Shadows and concrete and metal and beams of light spilling diagonally across the ground. Dark stains and rusting pipes and crumbling plaster dusting everything with pale sugar coatings.
“You got it?” he asks, storm coming in, soft and treacherous as the cloudy gray sky.
“Yeah, I got it,” you say, pocketing the card, careful not to put fingerprints on anything.
Gloves and blades and red red ink that scrawls so smoothly on the sealed boxes.
A motorcycle sits in the corner of the warehouse, unused but not forgotten.
Buzzing–electricity in the wires–and the sound of machinery powering up. Next door gears turn, loud and rhythmic, barely muffled by the shared wall. Four o’clock.
No one is expecting you until noon.
“I’ll see you in two weeks,” he says.
You scoff, “Maybe.”
Three years ago, you were approached on the train. Heading between work and home, just one of many mindless commuters.
But you were approached, out of the dozens on that train, and to this day you still don’t know why.
The new job is better–better pay, better hours–and you no longer have to join the herds of commuters.
Your wardrobe is entirely dark colors now, though.
“Shit,” you mutter, not too loud, but your friends pause and look over at you in concern anyway. You’re not much one for swearing–as far as they know.
“You okay?” Jenny asks, a soft fluttering hand on your sleeve. As gentle and fickle as a butterfly.
“Yeah, fine, sorry,” you say, each word a bullet punching through paper, “I just forgot something at work,” sheepish smile now, there we go, see how everyone dismisses the interruption.
Lisa rolls her eyes, clears her throat, all attention back on her, “Now that that’s settled,” she says, exaggerated impatience making everyone giggle, “Let’s start playing!”
The game is five card stud.
You left your favorite pair of shoes at the last location.
You’re never getting those back again.
Once, your family asked you what exactly you did for work.
“Operations,” you say, instead of draining your glass of wine, “Inventory and deliveries. My degree’s helpful,” you say with a shrug, which redirects the conversation towards your cousin Nathan who will not be budged away from his major in English literature.
It’s only when the topic has leaped another two more times–Nathan’s pothead girlfriend to Melissa’s impending wedding–do you take that drink.
Your family still thinks you work for a toy company.
Old, beaten up leather but still thick, still solid. Brown and mottled and the dimensions are off, but the jacket fits, even if not how intended–sleeves scrunched up and shoulders falling low.
Your new boots nearly match, but they creak, they’re stiff. You haven’t broken them in completely, but you find the added weight makes your steps feel more secure.
New gloves, too, only because your last ones had holes in them. A bit counterproductive, that. These ones have neon yellow stripes between the fingers, and you would be mad, except they don’t give you away as much as you thought they would, and it helps in low light situations.
Tomorrow morning you and a stranger are driving three hours east to a town you’ve never been to. Maybe, if you’re lucky, both of you will make the drive back in the evening.
You scuff your toe against the floor, the sound echoes in the warehouse. The light at the door flickers, struggles, on and off–you can see the green of grass growing through the cracks in the pavement outside.
You wonder what’s inside the boxes lining the walls.