!” His tone then changed. He sounded sad, desperate almost. “You should know that by now.”

Joe left right after dropping my groceries off. He didn’t say another word to me until he left. When he did, he perked up just for one “Well, see ya in two weeks!” and then regained his sad demeanor.

I had to know what was in the unit.

When I ran outside, a moving truck with two men was already at work removing the contents. How did they get here so fast? Why have I not heard anyone enter the facility all day? The men were working quickly, like they were on a tight schedule. When they saw me approaching they didn’t look at me, but made conscious efforts not to. They began working even faster, silently. I stood watching as one was loading in the last of the items: in one hand a stained-glass lamp, and in the other its shade. In his hurry the man dropped the glass lamp. He tossed the shade into the truck and bent down to pick up the broken lamp. His partner ran over and slapped him on the back and then made a let’s-get-the-hell-out-of-here gesture towards the front of the truck. The two then scurried off.

I quickly ran inside and grabbed a broom and dustpan once I could no longer see the truck. I scooped up the lamp and headed inside.

I waited until business hours were closed, even though I knew no one else would be showing up today.

I readied myself with a baseball bat, I was wearing a football helmet that I was borrowing from some rich family that was into sports and had to come around every season to switch out their crap. I was sitting at the table, with the broken lamp in the middle. It was glass, painted blue. It didn’t look like it was from a chain store, but rather customized by its owner. I placed a chair opposite me from the table, hoping that when I touched the glass, its owner would show up in the chair I had provided for it, or would at least be happy that I had provided it a place to sit. “I am an extremely old demon, who was all too prepared to eat your soul, but upon finding this chair, I think we’ll get along just fine,” the owner would say. “Have you any tea?”

I just hoped I’d be right. Or close. I just didn’t want to die or get knocked unconscious again.

South Desert Storage 3

I woke up in my bed. Had I dreamed being unconscious? Had I dreamed everything? I was wearing a hat. Why the hell was I wearing this? It was a baseball hat, trucker specifically. Back-to-back world war champs it read. The letters were in white on a plain black background.

“Probably wondering what’s up, huh,” said a voice from the other end of my room. It was early, but the sun wasn’t all the way up yet and so I couldn’t see everything in my room…

“Quit lookin’ around and just listen!” The voice was familiar now, it was the man from before.

“What do you want!” I yelled.

“What the hell did I just say? I’ll just give you a second to think about what you wanna do here, girl.”

I shut up. I still could not see him but I could feel him in the room.

“Well, alright now,” he continued. “Good choice. Now, you’re employed at an interesting spot here, you know that? Don’t answer. See, you’ve been here a while now it seems and you’ve been a good little worker. You clean, you leave. Usually that’s all fine, right? But lately, you seem to think this shit is yours, huh! You took my bike, and now I need to get even.”

“You haven’t been here in years, that spot used to be empty!”

“That spot is mine!” He was yelling now. “You don’t get it! I am not what you think I am, and…”

I rushed up from my bed to turn the lights on. As I did, I dropped the hat. There was no one in sight. I called out and there was really no one inside. I picked the hat up again to examine it.

“I am death…”

The man quit talking again when I dropped the hat. I’m not so sure if he said “dead” or “death.” Whoops.

I knew now that it was the hat that brought the man out. It must have been the motorcycle too, that it did it the first time. And the woman too, I think. Whenever I touched something, the person belonging to it appeared. Belonging to it? Can a person belong to an item? “It’s not the clothes that make the man,” but man also did not make the clothes. What is man anymore? What’s in a person?

I went back down to the unit with the motorcycle. It was open, the way I had left it. I didn’t want to touch anything. The woman who knocked me out must have “belonged” to the teapot I had touched. But why was all of this stuff here, and why now? That man… that man also knew how this worked. And he knew to put the hat on my head, but he couldn’t have done it. Who did?

I checked the unit next to this one in the computer. 2A – it should be empty. The owners left about a year ago now and it hasn’t been rented since. Robert and Josephine Grant. I Googled them just to cover all of my bases. I found a website near me:

Bob n Joe regret having to close our store here in the heart of the desert. The southern desert. After 56 years in business, we will miss our patrons, mostly who were passersby, asleep in their trucks. Oh how Joe and I would love to watch those trucks come in and see the characters driving them. One time this fellow showed up, on a motorcycle. Can you believe that! Riding through the desert on a motorcycle. Jesus H Christ. Well I’ll tell you, that asshole left his tank overflowing in his motorcycle. Did it constantly. He’d always be poking fights with someone, and one day thought it’d be ‘cool’ to light a cigarette while filling his tank. That dickhead got into a fight and it overflowed again! He went back and bam! I have to fill out insurance forms, cars are damaged, I need a new pump, plus the ambulance bills! Don’t get me started on the damn ambulance bills! 

Anyways, I’m sorry to leave you guys, but we’re just getting too old for it now. It was a pleasure to serve you and meet you all.

(Except that asshole with the bike, rest in peace)

Nice couple. I walked down to their unit and opened up the door. It wasn’t empty.

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