I am on my way home after setting up cameras in Long Eaton near Nottingham. The fuel gauge hovers tantalisingly between just-enough-to-get-me-home and not-quite-enough. Trowell Services is a mile away and I resolve to stop as I also need to pay the loos a visit.
I have been avoiding Trowell Services since a peculiar incident which took place there a couple of years ago. It was around 3 a.m. when I went in and the station was deserted, a grotesque Mary Celeste with inedible food and unpalatable prices. That day I could have served myself with the most expensive revolting food money can buy for free as the place looked literally abandoned. “No doubt asleep on the floor behind the counter”, I reasoned to myself as I made my way to the toilets.
Standing facing the urinals, there was a deathly silence broken by a sudden shuffling sound. I turned and looked towards the cubicles. All doors were open apart from the one furthest away. My gaze automatically dropped to the gap under the cubicles and there came that shuffling sound again followed by a mop of blond frizzy hair sliding under the partition into the neighbouring cubicle. I stood motionless for a second as the mop then, exorcist-like, slowly rotated to look me directly in the eyes. Had I not been weeing already, it is quite probable I would have done so at this point. Even so, as I ran from the toilets, I didn’t care whether or not I had quite finished what I had gone in to do.
Now facing the same urinal I did that night, I glance over my left shoulder at the cubicle once again, and it then becomes clear I must have imagined the whole scene: the partition gaps are not wide enough to fit a head through it. Could I really have been hallucinating?
Presently at the pump, I hold the trigger until it clicks to signify the tank is full. I thrash it about to clear any fuel left in the nozzle and as I draw it out a stream of diesel dribbles down my expensive Diesel jeans. I look up and notice I am being observed by a woman with blonde frizzy hair who is using the other side of my pump. She smiles half amused, half flirting.
“No matter how much you shake it, some always ends up down your trousers”, I say.
“Your flies are open”, she says.