When we got to route sixty,,raising my voice to get over the radio I asked,"Do you wanna cuppa from the
7-11?" John nodded his ascent and I turned to the left to go to the 7-11 across from S.T.R.Loyd-Funk Funeral Home.
Pulling into the lot and parking in the head on spaces allmost directly in front of the bench outside
the laundry mat next to the 7-11 I cut off the car and hopped out saying,,"I may be buying it,,but you gotta come get your
own,dude." An old lady sitting on the bench next to a blue clothes basket looked up with squinting eyes and smiled as the
midlde aged female attendent came out of the little office across the laundrymat and started hollering at a young couple with
a baby in a basinet in the back about not overloading the units.
I got to the door and opened it as he bounded up right behind me,,making it there before the car door
he got out of shut.Coming in behind me into the extremely chilly store he said,with a shiver,,"It's cold as a grave in here.Look
at the windows." Turning to go around the end of the isle toward the coffee area I glanced over my left shoulder to see that
all the windows were fogged completely with condensation.It was so thick that I could only just barely make out the forms
of several people walking by the windows going from left to right across them.
"Wow" ,I said and stepped up to the coffee pots looking to see which 'caffenated' pot had some coffee
still in it.There was one of the orange rimmed glass pots under the brewer with a steady stream working on filling the other
half of it up with fresh brewed coffee.
Grabbing two large cups I set one down on the counter beside the brewer,picked the pot up,, slipping
the cup in my hand under the hot steaming dark brown stream.
While I was pouring,,John was grabbing his condiments,,shaking the sugar packets prior to ripping them
open.I finished pouring his cup before mine was full so I had to stand there a moment with the pot in one hand while the brewers
stream filled my cup.In the shiny parts of the brewer machine,the glass pots and assorted other reflective surfaces arrayed
in front of us I noticed several forms moving.Assuming them to be a couple of customers coming for coffee too,,I nudged John
and we scooted over,,I handed him a few stirrers as he finished pouring his creamer in.Alternatingly blowing into my steaming
cup and sipping ,,I reached up and grabbed two lids,,dropped one for John and started putting the other on my cup.As I did
so,,I turned to see the who of the what that was coming up behind us.
And allmost dropped my cup.There was no one there.Pausing,,stunned,,I just turned around and asked John,,"Did
you see that?" , "What?" , "The peoples reflections." , "Uh,,yeah,,why?who was it?" Saying that,,he turned and went stock
still.Only his eyes moved.Standing there,,his eyes darted from side to side,,scanning the area where the 'people' should have
Looking at me he said,,"I seen nothing." in a Sargent Schultz voice and started walking to the counter
whistling lightly. Looking around for a moment,,at no body,,I then followed along behind him.
Coming around the end of the aisle and walking up to where he was already talking to the guy at the register
I noticed there was still a bunch of folks out front.I was just able to make out the forms through the condensation,,they
looked like they were just milling around,,not going or coming.
John was talking to the guy about the condensation on the windows,,as I came closer he was saying,,"when
I went in cooler they were clear as a bell.It usually happens on damp days,,I'm just surprised it is so thick right now.And
in such a short time."
Setting my cup on the counter and digging some money out of my pocket I asked,,"Can I have a pack of
Winston 100's too,please?" ,"Sure." Dropping a pack on the counter he picked up the five I had laid down,,rang it up and handed
me back my change as I asked him,,"What's going on out there?"
He looked at me with a blank look on his face and asked me,,"Where?" , "Out there,,what's up with all
the people out there?" He looked at John,,then looked outside and said,,"What people?I can't see nothing through those windows,man."
John,,having turned to look himself said,,"I don't see no bodies out there,dude."
Putting my change in my pocket and starting to walk along behind John to the door,,I asked the guy,"Well,,why
ya got it so cold in here?What do you have the thermostat set on,man,,45?" His reply,,as he pulled his flannel shirt collar
up,,made the whole thing even wierder,,"Naw,,it was set at 75,,before I turned the air conditioner off about 2 hours ago."
Looking back at him in puzzlement as I passed by John who was holding the door open for me I then turned
and took the few steps out of the door,,backwards,,in order to ask John,,"Man,,did you see the people in the reflections or
He proceeded through the door and stopped directly in front of me and said in a rather odd way,,"I seen
those reflections just like we both seen the people through the fogged up windows." ,,, and then looked to the right of the
stores lot and slowly panned his gaze across me to my car parked to his left.
Intrigued by what he said,,I turned to see that there was no body in the parking lot,,no one on the sidewalks.I
looked all the way around me,,turning in my footsteps.There was no one out here that wasn't here when we pulled up.The squinty
eyed old woman,,and I could tell by the voices that the laundry mats manager and the young couple were still there,,as well
as the now crying child previously seen in a basinet.No one else,,period.
John said,,"Let's just go,man." and started to the passenger door sipping on his coffee,got in and shut
the door while I looked around while trying to get my mind started back up again.My narrator voice actually whispered to me,,'come
on,go get your check,,get it cashed,,go to Eddies,get some provisions for later.Remember,,day off,,Melissa,,The Pines,,a skimpy
Concurring with this,,I got in the car,,set my coffee in the console cup holder,cranked the engine,,stepped
on the brake and put it in reverse as John turned down the Bahama Joes commercial that blared out as soon as I cranked the
car.After looking in my rearview winshield mirror,,I looked at the right hand side one past Johns face and noticed he was
'gazing' at the store we had just exited.Looking at me he said,," And we don't see them either."
Thinking he was referring to what had just occured,,or maybe the people in the laundry mat as some kind
of joke,,I didn't respond but instead turned to look at my left hand rear view mirror,,seeing it was clear I put the car in
reverse and began backing up,,while glancing at the mirrors all over again.
As I brought my eyes back around,,the view through the fogged over windows caught my eye.While continueing
to back out slowly I tried to comprehende what my eyes were viewing.
Through the windows,,through the condensation,,the inside of the store appeared dim,,like the lights
were off.In the gloom,,I could see forms,,like people milling around inside.The effect was exactly like what I had seen from
the other side of the glass a few minutes before.
Suddenly not wanting to turn fully around in order to leave the parking lot via sixty,,I stopped,put
it in drive and turned to the left to exit on the west side of the lot,,the one facing the funeral home and go out down that
small residential street.
Rolling the stop,,I gunned it out onto the street,,chirping my tires a bit as I turned it right to head
north.The anxiety I was feeling became compounded by the old black fellow in an old fasioned suit standing in front of the
funeral home doors watching us leave.The thought went through my head that maybe he might call my tag to complain about chirping
my tires or something.
Driving off through the early morning air,,my mind kind of blank,,still trying to make some sort of sense
out of it,, I didn't understand what John said at first since he had turned the radio up louder as an Eagles tune picked up
after the commercial ended.Repeating himself due to lack of a response from me enabled me to catch it as,,"When I talk to
my mom I'll ask her what she thinks of all this."
I nodded and did not say a thing,,I just tried to focus my 'bewildered mind' on driving to the Club safely.Occasionally
sipping our coffee we listened to the radio untill we pulled of U.S.1 onto the street that runs between the canal and Park
Place straight to a stop sign right in front of the Club.
There was a little shell marl parking lot off to the right with a foot bridge across the canal to the
grounds shed where I usually parked when coming on shift,,but I turned left to pull up behind the kitchen.Stopping in front
of the dumpster I cut the car off,,and left the key in the accessory on position before I hopped out while saying,,"Key's
on." and began walking away.
Hearing a Bad Company tune swell out of the car speakers as I began heading up the inclined walkway that
leads to the double doors of the kitchen entrance,,I watched the left hand door swing open and the old grounskeeper came out
accompanied by Don Tanner,,another member of the 'kitchen crew' that I got along rather well with.He looked at me and let
out his signature,,'Yeah,,uh huh',followed by the cliched phrase,,"There he is." , "Hi ya'll,,what's up Don?Weren't you supposed
to be off?"
"Yeah,,uh huh,,I am." was his reply. "You am?Or you are?" , "I is,yeah,,uh huh." Looking briefly back
and forth between the old white headed black fella with an unlit 3 inch long well chewed stogie stub sticking out of the corner
of his mouth,,and Dons black brutus bearded face,,I asked,,"What's ails him?" Smilingly,he turned to Don and asked in a mockingly
strident voice,,"What ails you,boy?",,which made us all laugh a bit.John broke it with,,"You come to get your check?Wallys
got it in his pocket." , "Yeah?" , "Uh huh,,so you gotta find him." , "Did the sherry come in?" , "Yeah,uh huh,," , "Then
I know where he's at." Which led to us both saying in unison,,"In the wine cooler." Which set the old man to laughing and
remarking around the mangled stogie stubb,,while patting his back pocket and walking on past us,,"That's why I carry mine
"And that's why you wind up doing the knotty head stumble step by quittin' time every day too." Don
called out to his back.
"Yeah,,uh huh." came floating back to us as he just kept on a steppin' back to his grounds building on
the other side of the canal.
"Yeah,uh huh",Don said turning to me,"I came to get my check and bring my sister to take your place today,man."
, "Your sister?", "Yeah,uh huh,,Joan.The guy that was supposed to come in to replace your spoiled butt didn't want to come."
"Hey,,don't rag on me about it.As far as I know it was Mabels idea,,I was about to leave to come start
my shift when Aloishias called and told me." , "Well,,why'd she do that?" , "I don't know,,really.Why?Is Joan pissed for having
to work?" , "Naw,,she actually wanted to because her and her bo was griping at each other." , "Did you allready get your check?You
leaving?" , "Yeah,,uh huh,,gotta go get some groceries."
Turning to head in I said,,"Give me a call,,we are going to hit the beach later,,ya wanna go?" , "Where
at?" , "The Pines." , "Maybe,,I don't know." , "Allright,,call me before two if ya wanna ride with." , "Yeah,uh huh,,I will."
, "Later on,dude."
"Yeah,,uh huh." I heard as I opened the door and stepped into the sounds of clanking kitchen ware and
the chattering and yammering of the crew preparing and serving the members breakfast.
(intro) (prt1) (prt2) (prt3) (prt4) (prt5) (prt6) (prt7) (prt8) (prt9) (prt10) (prt11) (prt12) (prt13) (prt14) (prt15) (prt16) (prt17) (prt18) (prt19) (prt20) (prt21) (prt22) (prt23) (prt24) (prt25)