I was packing up my life. It was time to move on. I’d found employment, yes; but not the kind I had been looking for. I sat behind a desk for 8 hours every day, deleting or ignoring emails, until someone shouted at me loud enough to elicit a response. It wasn’t what I’d been looking for, as I said, so time to pack up for another one-horse town.
I enjoyed the solitude of the self-storage space: some might call it lonely, empty, soulless: but to me it was the opposite. Each lock-up was a treasure-trove of memories, and I did not feel alone as I sorted through mine, tying up the loose ends of my life. To make matters better, there was some kind of viral epidemic raging in the outside world, which meant the lock-up was more isolated than usual. Normally it was full of the hustle and bustle of families on the move. Sometimes there were domestic incidents. Not that these weren’t amusing; it’s just that overall, I preferred solitude.
With no-one around to complain about my taste in music, I turned my wireless speaker up loud and set my back-catalogue to random play. The first song to come on was ‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads. For some reason, this made me laugh. I was bent over in the doorway with my ass sticking out into the corridor, not caring less because I was alone, when I heard heavy breathing behind me. Immediately I turned around there he was: the grinning man.
‘Good song.’ He said.
I calmed my breathing and nodded, as neutrally as I could manage. I could handle this. Of course, his next move was to ask where I was from:
‘The U.K.’ I told him, without asking him the same question. Not that he needed much encouragement. He continued:
‘And what brought you here?’
Trying to draw me out, trying to discover my dirty secret.
‘An opportunity.’ I said, ‘It didn’t work out.’
‘Ah, shame;’ he said, in feigned sympathy, ‘want to know why I came here?’
In truth, I did not, but I am culturally very polite on the surface (being British) so I replied:
‘I was looking for love. But that didn’t work out for me either.’ He proceeded to inflict upon me his life story, as he saw it, though I hadn’t asked to hear it, and neither did I want to. But what else could I do? He was a man. Not a big or a particularly strong man, definitely a kind of weak man, but he knew he was stronger than me, physically. He knew there was no-one else here. He was blocking my exit route. Just have to keep a clear head and breath through this. There were cameras. But there wouldn’t be security people on duty right now. The evidence could be easily destroyed…or maybe not – but did he even care?
So, back to his mind-achingly dull life story. Some Jezebel had lured him here from Belgium, promising him love. They’d been together in his home country, and he thought following her here would surely prove his love. It didn’t. Turned out she only wanted money. When she found out he had none, she’d accused him of stalking. He’d actually been convicted of stalking in a court of law. So now he stayed away from her, because she had a messed up head and didn’t realise what a great guy he was. Now he was ‘involuntary celibate,’ or incel, and did I know what that meant?’
I chose to nod my head in negation. I still had half my body inside my lock-up, my hand resting on a stack of cardboard boxes. In the background, Elvis Costello began to play: ‘Shatterproof.’
‘Incel,’ he continued ‘refers to men like me who are rejected by women because of their stupidity and selfishness.’
I paused, breathed, gathered strength; here it comes, here it comes, I thought; and sure enough:
‘You don’t look like a selfish woman to me…’ moving his body opposite mine, blocking the doorway, here’s my chance:
‘Oh, no…I wouldn’t describe myself as selfish – look at this:’
I held out my right hand, clenched in a fist as though there were something inside I wanted to show him, so that he leaned over to look at it.
And in my left hand was the hammer which I’d kept out of the toolbox. Hammers can prove very useful.
Here comes my little hammer
And its shatterpoof touch
A well-timed blow to the temple and the self-storage stalker crumpled into a heap on the floor, the blood beginning to pool beneath his right ear.
I remembered the cameras, and knew that this was going to be ok: they’d seen him threaten me, block my way. Everything was going to be ok, I just had to feign fear, and wipe the smile of satisfaction from my face.
I retreated into the lock-up to gather myself together, laughing silently from the pit of my stomach. The dozy bastard had made this too easy for me. Last time, I’d had some explaining to do. I’d been exonerated of course, but no-way could I get away with it again back in the U.K. I’d had to relocate. This time, I wouldn’t even have to move countries. I could simply find another one-horse town and…
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