I was escorted to the entrance, handed my things, told to change back into the clothing they handed me, musty with stale smoke and sweat and years of storage in plastic bags. The few hundred dollars cash that had been in my wallet was still there. They let me use the phone, since my out-of-date and expired cellphone's battery was dead as a doornail, and they wanted me out of there.
My brother didn't answer my call.
The taxi service dropped me off at the storage units where I'd told my brother to put what little stuff I'd left in the shitty apartment I'd had before I'd done time. I didn't know if he'd actually done what I asked as he'd never said that he had. He hadn't much talked to me the whole time I was in. But the key let me into the security gate around the storage units.
I went to my unit, put in the key, and it turned. The door opened, and there was all my stuff. The relief nearly floored me. My brother had paid the rent like I'd asked. In front was my construction work boots, tool belt, nail gun, hard hat, and electric screw driver and batteries. All neatly arranged the way I always did after work. The clothing bureau was to one side, as was the half-full hamper and a dump of boxes from the damned apartment. I changed right in the unit, something I'd done many times, and stuffed the prison clothing with its memories of one night of rage that had blown away four years, into the hamper. I opened the bureau, tossed the dustiest stuff on top into the hamper, and put the next layer on, clean cloth against my skin, and put another change of clothing into my day bag that lay on top of the bureau.
I knew how being homeless worked. The stuff that I needed locked up and safe was in here, everything I took with me would be at risk. I left the work equipment in here, until I found a lead on a union job, it would be safer here, no matter where I stayed. The shelters were the worst for losing stuff, but cheap hotels were no better.
But I had all the things I'd accumulated from Before, and I was ready to face the world outside again.