The parking garage was the epitome of lifeless urbanization—cold, sterile and emotionless. The cement walls were painted a drab grey with yellow horizontal lines along the walls. Fluorescent lights filled the four-story garage with a dull, pale light. The garage shook each time a car drove from floor to floor and the shaking became increasingly more apparent as it neared the ticket booth on the bottom floor. Inside the ticket booth, Trevor waited with a disinterested look on his face. He had done this job for what seemed like an eternity so a face of boredom was to be expected. The job was simple: a car would pull up, and assuming they did not have a monthly pay card, would hand Trevor a ticket delineating the time spent in the garage and then he would charge the proper amount and make change.
A car from the top floor slowly made its way to the ticket booth rumbling the garage. A family of four had just visited the run down Movie Theater located nearby. They were most likely the last to leave the theater. In the backseat of the car was a young girl of about 21. She stared down Trevor as he made change and handed it to the father, who was driving. She kept staring at him, hardly blinking. He handed the man his change and opened the small wooden gate hovering across the exit of the garage. He looked at the back window of the car and sure enough, the young girl turned around and continued to stare him down. He was almost certain that he recognized the girl but could not remember exactly where. She was beautiful, sexy and innocent. “Just his type, young and easy to manipulate,” he thought. He pursed his lips at her, to which she frowned in disgust. She was way out of his league. “What a bitch,” he thought. Soon, the car was out of sight.
He reached for a cigarette in his front pocket—his last smoke. He put the cigarette in his mouth and grabbed for his lighter in his back pocket. He stuck his head out the window of the booth. He was not allowed to smoke in the booth. He flicked the lighter when suddenly; he heard a car horn honk near the booth. The surprise caused him to drop his cigarette out the window and onto the garage floor. He had not heard or felt the car come down the floors of the garage. The man in the car was obviously impatient but Trevor decided to pick up the cigarette anyways. It was half covered with grimy used motor oil probably from the previous car. Trevor placed the cigarette on the windowsill of the booth and the man quickly swiped out of the garage using his card and was on his way.
After a certain time of night, the parking garage was quiet and desolate. Only a few cars were parked in the garage most likely from the few bars downtown or the old movie theater. Time moved slowly during these times and one had little to do. On top of that, the management did not allow cell phones in the garage as this would seem unprofessional. Either way, the garage blocked much of a signal. The only thing to pass the time was a packet of Sudoku puzzles, a pencil, and a copy of “No Exit,” by Sartre, which another attendant—a philosophy major—had left in the booth. Some of the puzzles were finished with numbers scribbled in the boxes while others were half finished. Trevor turned to the next puzzle and began deducing which number fit in each corresponding box. He began haphazardly filling in numbers into the boxes only to later realize his mistake and erase the number.
He nearly filled in a horizontal line of boxes and realized his mistake leaving eraser marks all over the booth’s floor.
A car alarm echoed throughout the garage. It seemed to be coming from the top floor. It was peculiar because he assumed there were few cars in the garage as it was 3:30 in the morning let alone who or what would have set it off. It went through three cycles of car alarm noises making an enormous din that echoed throughout the garage. He went back to his mediocre game of Sudoku and filled in a couple boxes with numbers. Then, it went off again. He decided to investigate what was setting off the car alarm.
He slowly made his way up the stairs of the parking garage, catching his breath at each floor. The car alarm stopped but he decided to continue climbing the stairs to find out what was causing the car alarm sensor to go off and then eliminate whatever it was. Finally, he made it to the top of the garage. Panting and out of breath, he saw a lone red 2004 Chevy Caviler parked at the far end of the garage. He lumbered over to the car to find out what was setting off the sensor. A bumper sticker read, “My child is an honor student, how about yours?” On the back window, there was a sticker with a family of four cartoon figures holding each other’s hands with a dog following behind. He checked to see if there was anything that could have set off the sensor. He thought perhaps a tree leaf could have fallen on the car and set it off, but the parking garage was not near any trees. He thought a strong breeze could have set off the sensor, but the car was too far from the garage opening. Somebody could have been up here but he would have seen him or her come through the entrance or leave through the stairwell. He was perplexed but decided to make his way back down to his booth.
He climbed halfway down the third floor when the car alarm rang again. This time, he sprinted up the stairs to catch whoever had done the act. When he reached the top floor, he saw no one around. There was another staircase located across the garage and he assumed they must have taken the stairs. He ran as fast as he could down the steps to find who ever had done it. His lungs burned as he made it to the bottom floor only to find that no one was in sight. There was, however a book propped on the door of the ticket booth. The car alarm stopped as he made it back to the booth.
Somebody had set off the sensor and then sprinted down to the booth and left a book? Why would they do this? It was a calculus two book with tattered edges and a worn cover. He opened the book and on the first page was a name and number Courtney Winters 442 630 1210. The name sounded eerily familiar to him. How did he know that name? Just then, the car alarm went off again. This time, he decided he would wait to see if he could catch whoever was setting off the alarm by staying put in the booth. They must assume he was going to chase them up the stairs to find them and then return down the stairs while he was going up. He waited and waited, yet nobody left through the stairwell. The car alarm stopped.
Whoever it was, he had them trapped. The car alarm went off again and this time it rang out more than the standard three times. It kept going constantly producing an ear-splitting din throughout the garage. Trevor sat in the booth lusting after the grimy cigarette, which sat on the windowsill of the booth. He was getting warm and getting shaky. He desperately needed a smoke. At last, he could not help himself anymore and he gave into temptation placing the cigarette in his mouth and lite it. Suddenly, the car alarm stopped its din. He released a sigh of relief. Then, less than 30 seconds later, the car alarm rang out again. He had had enough. He stormed up the stairs, sweating, panting and oozing with adrenaline.
He reached the fourth floor. The Chevy Cavalier was still there, but from a distance, he could see the trunk was open. He carefully made his way towards the car watching his peripheries for an attack. The trunk bed was covered in dark brown dried blood. A blood stained rope was sitting in the trunk bed and a bottle of motor oil had been crushed open and mixed with blood. The fluorescent lights in the parking garage began to dim and for a second—he could taste it, feel it and see it. He could taste his own blood in his mouth, the bruised ribs, motor oil in his teeth and the rope burns on his ankles and arms. He could feel what she felt and suddenly it all came back to him like a tidal wave. The bar, the GREs, her drink, the cheap roofies, her hand me down red Cavalier, the noise of her panic button, her screams as he entered her and gun blast that ended her life.
The car alarm screamed and became louder and louder with each second—torturing his brain driving him insane. The door of the Cavalier opened and a gun was sitting in the passenger seat. The same gun he disarmed from her and used to coerce her after the roofies wore off. A notecard attached to the gun read, “The end.” “I’m not a monster,” he screamed. “It was a mistake, I’m sorry!” The car alarm seemed to pulse in his brain. It thumped in his head as blood dripped slowly from his ears. “I’m sorry.” He grabbed the gun, put it to his temple and pulled the trigger.
Trevor sat in the parking garage ticket booth with a disinterested look on his face. He had done this job for what seemed like an eternity. He grabbed his last cigarette and waited for the car to make its way to the booth. The driver handed him cash and Trevor made correct change. The driver did not make eye contact or say a word and drove off. A young girl sat in the backseat staring at Trevor with a somber glance. “What a bitch,” he thought.