Sebastian froze in the act of scooping up a handful of storage-unit keys from behind the counter. That god-awful screaming had stopped. Did that mean the idiots who’d left the front door ajar and deserted the reception area were gonna screw things up by returning?
Sebastian’s skinny jeans were tight, which had him cursing as he crammed the keys into a pocket while skittering over to the stairwell. The shit he had to go through just to make a living in such a god-awful world. A world where idiots kept upping the prices for the substance abuse that made it all worthwhile. But he hushed when he reached the stairwell and craned his skinny neck upward to listen hard.
Maybe some talking somewhere upstairs, but no footsteps. He looked at the stairs, tiptoed up a few, and craned his skinny neck even further till he imagined he could safely guess the floors upstairs were covered with metal too. No way he wouldn’t hear approaching footsteps.
With that he skittered back over to the reception counter and quickly squeezed behind it, grateful for his slender frame as he squatted to rifle through some rickety drawers. The storage-unit keys he’d taken would be okay for later, when he’d like casually saunter back in with a friendly smile and some empty, oversized suitcases, but they wouldn’t get him high again anytime soon enough.
Cash… Where the fuck was the… Then he found it, all the way in the back behind a bunch of old girlie magazines. (What the fuck was wrong with using the internet?) A strongbox, but the very best, idiot-delight, kind of strongbox: a weak strongbox. Sure it was locked, but it looked like Sebastian could scrape it open with a loose fingernail. Sloppy marker scrawling over the top said: “Private property of Irwin’s. Knowing what’s inside would NOT be playing your cards right. Believe me, YOU DO NOT WANT TO KNOW.”
Nice, thought Sebastian. This Irwin was probably trying to scare the other idiots away from where he kept the money he skimmed off the top. But this Irwin was still an idiot because he’d obviously bought this weak strongbox…where?…a 99-cent store?
Suddenly there was the most god-awful racket on the stairs, ending with a cheap bottle of rotgut rolling across the floor. It came to rest against Sebastian’s rainbow-platform sneakers as he silently cursed while rubbing the bony knee he’d hit against the counter when he leaped to his feet. Faintly, he thought he heard, “Clumsy, Hank, clumsy.”
Then there was silence.
Sebastian scrambled to cram the girlie magazines back in the drawer. Maybe they wouldn’t notice the missing keys and strongbox if he made it back with those empty suitcases to “shop” the storage units soon enough. He’d have to go all “sensitive male” on that idiot Carmen again to borrow her suitcases. He could only hope she wasn’t still being an idiot about that little bit of kidding around he’d done with her which she kept calling rape.