A Gas Station Christmas (Part 4)
Updated: Mar 23, 2020
I’m not sure how differently the night would have gone if Spencer’s phone hadn’t started ringing right then, and I’m also not sure how I keep forgetting that he has the only private cellular network on the planet that reliably gets service out at the gas station.
We forgot to take his phone?!
The last couple times Spencer and I crossed paths, it didn't go so well for me. I never learned how to fight or take a punch, but one thing I'm surprisingly good at is picking Spencer's pockets, especially whenever he's got a case of the blood-lust blinders. Somewhere in a box in storage, I have about a dozen phones I've stolen off of Spencer and Kieffer, his deceased former employer. But this go-round, in my hurry to get him taped to a chair before he woke up, the idea of stealing his phone again had completely escaped me.
“You guys hear that?” asked not-Donald.
We all stood in a weird semicircle around him, and there was no possible way we didn’t all hear the ringing noise coming from just behind the supply closet door.
O’Brien and Rosa were between not-Donald and the supply closet, with Jerry and me on the opposite side. We had him surrounded, and if only I could somehow telepathically convey to the others that we needed to jump him now while his guard was down, we might have a shot at incapacitating him while our skin was still intact.
“I don’t hear anything,” blurted Rosa between rings. She was probably the worst liar I had ever witnessed, but now that she had set the narrative the others decided to commit.
“Yeah, me neither.” said Jerry, “Probs just the wind.”
Donald-the-demon pointed at the supply closet and gave Jerry a raised eyebrow, “You don’t hear that? The ringing coming from right behind that door?”
“No?” said Jerry.
“Ok, what about you?” he said to the deputy. “Are you going to gaslight, too?”
For some reason, O’Brien looked at me. I tried to make a hand gesture to say “He is a demon! We need to cut off his head!” but I think it just confused the hell out of her. She and I should never play charades together.
“Yeah, it’s nothing.” She said.
“It’s nothing? Why are you people being so weird right now?”
Rosa scoffed and said, “We’re not being weird. You’re the one acting weird.”
“Okay.” He said.
A silent moment passed.
Then, Demon-Donald pointed his flashlight right at O’Brien’s eyes. She flinched for just a second, enough time for Demonald to dart past her to the supply closet door.
“Wait!” I yelled.
But it was too late. Demonald had opened the door.
“What the hell is going on?” he asked, pointing the flashlight at Spencer.
O’Brien put up her hands and said, “It’s okay. I can explain.”
Spencer started shouting, “Oh my god, please! Please help me! You’ve got to save me! These people are maniacs! They beat me and killed my wife! You have to get help!”
Rosa--bad liar. Spencer--freakin’ amazing liar.
O’Brien yelled “Close the door!” and took a step forward.
“Hey!” yelled Demonald, “You stay back! Stay away from me! ALL OF YOU!”
“Please! Untie me! She’s not really a cop! They’ve killed people, so many people…”
Spencer started crying. Like, real, actual tears.
I couldn’t help it. I started slow clapping.
Everyone turned their flashlights to me except for Jerry, who was clapping along.
“You got something to say?” asked the shapeshifter-formerly-known-as-Donald.
“Yeah, how about we don’t turn this into a huge farce? How about we all come clean in the spirit of Christmas? You’re not really musical icon and famed television and movie star Donald Glover. You’re really Sagoth, the shapeshifting demon.”
“Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound right now?” asked (hopefully) Sagoth.
“Yeah, I do. Because I just said it.”
“These people,” sobbed Spencer, “They’re crazy! They’re talking about demons and angels and they’re killing people. There’s something wrong with them. Please run! Get help!”
Wait… why was Spencer staying in character? I just told him that this was Sagoth. Why didn’t he drop the act…
Sagoth wasn’t the one that had beaten him senseless and left him propped up against our door?
I felt a sudden pang of dread. This situation was spiralling out of control way faster than I could keep up with it.
O’Brien attempted damage control. “Everybody calm down. Donald, my name is Deputy Amelia O’Brien.”
“You’re a deputy?”
“And you think I’m a demon?”
“No. Of course not.”
“But that guy does.” he waved the flashlight at me, then pointed it at Spencer. “And this guy right here?”
“He’s a wanted criminal.”
“Ok, so that’s why you beat him up and duct taped him to a chair and hid him in a dark closet? Is that something deputies do?”
“No… not exactly.”
“Fuck this. I’m out.”
Before she could say anything else, Donald(?) turned and ran out the back door, letting another cold blast of freezing snow rush into the store before O’Brien raced out after him.
The only sound in the room for the next minute was Spencer laughing. No, not laughing. Cackling.
When he had finished, he said with a shit-eating grin, “This is getting fun.”
I wanted to run out after them. As stupid as it sounds, if I had been able to run, I would have. But they were gone, and O’Brien was an adult who made her own decision. All I could do was wait. The time crept by slowly, waiting for her to return. Intrusive mental images of a demon flaying my friend did not help. Neither did Spencer’s comments.
“Hey, Rosa, isn’t it?”
She looked up.
“Shut up.” I said.
“Let me just ask you one question. What exactly did Jack tell you about me? Huh? Did he try to sell you that horseshit about me being some kind of sociopath?”
Rosa answered, “The exact word he used was ‘psychopath.’”
Spencer laughed again.
“No, I’ve never hurt anyone before in my entire life. I came out here for Jack. I’m worried about him. You know what he has right? You know what FFI does to your brain? He shouldn’t be out here near other people, he needs to be in a hospital where he can’t hurt anybody else.”
“What do you mean ‘anybody else’?”
I crutch walked over to Spencer and considered hitting him, but decided against it for two reasons. First, that would have been embarrassingly ineffective. And second, it was obvious that that’s what he wanted. He was trying to flip Rosa and prove that I was the bad guy.
I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to engage in conversation.
“Do you have any idea how annoying it is to live with what you did to my leg?”
“I’d bet it’s not half as bad as what you did to any of the folks you killed. Why don’t we ask Kieffer? Or how about my old boss?”
“Hey! I didn’t kill your old boss.”
A second passed before he cracked a smile and I realized what I had done.
“What about Kieffer?” asked the soft, nervous voice from behind me.
“Oh,” I said turning to Rosa, “yeah, him either. I didn’t kill anybody.”
“Now let me ask you a question, Jack. You know, ‘cause you’re in such an honest mood right now. What ever happened to Carlos? Huh? I’ve been sitting here in the dark all night, and I can’t shake this weird thought. Am I the only one that wants to know why Carlos isn’t here?”
I looked at Jerry and said, “Put him in the cooler.”
We wheeled the psychopath into the walk-in, double checked that the duct tape was secure, then closed the door and propped a chair up against the handle. He could scream to his tiny black heart’s content in there and it wouldn’t bother us.
Ten more minutes passed before O’Brien returned to the store.
“He got away,” she said as she dusted the snow off of her jacket.
Jerry shattered a glass beer bottle against the wall and pointed the jagged fragment at her, yelling “Nice try, demon!”
She glared at him and said, “If you come near me with that thing, you better be ready to use it, because either I’m going down or you are.”
“He’s right,” I said.
“What?!” asked Rosa and O’Brien at the same time.
“O’Brien was alone out there with Sagoth for how long? We have no idea if you’re really you anymore.”
“Jack, I think you’re confused.”
Rosa raised her hand and said, “Why don’t we just ask her something that only the real O’Brien would know?”
“Good idea,” said Jerry, “Is Jack circumsized?”
“How the hell would I know that?” she answered.
Jerry looked at me, then back at her, then back at me.
“Oh, were you two not… ? Oh. I’m sorry, I think I totally misread that whole situation.”
“Remind me to kick your ass later,” she said, taking the words right out of my mouth before pointing her flashlight at the empty supply closet. “Where’s Spencer?”
I explained that he was trying to get into our heads, and we had no choice but to put him in there. It was self defense. Amazingly, she didn’t disagree. It took a minute for the situation to calm down, but eventually Jerry lowered his bottle-knife and agree that we would all just keep an eye on one another until daylight and backup came.
I lit the last of our candles and placed them all around the store, then got O’Brien alone in a corner. Jerry was still eye-balling us pretty hard, so I whispered quietly, “There’s something I think you need to see.”
“What is it?” she whispered back.
“I can’t say exactly. I need to show you.”
“Okay. Where is it?”
“I need Spencer’s phone.”
“Let me guess. It’s still on him?”
I nodded. In the midst of Spencer’s mind games, I had once again forgotten to steal his cell phone.
“I’ll be right back” she said.
I followed as close behind as possible as she crossed to the cooler and pulled back the chair. I definitely didn’t love the idea of opening that cooler door. Every time I think of Spencer, I convince myself that he’s already figured out a way to escape and he’s just a few seconds from falling down on me from the ceiling like evil Spider-man.
“What’s she doing?” asked Jerry in an atypical voice that I would call “concerned” if it were coming from anyone else.
We didn’t answer. Instead, O’Brien opened the door, pointed her flashlight at the still smiling Spencer, and walked up to him. I waited until she had put her flashlight on a shelf and reached her hand into Spencer’s pocket before I sprung into action, slamming the cooler door shut and pushing the chair back into place.
I could hear her muffled scream and slams against the other side of the metal door.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered.
“Dude. What the hell?”
I leaned my back against the cooler and looked at the shocked faces of Jerry and Rosa.
Had I made a mistake?
“If that really is O’Brien, then we’ll know in a few hours when help arrives. If it isn’t, then we’ve got the demon exactly where we need it.”
“What demon!” screamed the ever-inquisitive Rosa, “When did you start talking angels and demons?! I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but a person has their limits! All I know is that you’ve been acting strange all night, and then your friend shot me with a taser in my sleep, and then you come in with this guy that your all fanboying over so hard I expect you start drinking his bathwater, and then out of nowhere you start saying he’s a demon?!”
“Well, when you put it like that, sure, I guess this does look bad.”
“Where’s the gun? Huh? You two go outside and then Jerry just ‘loses’ the gun? How do we know you didn’t take it?”
“Yeah!” yelled Jerry. “How do we know you didn’t take it?”