It has been an overwhelmingly wonderful experience for me, having the opportunity to introduce this work through the efforts of so many great folks (all of them writers whose own work deserves equal if not greater amounts of attention than my own) and I do hope the work has been (and will continue to be) on par with the generosity that has made it available.
Cheers to all who have hosted and followed and I sincerely hope you will join me for more,
I’d consolidated everything down to what’d fit in my duffle, figured there was enough room for the money on top, but if not I’d be able to sort that out. Thought about unloading the gun, but then left it, slipped it back my coat pocket.
Got the train station still headache ridden from the vodka the previous night. I didn’t let myself sit down the train, worried I’d drift off to sleep, wake up missed my station, even more of a headache. I walked end to end of the compartment, when I’d get to each door peer through at the people milling the attached compartments, noted only one of them’d look up each time I did, was probably putting them off.
Thought about going into the storage rental office to officially close out my unit, kind of think I thought it just to stall going in. Something in picking up the money and being able to wander off still hadn’t hit me as reality, part of me thinking I left the money alone I could just have back the life I’d had.
Life I’d had.
Real pause maybe was because the money into things or not, leaving meant I had less a life than I’d had, not had much of one to begin with—but not taking the money didn’t mean a thing along those lines, it was all a fact now, it’d already happened just needed to do it, now.
Stale air came out the room a gulp like it always did the unit first opened, pulled the bulb on, closed myself in as best I could. Tore open the garbage bag I kept the smaller bag in, just dumped the money, smoked a few cigarettes looking at it.
Only nine-and-a-half thousand, including what I had on me I’d taken out last time.
It was kind of a jolt. I emptied my pockets—put the gun back in, removed my coat and set it off to one side—dug through the paper debris I’d filled the bags with, turned out the clothes in my duffle.
Not even nine and a full half—nine thousand three hundred sixty-four dollars, that even totaling in the loose coins I’d accumulated from all over.
As though any amount of thinking would change things, I paced around through a few hardly used cigarettes, turned things over and over. Even had it been ten and half, ten four hundred, I’d’ve believed that.
Wondered could someone’ve found out what I had in here? The staff of the place? Gone through the trouble to undo the trash bags carefully, just clip a bit, put it all back neat?
The crumbled paper strewn around, I really had no way of knowing—maybe they’d even torn through the original bag, found the money, just replaced other bags, other paper, even.
Sat down a last few minutes, repacked my bag of everything except five hundred dollars in my pocket—first same pocket as the gun, then I switched it, then I switch pockets, the gun the money, because I reached more naturally into the one, was tired of feeling the metal there, tired of the sink in my gut every time and my fingers giving it pulps, tapping it like maybe there might be some reason take it out.
Didn’t know exactly what about anything I was down the street, nothing except I just wanted to get someplace I could squirrel the money away again, but same time had no interest on focusing what that’d mean. I wanted to go far, though. I wanted to go away.
Stopped a gas station, asked was there a bus depot, girl working told me there was one in town, pointed out a bench other side of the street, said transit bus would take me in, though she didn’t know which line. Because I felt a little bit guilty I bought a coffee and a random candy bar, halfheartedly flirted enough to get the idea she wasn’t interested—had the feeling she kept looking out to the bench I waited for the bus, worried I wouldn’t get on.
Depot was ugly, looked like it’d been recently painted but whoever’d done it’d done so poor a job looked it hadn’t been painted ten years—floor inside was the same concrete the walk outside. There were a few people didn’t seem transient sleeping on the benches and I noticed the two public phones didn’t have receivers, one of them had just a space where the coin box’d go. There was a television on way over in one corner, below it a dirty fan on oscillate, but this all a corner the benches weren’t near it, just like these two thing’s been discarded over there, casting their mix of shadows no one ever noticed.
Part way I didn’t want to get a ticket, but the bus service was a national chain, figured it was immaterial what the station looked like.
-Hi, need to get a ticket back out Colorado, you have anything leaving that way?
Woman working made a face it’d been a stupid question—probably it was, why’d they only have buses to certain places?
-I lost my ID, though, I said and was going to go on but, same tone to her voice as her eyes rolling’d had to her face, she told me I wouldn’t need to present ID, just fill out a form she didn’t hand me until another minute clacking at the computer, numbly naming off departure times.
Some reason I didn’t take the earliest bus out, walked into town a bit to have lunch, vaguely of a mind to get rid of the gun. Thought most about this I was using the toilet the fast food place, thought I’d drop it down in the bowl, give someone a real startle, maybe even wait around to see the police show up—but just as quick I got the creeps, because say somebody put two and two together it’d been me dumped the gun, what a pointless bit of trouble that would be. Seemed there was the same trouble anywhere I’d lose the thing, felt eyes all over me heavy as hands all over me, coat pocket seemed the best place to keep things subdued and in secret.
Got back to the station, sat, noticed the woman working the desk was smoking so smoked, too.
The husks of the telephones struck me, suddenly. I felt around, found I still had the card on me the guy’s telephone number.
-Are there phones around here actually have phones?
The woman told me across the street or back in town, across the street a convenience store but she said guy owned it would make me buy something.
-Buy something to use the public phone?
She stared at me.
-That’s awful, I said, a little bit giddy for some reason at her blankness, her cruelty toward me, her proper disbelief, her knowing I had my ID on me was just some loser needed to disappear like hundred losers she gave tickets under made believe names to everyday.
Guy just stared at me I said I needed to use the phone.
-Woman the bus station says I need to buy something?
-Minimum two dollars.
-How about can I just give you two dollars?
He shrugged, I left him five dollars on the counter, didn’t get the feeling he was going to be interested in making me change.
Put my coins down the slot, squinted at the card and dialed, phone just rang and rang—I leaned there, listening, listening. Eyes closed, scratched my chin the receiver bulb, hung up. It was funny he’d not smashed the thing, removed the battery, shut it off, but at the same time what did it matter he had or he hadn’t done this or done that some cheap telephone?
Took up the phone again, straight off, the thought was I’d dial Norman’s number just to hear it ring, listen. Same time I heard the dial tone to my ear, I realized I didn’t know the number, probably if I did it wouldn’t ring, would beep dull and insistent that it wasn’t a number anymore, at all.
Mixed in with the tone, don’t know what brought it on, why I’d want to bring it to mind, I spent a minute pretending like I could hear Norman, hear him telling me I was an awful person. He’d told me already before, but for some reason wanted him to say it again I could answer him—I could tell him how he was absolutely right, how same time he had absolutely no idea.