Author Topic: Fleming Storage Unit #36: Secret Son (First Draft) EDIT: SECOND DRAFT  (Read 1399 times)

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Maxz92

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   I got up at about 9 AM and left the Super 8 I had stayed at for the night.  I got some of their free breakfast and headed up to the Fleming Storage Unit Center.  I arrived shortly before they opened.  It was about 9:50 AM on October 10th.  I was there as early as I could be, so I could be done as soon as possible.  After waiting 10 minutes, I went through the gates, nodding to the police officers, and I brought the keys to unit 36 and opened it up.
   I hadn’t expected Montana to be so cold.  It was a good 20 degrees warmer in Wattsburg, where I had been visiting my family and over twice the temperature back in LA.  I hated the cold.  I moved to LA to get away from it and my family, but for some reason, I was here in Havre, Montana still doing whatever stupid job my mom wanted me to do on my dime because “Scott, honey, it’s not like you don’t have the money.”  I didn’t even know my mom had the stupid storage unit until she got an email while I was visiting and immediately sent me in my dad’s black 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 to get whatever trash she left in it.  Next thing I knew, I was driving the 26 hours to Havre, with one stop at a La Quinta in Minnesota for sleep, so I could get there before the place opened.  I arrived late on the 9th and went to the nearest motel and went to sleep.
   When I opened the storage unit, I saw a table with an envelope on it, a chair, and a broken child’s skateboard with the words “Shred Sled” across the deck that looked oddly familiar.  It was snapped in two pieces, a nasty break, as though something very heavy had suddenly been pushed on top of it.  I walked over to the table and noticed the envelope had my name on it.  I emptied its contents onto the table and found it had a bunch of paper in it.  On further inspection, I found some of the papers were actually parts of photos someone has taken scissors to, cutting out what looked like the same little boy, which looked like me when I was about three or four from what I could tell.  There was also a folded piece of paper.  On opening it, I read the first line.
   “Dear Scott, I need you to know I love you…” was as far as I got before deciding it was way too cold to keep reading this outside, so I closed up the storage unit and went to find a nearby place to warm up.
   I walked over to the plaza next door and went into the diner called “Inspector Moomoos.”  The name alone made me interested in checking out what was inside.  I went inside and sat down at the bar.  Very quickly, a waitress came up to me.  Her nametag read Lauren.
   “What will you have, sir?” she asked.
   “Do you have hot chocolate?” I asked her.
   “Umm… no, sorry,” she replied.
   “Could you make me this… ‘Mocha, My Sweet’ just without any coffee in it?”
   “I’ll have to ask Jim,” she said, walking toward the back.  As she walked away, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the picture pieces, placing them on the counter in front of me.  I examined them, wondering why they would be in the envelope with the whatever this letter was.  The harder I looked at them, the less they looked like me.  I pulled out my phone and went to my mother’s Facebook, looking for some old pictures of me she might have posted back when she actually used it.  After scrolling through a few pages of photos, I found one that seemed to be around the same age.  The caption for the picture dated it 1994 with a hashtag tbt on it as well.
   “Good news,” Lauren said, returning. “Jim said he can do that for you.”
   “Is there any reason hot chocolate isn’t on the menu?” I asked, “This seems like a place that would have it.”
   “I don’t think so,” she replied, “Just kind of an oversight when the menu was made I guess.  I’ll have to ask my Gran about it.”
   “Guessing she owns the place?”
   “Yep.  Can I get you anything else?”
   “Nah.  I’m good,” I replied.
   “Well, I’ll be around,” she said.  After she walked away, I picked up one of the picture fragments and held it close to the picture on my phone.  Something wasn’t quite right, but it was probably just the slight age difference that was causing the peculiarity between the two photos.  I picked up a few of the other pieces and compared them as well and they all seemed off in the same way.  Perplexed, I set the photos down and texted my mom asking about it.  Lauren came back with my drink and set it down next to me.  I smiled and thanked her and she went back to her work.  I took a drink and accidentally burned my entire mouth as I do every time I drink anything hot.  Of course, once that’s happened there’s no reason to try and drink it carefully, so I went on and took another drink as I picked up the letter to read it.

“January 5, 1997
Dear Scott,
   I need you to know I love you more than anything.  You will always be my little boy and nothing can ever change that.  If you’re reading this, that means I’ve decided to tell you the truth.  I’ve been terrified of this forever and this storage unit was the place where I hid it away.  I have to tell you a story.
   A long time ago there was a little boy named Scott Carnes.  Scott was very close with another little boy named Harrison Ellis.  The two boys looked very similar, having the same eye color, hair color, haircut, and body structure.  Harrison was an orphan and lived in the orphanage not far from where Scott lived.  The two boys would often play together in the park.  One day Scott brought a skateboard to play in the park.  Harrison and Scott both took turns playing around with the skateboard.  On one of Scott’s turns, he accidentally rode the skateboard into the road and a car hit him.  In the commotion, Scott’s mom took Harrison as a replacement and told the orphanage that he was the one who had been hit by the car.
   Of course, you aren’t Scott in that story.  Your real name is Harrison Harvey Ellis and you were born January 6, 1989, not September 18th as I’ve always told you.  I’m so sorry that I never could bring myself to tell you, but I didn’t want to face the fact that my Scott was dead, so I made sure he wasn’t.  You will always be my Scott.
   Your father doesn’t know.  In fact, he’s my second husband.  He didn’t come around until about a year after Harrison died.  That would make him your stepfather.  I never told you because I didn’t want you to ask what happened to your real father.  I never wanted to tell you this at all, but I know now that I will eventually have to and this is how I will do it.  This storage unit is just for you because I know that I will never be capable of telling you myself.
   If you are wondering what happened to your real father, he divorced me after I took you in as my Scott because he couldn’t stand by me while I did this.  I don’t know where he is or what happened and I don’t recommend you look for him.
   Scott, honey, I just want to apologize to you for this.  I could never have gone on without you.  I had to take you as my son.  Please don’t hate me for this.
Love,      
Mommy”

   I reread the letter several times, trying to make sure this was legitimate.  It looked like my mom’s handwriting if that’s even who she was.  According to this letter, she was just some crazy child thief who took me from a different life.  The odd thing was that all of it felt familiar to me as if some part of me knew that this was true.  I could kind of remember playing with a little boy who looked very similar to me.  Then, I remembered the skateboard in the storage unit, broken in two, like it had been run over and I had this faint memory of watching myself being hit by a car.  I went for another drink and found my cup empty.  I set it back down and picked up my phone to see if my “mother” had texted me back.  The significance of what I had just discovered was starting to dawn on me.  My entire family was effectively a lie.  I sat there a moment, carefully controlling my breathing, going over it all in my mind once more.  I found that I remembered a decent amount of what was described in the letter in some hazy capacity.  A lot of which, I could recall passing off as dreams.
   The waitress came back to check on me and I asked her if I could get another drink.  She obliged and went back to tell the cook my order.  When she returned, on a whim, I asked her to help me.
   “What do you need?” she asked me.  I handed the letter to her.
   “Does this seem… plausible?” I asked, “I can’t tell if this is real or not.”  She gave me a strange look and read over the document.  I watched her eyes change in emotion and intensity as she made her way through it.
   “This… is bizarre,” she said as she finished, “I don’t think it has enough information to be fully believable.  Did you write this?”
   “No,” I replied, confused, “It’s a letter I found in my mom’s storage unit addressed to me.”  She set the letter down.
   “It’s probably best to ask your mom then,” she replied, “I’ll be right back with your drink.”  Then, she walked away.  I picked up my phone and called the woman I had called my mother.  Her phone rang for a minute and then went to voicemail.  I hung up, annoyed.  She’d probably just forgotten her phone at home when she went out.  I’d have to call my dad, or rather the person I called my dad, later.  All of this had to be some weird joke or something.  Even as I thought that I knew something wasn’t right about all this.  Something was strange about the correlation between the strange memories I had and what was described in the letter.
   When Lauren returned, I asked her for my check.  I drank my drink, my mouth still numb from burning it on the first cup, and put the picture pieces and letter back into my pocket.
   “My grandma says you’re good,” Lauren said, on returning, “No reason to make up a price for something not on the menu.”  I chuckled.  It felt weird.
   “Uh… thanks,” I said, then asking, “Is there a place I can get a jacket around here?”
   “There’s a place called Cavelier’s in town that might have what you’re looking for,” she replied.
   “Thanks,” I replied again, heading for the door
   “Good luck with whatever you have going on,” she said.
   “Thanks,” I said for a third time, finally leaving.  I checked the time.  It was 12:30 PM.
   I made my way to the truck and drove into town, looking for that Cavelier’s place.  I found it on Third street.  I browsed the store’s selection for a while and before finally settling on one I liked.  After purchasing it, I went back to the storage unit.  The cold was much more bearable with a jacket.  I sat back in the chair in the unit and just felt strange.  I pulled the letter and photo fragments out of my pocket and placed them on the table.  Then, I got out my phone and called the guy I knew as my dad.  The phone rang a few times before I got an answer.
   “Scott, I can’t talk right now,” he said before I had a chance to speak.  His voice was very urgent.  “I’ll call you back later.”  Then he hung up.  I glanced at the time, which read 1:25 PM.  I suddenly felt very tired.  I closed up the storage unit and drove the truck back to the Super 8.  I found my way to my room, which I had just consciously noticed was number 57.  I was so tired the night before I wasn’t  sure how I even found my room.  Once I got inside, I pulled the curtains, stripped to my underwear, and fell asleep almost as soon as I laid down.
   I awoke to my phone blasting out Sorry Not Sorry, and I promptly answered it because I hate that song.  I set all my ringtones to songs I don’t like so I’m less likely to ignore calls.
   “Hello?” I asked, “Who is it?”
   “It’s me, Scott,” the person on the line said, “I’m calling you back.”  It was my dad or whatever he was.
   “Hey,” I replied, “What’s up?”  I glanced over at the clock in the room.  It read 4:18 PM.
   “Your mom is in the hospital,” he said, “They think she accidentally took too much of her medication or something.”  I felt like I should have felt something at that, but I didn’t feel a thing.
   “Oh,” I said, “Do they think she’ll be okay?
   “Not sure yet,” he replied, “Hopefully.”
   “Oh,” I replied, “I… uh… have to tell you something.”
   “What’s that?” he asked.
   I explained to him what I had discovered in the storage unit.
   “Huh,” he replied once I’d finished, ‘That’s… hard to believe.  Though… the stepfather thing is true.”
   “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked, suddenly very angry, “Why would you keep that from me?”
   “Your mom said she didn’t want you trying to look for your real dad.”
   “And… and… and you just went along with it?”
   “You were little,” he replied, “I figured we’d tell you when you were older.”
   “But, you didn’t,” I shot back, “And I’m guessing this was why she didn’t want me to know.  It’s just a small skip away from this to that.”
   “Why are you getting so upset with me?” he asked, “I was just doing what your mother asked!” I felt my anger slip a little, realizing its misplacement.
   “Sorry,” I replied, “I’m just confused and frustrated is all.  Didn’t mean to yell at you.”  I sighed.
   “It’s all good, bud,” he replied, “I understand.  This is all very strange.”
   “I didn’t think that she was the kind of person to do something like this.”
   “I’m sure she didn’t do it out of some kind of evil intention.”
   “But I could be someone else doing something else.  Living somewhere else,” I replied, “There is a whole different life I could have led that I will never get to have because of her.”
   “She did what she felt she had to in that moment,” he replied.
   “Are you defending her?”
   “Of course not,” he responded, “I’m just trying to rationalize why she did it.”
   “She stole a kid,” I said, “It doesn’t matter why she did it.”
   “I can ask her when I see her tomorrow for you and let you know what...”
   “I don’t even want to know how she’d justify it,” I replied, “In fact, I’m not sure I even want to talk to her again.  Just ask her what she wants done with the stuff in this unit.”
   “Okay, I can do that.”
   “Thanks.”
   “You know,” he said, “She really loves you.”
   “No, she loves Scott,” I replied.  He didn’t say anything to that. “Call me tomorrow once you know,” I continued.
   “Alrighty,” he said, “Will do.”
   “Thanks.”
   “Goodbye.”
   “Bye,” I said, hanging up the phone.  The clock read 5:30 PM.  I sat on the hotel bed not even thinking for a minute.  Then, I changed my ringtone because I was tired of hearing that garbage and flipped on the TV which I watched until I fell asleep.
   After another “wonderful” continental breakfast the next morning, I went back up to storage unit 36 as soon as the place opened, pulling the truck up this time, and sat on the chair in the unit, setting the picture pieces, letter, and my phone on the table.  It was even colder than yesterday, but I didn’t really care now that I had a jacket.  I just waited for a call from my “father” to let me know what was going on.  I was pissed, cold, confused, and in a town I’d never even heard of and I really just wanted to go home.  I found myself staring at the picture fragments and skimming through the letter, still not understanding why and not particularly wanting to.
   My phone finally rang, this time a horrendous string of the phrase “Gucci gang” repeated an obnoxious amount of times, just before I lost myself in thought.  I picked up my phone and answered it.
   “Hello?”
   “Hey, Scott,” he answered.
   “Um… Hi,” I replied.
   “Hey,” he said, “How you doin’?.”
   “I’m fine.  What does she want me to do with this stuff?”
   “I never got to ask,” he said, “She was gone before I could come in this morning.”  I noticed how close his voice was to breaking, while I felt nothing at the news.  I almost felt guilty about it.
   “What do you want done with it then?” I asked.
   “You keep it,” he replied, “And the truck too.  I don’t think I’ll need it anymore.”
   “Alright,” I replied, then asking, “Are you okay?”
   “I’ll be fine,” he responded, “Y’know, I checked her pill case and all the pills for the week were gone even though I definitely filled them on Sunday.”
   “So you think she…?” I asked.
   “I don’t think she wanted you to be upset with her,” he interrupted, “Probably thought it’d be better if she just didn’t see what came of it.”
   “Well, I am upset with her,” I replied, coldly, “and I wish she were around to be upset at.”
   “Don’t hold it against her, Scott,” he replied, then adding, “So, am I gonna see you again, bud?”  I fidgeted a little not sure what to say and then he continued, “It’s okay if you don’t want to.”
   “I’m not really sure,” I replied, “I don’t even know who I am anymore and I… I need to figure that out first.  Maybe then.”
   “Well, I guess I’ll see you when I see you,” he said and then hung up.  I got up from the chair and stuffed the picture pieces and letter back into the envelope they had been in when I found them.  I exited the storage unit and got into the driver’s seat of the truck, throwing the envelope into the passenger’s seat.  I checked the center console and found a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.  I tossed the cigarettes on the dashboard and then picked up the lighter, thinking over it.  I flicked it on, not particularly expecting it to light and was surprised by the small flame the appeared above the silver metal that capped the green plastic.
   Something about the fire was compelling to me.  It was a sort of emotional outburst that was primal and dangerous, yet I held it in my hand and I controlled it.  I let it go out and then flicked it back on, with a sudden purpose for the flame.  I opened the glovebox, tossed its contents on the floor, then picked up the envelope and held it over the small fire until it caught.  I put the lighter back into the console and held the envelope for a moment, watching the flames eat the paper, before tossing it in the glove box to watch it burn the rest of the way, leaving a black mark on the plastic.  Then, I closed the glove box and sat there staring into the storage unit.
   After a few minutes, I pulled the truck into the storage unit and closed it and locked it.  Then, I called a cab from Hi-Line Taxi and waited out front of the Fleming Storage Unit place for it to arrive, just noticing how cold it was again.  I could not wait to be back in that California Sun, regardless of how much I knew I’d hate it after a while.  The cab took me the five miles to the Havre airport, where I caught the nearest flight back to LA.  The first thing I did after getting back home was begin the process to change my name to Harrison.
« Last Edit: 07:32 PM, 12/ 7/17 by Maxz92 »
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Maxz92

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Things that probably need to be fixed:
Dialogue (I don’t know how humans talk)
Structure (Couldn’t tell you if this is all told in the best order)
Effectiveness (I don’t think the horror hits hard enough)
Word Choice (I don’t think I’ve used the best words to describe anything)
Descriptions (I’m not sure what is needed to be described)
Coherence (Does any of this make sense?)
Grammar and comma usage (I can’t remember exactly how commas work)
Adherence to the world (Does my stuff match everyone else’s stuff?)
Horror (Is this scary?  Did I make is scary?)
Plausibility/Believability (Could this/do you believe this could happen?)
Show don’t tell (Are there things I could make events rather than thoughts?)
Character (Are the characters all distinct?)
Emotions (Do there be emotions where they are needed for the characters?)
Completeness (Does there feel like something is missing?)
Superfluity (What isn’t necessary?)
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Rika84

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Hey, don't be so hard on yourself! That's quite of list of "things to fix". XD;

When you go over it again, think about what they say: "Show, don't tell." Look for sentences you can take the "I" out of. What's left? What can you describe?
"I watched her eyes change in emotion and intensity as she made her way through it." What does that look like? Rather than "I watched", try just saying "her eyes" and describe what they did.

I like the idea of this character having their whole life brought into question. Maybe it would be more impactful if we had more of an idea of who this narrator is in his adult life. What does he stand to lose by finding out he isn't who he thought he was? Right now he seems like a man with no attachments; it would be easy for such a man to reinvent himself. Does he have a job? A family? A reputation? What does he have left to anchor himself to if he loses his name?

Also, if it's more convenient to add a hot chocolate to the menu, you can do that. <_< haha.



urkelbot666

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I enjoyed this story :) Good concept and pretty good execution, I think. Most of what you mentioned might need fixing seemed okay to me. There might have been some dialogue grammar that was off, but I honestly can;t remember anything specific, so it obviously wasn;t too distracting. The dialogue itself felt natural enough to me.

I think the only thing that could be expanded upon is the range of emotions that the narrator goes through. I understand that he's obviously going to be shocked and angry at first. but I was sort of thinking that he might also have some conflicting emotions as well. I didn;t entirely get the impression that the narrator had a terrible life or that anything specifically bad happened because he was taken in by this other woman. I was wondering if he would have more anger toward his mother's first husband for leaving him. I realize that it's a lot of stuff to take in all at once, but I felt like I might have wanted to see a little more confusion mixed with his anger. That's just me though.

I liked how the world was worked into the story, though some of the chat at Moomoo's felt a little extraneous to me. Probably just because of the overall short-ish length of the piece in general.

Also, a few questions. Is the truck a reference to the Possible Paranoia story? I think there was a mention of black Dodge trucks in that story, and I contemplated adding one to my story x3 Also, is "Harrison Ellis" any kind of reference to Harlan Ellison? I kept accidentally reading the name as Harlan Ellison while I was reading this one. I think you've got a good story here, and something that could be further explored if you felt so inclined :)
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Maxz92

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Alright, thanks for the feedback so far.  I've taken notes and shall go about editing.
Rika, I'm definitely leaving the thing about the hot chocolate because it's a weird thing and I like how silly it is.  The list of things is more of an "I don't know how to critique writing and will just delete it all because I'm not sure what's good and bad" since most people I've had read my stuff have just gone "this is good" and that's it so I figure putting the list would get people to go and have a template to work off in the first place.
Urkelbot, yeah, the truck is in reference to Possible Paranoia and the Harrison Ellis wasn't a purposeful reference to Harlan Ellison, but I realized after writing that it was very similar.  I ended up distracting myself with Harlan Ellison's Wikipedia page for an extended period of time.
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Rika84

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hehe, everyone got used to the title "Possible Paranoia" and then I went and suggested "Sabotaged Sanity". =P /title change



Maxz92

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on: 07:31 PM, 12/ 7/17
   I got up at about 9 AM and left the Super 8 I had stayed at for the night.  I got some of their free breakfast and headed up to the Fleming Storage Unit Center.  I arrived shortly before they opened.  It was about 9:50 AM on October 10th.  I was there as early as I could be, so I could be done as soon as possible.  After waiting 10 minutes, I went through the gates, nodding to the police officers, and I brought the keys to unit 36 and opened it up.
   Montana was colder than I had expected.  It was a good 20 degrees warmer in Wattsburg, where I had been visiting my mom and dad, and over twice the temperature back in LA.  I hated the cold.  I moved to LA to get away from it and my family, but for some reason, I was here in Havre, Montana still doing whatever stupid job my mom wanted me to do on my dime because “Scott, honey, it’s not like you don’t have the money.”  She always had me running around doing errands for her while I was growing up as if that’s all I was good for most of the time.  I didn’t even know my mom had the stupid storage unit until she got an email while I was visiting and immediately sent me in my dad’s black 1996 Dodge Ram 1500 to get whatever trash she left in it.  Next thing I knew, I was driving the 26 hours to Havre, with one stop at a La Quinta in Minnesota for sleep, so I could get there before the place opened.  I arrived late on the 9th and went to the nearest motel and went to sleep.
   When I opened the storage unit, I saw a table with an envelope on it, a chair, and a broken child’s skateboard with the words “Shred Sled” across the deck that looked oddly familiar.  It was snapped in two pieces, a nasty break, as though something very heavy had suddenly been pushed on top of it.  I walked over to the table and noticed the envelope had my name on it.  I emptied its contents onto the table and found it had a bunch of paper in it.  On further inspection, some of the papers were actually parts of photos someone has taken scissors to, cutting out what looked like the same little boy, which looked like me when I was about three or four from what I could tell.  There was also a folded piece of paper.  On opening it, I read the first line.
   “Dear Scott, I need you to know I love you…” was as far as I got before deciding it was way too cold to keep reading this outside, so I closed up the storage unit and went to find a nearby place to warm up.
   I walked over to the plaza next door and went into the diner called “Inspector Moomoos.”  The name alone made me interested in checking out what was inside.  I went inside and sat down at the bar.  Very quickly, a waitress came up to me.  Her nametag read Lauren.
   “What will you have, sir?” she asked.
   “Do you have hot chocolate?” I asked her.
   “Umm… no, sorry,” she replied.
   “Could you make me this… ‘Mocha, My Sweet’ just without any coffee in it?”
   “I’ll have to ask Jim,” she said, walking toward the back.  As she walked away, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the picture pieces, placing them on the counter in front of me.  I examined them, wondering why they would be in the envelope with the whatever this letter was.  The harder I looked at them, the less they looked like me.  I pulled out my phone and went to my mother’s Facebook, looking for some old pictures of me she might have posted back when she actually used it.  After scrolling through a few pages of photos, I found one that seemed to be around the same age.  The caption for the picture dated it 1994 with a hashtag tbt on it as well.
   “Good news,” Lauren said, returning. “Jim said he can do that for you.”
   “Is there any reason hot chocolate isn’t on the menu?” I asked, “This seems like a place that would have it.”
   “I don’t think so,” she replied, “Just kind of an oversight when the menu was made I guess.  I’ll have to ask my Gran about it.”
   “Guessing she owns the place?”
   “Yep.  Can I get you anything else?”
   “Nah.  I’m good,” I replied.
   “Well, I’ll be around,” she said.  After she walked away, I picked up one of the picture fragments and held it close to the picture on my phone.  Something wasn’t quite right, but it was probably just the slight age difference that was causing the peculiarity between the two photos.  I picked up a few of the other pieces and compared them as well and they all seemed off in the same way.  Perplexed, I set the photos down and texted my mom asking about it.  Lauren came back with my drink and set it down next to me.  I smiled and thanked her and she went back to her work.  I took a drink and accidentally burned my entire mouth as I do every time I drink anything hot.  Of course, once that’s happened there’s no reason to try and drink it carefully, so I went on and took another drink as I picked up the letter to read it.

“January 5, 1997
Dear Scott,
   I need you to know I love you more than anything.  You will always be my little boy and nothing can ever change that.  If you’re reading this, that means I’ve decided to tell you the truth.  I’ve been terrified of this forever and this storage unit was the place where I hid it away.  I have to tell you a story.
   A long time ago there was a little boy named Scott Carnes.  Scott was very close with another little boy named Harrison Ellis.  The two boys looked very similar, having the same eye color, hair color, haircut, and body structure.  Harrison was an orphan and lived in a house not far from where Scott lived.  The two boys would often play together in the park.  One day Scott brought a skateboard to play in the park.  Harrison and Scott both took turns playing around with the skateboard.  On one of Scott’s turns, he accidentally rode the skateboard into the road and a car hit him.  In the commotion, Scott’s mom took Harrison as a replacement and said that he was the one who had been hit by the car.
   Of course, you aren’t Scott in that story.  Your real name is Harrison Harvey Ellis and you were born January 6, 1989, not September 18th as I’ve always told you.  I’m so sorry that I never could bring myself to tell you, but I didn’t want to face the fact that my Scott was dead, so I made sure he wasn’t.  You will always be my Scott.
   Your father doesn’t know.  In fact, he’s my second husband.  He didn’t come around until about a year after Harrison died.  That would make him your stepfather.  I never told you because I didn’t want you to ask what happened to your real father.  I never wanted to tell you this at all, but I know now that I will eventually have to and this is how I will do it.  This storage unit is just for you because I know that I will never be capable of telling you myself.
   If you are wondering what happened to your real father, he divorced me after I took you in as my Scott because he couldn’t stand by me while I did this.  I don’t know where he is or what happened and I don’t recommend you look for him.
   Scott, honey, I just want to apologize to you for this.  I could never have gone on without you.  I had to take you as my son.  Please don’t hate me for this.
Love,      
Mommy”

   I reread the letter several times, trying to make sure this was legitimate.  It looked like my mom’s handwriting if that’s even who she was.  According to this letter, she was just some crazy child thief who took me from a different life.  The odd thing was that all of it felt familiar to me as if some part of me knew that this was true.  I could kind of remember playing with a little boy who looked very similar to me.  Then, I remembered the skateboard in the storage unit, broken in two, like it had been run over and I had this faint memory of watching myself being hit by a car.  I went for another drink and found my cup empty.  I set it back down and picked up my phone to see if my “mother” had texted me back.  The significance of what I had just discovered was starting to dawn on me.  My entire family was effectively a lie.  I sat there a moment, carefully controlling my breathing, going over it all in my mind once more.  I found that I remembered a decent amount of what was described in the letter in some hazy capacity.  A lot of which, I could recall passing off as dreams.
   The waitress came back to check on me and I asked her if I could get another drink.  She obliged and went back to tell the cook my order.  When she returned, on a whim, I asked her to help me.
   “What do you need?” she asked me.  I handed the letter to her.
   “Does this seem… plausible?” I asked, “I can’t tell if this is real or not.”  She gave me a strange look and read over the document.  Her eyes changed in emotion and intensity as she made her way through it.
   “This… is bizarre,” she said as she finished, “I don’t think it has enough information to be fully believable.  Did you write this?”
   “No,” I replied, confused, “It’s a letter I found in my mom’s storage unit addressed to me.”  She set the letter down.
   “It’s probably best to ask your mom then,” she replied, “I’ll be right back with your drink.”  Then, she walked away.  I picked up my phone and called the woman I had called my mother.  Her phone rang for a minute and then went to voicemail.  I hung up, annoyed.  She’d probably just forgotten her phone at home when she went out.  I’d have to call my dad, or rather the person I called my dad, later.  All of this had to be some weird joke or something.  Even as I thought that I knew something wasn’t right about all this.  Something was strange about the correlation between the strange memories I had and what was described in the letter.
   When Lauren returned, I asked her for my check.  I drank my drink, my mouth still numb from burning it on the first cup, and put the picture pieces and letter back into my pocket.
   “My grandma says you’re good,” Lauren said, on returning, “No reason to make up a price for something not on the menu.”  I chuckled.  It felt weird.  I placed a few dollars on the counter anyway.
   “Uh… thanks,” I said, then asking, “Is there a place I can get a jacket around here?”
   “There’s a place called Cavelier’s in town that might have what you’re looking for,” she replied.
   “Thanks,” I replied again, heading for the door
   “Thank you and good luck with whatever you have going on,” she said.
   “Thanks,” I said for a third time, finally leaving.  I checked the time.  It was 12:30 PM.
   I made my way to the truck and drove into town, looking for that Cavelier’s place.  I found it on Third street.  I browsed the store’s selection for a while and before finally settling on one I liked.  After purchasing it, I went back to the storage unit.  The cold was much more bearable with a jacket.  I sat back in the chair in the unit and just felt strange.  I pulled the letter and photo fragments out of my pocket and placed them on the table.  Then, I got out my phone and called the guy I knew as my dad.  The phone rang a few times before I got an answer.
   “Scott, I can’t talk right now,” he said before I had a chance to speak.  His voice was very urgent.  “I’ll call you back later.”  Then he hung up.  I glanced at the time, which read 1:25 PM.  I suddenly felt very tired.  I closed up the storage unit and drove the truck back to the Super 8.  I found my way to my room, which I had just consciously noticed was number 57.  I was so tired the night before I wasn’t  sure how I even found my room.  Once I got inside, I pulled the curtains, stripped to my underwear, and fell asleep almost as soon as I laid down.
   I awoke to my phone blasting out Sorry Not Sorry, and I promptly answered it because I hate that song.  I set all my ringtones to songs I don’t like so I’m less likely to ignore calls.
   “Hello?” I asked, “Who is it?”
   “It’s me, Scott,” the person on the line said, “I’m calling you back.”  It was my dad or whatever he was.
   “Hey,” I replied, “What’s up?”  I glanced over at the clock in the room.  It read 4:18 PM.
   “Your mom is in the hospital,” he said, “They think she accidentally took too much of her medication or something.”  I felt like I should have felt something at that, but I didn’t feel a thing.
   “Oh,” I said, “Do they think she’ll be okay?
   “Not sure yet,” he replied, “Hopefully.”
   “Oh,” I replied, “I… uh… have to tell you something.”
   “What’s that?” he asked.
   I explained to him what I had discovered in the storage unit.
   “Huh,” he replied once I’d finished, ‘That’s… hard to believe.  Though… the stepfather thing is true.”
   “Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked, suddenly very angry, “Why would you keep that from me?”
   “Your mom said she didn’t want you trying to look for your real dad.”
   “And… and… and you just went along with it?”
   “You were little,” he replied, “I figured we’d tell you when you were older.”
   “But, you didn’t,” I shot back, “And I’m guessing this was why she didn’t want me to know.  It’s just a small skip away from this to that.”
   “Why are you getting so upset with me?” he asked, “I was just doing what your mother asked!” I felt my anger slip a little, realizing its misplacement.
   “Sorry,” I replied, “I’m just confused and frustrated is all.  Didn’t mean to yell at you.”  I sighed.
   “It’s all good, bud,” he replied, “I understand.  This is all very strange.”
   “I didn’t think that she was the kind of person to do something like this.”
   “I’m sure she didn’t do it out of some kind of evil intention.”
   “But I could be someone else doing something else.  Living somewhere else,” I replied, “There is a whole different life I could have led that I will never get to have because of her.”
   “She did what she felt she had to in that moment,” he replied.
   “Are you defending her?”
   “Of course not,” he responded, “I’m just trying to rationalize why she did it.”
   “She stole a kid,” I said, “It doesn’t matter why she did it.”
   “I can ask her when I see her tomorrow for you and let you know what...”
   “I don’t even want to know how she’d justify it,” I replied, “In fact, I’m not sure I even want to talk to her again.  Just ask her what she wants done with the stuff in this unit.”
   “Okay, I can do that.”
   “Thanks.”
   “You know,” he said, “She really loves you.”
   “No, she loves Scott,” I replied.  He didn’t say anything to that. “Call me tomorrow once you know,” I continued.
   “Alrighty,” he said, “Will do.”
   “Thanks.”
   “Good bye.”
   “Bye,” I said, hanging up the phone.  The clock read 5:30 PM.  I sat on the hotel bed not even thinking for a minute.  Then, I changed my ringtone because I was tired of hearing that garbage and flipped on the TV which I watched until I fell asleep.
   After another “wonderful” continental breakfast the next morning, I went back up to storage unit 36 as soon as the place opened, pulling the truck up this time, and sat on the chair in the unit, setting the picture pieces, letter, and my phone on the table.  It was even colder than yesterday, but I didn’t really care now that I had a jacket.  I just waited for a call from my “father” to let me know what was going on.  I was pissed, cold, confused, and in a town I’d never even heard of and I really just wanted to go home.  I found myself staring at the picture fragments and skimming through the letter, still not understanding why and not particularly wanting to.
   My phone finally rang, this time a horrendous string of the phrase “Gucci gang” repeated an obnoxious amount of times, just before I lost myself in thought.  I picked up my phone and answered it.
   “Hello?”
   “Hey, Scott,” he answered.
   “Um… Hi,” I replied.
   “Hey,” he said, “How you doin’?.”
   “I’m fine.  What does she want me to do with this stuff?”
   “I never got to ask,” he said, “She was gone before I could come in this morning.”  I noticed how close his voice was to breaking, while I felt nothing at the news.  I almost felt guilty about it.
   “What do you want done with it then?” I asked.
   “You keep it,” he replied, “And the truck too.  I don’t think I’ll need it anymore.”
   “Alright,” I replied, then asking, “Are you okay?”
   “I’ll be fine,” he responded, “Y’know, I checked her pill case and all the pills for the week were gone even though I definitely filled them on Sunday.”
   “So you think she…?” I asked.
   “I don’t think she wanted you to be upset with her,” he interrupted, “Probably thought it’d be better if she just didn’t see what came of it.”
   “Well, I am upset with her,” I replied, coldly, “and I wish she were around to be upset at.”
   “Don’t hold it against her, Scott,” he replied, then adding, “So, am I gonna see you again, bud?”  I fidgeted a little not sure what to say and then he continued, “It’s okay if you don’t want to.”
   “I’m not really sure,” I replied, “I don’t even know who I am anymore and I… I need to figure that out first.  Maybe then.”
   “Well, I guess I’ll see you when I see you,” he said and then hung up.  I got up from the chair and stuffed the picture pieces and letter back into the envelope they had been in when I found them.  I exited the storage unit and got into the driver’s seat of the truck, throwing the envelope into the passenger’s seat.  I checked the center console and found a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.  I tossed the cigarettes on the dashboard and then picked up the lighter, thinking over it.  I flicked it on, not particularly expecting it to light and was surprised by the small flame the appeared above the silver metal of that capped the green plastic.
   Something about the fire was compelling to me.  It was a sort of emotional outburst that was primal and dangerous, yet I held it in my hand and I controlled it.  I let it go out and then flicked it back on, with a sudden purpose for the flame.  I opened the glovebox, tossed its contents on the floor, then picked up the envelope and held it over the small fire until it caught.  I put the lighter back into the console and held the envelope for a moment, watching the flames eat the paper, before tossing it in the glove box to watch it burn the rest of the way, leaving a black mark on the plastic.  Then, I closed the glove box and sat there staring into the storage unit.
   After a few minutes, I pulled the truck into the storage unit and closed it and locked it.  Then, I called a cab from Hi-Line Taxi and waited out front of the Fleming Storage Unit place for it to arrive, just noticing how cold it was again.  I could not wait to be back in that California sun, regardless of how much I knew I’d hate it after a while.  The cab took me the five miles to the Havre airport, where I caught the nearest flight back to LA.  The first thing I did after getting back home was begin the process to change my name to Harrison.
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