The Graveyard Shift

Discussion in 'ONE ON ONES IN CHARACTER' started by Sir Pinkleton, Oct 11, 2016.

  1. [​IMG]

    A mature, gruff, but warm voice resonated from the radio,
    "Good evening folks, it's Cliff Donovan once again and this is ASFM, Agave Springs' local, and if you ask little 'ol me, best source of news and music. It is 9:30 pm and it's looking like another clear night. A night that I hope you and I can spend together. Now to start us off for the evening is Gene Stevens with Them Big 'Ol Blues."

    As a melodramatic tune came on, the van bounced as they hit a bump in the road. The beads that separated the front driver's and passenger seat area from the rest of the van shook and rattled. The van's floor was covered by a carpet, one of those fakes that were supposed to look Native American. The designs and earthy colors did a good job of hiding the desert dust. The back of the van had most of its seats removed. A few locked cupboards with their owner's clothes and valuables, and two seats faced each other along the walls, the only survivors of Stan's attempt to remove the upholstery to make space. They were comfortable enough, but lacked seat-belts.

    Stan Kunitzski pushed his glasses up his pale nose as he drove. His long hair framing his thin face and his beard growing big enough to threaten to cover his mouth. He dressed the same way his van looked. Remnants of 70's hippie culture, thrift store sneakers, and an anti-war tie-dye t-shirt. He was around 27, and had owned this van for almost half his life. He had a tall, lanky build that worked well enough with the look he built for himself. The leather bracelet on his wrist was cracked with age, but seemed at home inside a van like this. On the dashboard, a tiny cactus in a pot soaked up moonlight.

    In the back, a faint "Oomph" came when the van bounced and Sarah Duong, a young college student, held onto the sides of the seats to try and keep from falling off as the van rolled. She wore a blue tank top that exposed her tan arms and while her sneakers were also quite worn, they were warn from overuse rather than age. Her short hair was bobbed around her head as she gripped the seat and the small table that was bolted to the ground in front of her. At around 19 years old, she had an athletic build with legs built for running. She wore a satchel with a few books in it.

    All three coworkers carpooled to work. It was simply easier, considering the gas station was almost half an hour from town. The stars were bright out here, dotting the sky with lights and shining a little bit of light on the dark desert landscape. A car passed them, Greg Davidson's car. Most likely carrying the members of the day shift. Is headlights illuminated the inside of the van for a second before it passed them. They'd closed up early again today. They were supposed to wait for the night shift to arrive, but as Greg had put it so many times, "That place gets waaay too creepy to stand around waiting at night."

    It wasn't long before the station became visible. They'd left the lights on at least. There were no cars, just a bright TyCo sign lighting up their little patch of road and desert. The lights inside were on too. Stan parked beside the small building and turned off the van. Sarah was the first to hop off, her sneakers crunching the sand and rocks the wind had blown onto the concrete floor.

    Stan turned to Roxanne and handed her the keys, "Do me a favor and open up. I'm gonna get some stuff from the van."

    Sarah waited by the entrance to the gas station convenience store with her hands in her pockets. The gas station had a simple layout. Four pumps, a convenience store with a storage room, a bathroom, and a shed in the back with a few tools and a generator. The bathroom, to everyone's chagrin, was inaccessible from inside the gas station. It was physically attached, but its only door was outside, on the side of the convenience store. The lone light fixture on it held a light bulb, but had stopped working about two months ago. Opening the bathroom to either use it or clean usually entailed about two minutes of fumbling in the dark and with a crappy door lock.

    The shed out back was a rickety wooden structure. They used it to store some of the more heavy duty tools, but the day shift had a bad habit of putting the brooms and mops in there, making night shifters have to walk out about 50 feet into the night time desert to get them. There was a single bare light bulb that lit up the inside and a light fixture that lit up the outside. The generator inside always chugged along, providing power to the convenience store and pump lights. Apparently, the station had power problems so the company had just decided to install a generator and be done with the problem instead of addressing it properly.

    The station itself was about as big as one could expect, with four little lanes of aisles, a warm drink station, hot dog and nacho machine, and a refrigerator aisle at the back. The storage room held crates and boxes of products, mostly the things required to stock shelves, if such a need ever came up. But people almost never came in at this hour and the day shift workers usually stocked before leaving, meaning the crates and boxes just took up space. There was an old folding table and two plastic folding chairs back there, however. There was also a desk and chair that was supposed to be the manager's office. Paperwork was taped to the walls around it, with a few folders tossed about on it.

    Sarah seemed to be staring at something out in the desert as she waited for the door to be opened. She rubbed her hands against her arms. While it was warm around here, the night still got a bit chilly.

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  2. Roxanne had been doing much the same as Sarah during their ride to work. It was a pretty bumpy ride in any vehicle, but particularly so in Stan's. Smiling over at Sarah she gave her hand a pat and then went back to holding herself on the seat. She really did believe that it would be a far more comfortable ride if there were no seats at all and they both sat on the floor of the van, but a ride was a ride and she wasn't one to complain.

    She frowned at the other car and sighed. Geez, they were irresponsible. She wasn't the biggest fan of day shift's work ethics, since they tended to make things harder on them and often times left extra work for them as well. Why couldn't they wait those extra ten or fifteen minutes? Just didn't make sense to her at all, but then she had old school parents who had instilled in her the old ways of taking pride in everything you did, and making sure you did more than was expected at all times. Unfortunately that created a major gap between her and most other people in her type of job as far as the amount of work she did, and how long it took her to accomplish it. Classic over-achiever...except in one thing, but she didn't think about that so much, or more appropriately she tried not to do so.

    The van pulled into the station and she was about to get out when Stan handed her the keys, "Sure thing," she said as she slid over to the door. She had on blue sneakers, fitted skinny jeans and a yellow tank top. She also wore a necklace with a dolphin pendant, and a loose bracelet which was actually a watch. She approached the door and followed Sarah''s eyes to where she was looking out into the desert. "See something?" she asked and then jiggled the key until it slid into the lock. The thing was so old it never went right in. She pulled the door open and held it for Sarah while she jiggled again to get the key back out of the lock. Glancing over toward the van she called out, "Hey Stan? The key's stuck again...." she kept trying to jiggle it but it was just NOT cooperating.

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  3. Sarah narrowed her eyes but once Roxanne's question seemed to pull her back into the present. She looked at Roxanne, then back out into the desert, "Thought I saw lights, like a car or something." She shrugged, "It's gone now. Probably just, I dunno. Campers." She thanked Roxanne, walking in and placing her satchel on the counter. Sarah's parents were pretty well known in the community. An old Vietnamese couple that ran a small antique shop which made just enough to get by. Sarah was their only daughter and the first in her family to go to college. She still lived with her parents and commuted to class, but she always seemed to be tired of living among dusty old things. It came as no surprise to some when she decided to get a job outside her parent's store.

    Stan came over and looked at the keys. He was holding a trio of folded up aprons in his arm. "You just gotta..." he trailed off in order to put the aprons under one arm and take the keys with both hands, "shake it around... a little." He shook it around, a bit violently, actually. The door shook around and the keys finally came loose and slid out of the lock, "There. Outta get that lock fixed at some point. Oh, by the way. Here's yours." He handed Roxanne her freshly dry-cleaned apron. It was his turn to get the aprons cleaned this month. He walked inside, "Sarah, here's yours."

    Dark green aprons with the TyCo logo over the right breast pocket. They were required while manning the hot food grill, which was almost never needed at this hour, but they still somehow needed to be cleaned now and then. They also served as the gas station uniform, and so everyone tended to wear them when manning the register. Stan tended to keep his one, but Sarah always seemed to look for excuses to take hers off.

    Stan took a look around the store while donning his apron, "Uhh, looks like shelves are all good. That grill's gonna be kinda gross though." Without saying anything else, he walked into the storage room and called out, "And somebody needs to check and see if we gotta clean the bathroom." He left to pretend to check the paperwork, but the truth was, he didn't want to be the one to sentence anyone with the fate of cleaning the hot dog grill. They'd have to figure that out themselves.

    Sarah pushed her bag behind the counter and looked at Roxanne with a look that seemed to half want to save her from such a trial, and half want to give it to her to save herself. "Same way as always?" She held up a fist. Rock, Paper, Scissors. A true game of fate.
  4. Roxanne looked out into the dessert but she didn't see anything, "Yeah probably just a camper..." she said but not too convincingly. Why would someone be camping out in the middle of the desert? She smiled, "You're welcome," as Sarah slipped inside. She held her foot against the door as Stan tugged and jiggled and about pulled the lock off the door, but did eventually have the key. "Maybe we should just stop locking it.." she offered, "get day shift to actually stay like they are supposed to." She smiled and took her apron, "Thanks Stan," she said and stepped inside. She put the apron over her head and tied it at her back and smirked a bit at Sarah but held up her fist.

    "Rock paper scissors...shoot." she said and her hand was flat like a piece of paper and she looked at Sarah to see what she'd chosen. Somehow she more often than not cleaned that stupid grill. She wasn't sure how Sarah did it but sure enough there were the scissors. "How do you do that?' she asked and sighed, "Ok...I got the grill you check the bathroom."

    She went over and made a face, "I don't think anyone on days watches this thing at all. it's not rocket science for Pete's sake." she unplugged it and went to get the scraper and the degreaser from the storage closet. One things about getting stuck with this job every night...she had it down to a science and had even taken to timing herself to see if she could set a personal best time. She slipped her hand into the glove she'd bought and left here. it was like a hotpad only it didn't slip off your hand. She took the grill apart and soaked the rollers in the degreaser. She then used the wire brush to clean the connectors carefully and wiped the glass cover with Windex and a paper towel. She used the Windex and more paper towels to clean the outside of the grill so it shined perfectly. She used the greenie pad to scrub the grease off the rollers and then dried each one carefully with more paper towels. She gently placed each one back into the grill and smiled at it's shiny cleanness. She looked at her watch, " new record but not bad."

    She moved to the cappuccino maker and started taking that apart too. She looked out the window casually as she reached up to unscrew the top plate and frowned. She saw something red out there too. Hmm...
  5. The highway next to the station was little more than cracked, black tarmac with one lane for each direction and no form of barrier or fence whatsoever. If Roxanne wanted to walk into the desert, she'd simply have to step outside, walk past the pumps, across the road, and into the dark. The stars were bright out here, but the light from the convenience store darkened everything outside a small radius of the station. And then there was that little red light.

    It burned somewhere on the other side of the road. It was either very far away, or very small, but it stood out against the blackness of the desert and the night sky. It glowed a reddish orange, then burned brighter and then dimmer with a rhythmic fashion, like someone puffing on a cigarette. Over and over. It was oddly mesmerizing, but in a way that felt feverish and almost encompassing upon the viewer. It was like a migraine, ebbing and burning, but focusing on the light felt necessary, as if looking away would conjure up a greater pain. The light glowed a little brighter... and brighter, and for a moment it became apparent that the light was just on the other side of the road, and it did so because it lit up part of a face with enough lines to look like it was wooden and the neck that attached it to a broad bare chest. Just enough to see someone holding a-


    "-is year's Summer Spirit Festival looks like it's going to be as lively as always. And now for some callers. Let's go to Norm Greene on line one; Norm, how are you plannin' on spendin' this year's festival?"

    Stan had walked into the room while she had been staring off without her noticing. He removed his hand from the radio dial and glanced at her,

    "Was kinda quiet in here. Y'know this place does get kinda spooky when it's quiet. Hey, you okay? You look kinda spaced out."

    Sarah came in, dragging the yellow mopping cart she'd been using to clean the bathroom. She had to pull and lift it a bit to compensate for the fact that the store floor was a few inches from the station's concrete. She got the cart over the step and rolled it inside,

    "Someone needs to fix that light out there, it's pitch black without it."

    Behind her, the light in the darkness was gone. Replaced by empty desert and dry night air. Sarah pulled off a pair of rubber gloves as Cliff Donovan's voice continued to float out of the radio.

    "-hanks Norm. You have yourself a great night. Alright night owls, let's go to Harriet O'Malley, callin' on line two. How are ya, Harriet?"
  6. Roxanne watched at the tiny light grew a bit brighter and a tiny bit bigger and bigger until she saw a face, at least she THOUGHT it was a face but it looked wrong somehow. But in the odd light it was hard to be sure what she was looking at, and she had even resorted to squinting to get a better look. And then she was startled out of her deliberate focusing and let out the breath she hadn't even been aware she was holding.

    "OH Stan," she said with a gasp, "You startled me..." She said looking back out the window, "Did you see that?' she asked as she squinted again but now saw nothing. Maybe whoever it was put out their cigarette? "There was a man...I think...standing right there...just on the other side of the road..." She turned back to Stan and raised her brows, "Did you see him? He was almost in the light..I thought I saw a face..."

    She frowned at how quickly the man had disappeared. All he'd really have to do was put out the cigarette and step away from the light of the station and he would effectively vanish without needing to move very far, but still....The hair on the back of her neck was tingling like when she saw a spider across the room. Something was off about what she'd seen but she wasn't sure what it was. She huffed though, "I guess I was seeing things," she finally said. "Paperwork all done back there Stan?" she asked cheekily, knowing full well he did NOT do paperwork. Ever.
  7. Stan craned his neck to see around her and Sarah turned around to try and find this mystery visitor as well. Stan scratched his beard and Sarah gave up the search to focus on pushing the mop and its cart back into the store room. Its misaligned wheels rattled along the way.

    "I didn't see any people or lights on my way in." Sarah mentioned as she passed by. After she entered the store room, she called out, "I mean, I think I saw some campers or something in the distance earlier. Probably just them."
    "Or a hitchhiker?" Stan suggested with a shrug, "Oh, and yeah. Paperwork's totally done. Actually," he snapped his fingers, realizing he had to actually go check something within said paperwork that might be important. He hadn't even gone near the paperwork desk during his foray into the store room, "Be right back."

    On the radio, Cliff Donovan's mellow voice had finished taking calls for now and gave way to yet another track of slow, swooning country music.

    Sarah came out of the store room right after Stan went in. She pulled up the chair just behind the counter, crossing her legs when she sat, "Ugh. I've got to finish reading through this brick," she slapped her hand down on her book bag and a heavy volume responded with a dull thump, "in less than a week. I swear, it's like they think we're superhuman." She glared down at her book bag with disdain as she spoke, as if it it held something incredibly grotesque and possibly even dangerous. She looked over to Roxanne, "Sorry, I forget; did you go college?"
  8. Roxanne kept looking out at the place just across the street where she'd seen the 'man' willing the person to reappear but ...nothing. She huffed when Stan said he had more paperwork to do , and watched as he disappeared into the back again. She had a small sink in the food area that customers used to rise cups, since they sold refillable mugs that saved the customer fifty cents per refill. She had it full of soapy water was was dropping part after part into the hot water as she disassembled the machine. What didn't come apart was cleaned with bleach wipes and then rinsed. It was a tedious job but not difficult.

    Sarah began complaining about her book and she looked her direction, "What are you reading/" she asked curiously. Sarah asked her question and Roxanne just shook her head, "No...I got married right out of high school," she said and then turned her attention back to the machine before her. That hadn't been one of her wiser choices, but she didn't dwell on it too much. She'd go to school someday, and was looking into a few online school trying to find a good fit. "What's your major again?" she asked. Sarah didn't really strike her as someone who'd actually want to go to college, so it had surprised her to find out she was. However, Sarah's complaining about the classes and work didn't really surprise her.

    She finished the machine cleaning and turned her attention to the individual parts scrubbing all the caked on mix from them. If people knew how disgusting these machines got in one day, they would never buy this stuff. She let the water out and rinsed each piece carefully and completely before setting them on a rack to dry.

    She moved to the coffeemaker next and started the same process, "Anyone need coffee before I take old Betsy down?" she called out.