Tales of the Storage Space, Part 148

Tommy knew she knew; he could see it in her eyes.  But she went back to their Snapchat.

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  But U def not father of my child cuz I’m still not pregs!

Gently he rested a hand on her belly.  He could feel the baby moving about.

^URSunPC&proud:  cancer doesnt kick

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  But told U only 1 nite I don’t remember & was with my father so I’m virgin.

Tommy set his jaw.

^URSunPC&proud:  nitee u dont remember i

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ?

^URSunPC&proud:  i delivered pizza & saw yr father beating uu & kicked his fucking ass

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ?

^URSunPC&proud:  really sorry

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ?

^URSunPC&proud:  u had passed out

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ?

^URSunPC&proud:  really really reallyy sorry

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ?

^URSunPC&proud:  u were so pretty i was gentle but it was really really wrongg

Tommy bit his lip hard.  Was telling her he’d raped her, when he’d never seen her before the hospital, really better than the truth about her father?

^URSunPC&proud:  plz plz plz plz forgive mee

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  If I’m really pregs my father will kill me.

^URSunPC&proud:  yr father will never see you again

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  But where will I go?  How will I support myself and a baby??????????

^URSunPC&proud:  my place & i take care of u both & no more sex unless u want it

Tommy watched her like a hawk.  Was it too much?  Her fingers froze.  Was she like totally fucking overloaded? 

Finally the elevator arrived.

He didn’t know what to do so he found himself typing a really stupid, unimportant detail. 

^URSunPC&proud:  we just havee to drop by my storage unit firstt

He wheeled her onto the elevator with her fingers frozen in midair.  Finally she typed what looked like two characters.

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  OK.

Trembling, clutching her few possessions, she’d never looked more like that frightened puppy his own mother had flushed down the toilet.  She handed him the tablet, real fucking slow, and darted a look at him before looking back down at her stuff.  Gradually her fingers unclenched and she looked up at his chin.  Then, like the dawn of a new day, her eyes rose up to meet his, and she spoke to him directly.  “OK.  Real Life.  You.  A baby.  But no more RL than that.  I def can’t take more.  And I know.”

He couldn’t keep back a triumphant smile but asked, “Know what?”

Her eyes did something funny.  He didn’t fucking understand it, really, but somehow decided it meant that whatever she said next should never be talked about again.  “I know you weren’t always ^URS.”

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 147

Imogene snatched the tablet out of Tommy’s hand when he stopped her wheelchair in front of the elevator.  But she was like effin’ distracted and all when he wrapped his arms around her from behind.  Again she was startled, and a little freaked out, because it felt good.  She caught herself melting into his arms…and knew he felt it too.

His breath warmed her ear as he whispered, “Don’t worry:  I lied to the discharge nurse.  Your father’s not waiting for you in the lobby.”

At the mention of her father, even his absence, she stiffened and remembered ^URS.  This is not a puppy love?  She furiously typed Tommy’s password, all one word, into his tablet.

As sobs convulsed her, she saw Tommy snatch out his phone to play his Minecraft.

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  U there?  U there?  U there?  U there?

^URSunPC&proud:  alwayss alwayss alwayss alwayss

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  U said try Tommy not me!  Thought U gonna disappear again!  Thought U didn’t want me anymore!

^URSunPC&proud:  always want u want u now but in real life

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  But I’ve never met U in RL.

There was a long pause, long enough for Imogene to worry about the tablet’s internet connection.  She didn’t hear Tommy playing Minecraft behind her either and turned to find him giving her a long, funny look before going back to his phone.

^URSunPC&proud:  yes u havee

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ???????????????????

^URSunPC&proud:  not playingg minecraft

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ?

^URSunPC&proud:  not playing

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ?

^URSunPC&proud:  look at me

A wave of warm breath hit the back of her neck.  Again she turned to see Tommy looking at her.

^URSunPC&proud:  watch me type alwayss got yr back

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 146

The Storage Space would have yawned, rattling each of its individual storage units, if only a building could yawn.

Karen! Despite every possible inclination to the contrary, the thought of her suddenly intruded…irresistible and totally unavoidable.

Along with that thought came a flood of memories, some not even its own:

Gorgeous wood carvings, when brand new.

Her.  Charlotte Amelia Booth.  Now in Imogene’s belly.  But remembered in her finest hour upon the stage.  Just before Edward the Ghost, when he wasn’t a ghost, and his equally long dead rival joined her from opposite sides of the stage.  They’d ignored the marks, indicating where they should have stood, and jostled each other in a battle to see who could get closer to her.  Edward had failed to notice that it was his foot, not his rival’s, that tripped her and sent Charlotte Amelia Booth pirouetting off the front of the stage to her death.

Sunsets over the Pacific.

Him.  Frank.  In his apartment in Sausalito…

What was this connection between The Storage Space and this utterly alien other, this person Karen?  And why did a connection with another, anything outside of itself, lend everything such poignancy?  Such importance?  Why did it make the Storage Space not only care, but care so much that the agony of it couldn’t be borne?

And just what, pray tell, had over a hundred sentient years of caring at all done for the Storage Space, which should have been spared all of this by virtue of having been “merely” a building?  Had that squat, cozy 18th century farmhouse across the street…situated so very comfortably amidst its orchards and vegetable gardens…cared one whit when it was torn down and even its extensive grounds were replaced by brownstones?  Had the Storage Space’s own adjoining tea room cared when it was subjected to the wrecking ball?

No.

Another thought intruded, a question that had echoed about in the stratosphere of its consciousness for over a century, conveniently ignored in the same way it chose to ignore anything that was troubling if it could get away with it.  It was like a whisper on a wind one assumes cannot form words:  Why?  Of all buildings, why am I sentient?

The answer had always been there, had it only listened to the question.  It was in the conversation it had overhead on its opening night, when its builder had attended a magnificent performance of Macbeth.  As the brand-new curtain went up, the Storage Space experienced its first thoughts:  anxiety over whether it would go up properly.

Its builder leaned over to its owner as they both watched the three witches at the beginning of the play.  “You know, a funny thing happened last night while the stage crew was testing that curtain.”

“Ummm?” queried its owner.

“One of those witches…  That one on the left.  Did you know she’s not wearing any makeup?”

“Nooo!”

“Yes!  She doesn’t have to; that’s what she really looks like.  Anyway she appeared out of the shadows…shadows too small to have concealed her, I might add…and walked over to me.  In the light of the cigar I was lighting I found myself looking deep into eyes I’m thoroughly convinced are not human.”

“Imagination.  You’ve been working too hard to complete this building on time.”

“Believe what you will, but I’ll tell you this:  When she told me she loved me and that she’d given my new building a gift, I believed her.”

“What, supposedly, was the gift?”

“No idea.  I couldn’t see anything, and the stage crew interrupted just then.”

But the Storage Space knew, pulled back as it was to the present when it heard that Sebastian of the Rainbow Sneakers screaming in a way no actor could ever duplicate.  It sounded as if someone was literally ripping him limb from limb.

But Karen didn’t care.  So neither did the Storage Space.  After all, what kind of gift was sentience to a building, who…unlike people and whatever that creature was that had given the Storage Space consciousness…couldn’t even speak, let alone move to do anything about whatever it became aware of?  That gift it had been given so long ago turned out to be…absolutely, positively…no gift at all.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 145

Sebastian heard a clank outside in the hall, like someone had dropped something metal, followed by the footsteps of that person leaving.  The gun!  Shit!

“Really!”  Fifi was looking up at him, coquettish.

Sebastian clapped a hand over “her” mouth.  God-awful.  That’s what he used to call Fifi all the fucking time.  He savored the smells of their latest of so much sex.  Why couldn’t he think of her as god-awful anymore?

“Know what?” Fifi asked.

He started sticking his fingers here and there, wondering if he could actually manage to do it one more time.  “What?”

“If it weren’t for my boyfriend, we could, you know, maybe move in together.  Take action!”  Fifi stopped to giggle over what Sebastian was doing with his fingers and get all coquettish again.  “And then we could do this…all…day…long!  Really!”

Sebastian didn’t answer.  He was getting serious again.  But when he was finished it occurred to him to worry about whoever was in the hall discovering the gun that phony transgender Pat had found behind the walls.  Along with all the other stuff that weirdly dressed Pat had crowbarred through the walls to find hidden back there.  Some of that shit really did deserve to be called god-awful!  “Wait here, Fifi!”

He squeezed through the mostly closed door into the hall.  He was trying to stand up straight when something hard hit him, knocking him back.  His skinny legs warbled, about to collapse underneath him.  But he managed to look up in time to see the person hovering over him with a smile.  It was Imogene’s father.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 144

Karen could feel something alien in her, something slimy that slithered.  Faintly she found herself thinking about playing cards right.  Then she felt a different alien presence and found herself thinking about shuddering if only she cared.

She pulled herself up short, finding she’d been rushing through the metal corridors of the storage space without any idea of what she was doing, where she was going, or how she got there.

Thing is, she did care.

She heard muffled laughter coming from a unit with its door ajar, followed by louder moans.  Sex.  Karen took a step closer, thinking it might be fun to watch, but tripped on something.  Looking down, she saw a pink dress, skinny jeans, and rainbow sneakers scattered about the hall.  They led from a big hole in the wall someone must have pried open.  Something shiny sparkled out at her from behind the walls.  She felt a slither and drew close.

Thing is, she did care.

Just behind the metal wall of the storage space was the original wall, elaborately wood-paneled from the 19th century.  She noticed that a section of it that looked lighter and newer than the rest had been pried open too.  Behind it was a huge, open cavern filled with a number of things including what looked like human bones.

Slither.

Karen did care, as she stepped closer.  Clearly the shiny thing was not from the 19th century.  It was a gun, with a silencer.  She reached in and picked it up, hefted it.  She didn’t know a lot about guns, but she could tell this one was loaded, new enough to be in good working order, and had the safety clicked off.  What would it feel like to actually use it?

Slither.  Karen did care.

The two voices were moaning faster now, rapidly approaching climax.

Slither.  Slither.  Karen cared because, she thought with a smile and a deliciously luxuriant shudder, those slithers felt so damn good.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 143

Tommy like already had his hand on his tablet, wondering if he should admit that it was his and shit, when Wizened Woman announced she had “dreadful news” to tell Imogene.

The woman looked down at the tablet she was holding, then turned to look up at him with ruthless RL eyes.

“I’m…”  Tommy paused.  Would they let Imogene out of this fucked-up excuse for a hospital once they heard that she was still convinced that she wasn’t pregs and shit?  He puffed himself up as much as he could.  “…her therapist.”

Wrong move!  As he both remembered his age and watched the complete disbelief spread across Wizened Woman’s face, he felt like he’d just died some hideous death in Minecraft with no hope of respawning.  Then he factored in that they didn’t know each other, and he wasn’t wearing anything that identified him as staff.  “Not really, I know.  But for all intents and purposes I am.  I’m…”  He gave her a warm, conspiratorial smile, choosing his next word carefully.  “…family.”

“You should never have given her her tablet!” snapped the woman, though she released it to him.

Tommy stood his ground.  Quickly enlarging the font on his tablet to monster-sized, he remembered sneaking a look at Imogene’s chart when no one was in the nurses’ station.  “The doctors told me she’s okay now medically and that…”  The next words slipped out before he knew what he was saying.  “…our baby is safe.”

Wizened Woman frowned and started like riffling through her paperwork, probably looking for any prior mention of the baby’s father.

Imogene’s eyes, looking past Wizened Woman to stare at him, had snapped so wide they looked like they were going to pop out.  Tommy wondered which of his words had caused the stronger reaction, “baby” or “our.”

As if all this shit wasn’t enough, Tommy thought he caught sight of a green mist seeping in through the window but ignored it.  “So,” he continued loudly, hoping Wizened Woman wouldn’t examine her paperwork too carefully.  “Now that the big secret’s out and we’re reunited, Imogene needs to start facing a lot of reality before our baby is born, and the internet was a way to ease into that, right?”

Wizened Woman didn’t look like any too convinced and all, but she did turn back to Imogene.

For a sec the room turned…green.  Tommy found himself envisioning a 19th century theatre and batting at something that seemed to be swirling around his eyes.

“Anyway, my darling Imogene,” the woman was saying, “perhaps I should start by sharing the bad news with you.  It’s about your mother.”

Imogene looked blank.

Tommy remembered she’d not only denied the baby’s existence but also her mother’s.  He started typing on his tablet.

Wizened Woman continued.  “I know she was in prison for treating you tremendously, tremendously badly, so I’m not sure this news will fall on the most sympathetic ears, but when her allegation that the guards were repeatedly beating her fell on deaf ears, she managed to hang herself.”

Imogene still looked blank.  “That’s impossible.  I don’t have a…”

Behind Wizened Woman’s back, Tommy was gesturing wildly at the tablet he held up so Imogene could see it.  In monster-sized letters, it read:  DON’T LET HER NO U NEVER HAD A MOTHERR

Imogene frowned.

Tommy typed a new message.

Wizened Woman asked, “Don’t have a what, my darling?”

Tommy held up:  OR THEY NEVER LET U OUTT AND PEEPS GET KILLED HEREE

Imogene stammered, “Have a…  Have a…  I like don’t know what I was saying.”

“You understand, my darling, that your mother is…most assuredly regrettably no matter what she did or did not do…dead?”

Tommy nodded his head furiously behind the woman’s back.

“Yes,” said Imogene, but she looked completely undisturbed by this news.

The woman looked at her for a while.  “Well, my darling, perhaps, under the circumstances, your reaction…or, should I say, lack of reaction…isn’t altogether astonishing.  Moving on, though it strikes me as a tad abrupt of me, shall we talk about your baby?”

Tommy was like typing furiously again, despite the return of that fucking green mist:  TELL HER WE’LL NAME BOY EDWARD OR GIRL CHARLOTTE AMELIA

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 142

Imogene like actually smiled at Tommy, not his tablet, when he walked into her room and handed it to her.  But then she started to feel all funny, like effin’ queasy and her cheeks were on fire, so she clutched the tablet and signed into Snapchat.  Still it was like she could feel him breathing or some such stupid shit while he got busy on his phone.

WTFwasImogeneCoca: U there?

^URSunPC&proud:  wheree the fuck else wud i b

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  Dunno.  MayB playin Minecraft on yr fon like Tommy.

Was it her imagination, or did Tommy freeze for a moment? 

^URSunPC&proud:  we shudd both get the fuck off our devices and try real life

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ??????????????  U like always always say this BETTER THAN RL!!!!!!

There was a long pause, long enough for Imogene to worry about the tablet’s internet connection.

^URSunPC&proud:  i was wrongg

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  ???????????????????

^URSunPC&proud:  try tommy not mee

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  I’d off myself in heartbeat if ever lost U.

Imogene was like a whole effin’ lot more than queasy; sobs convulsed her.  She heard somebody’s footsteps in the hall.

“That’s one reason the hospital was supposed to keep you off the internet, lest anything upset you!”

Imogene had to like blink her tears back to see who’d spoken.

A wizened older woman she’d never seen before came into the room and sat down on her bed.  “Anyway, my darling, it is my decided privilege to be the bearer of extremely glad tidings.”

Lose ^URS again?  Imogene could like hardly listen while the woman introduced herself as a social worker or hospital administrator or some effin’ shit.

“Anyway, my darling, I will need to relieve you of that for the time being.”  She firmly snatched the tablet from Imogene’s clutching hands.  “But you will have it back all too soon, I fear.  You’ve been cleared for potential release!  Still, we’ll need to be sure you’re prepared to adequately tend to your baby before final approval and…”  Here she paused and suddenly looked all effin’ melodramatically somber and shit.  “I’m afraid I have some truly dreadful news to tell you.”

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 141

The Storage Space didn’t even care when it felt slithers again.  If, and only if, it had cared enough to feel anything, it would have welcomed those slithers.

But it was an altogether more elegant ghost, that Shakespearean actor Edward, that was, at present, hogging center stage.  Not that elegance was…now…any less tiresome than slithers.  The Storage Space would have yawned over the excruciating tedium of it all if only a building could yawn.  Better yet, it would have ended the excruciating tedium of it all…without any absurd theatrics such as pistols held to the forehead it didn’t have, a simple wrecking ball would do…if only a building could commit suicide.  Or commit, or do, anything.  Anything at all.

That fiend!

Edward the Ghost. Was that the best Shakespearean descriptive he could muster when reliving, yet again, his rival for her affections shoving Edward off a catwalk to his death? No longer even caring enough to exert any effort to ignore him, the Storage Space was surprised to learn that Edward not only blamed his rival for his own death but also blamed him for hers..for which, in fact, Edward himself was responsible.

Her…  What was her full name?  Playbills pirouetted through the Storage Space’s memory: Charlotte Amelia Booth.

Slither.  Who cares?

Indeed, agreed the Storage Space though, of course, the ghost of Le Grand Rat didn’t hear it.

Slither, slither, slither.

What was Irwin up to? the Storage Space wondered idly.

Then, against its will, it found itself concentrating on the most detestable creature of all, Karen.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 140

The Champ looked up from pouring through the contents of the remaining data sticks when he heard a woman in reception scream, “Fuck you!”  The Champ frowned, knowing he’d heard that voice before but not immediately remembering where/when.  But then he shrugged.  Whoever she was, he could handle it.  He could always handle it, whatever it was, and he always, always came out on top.

Like getting his wife convicted for his beating their pregnant daughter right here in this motherfuckin’ storage-space building.  And, speaking of mother fucking, he’d had so much fun getting Imogene pregnant.  He wondered how soon he could have fun with his grandchild…

Thinking about that got The Champ in the mood and he went back to the data stick he’d been checking through, glad that…in addition to all that election-tampering shit…he’d backed-up at least some of his extensive collection of kiddie porn.

“Excuse me.”

Motherfucker, thought The Champ, the hand he’d been using elsewhere jerking toward the Beretta 3032 Tomcat he always, always kept in his pocket.  Palm-sized but lethal, and he knew how to use it and had done so many, many times…like that little kid he’d found all alone in a park who hadn’t wanted him to have fun.  Cops never even got close to figuring that one out.

But then he saw it was only that old bitch, Amelia.

“Didn’t mean to disturb you but did want to congratulate you on getting your wife convicted and sent off to prison for life.  Must have been hard for you, but I for one am so happy to know she’ll no longer be a threat to either Imogene or her baby.  But you should now get your daughter out of that hospital…right away.  I’ve always heard it was the very worst-imaginable hospital but seeing what it must have done to poor Karen’s mind is the ultimate proof.”

The Champ rubbed his chin in thought.  Kiddie porn could only take him so far.  Imogene home?  His grandchild on the way?  That would really, really be fun.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 139

Karen heard a hysterical mother behind her, repeatedly screaming “Suzy Q” just as a little girl brushed past her and ran into the street.  A car screeched and swerved all over the place in its attempts to avoid what would most probably be a fatality.

Karen didn’t bother to watch the outcome.  She was busy on her phone, as boldly as possible offering sex to her old boss if he’d take her back after her very-long unscheduled absence…while dragging her suitcase back to her fuckin’ storage unit so she could pick up the rest of her shit.

She heard a thud, suggesting impact.

“Fuck you!”

“What?”

“Not you, sir!  So sorry!”  Karen tried to think of a lie to cover her outburst, which had been directed toward a jealous ghost of Frank that she’d imagined was protesting her offering her old boss sex.  Just then the hysterical mother, now sobbing, pushed past her.  “Some fuckin’ asshole on the sidewalk just about knocked me over.”

“But your language, Karen!  I don’t ever recall your using such language!  Or being so…er…forward.”

“That Karen’s lost and gone forever, sir!  And I think you’ll find this one is a whole hell of a lot more fun.”

“But you know ours is an ultra-conservative investment banking firm.  ‘Old sport’ and all that.  Honestly, my dear, you never before showed the slightest interest in the business itself, let alone any of the ‘stuffy’ people involved…like me…or the clients.  Which is why I had you doing due-diligence number crunching in a back office.”

“So you know how demure and discreet I can be.  Doesn’t mean you, and maybe some of our very best clients, wouldn’t like to…er…enjoy themselves a bit from time to time.”

“Karen!”

“Come on!  What’s a little unscheduled time off?  I remember how you used to look at me.  And I’ve changed.  I can still crunch numbers for you, but you’ll also see I’ve learned a whole hell of a lot about things that have nothing to do with crunching numbers.  Think about it.  I’ll call back soon.”

Fuck you!  But this time she only thought it silently at the now-apparently-apoplectic ghost of Frank as she got off the phone with her old boss.  Then she pushed her way through the door to the storage space building, ignoring the siren she heard behind her…probably an ambulance…possibly more accurately referred to as a meat wagon in this case…and totally ignoring the stupid exposed wood carvings around it that she vaguely remembered liking at one point.

She was immediately assaulted by alien thoughts, not her own:  Enter Center Stage:  The Consummate Appalling Creature.  Whilst I now concur completely about all that appalling old-theatre rubbish, there is one thing in this miserable world that is even more “stupid,” and that is you!

Fugettaboudit!  Karen had had enough with her imagined Frank ghost without still imagining she could hear the thoughts of a building.  Next she’d be communing with that Irwin she’d killed.

Murderer!

“Fuck you!”  Karen had screamed it aloud this time.  To a fuckin’ building!  The smile that had greeted her from that homeless bitch Amelia now wavered.