At the edge of our town, there's a crappy gas station that's open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. If you were to go inside, you'd see row after row of off-brand chips, cookies, potted meats and ramen. Expiration dates suspiciously missing from canned goods like they were filed off years ago in some misguided attempt to control inventory turnover. A faded "wet floor" sign from way back covering a crack in the foundation by the cooler that has since turned into a pothole. The pothole, a collection point for sticky spill-off, has become a miniature tar pit collecting countless insect corpses and the occasional small rodent.
Nobody ever complains about the aesthetic. By some providence bordering on the supernatural, the health inspector…show more content… He exists as a sort of urban legend. Even though he has never been officially confirmed to exist, we have several security camera recordings of a man fitting his description entering the building, heading into the bathroom, and leaving. What makes him legendary are the things people claim to see him doing in the bathroom. The stories run the gamut from "pretty weird" to "impossibly bizarre." Like the guy last week who went to pee but changed his mind when he saw a man dressed as a cowboy handing out balloon animals. Or the next day when another customer stepped into the bathroom to see a man wearing nothing but a cowboy hat, boxers, and boots with spurs, sitting at an old-fashioned stone sharpening wheel literally grinding an ax. When he walked in the bathroom cowboy stopped what he was doing, looked up with a smile and a tip of the hat and said, "Come on, Man. Come on with it." By the time he could find an employee to follow him back to the bathroom, the cowboy had vanished, bench-grinder and all.
The cowboy that may or may not haunt the gas station bathroom appears to follow a code of rules. He only appears when you're alone. He never hurts anyone. And he's always polite. The prevalent opinion about him is that, honestly, he doesn't seem that bad. Especially when comparing him to some of the other things going on in that…show more content… You may catch me reading a book because, for some reason, the internet doesn't work way out here, and cell phone service is dicey on good days and nonexistent on most. If you need to make a call, you can leave and go up the hill a ways, preferably back towards town because the other way will take you into the woods and you don't even want me to go into all the reasons that's not a good idea. Or you can pay me twenty-five cents a minute and use the store's landline. That arrangement was cooked up by the owners and I have to actually enforce it because they do check the phone records, I'm sorry.
While you're here, don't be offended if I don't strike up a conversation because, if I'm being completely honest, I don't always know for sure if everyone who comes through those doors is real or not and if I had to acknowledge everyone in that place that could be an actual person, I might lose my mind. And we don't need any more of that going on around here. Guess that the point I'm trying to make is this: weird things happen to me working at the crappy gas station at the edge of