Steve was so lost in thought he walked past Mick’s Bar. He was two blocks away before he realized it. He walked back and found the back of the bar. A stairway led to the basement. He tried the key to the door and it opened.
It was dark. There was a heavy odor of beer and cardboard. He felt along the side of the door and found a light switch. He flicked the light on. Beer cases were stacked neatly along a brick wall. It was an old basement, but clean.
He walked down an aisle of beer cases. At the end of the aisle to his right a stairs led up and to his left was a crudely made door. Above it was a card board sign that read, “Steve’s Office.”
Steve opened the door and walked in. The room was lit by the light from a small street view window. In the room was a cot and a small chest of drawers. The cot was neatly made with olive drab army blankets. Cobwebs were between the open joist of the floor above.
He sat on the bed, leaned forward, and opened the drawers. In the top drawer was a three under shorts, two pairs of white socks, and three tee-shirts. He opened the second drawer. There was a pair of well-worn kaki pants, and a black sweatshirt. He opened the bottom drawer laid a worn and tattered black satchel.
He pulled the satchel from the drawer and sat it on the floor. He opened it. Nothing was on the inside. He unzipped a side pocket. He found a bus ticket – St. Josephs, MO to Des Moines, IA.
“St. Josephs,” he muttered. “Steve is not my name. St. is short fore Steve. I made it up. I’m not even Steve.”
There was a knock at the door and it slowly opened. A thin man with red curly hair slowly slipped in.
“Steve,” he said concerned. “Where the heck you been. I was about ready to throw your stuff out?”
“Are you Mick?” Steve said.
“Of course I’m Mick,” Mick said. “What’s going on?”
“I have no recollection of being here ever,” Steve said.
“Than how did you show up here?” Mick said.
“This morning I woke up on a park bench,” Steve said. “I walked toward the sound of a pneumatic wrench.”
“Yeah,” Mick said. “TireRamma, you work there on an as needed basis.”
“I showed a guy named Hank a key that I found in my pocket and he told me it was probably to the basement door to this place,” Steve said.
“You look okay,” Mick said. “You could use some cleaning up and a shave.”
“Now tell me what you know about me,” Steve said.
Mick sat next to Steve. “You came in here about three months ago and asked if you could earn few bucks mopping the floor. We got to talkin’. I read people. You seemed okay to me. You said you were a little down on your luck. I told you if you kept the place clean you could have this room for free and you could have leftovers from the kitchen.”
“And I told you my name was Steve Joseph?” Steve said.
“That’s the name you gave me,” Mick said.
“Did I tell you were I was from or anything about myself?” Steve said.
“You didn’t talk much,” Mick said. “I’d give you a story or two hoping to swap with you, but you never offered up anything. But you’re a darn good worker. This place hadn’t ever been so clean. I thought about upping prices.”
Steve buried his face in his hands.
“Steve,” Mick said. “What can I do for you?”
“Is this my things?” Steve said.
“Yeah,” Mick said.
Steve began to empty the drawers and stuff the clothing into the satchel.
“What are you doing?” Mick said.
“I’m fired ain’t I?” Steve said.
“No,” Mick said. “I figured you got jailed and I wouldn’t see you again. You’re not fired.”
“But the thing is,” Steve said. “I’m certain Steve is not my name either.”
“Well that’s a heck of a thing,” Mick said. “That’s even more of a reason to stick around. What are you going to do wander around Des Moines and ask people if they know you. You should stay here.”
“Maybe you’re right,” Steve said.
“I was about to give you an old TV for down here,” Mick said. “Kind of make it more like home.”
“I feel as if you’ve been very good to me,” Steve said.
“So let’s get your things back in the drawer and try to figure some things out,” Mick said.
“It’s just like staring at a blank wall,” Steve said. “But the problem is that there is nothing on the other side. I don’t know who I am now and I know I’m not Steve Joseph.”
“Stay on here for a while and we’ll try to get you some help,” Mick said.
“What if I’m wanted for a crime?” Steve said. “Sending me back to jail would be unbearable. The prison I’m in now is bad enough.”
“Let’s keep this between me and you for now,” Mick said. “Maybe things will start to click for you before long.”
Mick stood. “Does that sound good to you?”
“Yeah,” Steve said. “It’s not like I got someplace to go.”
Mick opened the door and turned to Steve. “I’ll check in on you later.”
“Mick,” Steve said. “When do I mop your place?”
“You usually get up, start at five in the morning, restock the coolers and then clean and mop.” Mick said. “Come up in a little while and I’ll show you where everything is again.”
Steve nodded and Mick left the room.