"I sleep with cans of food!"
"I have to get away. He's going to kill me. Something bad is going to happen."
"Right. But first let's finish learning these second declension nouns..."
Pat insisted I help him find a storage space so he could at least keep his stuffed animals and pictures of his dead cat safe from his father (isn't this a Kafka story?). And he needed me to use my credit card to rent the space. So off we drove to Commerce City, land of warehouses, weeds, and Wendy O. Williams.
I went into the Public Storage office, while Pat stayed outside. The manager lady led me to the nearest warehouse while Pat skulked along behind us.
"That's Pat, my friend," I said. "He's the one renting the unit, actually."
The lady narrowed her eyes. Then, sighing, she unlocked the door to the warehouse.
"No. This won't work."
I explained that the warehouse had fluorescent lights, and Pat couldn't be under them. So we marched back to the office where the manager called around town and found us a unit that was a drive up. We thanked the lady and then went off to the new Public Storage, only to go to the wrong one. How many frickin' Public Storages are there in Commerce City?! And is that Wendy O. Williams talking to a wino??
Pat again stayed outside while I talked to the property manager in her office. Then we piled into a golf cart to inspect the unit. We went up and down over the rolling pavement.
"Can you make this launch?" Pat suddenly said.
"I can feel you've got a pretty good engine. Do you ever launch this over the bumps and get the cart airborne?"
"No, I'm afraid not," the lady said. "This is company property. It's not my cart."
"But do you ever try it when it's late at night?"
"You never wanted to try it just once? Just launch it once...??"
We saw the unit. The lady explained how the lock worked, and Pat jumped back whenever the lady came within his thirty-foot personal space. Once the gate was open, Pat objected that there was dampness in the corners. We piled back into the cart and drove very boringly and non-launchingly to the next unit. This one was more acceptable. Back to the office we went, and I filled out paperwork, signing and initialing enough forms to choke a horse. At one point, I saw Pat outside throwing a stick at the ground. He'd pick up the stick and then throw it at the same spot. Again and again. Then the lady had more papers for me...
"Your friend is pretty interesting," she said.
"I'm his Latin tutor," I said.
The lady looked at me.
"But also he has Asperger's, and stuff."
"So how old do you think he is?"
The lady looked out the window. Pat was practicing karate moves. "Fifteen. Sixteen?"
An hour later everything was official. Pat had his father-free space. On our way back, Pat asked if I would buy him something.
"Copenhagen, long cut?"
He wanted a thing of tobacco. Lately he'd been chewing to deal with his stress. I bought him the Copenhagen at the gas station and then we drove off into the sunset. After our journey together, I found that I had learned something: Wendy O. Williams died a long time ago.