Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Daily Story 133: Entrance Only

"There, one is leaving. Red shirt, black hair. Was he the last one in?"
"Of course he was. It's always the last one in."
"Not always."
"Okay, those two this morning came out in reverse order. You know what I mean."
"Yeah, I know. No vanishing acts while a non-vanishing guy is taking a piss."

We're sitting in the food court of Zócalo Mall, back in a corner where we're partially obscured by the fake plants. Even without the plastic leaves we would be invisible, just another couple of teenagers wasting their summer instead of playing outside or getting a job. Outside it's a hundred and twenty degrees in the shade and the only place that would hire either of us is the Taco Bell, so as far as I'm concerned this is a good way to spend my time.

"Another one in. Khakis, blue polo shirt. Brown hair."
"Got it. I wonder if any of these are duplicates from yesterday before we were keeping track?"
"I know, we should do this again next week with a digital camera. We've had, what, thirty of them?"
"Thirty-two."
"Thirty-two, yeah, and that's even with catching that movie."
"Man, that movie sucked."
"I know."

I have a legal pad on my knee, with times and descriptions for who has been going into the men's restroom. We missed the lunch rush because we got bored and caught some stupid action flick at the dollar theatre so we don't have numbers for when the food court is busiest, but at all the times we've been here more than half of the people don't leave the bathroom. Even if the morning crowd took off when we weren't looking there would still be over twenty people in there right now - all crammed into a space barely big enough for two stalls and a urinal.

"It's like the world's worst clown car."
"Yeah. A reverse clown car. I'm going to go and look inside again."
"Okay, but don't actually go in. Just look from the doorway."
"We've gone in a hundred times, relax."
"Just don't, okay?"
"It's not snatching people. It has to be voluntary, or there'd be a bunch of lost girlfriends and wives and kids walking around calling for Bob or whoever."
"Yeah, and abandoned cars in the parking lot. I know."

He heads over and goes in, and I already know what he's seeing. Yellowed tile floor with dingy grout, a few metal stalls with black marker graffiti on them. Acoustical ceiling tiles that you could probably climb up above, but... somehow we both know that's not it. Someday maybe we'll tell someone, or maybe we'll catch someone leaving that didn't come in and follow them, or we'll buy a video camera and hide it in there to see if it records anyone disappearing. But for now... it's not a bad way to waste the summer.