If you know, your known

If you know, you’re known

The summer breeze marched in through the slightly propped open door. The bell rang out its lullaby from its position hanging from the door handle. The mixed merchandise of snacks, beer, and some necessities flutter from the breeze. The magazine rack sways from the flimsy metal it’s made of. As precipitation drips from my water bottle, the half broken digital clock reads 6 o’clock in the morning. I switch the light that says open on. This is just another start to a busy day.
Knox fort, or most people know it as Little Knox fort, is the smallest town and the only town in an 80-mile radius. This also means that I am the only gas station within a 50-mile radius. I get a lot of business because of that. I also get a lot of the same people, most from the little town.
I live in the upstairs of my shop. Most people just know me as the guy who works at the gas station, a quiet-stick-to himself kind of guy. They may know some things about me, but they can’t read me like I can read them. Everything I need is in the store, aside from a few things, so why would I leave? People may judge me for this, but in the end I am the one who knows everything about everyone who comes into my store. The big hints are from what they buy. It’s really easy, especially with my ten years of experience.
The mayor walks in so I reach for his favorite cigars. He heads towards the cappuccino machine. Every day he picks up a candy bar that he drops at the Little Knox fort elementary school for his daughter. The mayor is married to infertile old hag. The child is from an affair four years ago that he has kept on the down low.
Next to walk in is another regular. A blonde girl wearing trench coat named Chichi. Her parents burned in a fire four years ago. She has always been a sweetheart, but over the last few months she turned eighteen, and she started to change. Her groceries have changed from the regular food and necessities, to a gallon of ice cream, men’s changeable razor blades, and her usual diet mountain dew. Her physical state made me worried, dark hollow eyes with deep circles around them, and how skinny she had gotten. When she comes up to pay her total is $11.72, she searches through her bag and come out with twelve ones. It disgusts and saddens me to know they came from the men’s club thirty minutes away. Her trench coat flutters lightly aside to show her skimpy body covered in only the amount of clothing to keep you cool on a hundred degree summer day. She gives a weak smile and accepts her change then walks away in her black stiletto heals.
A half an hour later the principal walks in followed by a shorter, shy looking man. The have stopped in every Monday morning for last two months to get gas and breakfast. He always has a hearty smile on and tells me of their night out on the like fishing. They smile at each other with lust. I didn’t realize the first few times they came in but now I know. The thing they do not know is that his wife came in last night for a case of beer and complained to me of her problems. The main problem is how she thinks her husband is having an affair with a woman, especially when he keeps leaving for all weekend school “conferences”. I try not to smirk knowing that she is completely right except for the women part. He buys a people magazine and whip cream.
It’s seven thirty in the morning when the group comes in. Almost every morning before school they come into my gas station. I can smell skunk, as usual, and I already know what they are going to get. The four of them will pick up eight drinks, two for each, and a bag of ranch munchies. Then the tallest and obviously oldest boy comes up to the counter and buys a grape swisher sweet. He is the “leader” in the group of three guys and one girl. The boy whose name I believe is Chance yells over to the older boy, Grant, to pick him up another lighter. Grant smiled. His eyes were already as red as the sun. I know what they will be doing on the way to school, getting high. It is a step up from the markers they stole a few years ago to sniff. They were now smoking marijuana. They were the stoners of our town. I know the girl’s mother and father. Her mom is a Sunday school teacher and her dad a parole officer. She used to be the sweet innocent girl.
Next comes in Riley. She has stolen too many times but caught just as much. She is a high school drop out who just got out of juvie. She looks at me with radiant eyes, building with fire. She grabs bleach and laundry detergent, four bags of chips, and a pack of hot dogs. She slips a pregnancy test in her pants when she thinks I’m not looking. I feel to bad for her to call her out. She walks to the counter avoiding my gaze. She leaves with her bags, along with her words.
Many more people come through that day. Most I know, others just passing through town. When it’s almost time to close up, a middle-aged man named Bruce walks in. No one in the town really likes him. Let’s just say he is an odd character. He lives alone in the woods so many have their suspicions. I however try not to judge. He looks as though he is fighting voices in his head. Maybe it is just his own conscience. He grabs a twelve pack and a bottle of bleach. He walks up to the counter. I ask his night is going and the only response I get is a nod. His eyes keep darting out the windows. I don’t know him as well and he is harder to read than others. I hand him his bag of groceries and he quickly walks out. The day is over and it’s time to close and clean up for the night. Just another long day tomorrow.’
I am up at five getting dressed when I hear someone banging on the gas station door. I look out my window to see two cop cars. I grab a sweatshirt and head downstairs assuming they just need some coffee like the other days I have let them in early. I let them in and can see on their faces that coffee was the last thing on their mind. They ask to have a word and I invite them in. We sit in the back at the table near the not so hot “hot food”. They tell me of a boy who was killed last night, poisoned. I ask what I can do to help even though I know they want to everything I know about this town. I told them I have no truths of a killer in this town. They tell me the last place he was seen was near my gas station. They also explained what actions they are taking to take of this matter. This included running tests to find what had poisoned the boy. They then tell me that they need to take me in for more questioning. I am a suspect. I obliged although astonished.
In the cop car behind bars, the officer’s phone rings. He picks up mumbles a bit then hangs up. He tells his partner that the boy was poisoned with bleach. While we start to pull out of the parking lot the officer in the passenger seat tells the driver to stop. He gets out and walks over to the dumpsters on the side of the gas station. Two empty bleach bottles sit on the mounds of trash. I never put those out there, but when the cop gets back in the car, he starts to read me my rights. I know so much, but who knew me. No one. The killer must have known me.





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