I had been in a dreamless coma when the vague sound of flowing water gently nudged me awake. For a moment I didn’t know where I was. Everything was dark with only the faint edges of objects visible in the spill of a fluorescent bulb outside. The water now sounded like rain running over leaves leaves then splatting on soil. ‘Who’s watering plants in the dark?’ I thought.
My eyes began to adjust and I could just make out the form of someone standing over a potted plant several feet away. I said something like, ‘What are you doing?’ A sluggish response came back: ‘I had to go’. It was Kevin, who, I now understood, was pissing in one of the shop’s potted plants.
In my sleep-addled state I could only think to say, ‘You’re kidding?‘ as Kevin finished up. I fumbled for my headlamp and pointed it his way. ‘Why are you pissing in a plant?’ I asked.
Half-speaking and half-yawning, Kevin replied, ‘Because there’s no toilet.’ It dawned on me a that moment that we had been so exhausted, so out of it, we didn’t think to ask where the toilet was. ‘There’s gotta be,‘ I said, then shimmied out of my bag and scanned the room with my headlamp to find the light switch. Flipped one after another. Nothing. Wrapped back up in his sleeping bag, Kevin said, ‘They don’t work.’
For whatever reason, the shop owner had turned off the main power for the night. I mumbled something to the effect of, ‘Well, we can’t piss in the guy’s plants all night,’ while scanning the shop with my headlamp. ‘Wasn’t there a door back here?’ I asked, training my headlamp on the rear walls. Before the light from my headlamp could land on it, Kevin offered a helpful, ‘It’s locked…’
Didn’t believe him and walked over to trythe door myself. He was right–it was locked. What the hell? It was the only door in the place other than the open front. Just as the thought came that I’d go outside, my headlamp landed on the steel gate rolled down at the open front of the building. I walked over and reached down to lift the gate. It didn’t budge.
I was shining my headlamp across the gate, hoping to find a handle or lock to open the gate from the inside, when it occurred to me that security gates generally don’t need handles on the inside. People close and lock them from the outside when they leave at night. And that’s just what the owner had done.