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.
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
what?” Fifi asked.
started sticking his fingers here and there, wondering if he could actually
manage to do it one more time. “What?”
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!”
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!”
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.
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
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.
is, she did care.
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
is, she did care.
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.
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.
two voices were moaning faster now, rapidly approaching climax.
Karen cared because, she thought with a smile and a deliciously
luxuriant shudder, those slithers felt so damn good.
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
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
should never have given her her tablet!” snapped the woman, though she released
it to him.
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.”
Woman frowned and started like riffling through her paperwork, probably looking
for any prior mention of the baby’s father.
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.”
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?”
Woman didn’t look like any too convinced and all, but she did turn back to
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.
my darling Imogene,” the woman was saying, “perhaps I should start by sharing
the bad news with you. It’s about your
remembered she’d not only denied the baby’s existence but also her
mother’s. He started typing on his
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
still looked blank. “That’s
impossible. I don’t have a…”
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
typed a new message.
Woman asked, “Don’t have a what, my darling?”
held up: OR THEY NEVER LET U OUTT AND
PEEPS GET KILLED HEREE
stammered, “Have a… Have a… I like don’t know what I was saying.”
understand, my darling, that your mother is…most assuredly regrettably no
matter what she did or did not do…dead?”
nodded his head furiously behind the woman’s back.
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
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
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
There was a long pause, long
enough for Imogene to worry about the tablet’s internet connection.
^URSunPC&proud: i was wrongg
^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.
one reason the hospital was supposed to keep you off the internet, lest
anything upset you!”
had to like blink her tears back to see who’d spoken.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
heard a thud, suggesting impact.
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.”
your language, Karen! I don’t ever recall
your using such language! Or being so…er…forward.”
Karen’s lost and gone forever, sir! And
I think you’ll find this one is a whole hell of a lot more fun.”
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.”
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
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
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.
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
“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.
just barely got the hack right in time to resume masquerading as her Snapchat
buddy from his phone.
^URSunPC&proud: so u think he’s cutee
More? Tommy had to fight to
keep his face like neutral and all. Just
in case she looked up. Meanwhile all he
could think about was what those big breasts would look like all uncovered and
WTFwasImogeneCoca: Effin cray cray.
Cray cray? Fucking cray cray could
be so hot. Tommy’s pants were getting
^URSunPC&proud: cray crayy
WTFwasImogeneCoca: Been so long.
Been so long? Since she got some? Couldn’t get any in the hospital? All pregs and shit? He’d fix that!
^URSunPC&proud: been so longg
WTFwasImogeneCoca: U know I never like did it & I never like
cudn’t remember cuz drunk or some effin thing except 1 nite & that was w/my
dad so I cudn’t be pregnant. Been so
long since my dad beat me. No
bruises. No loose teeth. No blood from that effin knife. U know I hate when boys touch me but been so
long since my dad beat me that that Tommy touched me & this effin cray cray
but it felt good.
Tommy looked up at her. Trying very hard not to cry, she looked like a puppy again. When she choked on a sob, her hospital gown fell down, exposing one breast. He was on her in a minute.
He gently pulled the gown up over her breast, wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her on the top of her head, breathing in the sweet perfume of her. Still, he wasn’t like all gentle and tame. He was fucking furious. But not at her .
like couldn’t wait for that Blond Monster Tommy to return so she could Snapchat
^URS again. Except she was like so
effin’ grateful to him for lending her that tablet that she really shouldn’t
call him a monster anymore. Especially
since she’d meant what she’d told ^URS about him. She’d had to look at him a bit to like see
him in a different light and figure it out, but it was bible. Tommy was cute.
after seeing him leave with that nurse, looking all scared and shy and not even
able to look down at the Minecraft on his phone, Imogene wasn’t ready for the
next time she saw him. It like started
before she even saw him: She was looking
down at his timed-out tablet that she still had, trying to figure out what
other than “Minecraft” or “minecraft” his password could
felt his eyes on her.
up, she saw him coming at her with a big grin and sparkling eyes. “Type in ‘thisisnotapuppylove,’ all one
This is not a puppy love?But Imogene was so mesmerized
by how like intense his look was that her fingers froze.
an even bigger grin, Tommy was behind her in a heartbeat. He wrapped both arms around her, so he could
type it in.
could feel the muscles in his arms and chest dancing as he typed, along with
the warmth of his breath on the back of her neck. No one, except the medical peeps, had touched
her in a very long time. Caught by
surprise, she was startled to discover that it felt good.
Then he jerked himself away and fumbled for his phone.
Imogene like actually felt like slighted or some effin’ stupid thing…but then she remembered she was in now and signed into Snapchat.
The Storage Space didn’t even care when the ghost of that so-long-dead Shakespearean actor returned. Didn’t even care enough to ignore it and avoid it as it had done for so many tired years. Therefore, for the first time, it heard Edward’s thoughts. He was pining for her, the one both of them grieved, the greatest actress of them all who had fallen to her death so many years ago.
“And just why did she fall to her death?” the Storage Space queried harshly.
But in all those long years
only Karen, the one the Storage Space would still bestir itself to ignore, had
heard anything it had to say. The ghost
of Edward did not. Instead he kept
thinking of some letter that was written in Switzerland in 1898. And he directed his yearnings toward the
pregnant teenager that was now gone.
Because he knew.
the Storage Space watched the pregnant teenager’s father, still in Unit 38
sorting through those “data sticks.”
Frantic, he kept sticking one after another into a “laptop,” obviously
looking for something he wasn’t finding.
Each failure resulted in his punching a metal wall.
But the Storage Space didn’t care. It didn’t even care about the one both it and Edward had grieved all these long years. Even when it knew she had been reincarnated into the baby the pregnant teenager now carried.
No. At long last the Storage Space could only care about one thing: regret that it, along with its once-beloved tea room now gone, hadn’t been torn down long ago.