Tales of the Storage Space, Part 3

Martin checked getting rid of Jennifer’s “stuff” off his trusty to-do list.  Of course she’d tried everything possible to stop him:  tears, sex, even blackmailing him about that business at work he should never have told her about.  But he’d gotten all her “stuff” out anyway.  In the end, when he left her in front of her new storage unit, it had reminded him of having sex with her.  He’d always had to leave her with that same stupid-hungry look on her face, since there was no satisfying her, and he had to brush his teeth and get some sleep.  Was there a chance in hell that she’d make good on her threat to rat him out at work?  He didn’t think so.

He looked up from his phone when the light changed and stepped into the crosswalk.

Intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic.  Hours since his last vanilla latte; in that regard he was way off schedule.  Couldn’t see it, but knew there was a Starbucks hidden in the Atlantic Center/Terminal shopping complex.  Martin knew the location of every Starbucks in Brooklyn.

That business at work…  He’d only taken a little money.

Chap in Starbucks…”guy,” Martin corrected himself…looked at Martin like he had two heads when he ordered his vanilla latte.  Never heard a Brit speak?  What was the big deal with pronouncing every “r”?

That business at work…  So what if it was a charitable organization?

Martin thumbed his phone back to life while the idiot who’d apparently never heard a British accent struggled with his vanilla latte order.  Next on Martin’s trusty to-do list was calling Karen to see if she could come over Saturday night now that he’d gotten the keys back from Jennifer.  He didn’t need sex as often as Jennifer did, but every Saturday night he did like to be able to check it off his list.  Karen, a long-time friend-with-benefits, was perfect.  Martin had only gotten involved with Jennifer because Karen had gotten married, but that had broken up a week ago.  That’s when he’d told Jennifer she had to move out.

Ink Splatters 3

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 2

“For the best.”  Jennifer hated those words.  In the three years she’d known Martin, she’d never, ever heard him use them unless it was really for the worst.  Like the first of many times he said their going out separately and maintaining their relationships with their friends was “for the best.”  Or when he said he needed time to himself to prepare for his next day at work, even though they were living together, was “for the best.”  Or that she should develop some…separate…interests of her own.  The list was endless.

It was all just like her parents’ terrible abuse.  They’d had absolutely no time for Jennifer, even though she was an only child.  Sure, they’d done a lot with her, but they always wanted to do other things away from her too.  For no reason.  And they were always going on about how they’d spoiled her.  Ridiculous.  People were so unreasonable.

Like Martin.  How could she possibly live without him?  Or all her stuff she’d be forced to keep in this miserable storage unit if she had to move out of Martin’s place.  Her stuff…her precious, precious stuff!  Martin was so unreasonable.

Jennifer stopped crying on his shoulder and looked up at Martin.  Nothing.  No emotion whatsoever.  If she jumped off the roof would his expression remain the same?

“Let’s finish sorting you here,” he said.  “Shall we?”

That British accent.  It was yet another thing about Martin that Jennifer hated.  If she thought about it, there wasn’t anything about Martin that she didn’t hate.  But that wasn’t the point.

How could she get him back?

She stood apart from him.

The idiot started putting her precious stuff in the damned storage unit!

“Martin…”  She said it slow and sexy.  “There is one last little thing we didn’t do, something we really should have thought of before leaving your apartment…”

Martin rearranged the stuff of Jennifer’s he’d already put in the dark little cubicle of a room that was her storage unit.  Then he looked back at Jennifer.

Jennifer bit her lip and hooked a thumb into the hem of her T-shirt, slowly tugging it downward till her breasts started to pop out of the top.

Martin said, “I think we’ll be able to fit more boxes in if we rearrange them like I just did.”  Turning away from her, he tossed the magnificent vintage chair she’d found on the street back out of the unit.  “This piece of junk you can just bin somewhere on your way out.”  He went back to cramming more of her precious stuff into what she had hoped he’d convert into a private little love nest…

God!  He wasn’t any good in bed anyway, never had been.  Sex had always felt like something he checked off a stupid to-do list, right up there with brushing his teeth…or moving all her stuff into a damned storage unit.

She’d have to think of something else.

Ink Splatters 3

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 1

The Storage Space would have yawned, rattling each of its individual storage units, if only a building could yawn.  Really it was just too tiresome.  Here was yet another twenty-something girl with as much grace as a wild boar, clanging those horrid metal walls they’d installed all over the place when the poor, long-suffering Storage Space had become a storage space.  Going on and on about what the utterly inarticulate thing could only refer to as her “stuff” and how she couldn’t possibly leave it in a storage unit.  Snibbling on the shoulder of the scrawny youth next to her who held a box neatly labeled…you guessed it…”stuff.”  The poor Storage Space was utterly overcome by the excruciating tedium of it all.  Really it was too, too much!  How on earth was a truly ancient old building supposed to get its sleep?

To sleep.  To dream.  Dream of a time when all the young people didn’t look so damn…generic.  These two?  The idiot youth with a countenance as well animated as a mannequin’s?  Snibbler Girl, glued to his shoulder?  Their clothes…  Could be from any decade whatsoever in either the 20th or the 21st centuries.  Any decade at all when boring people who didn’t know any better wore such “stuff.”  Previously those who did know better would have held such people in the utter contempt they deserved.  But now, deep into the 21st Century, people who knew better no longer existed, and everybody looked like this.

The Storage Space hadn’t always been a storage space.  Oh, no.  When first built…at a time when ladies in long, elegant gowns promenaded down Brooklyn’s wide walkways…the Storage Space had been Brooklyn’s grandest old theatre.  People knew how to dress then!  Not just the audience but most especially those precious darlings on the Storage Space’s grand old, mahogany stage.  But there was something about that time, something left over.  Never mind.  The Storage Space wouldn’t think about it.

The Snibbler was banging those horrid metal walls again, this time with her fists.  Wearily, having little choice, the Storage Space listened in…

“Couldn’t we try a little longer?  I promise not to be so needy this time,” whined the Snibbler.

Oh, no, it couldn’t be, thought the Storage Space.  That sexless mannequin had been…her lover?

“It’s for the best, Jennifer,” said the Mannequin.

Ink Splatters 3


On the Road, Egypt: The Sudan

RuinedTemple SORTA BLUED

It was hot.  I was the only one aboard.  Anyone else would have found a way to cancel.  Not The Sudan.

Dark wood.  Etched windows.  A tradition of serving royalty with more elegance and refinement than could probably be claimed by all those Highnesses combined.  Reduced, in this heat, to serving little old me.

Walking the quay at Luxor…towering, “mid-century-modern” cruise ships with faux pharaonic columns and Egyptian art sporting rhinestones that would shame Las Vegas.  Not my taste.

Suddenly…sleek, trim, all dark wood and sparkling brass…The Sudan.  Built in 1885 for King Fouad.

As I step aboard two men in floor-length burgundy shirts, with just a tasteful touch of burnished gold trim, greet me.  One opens an antique food warmer to reveal an artfully arranged moist towel to wipe the dust and sweat from my face and hands.  The other offers a refreshing drink, subtly spiced.  I hadn’t always been visible from the shore as I walked through Luxor.  Yet they seemed to know the exact moment when I would return.

After smiles, bows, and well wishes are exchanged, I ascend an ornate wooden staircase that would make a Victorian mansion proud.  It curves graciously, leading me up to the “promenade deck” where my cabin awaits me.  It’s deliciously cool, thanks to one of the very few intrusions from less gracious centuries.  But the air conditioning is delivered through wide mahogany louvers into a trim, 19th-Century cabin of gleaming brass and dark-wood paneling.  I can easily imagine a khaki-clad Egyptologist tossing his straw helmet with neat leather straps on the crisp white linens of the bed.  But the cabin is actually dedicated to Hercule Poirot because this is, in fact, the steam ship Agatha Christie was on when she was inspired by it to write Death on the Nile and was used, either actually or in a model based on it, in its film versions.

Naturally the professionally invisible staff sneaked into my cabin while I was gone to tidy up and leave me a treat to eat.  Dare I follow in the tracks of the likes of Queen Elizabeth to dine in the dining salon.  At least my father taught me which sterling silver fork to use for what.

But no hint of my relative insignificance from The Sudan.  Sympatico, perhaps, in a land where many may feel insignificant compared to thousands upon thousands of years of their own ancestors’ miraculous achievements?

Yet The Sudan’s current achievements are miraculous.

A waiter manages to appear instantly whenever I finish the last bite of a delicious dish.  With consummate elegance, he pauses just long enough to get my tacit approval before removing the dish…always managing a broad, seemingly both spontaneous and sincere smile that hints delicately that there is nothing he’d rather do than remove another of my dishes from the table and that somehow the whole thing…perhaps life itself…is an inside joke between us.

Although The Sudan is currently managed by a French tour company…Voyageurs du Monde, which would explain the exquisite cuisine…they supply an English-speaking Egyptian, who can read hieroglyphics as if taught at his mother’s knee, as my guide.  After showing me the ancient wonders of Luxor, the Sudan steams up for my leisurely, days long, trip to Aswan.  Ancient, well-oiled machinery purrs.  Paddle wheels slap the water quietly.  Luxor slips away and I enter a world from a dream as horses nicker, donkeys bray, oxen low, and children wave and call and run along the Nile’s shores.  It’s all so quiet I imagine I could hear a baby coo in a back bedroom facing the Western Desert.  Two-man fisherman teams…one rowing, the other standing to deploy the net…use the same equipment and techniques I’ve seen depicted in carvings almost 5,000 years old.

Ink Splatters 3