Author Topic: Fleming Storage Unit #131: Implanted Images  (Read 604 times)

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I can’t really describe what I felt as I opened the unit. My mind seemed numb, just like my fingers as I removed the cold padlock and rolled up the metal sheet. In that quick respite, I cursed myself under my breath for not bringing gloves. Then I stared at the unit’s contents; A large stack of sealed boxes and hoarded furniture lay shoved against the back wall. My mind went blank again.

   Was I really going to do this? Was I really going to loot through my father’s possessions in his absence? Even with him being gone for more than half of my life, it just felt wrong. Digging through mementos left behind, unearthing memories I long since forgotten, and remembering what my father had done with what my mom and I had been through since then. I felt like finding out whose bright idea it was to stick a guy they killed in this facility and strangling them myself.

   But I stood still, slipping the lock and key in my jacket and swapping it for a cellphone. I dialed a number and listened to the phone ringing. I began talking when my mom’s voice hit on the line.

   “Hey mom. I’m at the storage facility you told me about.” I started pacing around the unit in circles as I talked. “I know you explained it before, but what did you want me to take out?”

   “Again, Mat? I told you this two days ago!” She exclaimed. “Did Ron forget to remind you?”

   “No no no. He did. He told me. Ron told me to pick up everything here while he talking to the moving company. I just don’t know what I should take out.” I quickly explained.

   “Hmm. Well, good.” She said, still a bit annoyed. Mom went off to tell me. “Your Aunt May and Ron’s brother put some of their things in there. They don’t want to leave everything there because of the incident.”
 
   “Great. I got the role to play the delivery boy. What should I do with- “
 
        “You can go take whatever your father left behind.” She interrupted. “I honestly don’t want to keep anything from him. Ron wanted to collect most of it before we moved but there should be some stuff in there you want too, right?”

   I glanced back at the furniture and a sealed box labeled ‘VHS tapes’ and ‘Video Games’. “There are a couple things I want to look over, yeah.”
 
   “Well, be extra sure of what you want to take out. The police will take everything you leave inside the unit by tomorrow. I really don’t want to explain to Miles and Aunt May that the police took control of their precious photos. Have fun loading everything up to him.”

   “Gee, thanks.”

   “You’re welcome. Ok, love you Mat. I’ll see you tonight, I hope?”

   “Yeah, I still need to sort things out with the landlord before I get settled into the apartment.”

   “Ok, see you tonight.”

   Another shot of cold came in, when I hung up. It got me out of my rhythm. Reminding me the place it was and how miserable it all is. I shuffled over to the shutter and closed the door down halfway. It stayed up when I let go, thankfully. That should help keep out the cold. I thought. I dug out a small flashlight from the glove compartment and I got to work.
 
        I was not in the mood to look through every single box right there. Especially with the place closing real soon. So, I started loading everything in the unit into my car. Shifting the shutter up and down in transport. Boxes and boxes began to pile up, flooding the whole car. From the trunk to the passenger seat, which I probably should have seen that coming from the size of the box pile. However most of them, if not all, the boxes were opened. The masking tape stuck on the folds were sliced open, which by themselves were easily undone. The sides off the box came off several times blocking my vision. And when I got tired of moving the shutter so many times, one got caught on the shutter’s lip and crashed to the floor. It was not a fun experience moving things out.

       There wasn’t anything much in that box I dropped, really. Some old VHS tapes from before dad went missing. Most were recordings of football games and History channel documentary sets like Civil War, both the World Wars, and other stuff similar to that. I shoved that box into the passenger seat.

Then I moved onto the furniture, which there was no room in the car.

        “Are you serious?” I yelled aloud. My car was filled with dad’s old stuff and rearranging everything in the car could only fit a taxidermy deer head, but only on the front dashboard however. If I was going to get this furniture out, I would have to go all the way back to my house, dump these boxes somewhere into the house, then come back to get the rest.

“Fucking joy.”

        I quickly locked the unit up, key safely tucked away deep in my pockets, and carefully got into the car, and drove away. I passed by several other people rooting around their units, almost everyone kept a blank, scornful expression on their face going back and forth. What seemed to be a mild inconvenience to me was really a huge burden weighed on everyone who fed money into this business.
 
Feels great when the police screws everyone over, huh.
 
   I slowly drove out of the storage facility passing by the plaza and traveled all the way home. Fifteen minutes later, I pulled up into the driveway. My stepfather was sitting on the front porch waiting for me. My sour mood from earlier dissipated as I climbed out.
Ron walked down to the driveway in front of the garage. “Did you get everything out alright?”

“I dropped a few boxes but they are all in good condition.” I laughed. I slammed the car shut and opened the garage door.

“Heh. That’s good to hear. Hopefully it was one of your things.” He joked back.

“You wish. No... It was this my dad’s old VHS tapes. Here.” I grabbed the same box from the trunk and handed it over to him.

        Ron glanced inside and chuckled. “Henry was always a Grizzlies fan.” He placed it down on the car roof and reached inside to grab another box. His face changed to a look of confusion. “Did you look through them all?”

“Wait what?”

        Ron pulled out a box that was labeled ‘Clothes’ in black marker. “The tape is ripped open. It’s actually this way for all of them. Did you open them?” He set the box down at the far end of the garage.

“Yeah no, it was like that when I opened the unit. Every single box was already opened. I was going to ask if you did it.” I explained.

        He shook his head. “The last time I went there was when we dropped off your aunt’s things.” He pondered it for a while. “Maybe the police?” He suggested.

“What? Why would the police look through everyone’s units?”

“They have to make sure nothing else is found, you know that they found a- “

        “Yes, I know. A body. Everyone shouldn’t have to keep reminding me of it. Not like I didn’t catch wind of it from the news or Mom. I’m going to put the boxes in the garage to look them over, does that sound alright?”

“Here I’ll help.”

        We continued to load the boxes into the garage in silence. We stacked the boxes flushed against the far wall. Once the car was completely empty the garage was flooded with cardboard. It’s funny that when we were done the garage looked identical to the storage unit. The same concrete floor and gray walls, with the boxes it covered up the shelves of tools and partially overflowed the room. Just the same way it looked when I opened the unit this afternoon.

   Everything was in the garage. I breathed a sigh of relief. I locked my car and closed the garage door down. I sat down on the floor, crossing my legs. Ron and I grabbed a random box and began working our way down the pile.

       Most of the boxes we opened were dad’s old clothes and belongings. Only a select few of the boxes contained something interesting in a way. One box contained a bunch of sport merchandise from the Montana Grizzlies. Jerseys, T-shirts, cups and mugs, and at one point I found a pillow and blanket designed after the logo and mascot. Dad would only use this stuff down in his ‘man cave’ when the Grizzlies were playing. Waking up in the middle of the night from screaming in the basement was not a good experience to relive in my head.

        Then I found my things. For some reason, years ago I’m guessing around when dad went missing, I put some of the things I didn’t want inside the unit. Football and Baseball trophies circa 2002-2003. Bunch of titles of Nintendo 64 cartridges and PlayStation titles I long since forgotten. For some reason there were a lot of sport related things in here more than anything else when really, I distinctively hated them as a kid.
 
        After searching for nearly half an hour, it didn’t take long to get into the painful memories. I stood up to show Ron one of the fascinating things I found to him, only he was gloomily turning through the pages of a book.
 
 “What is that?” I walked over to see what he was looking at.

        “Huh? Oh.” Ron said, disheartened. He snapped out of his thoughts to me. He handed the book over. “It’s just a photo album with Henry and your mother.”

        I flipped through and witnessed all these happy photos of smiling faces on each page. Goofing off in random places together on dates and pictures of me growing up. I turned back to the first page, on it was a picture of my parents and Ron at what looked like a high school dance. I looked up. “You knew my dad?”

        He smiled meekly. “Yeah, we all met in high school and Henry grew a particular liking to your mother. When everyone graduated they started dating and eventually married.”

“Did you have a crush on her? I mean before Mom dated my dad?” I handed the photo album back.

         “I had a small crush, but she was obviously only interested in Henry. I didn’t really have a chance at the time. They just clung to each almost the second they met. They followed each other through college. I was pretty jealous. Heh. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise.” He paused, then abruptly continued. “Twelve years, if I’m counting it right. Twelve years of dating and marriage and he throws it out by finding another woman. Your mother called me first you know.” His voice wavered. “Before calling her friends, she called me. Out of everyone she knew she called me first and told me everything. Tell me. Tell me how you’re supposed to calm someone like that down. She was just used and betrayed by someone she knew for years. A person that even I knew. What do you even tell them?”

He covered his face with his shirt and tried his best not to cry. He slammed the book shut back into the box.

          Ron shakily stood up. “I’m sorry.” He took a long breath and turned to the box I was standing over. “What did you want to show me?” He wiped away his eyes.

          “Oh, it’s only this really.” I pulled the box over, it was filled with VHS-C tapes. Home family movies. Many were labeled on certain events. ‘Christmas 2003’, ‘Wedding Reception’, ‘Baby Shower’, etc. “I wanted to watch a few of them before everyone leaves tomorrow.” Ron slowly took out an old camcorder from the house and gave it to me.
   
“You can keep it. I doubt we’ll use it anytime soon. I’m going to pack up for tomorrow.”
   
“Do you want me to help?”
   
“No, I’m fine. I just want some time alone for a bit.

        With that everything was done, we searched through all the boxes and sorted them into neat piles. Ron left to continue packing for moving day. I, in the meanwhile, carried the camcorder and tapes into my room. I popped tapes in and watched the films unraveled.
The family screaming and cheering as the Super bowl played on the basement TV, my embarrassing birthday parties, Christmas mornings, and school football games. I watched through them all and my dad was in every single one. Switching back to forth to being a parent, to laughing around mom and their friends. In most of the tapes, I was mad or upset around him. I was complaining about not getting a game I wanted for Christmas or leaving the football team. I was an ungrateful brat up until he vanished. Was I one of the reasons he decided to leave my mom? Was I even sad when he went missing? It made me feel even worse, planning to sell all his things like this. I prematurely shut the camera off after the screen went black.




        The next day was hectic. We were scrambling around loading things into the moving truck and meticulously checking that they wouldn’t leave anything behind. Mom locked up the house and spent a little too long on saying goodbye. Mom and my stepfather got into their car and drove away, out of the state.

        I spent most of the afternoon selling and donating the stuff I didn’t want and dropping off Aunt May’s package. I stumbled back to the storage unit at three.

        The wind was still howling the day before when I rolled up the door. In the back corner was the furniture, all of which came from dad’s man cave in the basement. An armchair, couch, a glass coffee table, two small end tables, lamps, and a rolled-up rug were laying on top of one another. I backed my car up close to the door and popped the trunk. Today was the last day I could take this stuff out, and hopefully I’ll put everything I since discovered behind me.

        I grabbed the rug to roll in out onto the floor but it got caught somehow between the table and a chair. I dropped it, where it resoundingly crashed, and a bunch of white, clear particles came out onto the floor. I picked up one by hand.

        “Glass?” I unfurled the rug out but there wasn’t anything. I shook the rug; and more glass fell out. It was stuck in the fibers across its surface, invisible. It wasn’t just the glass that was strange. One end of the rug was cut as well. A large section of it was just gone in one straight smooth slice.

        I was getting a bit concerned at this point. It was too unnatural to exist so what was going on? I began looking the furniture more closely and more oddities appeared. The glass coffee table was stripped down. It was supposed to be a black wooden frame with a thick sheet of glass covering the top, but that was gone. One light bulb from the two lamps were gone, along with a crooked lampshade.
 
        Then the armchair. I found a fucking dark brown stain on the leg of the armchair. It was just sticking close to the ground, concealing itself. The stain was small almost blending in with the wood’s color, but it was smudged, dragged down to the floor.

        “W-Wha…” My mind blanked as I stared down to it. “Is that really blood?!” I yelled. “No! That must be paint, right? Why is that there? W-What happened here? What happened to my dad?!” I turned hysterical, pacing around the unit. My mind was racing with possibilities. I calmed myself down. “The glass it must have come from the table. But how did the table get broken?” I pulled at my hair. “Why can’t I remember? My memory blanks before Ron came into my mother’s life! Is my dad dead or was this a fight? Why did the police not see all this?! If they didn’t see this, how can I even know?!”

        I scrambled back to the car. I pulled the camcorder out and popped a tape inside. The Super Bowl game, that everyone was watching in the basement. The furniture was in view, clear as day. The glass table was dead on in the center of the rug. The couch was flushed against the wall with both lamps side by side. The stained armchair was the furthest away from the rug. The missing strip of the fabric was closer to the one of the end tables with the lamps. Everything started to click in.
 
Now only one question plagued my mind, which I know I would never get the answer to.
 
        “Did I really hate my dad?” My thoughts echoed across the concrete. “Did he not want to stay in love with mom and just leave? Did I cause all of this? Even his disappearance?”
 
        My hands clenched. My knuckles grew bone white. I threw my hands up and smashed the camcorder against the floor. The pieces shattered, scattering across the room. I slammed against the floor and cried. I cried for half an hour. But the longer I wailed in misery, the more wind outside drowned out the sound and helped drive my thoughts away.
 
I left the plaza that day and I haven’t returned. I collected all the furniture in silence and threw them at a dump outside of town. I only left a few things behind that day. I put back the trophies and games I received before. Along with the tapes and the photo album into the storage unit. Where the Fleming Storage Facility almost completely faded away from my mind. My Mom and stepfather suffered from what my dad did to us. They only had themselves to talk to each other about him. I couldn’t bring what I found up again. Even though I know what could have happened, I don’t what to break that up. So, when I locked the door and threw away the key, I knew at that time that I did not want to remember anything.
And thus the strangest things of all continue on.