There is a building on my street that plays non-stop soul and blues music. All day and night. There are a couple of small industrial parks that surround it and a grocery store with a 24 hr gas station, and a kids school across the street. The remains of a retired railway track runs along the side of the store and behind the school. The music rings out down the wooded trail beside them constantly. It was here at the entrance to the rail trail, in the middle of a Brazilian Samba tune that I met Daniel Soultrace. He worked the nightshift at the gas bar and must have just got off work from the night before. I saw him often. I knew he biked to work. The fact that he had only one useful arm never slowed him down, but something wasn’t right with him this morning.
I walk that trail all the time with my dog and we know a few people around there. Mostly other dog walkers, but sometimes, employees. People out on their breaks or lunches. A walk away rom their nearby job. That morning, the gas station attendant walked toward me.
“Would you happen to have a light?”
I’d never talked to him before but he knew my face to see and we nodded something non-verbal to each other. I gave him my lighter. He looked like he really needed some sleep and was pushing his bike. He lit his cigarette. It was cold out just after the sun rise and he looked up at me squarely,
“I lost my wallet and my bike keys at work somehow last night.” Then I noticed he didn’t have his bike. “I left the bike locked up at the station and decided to walk but it’s a long way and I was going to have this smoke and just thing about it.”
Wow, I thought what a strange thing. Just that morning my I forgot my keys and was locked out for a little while.
“Oh, wow. Do you need some help? I don’t have a car but I can get you something to eat and a bus ride home. I know, you work at the gas station. We can work it out later. All good” I said.
“Yeah. No problem. Thanks. I’ll need to catch a bus and get my brother’s set of keys off of him at work.” he said and kind of kicked the dusty trail. “Coffee and a place to sit down would be great. I spent the night outside too.”
“Outside?” I said. “It was 12° below last night.” And we walk away toward the nearest road back into town.
At the coffee shop Daniel and I had coffee and two muffins. He used my cell phone to call his brother and all was set for a smooth landing at home. His wallet would turn up. Or at least I thought it would. I overheard him say to his brother, ‘but Stan, I swear that wallet was chained to my hip!”
When our conversation resumed I could see that Daniel was determined to get this episode overnight off his chest.
– – – –
And so the story goes… Daniel is having a busy night asking people who are trying to park in the station lot to leave. Most leave right away. Those that don’t know the police aren’t far way and all Daniel has to do is press the speed dial. When the people leave the lot in their cars they go across the street to the building that plays the soul/blues music all the time. There are lots of cars going in there tonight, probably 20 or 30 that he saw and he wondered. So later in the night about 2am before his first break he wanders over to the all night audio source. He likes what he hears and when the traffic clears he crosses the street. There is a side driveway entrance that drops off into the darkness quite quickly. He saw the odd car go down there but they weren’t there now.
ANd so the story goes… The cars are disappearing into the music filled parking area of the building. There is no sign of them parked and there isn’t another way out from behind the building. The tracks are on one side and the school stretches around it. The music brought him back to present time and he let some more traffic go by before he crossed the street again to get his lunch. He had the keys to the kiosk, a wireless phone in his back pocket, his utility tool and flashlight in his front pocket.
He sat down to eat his snack for break and decided to check out the satellite image looking behind the building across the street. There had to be a back exit.
He only had his high visibility vest to keep him warm until someone came with the keys to let him in. He wouldn’t be able to
“But I didn’t feel it,” he said. “The music across the street brought me out of the kiosk