by Eric DeLee
Two individuals braving a childhood rumor once they are adults.
| The Scrapyard at Shipper's Creek |
When they pulled up in Jim's Challenger, Barry just couldn't help from showing the immense fear he held towards the old junk yard. He swallowed deeply, trying to keep his cool, but his face was too pale and his eyes were unblinking. He couldn't believe he was coming here. Of all places, why the old warehouse by Shipper's Creek? The Challenger, keep in mind this isn't one of these classic dream cars ready to be rolled out onto the show floor, sputtered a few times as though it were coughing and eventually became still after a single violent lunge forward. The engine was ticking, trying to cool itself off, and outside an owl hooted against the coal-black jagged edge of the forest line.
Jim looked over at his friend and just smiled. They hadn't even got out of the car yet, and already Barry looked as though he was in the process of shitting a brick. The strain on his face and the way his eyes were darting back and forth suggested that it must be one helluva a brick!
Barry couldn't take his eyes off of the aging tin building. Parts of the tin around the place had rusted from the monotonous rain during each season that passed. Most of the rust was towards the bottom half of the building, where it was closer to the damp ground. Barry's mind wandered for him as it pondered on what the inside of the place must look like. It didn't help his situation any more as he thought about the rich smell of earth and how the rain probably leaked through the rooftop causing the place to be very damp. Damp like a grave. The Challenger's headlights still shone a hazy, dull beam at the warehouse's dark opening. Barry couldn't help but to think that its opening reminded him of a huge mouth of some sorts. He didn't see any teeth anywhere, but rest assured his mind and the hairs on the back of his neck told him otherwise. It was as creepy as he remembered it to be when they were teenagers.
"Yes?" Jim smiled with his reply. His voice was mocking Barry, however, that was normal. He had been the bigger of the two since high school, and being one year older than Barry gave him the rights to tease him for as long as they were on speaking terms. He grabbed the can of Rolling Rock that he held between his legs, upended the can while waiting on his friend to continue and tossed it into the floorboard behind Barry's seat. He reached behind his own and fought with the plastic rings that held the last two beers together. Eventually he won and popped the top of the can. The beer fizzed and burbled into foam, and he smiled at it as though he would smile at a friend he hadn't seen in a while. Jim realized he had a drinking problem, but didn't care much about trying to correct it. Most alcoholics don't.
Barry was still staring at the warehouse. He could not tear his eyes from it. The opening, its black nothingness just sitting there and taunting you to come closer, still made him feel uneasy. The support beams on the right side of the doorway had caved in due to rot, causing the entrance to look canted towards its side. An old throwback to the early Hitchcock movies that were usually playing at midnight in black and white. The top portion of the roof had caved in, and one piece of tin hung down in its own little eternity while the breeze rocked it back and forth, back and forth. Back and forth, like the pendulum of death swaying from side to side.
"Bar'? Yo! What the fuck you thinkin about over there?" Jim's speech was beginning to slur a little and with it, his country accent started to kick in. He threw an elbow into Barry’s ribs, half teasing, half meanness, pulling back at the last second in order to avoid real damage.
"What the hel! Ji-Jim, Let's umm... let's just get out of here, man." Barry finally was able to pull free from the warehouse's grip and turned to watch Jim finish off his can of beer. "I don't think we should be messing around this place. It's just no--"
"Ssshhh!" Jim flipped off the headlights and tossed the empty into the backseat. "We're going to go in there. We are going to settle this rumor once and for all." He said 'rumor' with a twist of sarcasm and a quick rolling of his eyes. It irritated Barry whenever he did that, but he was too terrified of the surreal events of this evening to even begin to notice it this time.
"Let's go!" Jim rolled out a belch that quickly filled the car with a sour smell. He threw open the door by leaning his shoulder against it. The door gave with his weight thrown behind it, but not without a fussy squeal of rust. He half stumbled out of the car and briefly looked as though he was going to lose the battle to stay on his feet when he caught the doorframe with his free hand. He looked back into the car, a grin as wide as the Mississippi river stole across his face, "You comin, Shit Brick?" He slammed the door shut and started laughing. Barry watched and listened as he wailed outside. It was as though the name 'Shit Brick' was the funniest piece of wit he had ever heard. A bona fide David Letterman joke if he had ever heard one! Barry being a janitor at the local high school (the same one he graduated at all those many years ago) didn't care much for the way Jim's car smelled. It wasn't the beer, nor was it the potent belch that had just degraded the air quality. It was piss. There was no other scent like it. He had cleaned numerous boys' rooms in the school, and could recognize that smell anywhere. The entire car smelled exactly like a stall in a bathroom after a high school basketball game. If he stayed in here any longer, he was going to throw up.
He reached for the handle, still heard Jim pitching a fit outside, and yanked upward. Nothing. The door would not budge. Barry threw his shoulder into the door while yanking the handle upwards. The only give the door gave was the sound of rust chips falling from behind the door panel. Panic began to set in. His taste buds oozed of a coppery liquid and his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth as though a great blob of peanut butter was holding it captive. He yanked up on the handle with both hands and threw his weight into the door even harder than he had the first time, sending a jolt of pain through his shoulder. The door still would not open. The smell of piss, bathroom urinal cake and yellow piss grew stronger. He could not stand to breathe it through his nose and started taking gulps of air through his mouth. It did not help the matters any, instead of the copper taste; he could actually taste the stench of piss in his mouth. He banged his shoulder into the door a few more times before something caught his attention. There on the door, was the lock button pressed all of the way down. He laughed aloud and smiled. He pulled the little knob upwards (some of the metallic paint flaked off in between his fingers), and heard an audible click behind the door panel. He pulled up on the handle and the door popped open as though it were laughing at him.
"Fuck you," Barry said under his breath. It came out as 'uck ooo' since he was still breathing through his mouth.
The chill in the air made his lungs hitch. It took him a try or two to catch his breath again, but once it got going things were a little easier. He heard the owl hooting off towards his right. Or was it behind him? He never really could tell. His senses were always jumbled when it was nighttime.
"About damn time you got off yo' ass. What the hell were you doin in there to begin with?" Jim's speech was getting worse, Barry noticed. He hated when Jim got drunk. Jim was an arrogant asshole to begin with, but when you add alcohol into the mix things could get out of hand.
Barry chose not to answer him, bent down and picked up an object that caught his attention. It was an old perfume bottle. The glass was as thick as the bottom of a soda bottle but as colorful as a piece of carnival glass. He held it up to his nose (although he felt silly doing so with Jim staring on) and took a sniff. It smelled of Jasmine.
“Thinkin’ of some pussy, Bar’?” That particular piece of wit caused Jim to go into another laughing fit. He doubled over, holding onto his belly and stayed that way for another minute or two. Barry thought that something was wrong with Jim. Not something as simple as a stomach cramp or any of that silly shit. Cancer. Liver failure. Stuff like that. He would have guessed the latter of the two with the way Jim constantly had liquor in his system. Jim was one of those guys that would wake up and gargle with a shot of Jack Daniels.
Barry looked over the carnival glass perfume container, tossed it up and down in his hand with a flick of his wrist and then reared it back as if he was ready to throw a hailmary touchdown as time was begin to expire. And then he stopped. He could not think of any reason to keep such a bottle and yet he still found himself stuffing it into one of his coat’s pockets. There was something about the scent of the bottle that reminded him about his past. It didn’t remind him of one of the horrible chapters in his life, but instead, it reminded him of the fields he used to hunt with his father in the springtime. Whenever a warm breeze would rustle through the pasture, it would bring with it a pocket of lilac and jasmine. It was during those moments, Barry had felt his best. He never could share something like that with Jim. Jim would jump at the chance to tease him. Instead, it was one of those warm secrets he kept inside.
The bottle made him feel safe. Its weight bearing down in his coat pocket reminded him of reality. If he was about to step into that warehouse, cringing while doing so because he was unsure if the teeth would sink into him or not, then he damned well needed every bit of protection he could get. As he would find out, he sure as hell couldn’t just rely on Jim.
This is a draft, to be continued.
Please let me know what you think. It will be a part of the novella I'm writing. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. I was looking to capture a bit of storytelling here while painting a picture as well. I wanted to be able to show the scene to the reader, perhaps show the fear a bit through the dialouge and well... I hope it worked. Let me know if I captured any of that well and if you enjoyed it. Thank you.