I met the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson in a U-Haul truck rental shop this morning.
It hadn't been my intention to find him, or anyone else for that matter. I drove the shiny new U-Haul to the agency closest to my house, over on the west side of town near where 14 and 94 hook up, and my only intention was to leave it there, and never think about it again. But when I arrived, and had parked the beast firmly in the handicapped parking area, I discovered an empty building. Walking in, the till was on my left, unmanned, with the door to the little 'security booth' wide open. I looked around and there was a dirty sign hanging near the back that said 'U-Haul' and had an arrow pointing into an office-cum-storage-area. The desk looked recently occupied, and the computer was on, but noone was there. I saw people working in the garage next door, so I opened the door and attracted the attention of one of them. He told me someone would be back soon.
There not being a lot of things going on in the office-cum-storage-area, I wandered back to the convenience store portion of the establishment. I was contemplating whether or not I should take a soda, and eventually pay for it (or not) based on the elapsed time between summoning and arrival of the U-Haul man, when a car pulled up to the front of the store. A guy got out and walked in - he must have been buying something stored behind the counter, because he immediately queued up at the register. I walked around to see if anyone had arrived to take over the till, but there was still noone there. The guy looked kind of uneasy, like you might if you were queued up waiting for someone who might or might not exist. I wandered over to him, admired his clown pants, and said 'it's kinda creepy, isn't it? Noone here at all'. He turned to look at me, and my eyes shifted to the lip ring I hadn't noticed before. He was young, and I think I scared him, because his voice kind of stuttered as he replied 'y-yeah'. At that moment the mechanic I had spoken to, who apparently was also wearing every other hat at the place, rushed in to help the guy. I grabbed him in passing and he said 'he's coming'.
I went back to the office-cum-storage-area, and after a bit more admiring of the decor, the ghost showed up.
He was wearing one of those t-shirts that had the sleeves torn off, and had been split from the armpit down to near the waist, so it sorta billows while you wear it. He was skinny, and wearing a cap of some sort. He looked like he had been roused from uncomfortable sleeping conditions, probably recently. The more I think about it, the harder he becomes to tell from the image I have in my mind of Hunter Thompson, or Duke, or some strange melange. He took the keys and headed out to the truck. Coming back in, he told me that there had been a lot of trucks goin' back and forth to Kalamazoo, which was where I had driven in from. "I don't mind taken their money," he said, "but I don't know why they all just don't rent a big truck and split it!" I didn't really know what to say to that, so there was a moment of silence until he pointed out that the mileage on my form suggested I had driven over two thousand miles coming from Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor. I said I didn't know how that could have happened, and he, excusing the typographical error of some guy he would never meet in Kalamazoo, responded "mistakes happen!" He changed the contract so I had 3000 miles on my one day rental, closed it out, and sent me off.