Graveyard Shift

 

Photo by Puria Berenji on Unsplashpuria-berenji-WiAMZarlyDE-unsplash

Graveyard Shift

By

Rose Smyth

Bored. Tired. I yawned and looked at the old clock on the wall. It read half-past two. The walls were an off-white painted brick. The outside of the Jiffy Stop was illuminated by a pink neon sign that occasionally flickered. There was a thick fog, that seemed to come from nowhere. The glass at the front of the store is smudged with fingerprints. After a yawn again, I sip my lukewarm coffee. Graveyard shift is a bitch. But differential pay am I right?

Drumming my fingers on the counter, I hum to myself.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see a guy stumbling around. Or I saw a figure in the fog which could only be a man. His knees are slightly bent as if he has a great weight on his shoulders. Drunk? I smirked. Because what the fuck? The Man tried to pass by one of the garbage cans. He ran right into it. He went head over heels and hit the concrete. He didn’t get up.

Shit! I scrambled out from behind the counter, the glass, and out the Jiffy Stop.

“Are you all right?” Gareth said.

But the man didn’t answer, he grumbled seeming to himself. He didn’t even register that Gareth was there. “Uh, hello?” Gareth said. The man paid no attention. He rolled to his side in an attempt to stand. That’s when Gareth saw it. There was a large golf ball-sized hole in the back of his head. The back of his green coat and jeans were soaked with blood. Gareth could see the man’s brain spilling out.

“Jesus fucking Christ. Sir, can you tell me your name?”

Gareth got nothing but a blank stare in response. He looked like he was trying to remember. His eyes were darting back and forth.  I panicked, I felt for a pulse. It’s there. I fumbled for my phone, then dialed.

“911. What is your emergency?” The Dispatcher said.

“I’m at the Jiffy Stop, there is a man here who has a head wound,” Gareth said.

Gareth put his hands gently on the man, it was probably not a good idea for him to be moving around. The man grunted, but he was confused and very weak.

“Have you seen this man before?” The Dispatcher asked

“No, can you send someone soon or this guy is dead,” Gareth said. He looked down at the man. “You’re going to be ok Buddy,” He said to the man. “Please hurry.”

The man continued to stare blankly at me, void of all emotion. The ambulance came sirens blazing. They quickly scooped the man up. I returned to my post, dazed. Later, the police came into the store after the sun rose.

“Gareth?” The black cop said.

“Yes”

“We need to get a statement about the incident earlier.” The cop took off his aviators. “Let’s sit down.” The cop said. They sat down in a makeshift half booth.

I explained that I saw the man outside. He fell over one of the garbage cans, that took me like twenty minutes to clean up. But the guy had a head wound so it wasn’t surprising he was running into shit.

“Is he okay? I mean I could see his brain matter.” Gareth said.

“I don’t know if he’ll make a full recovery, but he’s talking now.” The cop said. “His name is Julian O Hara, do you recognize that name?”

“Should I,” Gareth said.

“No, I suppose not. Well, let me break it down for you. Julian is a serial rapist, he is wanted in our great state for two murders. He broke into a house about a half-mile from here, near the cannery district.

The cop made a thumbs-up gesture with his right hand, then he threw it over his shoulder, to indicate over there.

“He specifically went to the boy’s room. He must’ve been pretty high on what he was about to do because the boy’s mother snuck up behind him and struck him in the back of the head with your standard nail driver.  She must’ve put everything she had into that swing. The child was screaming bloody murder, for good reason mind you. O’Hara managed to escape. That’s when you found him, we are still looking for his car. He must have forgot where he put the car after the head injury.” The Cop said.

Gareth was dumbfounded. His hands were shaking.

“Are you all right?” The cop asked.

Gareth put his head in his hands.

“Listen Gareth, you met probably the best version of Julian O Hara. But from now on, at 2 am, stay behind the counter. The world’s a fucked up place.” The Cop said.

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