Volume 35, Number 2

In Storage

I think these things through. The trick: a hacksawed
key lock, hung on the storage unit door, appearing whole.
Security walkers flashlight the rows, checking
that all is well; that’s when monitors can be skirted.
Housing laws declare storage locker occupation illegal,
on behalf of optionless people: sanitation issues, lack
of ventilation, the winter despondency of available light.

Ten cubic feet crowded with a curb-free sofa, garbage bags
filled with yellow-bin pilfered clothes, and a roll
of black duct tape for sealing the inside edges
when I’m there—at $125 a month, I’ll suffer it—
the cold price, and the five-gallon bucket in the corner.

Those are my possessions. I’m fortunate
that management’s too lazy and cheap to check
their fuzzy screens of people’s coming and going.
There’s no insulation to the walls; sudden thrash
and noise comes at all hours of the night, the criminal
and the insane stowing large rug-rolled bags or
hitting the cases of bottles hidden from the spouse.

Technically: I’m trespassing, in violation
of a rental agreement. The dumpster out back
of the units overflows regularly with the debris
cluttering up people’s lives. I pick and carry and pawn
what I can. I prefer barter. But I will drag-heft
a rocking chair for three miles if five dollars awaits
the exchange. No car, no job, no desire to sleep on
a godless cot after soup and a sermon. With no electricity
I eat only cold and stable staples—mostly chips.
The doors are industrially designed with no locks
on the inside. I secure myself, best as I can.
Pondering my next move. I’m dwelling here.

—Scott T. Hutchison