Her car smelled AW (short pause) FUL. It was a nasty, sickly sweet smell. It might have been all of the Ricola (moment of silence for the lady in stockings with a big horn to come in and sing “Ri – co – la” … just like in the commercials) wrappers lying everywhere. But that was just the first thing I noticed as I opened the door; there was also a long muddied sock crumpled up on the floor of the passenger side and a plastic container, which I made the mistake of opening up. There was a lot of stuff in the back too (you could tell because from the outside of the car you could see things pressed up against the windows), but I was too scared to look back there ‘cause I had a sneaking premonition that poor old Richard was back there and probably the only thing worse than him being back there would be him knowing that I knew he was back there.
Richard was the name of the man that I had decided was living in our garage. Our garage door, one of the two garage doors that we had and never used, though many hours of work had been spent to make these never-used garage doors work with a remote control, and no one could argue with the fact that they were much easier to not use with remote controls. Our garage door kept on opening (and sometimes even closing) without our permission. It was the right door and the only way to open it was by using the button inside the garage or one of the two garage door openers. Since the two owners of the two garage door openers were certain that they were not opening the garage door, then it had to be Richard.
I had seen Richard once. We had just driven up to the house, parked parallel to the sidewalk, and found the garage door opened. As we walked towards it, there was a sound to our left – a sound made by a man closing our gate and then running away. Someone went to check on Killer, our ferocious guard dog who had hid in the bushes to watch the man run out of our gate. I went in the garage to check on it and maybe find some clue as to the opening and closing of the garage door. There was an old blanket on top of some old trash, which for all I knew had always been there, but it wasn’t the blanket that caught my attention so much as the shape of the blanket. It looked like someone had just been sitting on that blanket.
After closing the garage door with one of the openers, for I was one of the owners of one of the openers, I went inside and broke the news to my roommates that a homeless man was probably living in our garage. I didn’t tell them, though, about the blanket ‘cause I only wanted them to worry the appropriate amount that one should worry about a homeless man who might be living in your garage that you never use and I definitely did not want them to slide into that freakish over-dramatic kind of worrying that some girls do when they see a blanket that might have been used by a homeless man that might be living in their garage that they never use.
I also tried not to tell myself too much about the blanket because the shape on the blanket could have just as easily been a dog shape as a homeless man shape, but I felt sorry for the homeless man and wanted him to have a blanket and a warm garage that nobody ever used to stay in.
I named the homeless man Richard, maybe because he looked like a Richard or maybe because every Richard I’ve known could have passed as a homeless man at some point, or maybe because my knew favorite font to use at school was called Poor Old Richard and I was pretty sure that the homeless man would like the font also. Any how, I liked poor old Richard, and on some really cold nights I probably “unconsciously” push the button on my garage door opener … if not to help poor old Richard then at least to keep us wondering, “How does that garage door keep on opening and closing?”