In this prompt a character must stumble across a secret passageway.
Garland was irritated at the price of gas, he couldn't figure out how it could be 2.85 a gallon and jump up $3.15 in a half hour. Nor, could he figure out why cars were parked in front of the pumps and nobody in them.
He was getting a headache from the odor and coupled with the July heat wasn't making it any better.
On the corner stood a man dressed in worn torn jeans, scrappy tennis shoes, no shirt and long greasy hair. He held a sign will work for food. He felt Garland watching him, smiled a missing front tooth yellow smile and waved. They used not be allowed to stand on this corner, usually they were escorted off by the police. Pan handlers seem to be growing in numbers these days and you can find them on practically every corner.
This irritated him cause they're always in the way and there was always a little part of him that felt guilty for not giving like he used to, Used to because he'd heard that most of them have more money than he does.
It reminded him of a story he saw where somebody followed one home one night, followed him to his BMW and watched him put his pan handler outfit in the trunk. He'd heard they made more money doing that than he did busting his rump as an exterminator.
The pumps still going and he watched as the dollar signs grew.
His pump clicked off, he set the nozzle inside its spot and watched as the pump on the other side of him clicked away as if it were filling the bottomless pit of the BMW. The price box showed $500.00 and still pumping away.
This was odd.
No way could that tank take so much gas.
Where is everybody?
He wiped his hands glancing at all the cars as he walked to the door. Nobody was inside. Not behind the the cash register, not by the coolers or stocking shelves.
But the place looked to be in full operation.
A box of cornflakes flew off the shelf smacking him in the face. The box landed at his feet scattering cornflakes all over the floor,
The cooler door opened and a can of Pepsi jumped off the shelf and shot straight at him which he managed to dodge.
His first thought was he needed to get out of here. The station was possessed or something. His second thought was he wasn't so sure that getting out was going to be so easy,
While he was busy looking around a can of Cocoa Cola smacked him in the eye, He felt the sting from the cold can couple with the burning sensation of his eyeball. He felt his the area around his eyebrow and could already feel a lump form. That was sure going to be a doosey. How was he going to explain the black eye to his wife?
Say that a can of Cocoa Cola jumped off the shelf and smacked him in the face at the gas station?
They'd have him committed for sure. She already thought he was El- Nutso.
It was too bad she wasn't here to witness this one. She cold write this story up as one of the articles she wrote for fate magazine.
He could smell the hotdogs from the roller grill and somebody had left a slice of pizza in the microwave.
While outside the black hoses on the nozzles moved in short rapid successions they continued to fuel the cars. He could hear the rhythmic sounds of the nozzles gulping,
Chug-a-lug-lug... Chug-a-lug-lug. Chug-a-lug-lug.
Another Pepsi can flew off the shelf and smacked him in the back of the head.
More can shot after him. One by one at a time all in short rapid fire. Then came the Cocoa Cola cans, bottles, and two litters. It was like there was some sort of all out war between Pepsi and Coca Cola.
He ducked behind the junk food aisle where all the Little Debbie snack are. His son Johnny's favorite. He used to love it coming here to this station and this was the first place he came to.
He could see him standing here beside him now. Holding out his tiny hand. “Daddy, can I have one of these?” The Star crispy ones that have Rice Krispies was his favorite. Then he'd always ask to take another for the road,
Then he used to follow that up with a slushy and he always wanted to be the one that operated the lever that he was barely just able to reach but still insisted on doing it himself,
It was two years ago to this day that Johnny ran out the door and across the lot. Tires squealed followed by a thunk and a thump.
People screaming and gathered around.
He remembered screaming the words no at the top of his lungs and still knowing that it was too late.
Johnny lay there in a small puddle of blood. A tiny man dressed in a green suit stood in Johnny's chest saying, “Satan gets what h wants when he wants and there ain't a thing you can do bout it.”
The other driver saying how he didn't see him in time.
The ambulance siren screaming along the highway and Johnny was not moving.
Every once in a while Garland comes to this station and tortures himself over and over as he tries to replay that moment in his mind trying to figure out if there was something he could've done different.
If only I had been paying attention and hadn't been admiring that woman's butt, a secret he kept to himself.
He always felt guilty when he looked. Even with that old adage look but don't touch, still, it didn't seem appropriate and it always made him feel guilty. It also didn't help, his wife, Janet had put on several pounds since they'd been married making her far less attractive, not to mention she'd gotten pretty comfortable lately with making all the decisions herself, things he didn't agree with.
In only a couple months later, their marriage was on the rocks and the tide was coming in quick flooding all their plans and hopes and all the other things they'd dreamed about doing and talked excitedly about was being washed away and carried out to sea.
A month after that, Janet filed for a divorce because she'd met someone else. A doctor, she says. Go figure. There was no competing with a doctor. Doctor in left hand, exterminator on the right. What should I do? He imagined her flipping back and forth. Doctor. Exterminator. Doctor. Exterminator.
Nope. Score for the doctor. Ditch the exterminator.
He told himself that it was all for the best. She always seemed to be the one who always wanted the larger things in life. Live the ore extravagant. Have the best of everything.
Garland was more into living life. Not every day was about work and tomorrow was always another day. Why bury yourself with work just so you can afford overly high priced material garbage that you don't have the time to use anyway? He never understood that. No, he didn't have a lot as far as people like her were concerned but he also didn't struggle getting out of bed and didn't dread going to work. And sitting at home on the front porch drinking ice, listening to the birds and watching the squirrels run up the tree was far better than spending time at a fancy restaurant pretending to have fun with people you don't even like. There was no getting through to Janet about any of it and finally he just stopped.
Have your mid-life crisis and just move on if that's what you feel you need to do. And good luck with life.
The tiny little man in a green suit was perched on his shoulder. “It's not your fault, Buddy. It's all part of Satan's plan. He gets what he wants when he wants it and there's nothing you can do bout it. He's not through with you yet.
Satan's plan. That tiny green man always said that. He'd been coming around at least once a week to torment him and vanished whenever his wife walked in the room or when out in public.
The station shook and thundered as if stricken by a huge earthquake.
\Boxes falling off the shelves.
Cans tumbling over.
While outside all was still.
A door appeared on the wall. At first it seemed like it was an apparition. That door had never been there before.
He wondered what it went to. They'd done some remodeling in the past and had this area taped off for a month while getting the modern building makeover. A lot of buildings had been getting makeover these days.
McDonald's started the trend with updating their entire building, making the larger with more seating. Lining the décor with glossy ceramic tile and stainless steel handrails. And they are always so clean, you'd think eating at McDonald's was a healthy food choice.
Next the Burger King joined in and made themselves over. Then came along the Dairy Queen and then Wendy's.
All the fast food joints and gas stations were getting makeovers. It was almost as if threw was some kind of silent war going on between them that happened at night when they were all closed up and nobody around.
Except for the gas stations that remain open twenty-four hours.
The building shook and rumbled more furiously and garland was getting the impression that the building was mad at him. It was like it hated him being inside here. He wasn't sure what it was but he didn't feel right.
He turned to charge out the main door but it was gone. Shelves stocked full was now in its place.
Had the door moved?
He heard an echo, a soft grumbling sound like an irritated old man stricken with arthritis trying to get up from his wheel chair and nobody is around to help him.
He had no choice. He had to walk through the ghost door.
He put his hand on the knob and wrapped his fingers around it. He couldn't feel anything but his fingers were on it.
He turned it and the door opened.
A crowd of applause greeted him. A group of McDonald's buildings, Burger Kings and Wendy's and all the other fast food restaurants you can imagine greeted him with open door.
Various types of lolly pops rained down.
He walked into this own special world. A world where fast food restaurants ruled.
In the center of all this he could see his son running among the lolly pop rains, splashing in chocolate puddles. Grabbing lolly pops from the sky.
Climbing in gummy bear trees.
He didn't get to speak to him. The images were ghostly apparitions but somehow it managed to give him comfort that even though his son was no longer with him everything was still okay.