He waited inside the glass door, looking out at the woman taking pictures of his truck. He spent much of his current life waiting behind doors, or stopped behind a convenient SUV, while people discussed his truck with looks of disdain and wonderment. Patience was a virtue, he told himself. He knew if he came out and headed towards it, she would hurry away. She’d probably feel bad or embarrassed at getting caught, so he wanted to avoid that. He certainly wanted to avoid any confrontation or discussion. That happened sometimes, too. Do-gooders, nosey-parkers and assholes liked to talk to him or at him. Regular folks just avoided him. Regular folks were okay, but would only talk to him if they didn’t know. It was kind of a catch-22, but it didn’t matter.
The woman finished taking photos and looked around the parking lot. She had a slightly worried look on her face. He wondered if she was worried about getting caught or about him. Her face turned towards him once but she didn’t see him. That was normal, too. He was forgettable; he blended into brick walls and glass doors. He blended into whatever was there. The only time he was visible was when he was near the truck. Life was funny that way. You could wear the camouflage uniform, put bushes in your helmet and paint your face the color of dark forests – the enemy saw you anyhow. You wore a ridiculous thrift-store conglomeration of ill-fitting seconds, walked in a shuffling gait, probably could use some human contact – and you became invisible to friendlies.
She walked to her own vehicle, fussing with her camera. He watched as she maneuvered through the lot and drove away. He stepped out into the dissipated light of the cloudy day and shuffled towards his truck. His leg was giving him pain today, which was nothing new either. After coming home wounded from Vietnam, pain was his only companion. The only one he could trust, anyhow.
He clambered into the driver’s seat and shoved his store bag into the tumbling avalanche of junk that threatened to engulf him from three directions. An empty, flattened box of HoHos slid down and landed between his legs. The HoHos box wasn’t even his. He had found the box on the ground just like all the other junk that almost completely filled the cab of his little truck. Staring at the colorful box, he wondered again why he did this. His eyes closed.
It took up the empty spaces. The junk filled the emptiness where people – a wife, a friend, a grown child – should be sitting. Instead, his wounds scarred over externally with detritus. He packed himself into his own spaces like a sardine. It felt better that way. Open spaces unnerved him, but filling them with the cast-offs of living people made him feel protected and safe. Soldiers with ragged limbs, blown off jaws and those desperate eyes couldn’t fit between the crumbled McDonald's bags, snack wrappers, plastic food containers and free flyers that wedged his world as tight as he could make it.
His left hand moved over his eyes, while the right grasped the HoHos box. Sighing at himself, he crammed the box into the pile on the dashboard then started the truck. He’d be home soon and could sit in his chair amidst a towering canyon of junk. Be safe, but alone – the two thoughts chased perpetual circles in his mind as he drove out of the lot.