Dani watched carefully as Jimmy rattled the sliding gate. The two of them had managed to get the crooked and bent gate back fully onto the track but it was uneven and rattled terribly. The metal was fatigued and out of balance. The supports were heavily bent by the front fender of the Cadillac the day before.
“Can we fix the frame?” she asked hopefully.
Jimmy took a step back to study the entirety of the gate mechanism. His red hair and beard were looking particularly vibrant in the morning sun. It was amazing what a solid night’s rest could do for anyone’s appearance, even if they were still covered in filth from who knows how many days on the run. Then again, the chance to get some rest without the fear of being eaten by the living dead seemed to be as good as it got these days.
“Well, if we could dismount the entire sliding section and set it on the concrete I think we could at least make it a little less… shitty.” He turned and smiled sheepishly. “Sorry, this was our fault. I really shouldn’t be joking.”
Dani shrugged. “Sure, but I don’t blame you two. I don’t know about Bob, though. You guys had no way of knowing anyone was here. What were the odds?”
She tapped the box of padlocks with the toe of her sneakers. She watched the locks shift slightly.
Jimmy took another step back and scratched at his beard. “Well, I think this gate is too risky to use right now. I’d really like to brace it. At least you have that side entrance.”
Dani peered into the parking lot that sat outside the gate. The moving truck was parked tightly against the front office’s shattered door. There was glass everywhere and she has still not finished reinforcing the temporary barrier to her liking. Now she had the front gate to contend with as well. So far, staying here had proven to be one setback after another in the worst possible time in history for setbacks. She sighed.
“I had a thought on that, actually.” Dani pointed to the parking spots inside the facility, just to the left of the gate, near another moving truck parked in one of the slots. Her own car, the Focus, was parked next to it. “I’m not planning to go anywhere immediately, maybe we can chain the gate up in a couple more spots and use my car to brace it. At least for now.”
“What about the truck?” he asked. “That’d be a bit sturdier, right?”
Dani shook her head.
“I’d rather save the truck for a possible run on supplies later, you know?”
Jimmy nodded. “That’s not a bad idea. That truck could hold a whole hell of a lot.” She could see the gears were turning in his head. “Let’s focus on the gate for now. We’ll see what Big Ed and Bob bring back.”
As though they were summoned, a golf cart rounded the corner from between the E and I rows of the facility, dragging behind it a small trailer. Edgar pulled up and parked the cart just off to the side of the entrance. Bob rose from the passenger seat and made his way to the trailer.
“Me n’ Edgar here combed through that contractor’s unit. Got some materials” Bob wheezed.
“Any chains,” Dani asked.
“Got evening plans, chica?” Edgar smirked.
Dani extended a middle finger toward the giant man.
“Gonna pretend you didn’t say that there, ‘Big Ed,’” Bob growled.
Edgar shrugged. “Just joking, man.”
“Big Ed” was apt. Edgar was a tall man and heavyset, but not quite fat; a burly Mexican in his early 30s. His head looked as though it was normally shaved, but given the light growth of hair on his scalp now he was unable to keep up with it. Dani understood why.
Bob’s dark, wrinkled hands dug into the trailer and pulled out a couple of lengths of chain. “These good enough, kiddo?”
“Perfect, we’re gonna need to chain this gate up nice and tight for now.” She took the chain from Bob and handed it to Jimmy. He started wrapping it around the bottom corner of the entrance slider and the frame.
“I was planning on moving my car here to block it off a bit,” she added.
Jimmy had finished wrapping the chain and fished for a padlock from the box Dani had brought out. He locked up the gate and stood back up. “Edgar and I can move the Caddie over to the exit gate, here,” he said as he approached the trailer.
“The fuck we are,” Edgar interjected, “why would we do that? We’re outta here in a bit.”
Jimmy shook his head. “We owe them, man.”
“And we’re fuckin’ helping them.”
“Look, Dani and I talked it over and I was thinking we could stay-”
Dani raised an eyebrow. “When did we talk about this?”
“I was just about to bring it up,” Jimmy beamed.
“You makin’ plans without me, Jimmy?” Edgar sounded indignant.
Bob had already taken a seat in the golf cart again, as though he expected a long discussion. Edgar stepped closer to Jimmy. He was a head shorter than Jimmy, who was strikingly tall, but Edgar was most definitely more solid. They were an odd pair. She wondered how they came into each other’s lives.
“Look, Red,” Edgar started, tightening his fists to his side and tensing his arms, “we had a plan. We’d get the weed and head to San Diego. I already lost some of it to pay them back.”
“It’s good stuff,” Bob chimed in.
Edgar stared daggers at the cart. He turned back to Jimmy. “Why do you want to stay here? Got a crush on Lucy Liu over there?”
“Fuck off,” Dani growled.
Jimmy turned to Dani and gestured toward her with his shoulders raised and hands pointing to his friend. Dani shook her head.
He turned back to Edgar. “Look, dude. You saw how many of those things were just around here, how many d’you think are gonna be on the fuckin’ way south? The freeway down there goes through some goddamn mountains.” Jimmy scratched the back of his head. “It’s a goddamn deathtrap in there,” he muttered.
Bob seemed to take notice of Jimmy’s choice of words because he had turned around in his seat to stare at the tall redheaded man. He said nothing but watched with interest.
“Yeah, but we had a plan, man,” Edgar almost sounded upset.
“The plan was shit, dude.”
Edgar lost the tension in his arms and shoulders and slumped slightly. He crossed his arms and set his eyes across the street, not looking at his friend. “You fuckin’ know why I want to get out of here, man. Don’t make me go alone.”
“We could be safe here, man.” Jimmy spread his arms and twisted his body to point out the area. “This place has some nice walls and we wouldn’t be… alone. We can come up with a plan.”
Edgar still didn’t look at Jimmy. “You don’t even know if we can even stay here, man” Edgar said quietly.
“As long as Dani and Sandy are good with it I am too,” Bob chimed in again from the cart.
Jimmy smiled and lightly punched his friend in the shoulder. “See, man, this is where you gotta be charming. We gotta win them over and you bein’ a bitch ain’t gonna help.”
Dani shook her head. “There is a woman standing right here, asshole. Expand your vocabulary.”
Bob laughed. Jimmy didn’t respond. He just stared at Edgar. Finally, Edgar turned his attention to Jimmy, uncrossed his arms, and shrugged. “If they’re cool, I guess we can stay for a bit and draw up some plans or whatever, man.”
Jimmy turned to Dani and Bob and threw them a cheesy grin and a thumb’s up. “Fuck yeah.”
Thank you for reading the eleventh installment of the Haunted MTL original series, The Dead Life. Please share your thoughts about the story with us.