Suckers

I’ve always hated the way these grubby old men stared at Jessica and I. Their toothy smiles showing the filthy thoughts they were failing to suppress. It came in handy, however, when it came time for auction. You see, there are only a few moments where the auctioneer starts to speed up and you really have to pay attention. He’s taking bids left and right but only focusing on the high rollers. Half the time the units we win are gold because Jess distracts those high rollers with those hips she has. Mine aren’t as impressive, so I fade into the crowd more often than not. That gives me an advantage while Jess is flirting with those grubby guys and we usually end up distracting our biggest competition. We don’t consider it hustling if these guys are stupid enough to think she means it.

Today was no different than our average grind. Jess and I were standing in the front row of the small group as the auctioneer slid the large aluminum door up and away from the concrete floor. The unit was packed, possibly a hoarders’ family that didn’t have the time to go through their family’s shit, forgot to make a payment, then let it go. These were my favorite units to find; the possibilities were endless. I mean, the last time we landed the storage unit of a hoarder we made $5,000. Jess was already rolling her eyes but knew this would be ours within a matter of time.

As the rest of the group filtered through the small hallway to appraise the unit’s contents, she bent down a bit and pecked me on the cheek. It was one of her favorite tricks to wish me luck and rile up those gross guys. She made her way to the back of the group, where the tallest and typically grossest men stood waiting. The auctioneer closed the door and moved in front of it. The thrill of hearing his voice start up like an old lawnmower always gave me chills. I paid close attention and started bidding at $40. I could hear Jess laughing flirtatiously behind me and the men chuckling loudly, probably her penguin joke again, classic. The price quickly rose past $300 and I knew I didn’t want to spend more than $350 so I whistled this time to solidify my bet. Secretly, that was a sign to Jess to step up her game. Mumbled conversation from the back of the group let me know she was doing her job and just as one of her admirers went to bid $400 against my $320, she grabbed his arm and started dancing. I won the uint and raced over to her to celebrate.

Once the crowd had cleared a bit, I handed the auctioneer my cash and clasped Jessica’s hand in mine. My smile spread from ear to ear and in a moment of passion, I twirled her around and dipped her. Looking into her green eyes, I kissed her passionately, a bit of my burgundy lipstick smeared across her clean face made her look even sexier than she naturally was.

The unit had a foot-wide path through the center but was packed waist-high, well, Jessica’s waist, it was all rib level for me. Suitcases, moldy cardboard boxes, and at least four golf bags could be seen from my vantage point in the center. Jess, standing just outside the unit, rolled her eyes yet again and shook her head, swishing her long blonde ponytail from side to side. She sighed deeply but donned a pair of teflon gloves, strapped on a dust mask, and started unpacking.

 

At the end of our first hour, we were both sweaty, covered in dust, and even I was bummed that we hadn’t found anything of worth yet. The most promising item was a taxidermied squirrel/raccoon hybrid. Being in the south, we knew this would sell well, but not enough for us to get our money back.

“Well I guess this is a bust,” said Jessica, her voice muffled by the mask.

“Not entirely!” I said quickly picking through a box to my left. “I found this old Scrabble game. I bed it’ll be worth a few hundred bucks on eBay.”

“Oh yeah, I bet it even has the original pieces in pristine condition” she mocked. I opened the box to prove my point and something dead and hairy fell to the floor with a sickening splat. With a grossed out expression on my face, I replaced the lid and set it back in the box.

“Hang on, what’s this?” Jess said, bending down to grab something from a plastic bin. I made my way over to her through the small walkway I’d made from the center careful to avoid the dead thing. She pulled out something wrapped in bubble wrap and buried under a thick layer of packing peanuts.

“That’s pretty strange seeing as everything here basically has mushrooms growing on it” I said. Jess untaped the bubble wrap and revealed a tribal mask. It was oblong and a bright red. Unlike the dirty contents of the unit, this was clean and in perfect condition, like it had never been touched. There were two horns on the forehead, the eyes were almond shaped and bulged out. They looked like goats eyes. The mouth was downturned and open, paired with downturned eyebrows, the face was frozen in a silent angry scream.

“I don’t like that at all,” I said.

“Me either, this has demon curse written all over it” Jess said with a sneer.

“Agreed, put that back right away, thank God you still have your gloves on.”

It didn’t take long after that for us to ditch the unit for the day and head back home. On the drive, neither of us could shake this creepy feeling that something was wrong.

“I hope that’s not one of those ‘the one in possession of the thing is now cursed until it’s given to a new owner’” I said. I was driving, one hand on the steering wheel, the other in Jessica’s hand, resting on her lap.

“Me too. You got a receipt from the auctioneer, right?”

“Oh shit.” I said, my mouth dropping.

“Great job, Lisa.” Jessica said, more serious than I had expected. When she saw my eyes begin to well up with tears she said “I’m just kidding” with a smile and jabbed her finger into my side, making me giggle and swerve our truck.

 

That night we both had terrible nightmares. I burnt breakfast after falling asleep waiting for it to cook, Jess spilled an entire cup of coffee on a rug from the 1800’s in our dining room, and our dog, Cisco, had come down with some strange illness that kept her in bed all day. Thanks to the paranormal shows we watch on the regular, we were smart enough to realize it was time to do something about that mask. With hesitated to head back to that storage unit that afternoon, but came armed with lighter fluid, holy water, and a crucifix.

To be honest, I felt a bit stupid putting on a helmet, goggles, and a mask to grab the only clean item from the unit, but as soon as we popped the lid off, the energy around us changed. We were definitely not welcome there. Thankfully, Jess was on standby with the holy water. She splashed it across the mask and myself as I stood there, stretching my arm as far as it would go away from my body, the mask in my hand. I flinched when the water hit me, and so did the mask.

“I swear I just felt this thing move. It felt like an animal or something” I screamed.

“Oh my god, really?” Jess exclaimed, the fear in her eyes muddied by the scratched up plastic of a shielded hard hat.

“Yeah, hit it again.”

As she repeatedly hit the thing with water out of her Gold’s Gym water bottle, it jumped and moved in my hands, small wisps of steam rising from the places the water stung it. Things really went haywire once I started screaming the Lord’s prayer at it. I felt bad for anyone who might be in the conjoining units, but only a little.

Eventually, it wriggled out of my hands and onto the one-foot wide walkway. It jumped across the floor away from us, but once I grabbed the crucifix from Jessica’s hands, it stopped. It lie flat on the concrete floor in the center of the unit. A deep growl reverberated against the aluminum walls. It was loud and extremely scary. Jess grabbed my arm and hid behind me a bit. My warbling voice managed

“Get thee from me Satan.” To be honest though, I had no idea why I said that, it just sounded good. It must have worked though, because the thing vibrated a bit, stood up on end for a few seconds, then fell flat to the floor, wobbling back and forth like a useless piece of wood.

“Did we just exorcise a demon?” I asked.

“I have no idea, but I know I never want to see this place again.”

As we left the facility, we walked through the main office. The pimply kid behind the desk watched Jess unabashedly as she walked beside me. She approached the desk and turned in our key. I waited on the sidelines while she spoke in a hushed tone to him. I’m not sure what she said, but a huge smile lit up his face as she slid the key across the table. Jess walked back over to me with a smug expression and said,

“That unit will be someone else’s problem by tomorrow. I just told him to list it for auction.” She smacked my denim covered ass as we left the building and blew the kid, that was by now realizing his mistake, a kiss as the doors closed behind us.


Last Week’s Story: A Friendly Neighbor

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