It was a typical Washington Christmas - no snow, just they bleak grey drizzle of a lazy rain. I was nineteen and working alone, which rendered me mostly useless to the few patrons I had. They wanted beer or wine coolers which I was not old enough to sell to them. I had to lock the beer cooler doors. The state run liquor stores (the only kind we have) were all closed for the holiday and people were irritable and hateful, as people tend to be on Christmas.

To pass time, I cleaned the whole store, including the bathroom and the gas pumps. Top to bottom with orange soap that corroded the skin from my hands. I played the radio and chain-smoked.

Mid-afternoon, it got ghost town dead, something out of a Stephen King novel. Then a Porsche pulled up, parked right in front of the doors and they whooshed open. It looked like a survivor of several accidents, an unfortunate orange splotched with primer, dented and warped with rust.

The driver emerged and he was a morose business man, expensive suit, leather butter wallet. He wanted cigarettes and matches (people who want matches are cheap or non-smokers). I thanked him and made the appropriate noises about Christmas and he replied with a terse comment almost close to politeness. The rich never really see gas station employees.

He stood outside, in front of the Porsche, staring at the empty boulevard for two hours. He smoked most of the pack. He didn't use the payphone, the bathroom. One, maybe two people came and went, commenting on his presence (that late in the day, people will talk to anyone who's not a family member). Clearly he was not a fidgeter - he stood almost entirely still for the whole two hours.

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