In With The Old (Haunts), Out With The New
Volume III, Issue I - Spring 2012
  • You knew this was coming. A tiny bell chimed in the back of your head the day you retreated behind the walls and stopped pumping their gas and cleaning their windshields, but you forgot about it. It was when they could just swipe their cards at the pump that the chime turned into a siren. The beginning of the end. You watched as more and more of them inserted their cards and quickly removed them. It was like an elaborate, choreographed dance. Flipping out their cards, zipping them in and out of the card slot, whipping the card back in the wallet as they grip the nozzle and spin around to their tank, caressing the unleaded button with their asses mid-spin.

    Of course, you remained hopeful for a while. They still needed their coffee or soda or three-day-old, rotating, orange hot dog. They couldn’t just do their dance for those. No. You still had a purpose.

    They still needed directions. You knew how to get to the mall, city hall, downtown, etc. Or if you didn’t know, you always had your sidekick nearby to have that odd conversation with:

    “Hey! You know where Circuit City is?”

  • “Hmmm. Isn’t that on Fifth Street? By the school?”
    “Which school? The high school?”
    “No. No. The elementary school.”
    “The elementary school? Isn’t that on Eighth Street?”
    “No. That’s the middle school. I’m telling you it’s by the elementary school on Fifth.”

    All the while their eyes flitted back and forth between the two of you, desperately hoping the absurd exchange ended with one of you knowing where the destination was and how to explain it to them.

    But then you noticed the two fast food restaurants that seemed to have appeared overnight. Your sidekick was gone, scheduled shifts opposite yours. Still, you held out hope. They still straggled into your realm now and then for that item not available at the drive-thru or to figure out where that one park was.

    Until suddenly, they stopped asking for directions. You pondered if they all magically knew where the expressway was. You watched from your bastion, observed the mysterious black boxes stuck to their windshields, saw them pressing buttons and looking  .....................

  • enlightened. You didn’t understand until that night. Your sidekick took over, passed by with only a discombobulated grunt. One of them leaving rolled by slowly with their windows down. A mysterious, ethereal voice truncatedly announced, “Turn right onto East Main Street.”

    The hope died. The number of fast food restaurants erected over the next several months seemed impossible. The orange hot dogs lasted weeks instead of days. Their bladders relieved themselves in the sparkling newness of Subway’s stalls instead of the dingy closet around back. When that random person still entered, you forgot basic greetings and would mumble something about crumbling fortifications. Your hours increased. Your sidekick ceased to exist. You forgot where city hall was or how to get to the expressway. You just stood there and stared as they danced.

    Then one night as you left, you forgot to lock the door and seal in the empty shelves and barren coolers and still turning, still orange, year-old hot dogs. You got in your car and began driving, but forgot how to get where you were going and were never seen again.

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