Mysteries, Storage Units

Something Most Sinister

From the sky, mountain tops are being kissed by autumn. In a helicopter my husband has watched leaves turn to a shade of honey and ruby red. Waves of color cascades rolling hills as October temperatures descend until it grips the valley below.

The scent of baked apples stuffed with oatmeal wafts from an oven door and fills our little house. I drizzle some molasses across it before dusting the treat with cinnamon. Haunted hay rides have begun and there are festivals to attend almost every weekend from now until Christmas. My Audible and Kindle are full of murder mysteries to curl up with when the weather becomes too dreary for serious farm work.

Several pairs of muck boots line the wall next to our front door in preparation of a muddy season. Meanwhile, I mourn the loss of my cut flower garden as a chill takes their life. While Nikolai is gearing up to order a matching Halloween costumes with Scribbles, my husband enlisted our assistance with treats and treasures of his own. It’s amazing how events in my life line up with the perfect stories to tell during spooky season. I hope you’re ready for them.

Around this time last year Rob put in a bid on a storage unit in the middle of Atlanta. A small outdoor facility located in an unsavory part of town. Beat up cars lined both sides of the street, potholes big enough to swallow an entire person scattered across yellow lines and black tar. Sometimes the most interesting things are found in unusual places.

A man behind the desk in the front office was smacking his lips as he chewed on a piece of gum. His bald head shining underneath florescent lights. His fingers poking at the keys below his computer while simultaneously adjusting a button down shirt that appeared to be a size too small.

You won a bid you say?” He had a surprisingly high pitched voice for someone with a gruff appearance.

That’s right. Unit number 3082 on the auction site.” My husband informed him.

Ah yes, here you are. Let me grab the key so I can unlock it for you. Be sure to clean it out and have it inspected before you leave.”

I know the drill. I’ve done this many times before.” Rob smiled with bubbling excitement.

I suppose I was expecting the usual. Household goods, furniture, clothing… things we could donate to local charities. The boxes were promising because they were dusty and unorganized. Stacked with little care for the possessions they contained which meant they hadn’t been trifled through by unit staff members. A menagerie of cardboard, plastic bins, and trash bags placed into heaps. Paperwork tucked into crevasses and odd trinkets I couldn’t identify.

My greatest joy in tackling this sort of work is unraveling the personality behind the things someone choses to keep. The tape was pulled from the first box and nestled within was more makeup than I had ever owned in my lifetime. I had originally suspected the unit belonged to man (due to the lack of organization) but now I wasn’t so sure.

My mind raced from a possible drag queen to an unusual married couple. Yet the harder we dug into this individual’s past the stranger things became. Rob pulled a pair of handcuffs, some chains, and a few locks out of black mesh. Things that might make a prude blush but they didn’t appear to be used for sexual purposes. A set of camera lenses caught my attention as my husband and Niki flipped through comic books and signed memorabilia.

Pile after pile, one mysterious item after the next were carefully inspected before loading it into the back of our truck. As a lover of crime novels and puzzles, this one kept me on the edge of my seat. It was one of the most interesting units we had ever done.

I think I know who this person is! Have you figured it out yet?” Rob grinned and taunted in a sing-song voice. Forever my competitor in sleuthing.

Rolled up in the very back of the unit was a poster for The Walking Dead TV show. An iconic scene splayed in glossy film with an easy to recognize face. The signature was exactly the same as the one we found on storage facility paperwork.

Our mysterious man was a zombie. Not just any zombie though, ours was one of the more famous African American zombies within the entire Walking Dead series. A stack of bobble heads nodded in smug approval.

Why this man let his unit go to auction, we never discovered. Sometimes people quit paying for things they don’t want to move or they forget why they’re paying to store things they rarely use. We see this happen quite often and their loss, is our family adventure.

The last week of September per autumn tradition, Rob bid and won another auction. I wasn’t nearly as thrilled this time. Having caught a virus the germ magnets at Nikolai’s school had passed around… I was feeling less than chipper.

The idea of sorting through boxes with an aching head and a slight fever made me want to stay home. Yet I didn’t want to spend the weekend without my favorite people next to me. I figured Rob could use the company but he probably should have left without me because my moodiness made me an insufferable companion.

The metal door on what should have been a small 5×15 unit shook as it rolled upwards and tucked out of the way. It was so well organized that I could hardly believe it. We rarely get lucky on something we bid under twenty dollars for. Yet every inch from floor to ceiling was stacked with beautifully labeled plastic totes.

Hardly ever does the contents of a box match what’s written on the outside. Yet the more things we opened, the easier our job seemed to be. It felt as if we might make light work of a typically long afternoon. Rob even joked about being finished before dinner.

There is a reason why doctors and police officers keep the phrase “It’s a quiet night” off their lips. Thirty Six years of life has taught me to never antagonize the universe by joking or making plans of my own. Five hours into digging through boxes and arranging donation piles, what started out as a straight forward storage unit owned by a large family became disturbing by the second. I should have known.

Tucked away inside a box of Christmas decor was a book of spells and an introduction to witchcraft. A jewelry box with a stunning 18K diamond and sapphire ring also contained multiple pill bottles. People like to hide valuables in silly places. It wouldn’t be the first time I found something lovely inside a pill bottle. A couple years ago a moving love letter fell into my open palm. My curiosity over-riding my better judgment left me opening the child lock to take a peak inside. This time… what fell out was human teeth.

A curse had been written in permanent marker on a glass mirror and in almost every box from that moment on, we found an unlimited amount of teeth. Some had fillings in them, many were molars, a few were of baby teeth, and some looked to be perfectly healthy of every shape and size imaginable. Books about evil, forcing someone to love you, and advice on the best methods to connect with the spirit world were beginning to stack up. The deeper we dove, the more sinister this unit became.

A bundle of half burned sage was tucked inside a tote with tea candles and a box of ashes. My knowledgeable friend Heather informed me that Salvia (a type of mint) is the typical variety people use to cleanse something of evil spirits. It also happens to be a mildly addictive hallucinogenic that can cause migraines and various other symptoms (such as hearing voices and seeing things). It’s been used medicinally for a number of years but it’s against recommendation to burn sage inside a building that isn’t ventilated.

A zombie and a witch walk into a storage unit feels as if there’s a joke hidden in there somewhere. Sometimes life is more bizarre than anything we could come up with. Human beings are the scariest mysteries of all.

Kayla is my incredibly talented and Instagram amous friend and makeup artist. I had the pleasure of photographing her before Halloween a couple years back. To this day this session is one of my favorites.

102 thoughts on “Something Most Sinister”

  1. Lovely photos of Kayla. We have El Dia de Los Muertos Merigold parade in Albuquerque the first weekend in November. All the participants are made up like Layla. Fascinating pastime bidding on storage units. What did you do with the teeth? I hate to think about how they where abtained. I’ve been working on a paper called “Masters of Demons/Servants of God” about exorcists, necromancers and inquisitors. Curiously enough they all use the same magic.

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    1. That is curious about the “magic” bit. Funny enough I used to live in New Mexico in a little town called Artesia and I’ve heard of that parade before but I never went to see it. I missed out! As for the teeth… We tossed them 😬 hopefully we didn’t miss any and end up donating some to goodwill. I couldn’t tell if they kept the teeth of every single family member or if they aquired them elsewhere but it was pretty crazy either way!! Nothing like rummaging through things and continually finding them. It was similar to seeing a spider for me (I HATE spiders). 😂

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      1. I love spiders, but other people’s teeth are creepy. I assume you visited Roswell and Carlsbad since Artesia is between them? Carlsbad Caverns are so cool. Roswell is a bit dull other than the UFOs.

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      2. I did! I have been to both places many times and I didn’t enjoy living there 😂. Finding teeth was incredibly bizarre. I literally couldn’t make this up if I tried 🤣🎃🍂

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      3. Artesia is not what I would consider an ideal place to live. However, up here in the Rio Grande Valley we have our piece of paradise.

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  2. Whoa – what interesting stories you have unraveled. I love your line, “A zombie and a witch walk into a storage unit feels as if there’s a joke hidden in there somewhere.” Yes, and indeed a little spooky too. Thanks for sharing your mysteries (and beautiful intro to fall) with us, LaShelle!

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    1. Thanks Wynne!! I’m elevated that you enjoyed it. It really is rather crazy isn’t it? All true stories I promise. I was completely disgusted over the teeth 😬. Not my cup of tea at all but as my husband pointed out… What are the odds of a person going to two distant towns purchasing a storage unit from both a zombie and a witch? Sometimes stories find me in strange ways.

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      1. I’m missing you, my friend! Everything okay? Not that you need to publish something – just that I know you had something planned and I haven’t seen it published so I’m worried about you. Sending great thoughts…

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      2. I miss you too!! We had early frost this month and Rob and I have had non-stop farm work to tackle because of it. We’ve been hauling rocks, dirt, and mulch by hand. I’ve been digging up bulbs and planting new ones. The weather was pretty unexpected. I hope to have something amazing written up by Friday ❤️. Thanks for thinking of me! Every bone in my body aches from the work we’ve tackled the past 3 weeks. I’m exhausted. I’ve felt so guilty about not keeping up with everyone or writing lately but by the time I’ve crawled into bed I’ve been out cold 😅. Bare with me, I can’t wait to catch up with you!!!

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  3. Wow. What a fascinating hobby– buying storage units. I haven’t heard of that happening in Australia. I had to help go through several aging relatives homes in previous years as they were prepared for sale… it’s amazing what you learn about people you know closely and have known all your life just from holding and sorting their stuff. Thanks for the post. I enjoyed reading it.

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    1. It’s easier when you don’t know the person. We’ve done some of people who’ve passed away and it’s easier to be objective when it comes to getting rid of things. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!

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      1. Yeah it’s tough when it’s someone you know. It would be so interesting finding out about other’s lives and the way they live like that. The satany stuff sounds like they had a change of heart and thought, I’ve got to get this stuff out of my life, and shoved it into storage and forgot about it.

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      2. Maybe! There were a lot of family members though and there were a ton of family Momentos. My best guess is they moved away, forgot what they were storing in it, and let it go to auction. 💗

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      1. Exactly AND it helps the storage owners too. They can’t get stuck with people’s junk and not making money off of the unit. That wouldn’t be right either. They need to make an income too.

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  4. I’ve never bid on a storage shed, but I understand the attraction of the treasure hunt. One of my buddies works in a pawn shop, owns a top of the line metal detector, and was supposed to go on a treasure hunt in England to some ancient historical site. I know nothing about this , but the process he described was rather interesting. Apparently it’s on private property. The owner periodically turns over the soil with some kind of piece of heavy equipment. Treasure hunters pay the owner to search there (there have been some magnificent finds before), and he gets a monetary percentage of anything found. My friend was excited to go, but then COVID shut things down again a couple of months ago.

    I can understand where your mind goes with things like this as it would be interesting to try and determine something about the person based on the contents. Your storage shed was creepy. Was Nikolai with you?

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    1. Nikolai was with us but he was playing with Scribbles and not paying attention. If we find anything too bizarre we don’t flaunt it and he doesn’t notice 😅. He likes to find random toys and it’s really fun for him too. That’s so cool about your friend paying to do that! I’m so sorry Covid ruined it though.

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  5. Wow, I’ve only ever seen storage bidding on the History Channel, and have never known any actual people that did it, so your stories were pretty cool. It must be interesting wading through someone’s life, not knowing what you’ll find. And what great pics as usual. What software do you use? Heh heh 😛

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    1. Photoshop and Lightroom is the software 🥰 storage units are indeed super fun! I think you’d love it, plus always a fun story to tell! I’ve seen hunters buy a unit containing a single box just for the mystery of it. 😅 It always makes me giggle when I see that. It’s my husband’s favorite hobby

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  6. Wow, what a creepy find. I often wondered about the reasons that force people to walk away from the things they held dear enough to their hearts to put in storage. Do they die? Run out of money? Forget about them? So intriguing to unpack a stranger’s life and trying to follow the clues left behind.

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    1. My house is little so we have two storage units of our own 🤪 plus we do storage units on the side. Many times people forget what’s in it and stop paying. Other times people have to move and they don’t want to deal with moving all their stuff so they let it go to auction. Then there’s people who do drugs and stop paying because they use their money on drugs, and there’s people who lose their jobs too. We try to make sure they get things back that are important to them (so long as it’s safe for us to do so because I won’t put my family into a bad situation).

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    1. Teeth are super bizarre. I’m not going to lie, I was creeped out and completely shocked. At first I thought it was just her kids baby teeth I was finding… But no. Definitely not because the teeth just kept coming. I was pretty squeamish of them!

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      1. SAME! That being said, people can acquire any number of bizarre things. Teeth are no different really. My guess is either they killed people or the kept every tooth in the family 🤢

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    1. LOL I wanted to run too AND I was sick! I was so squeamish it wasn’t even funny. We were going through boxes and I kept saying “please don’t be teeth. Please don’t find teeth.” 😂 My husband would look at my face which was sheet white and he’d say “teeth again?!” 🤢

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      1. I found an 18k gold ring with sapphires and diamonds that was absolutely stunning ❤️ treasure hunting can be fun! Plus the love letters and journals are my FAVORITE those are like hitting the jackpot. It’s like finding a message in a bottle on the beach. 🥰

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  7. First, those photos are gorgeous! Wow! Secondly, you are making me want to take up your hobby of buying storage units. I know they all aren’t zombies and witches, but what an interesting little side hustle. I too would be fascinated by trying to piece together the person or persons who left the unit behind, but all those teeth. Yikes! That’s a bit scary. What did you do with them?

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    1. It is a fun side gig (when I’m not sick and it’s not hot out LOL)! The teeth thing was crazy weird 😂 I never expected to have that come up but then again… People are bizarre. We threw them out in the dumpster and I avoided touching them at all cost 😅. We usually wear gloves anyway because some units have had drug needles in them. MOST units are extremely fun. We just get some odd balls now and then. One unit we did had a bunch of prison letters in it. One we tackled was from a teacher and a lot of their stuff went to helping Nikolai with his learning problems. I LOVE the vintage furniture units. I’ve furnished my entire house with stirage unit finds. I got a brand new sofa covered in plastic the brand was cost $2500.00 new, we paid $30.00 for that entire unit. The sofa is in my living room. We found a stunning cedar trunk I refinished- came from a $10.00 storage unit. My end tables, TV stand, kitchen table, patio furniture, china cabinet… All storage unit finds from units that cost under $100.00. I’ll never buy furniture again, I just look for what we need and bid on a unit. 😏

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      1. Wow! That’s all so interesting and sounds seriously like fun. We are big thrifters, but that’s a new level of finding stuff I might think about doing in the future. Maybe when the pace of our live slows a bit. I feel like there are a million book/story ideas in those units just waiting for me to find them.

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      2. There are!! You definitely need someone to help do heavy lifting. You’ll also need a truck or a flatbed to haul things, and a storage unit of your own to store things you plan on selling. Also keep receipts for things you donate, you can write it off on taxes. ❤️ It literally helps everyone and is the ultimate yard sale!

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    2. And as mentioned before… Whatever we don’t keep or sell, we donate. I’ve donated stunning leather sofas, clothes, jackets, computers, cameras, KitchenAids, cooking supplies and so on. We do a couple units every month. We sell what we can to pay for the unit, our gasoline, and labor and everything we don’t keep goes to help homeless shelters/goodwill/church donations/food banks/ clothing drives. Even toys and stuff for kids!

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      1. Lastly, there are people who make a career out of it and make extremely good money doing it. 😏 There’s a ton of videos on YouTube that explains how to do it and you can watch other people go through units too.

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  8. Love this! I especially like your line: “Hardly ever does the contents of a box match what’s written on the outside.” Meant literally I get it, but there’s a certain age old wisdom in there too. Like don’t judge a book by its cover, only updated for our lives. The photos of Kayla are magical. What spooky fun

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    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog today and comment! Your book tour seems to be going so well. Are you enjoying what others have to say about it?!

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      1. LOL I don’t blame you!! Most of your posts seem as if they’re reading only and no comments but I’ve tried to keep checking in on your blog to see how its going and catch up on a few. ❤️ My wordpress has been kinda glitchy lately too so hopefully it’s not just me.

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      2. I’ve closed my comments for the length of the tour. I’m trying to encourage followers to meet my hosts. 🙂 I’ll get back to leaving comments open when this is over. And back to posting just once a week. ❤

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  9. Wow, such bizarre and cool finds, even if a bit (a lot) creepy. I’ve always wanted to buy a storage locker although it’s not such a common thing up here. Still, who knows what treasures, and stories, await!

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  10. Wow… How interesting that the boxes were so perfectly labelled… until they weren’t. I cannot even imagine the crazy stuff you guys must find.
    Those pictures of your friend are absolutely gorgeous.

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  11. First of all, amazing pics! You are so talented, my friend! Secondly…. I see how rummaging through old antique things can be fun, I love digging through “stuff” (not trash) for hidden treasures but there’s a very fine line between trash and stuff (my husband sees the antique roadshows as trash, btw lol) … what you came upon, though, sounds like a horror exhibit (except the jewels!).. teeth??? yikes!!

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  12. What a fun and slightly macabre post LaShelle and I’m looking forward to more as we encroach on the spooky season. The pictures are fantastic and yes, this story reminds me of the old adage of “never judge a book by its cover” or the saying about “don’t assume ….”

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      1. I did enjoy reading it LaShelle – I like your stories.
        They are stories that grab you (maybe a bad choice of words for a macabre post). That sounds fun and something to look forward to as we creep toward Halloween.

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