Tales of the Storage Space, Part 7

Jennifer peeked around the corner of the Starbucks closest to Martin’s apartment.  No, not yet.  She could only hope this ambush went better than the one at work the day before.  At least she could dress as she pleased for this one.  But, while she waited for Martin to stop by on the way home from the gym for yet another fucking vanilla latte, all Jennifer could do was fume about the day before.

Her cubicle at the charitable organization gave her a perfect view of Martin leaving his cubicle on one side of her…and Ms. Morales, their boss, leaving her office from the other side.  Jennifer had waited all week, but finally they’d both headed toward each other.  She had intercepted Ms. Morales and told her she had something very important to tell her about the misconduct of a fellow employee…just before Martin came within earshot.  Jennifer was sure Martin would have stopped her from telling their boss about all the money he had stolen…and, later, agreed to let her move back in to shut her up…if only Ms. Morales had been at all reasonable.

But no, their boss, that antique who wouldn’t even let them call her by her first name, had completely ignored what Jennifer said.  Instead of responding appropriately she’d asked, just as Martin came within earshot, if Jennifer had managed to take any time out of her busy day to do anything for the children starving in Africa.  As if she had any time to do her job in the midst of worrying about all her precious stuff left in that miserable storage unit!

If Ms. Morales was going to be so unreasonably selfish, she didn’t even deserve to know about the gobs of money Martin had stolen.

Martin.  At last.  On his way back from the gym.  Jennifer snapped back into the present, made sure she wasn’t visible to him as she hid behind the Starbucks, and fussed with the bottom of the skintight skirt that just barely covered her butt.  No, she wasn’t fool enough to intercept him before he got his fucking vanilla latte.  Yes, it was true that sex hadn’t worked at the storage unit, but this was Saturday night…when even Martin wanted to be able to check getting laid off his to-do list.

She waited.

But when he came out he was on the phone.  Better not to interrupt him.  She’d have to circle around the block and “accidentally” run in to him right in front of his apartment.  She ducked down a side street.

But not before hearing Martin saying into his phone, “Maybe it was for the best.  I can’t wait to see you!”

“For the best.”  God, how she hated Martin.  But that wasn’t the point.  She had to get him back.

Jennifer hurried, worried she wouldn’t make it around the block before he disappeared into his garden apartment.  Every second was critical.  She looked over her shoulder through a vacant lot, straining to see if Martin was off the phone yet…and fell on her face.

“Sorry. Looking for someone and didn’t see you.”  The guy who’d bumped into her was the hottest she’d ever seen.  Though he did have a nasty-looking scar on one cheek.  After he helped Jennifer to her feet he sat on the curb, put his head in his hands, and started to sob.

Jennifer rushed on.  But as she swung around the corner she saw Martin close the door of his garden apartment behind him.

So much for the “accidental” meeting.  She’d have to ring his bell.  She’d tell him that she’d rat him out to Ms. Morales if he didn’t let her in…though she’d decided she would never talk to that bitch again if she could help it.

While rehearsing her lie and brushing some dirt off from her fall, she spotted the hottest looking woman she’d ever seen.  But, as the woman got closer, Jennifer saw tears streaming down her otherwise perfectly beautiful face, and noticed she was lugging luggage behind her.

If a woman like that could get dumped…and on a Saturday night?  Jennifer felt smug.  But she was still worried about whether Martin would let her in.

The woman stopped in front of Martin’s building.  She straightened herself forcibly and blinked back her tears.  Then she walked to Martin’s door and rang the bell.  Martin let her right in.

First thing Monday morning, Jennifer decided, she’d demand an appointment to talk to Ms. Morales.

Ink Splatters 3

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 6

The Storage Space was appalled…simply appalled.  It would have stormed off in a huff, if only a building could storm off in a huff.

If only, the Storage Space thought sadly, a building could storm off at all…or walk off…or even somehow manage to crawl away, no matter how deplorably undignified, rather than suffer one more second of all this.

If a building could have shuddered, the Storage Space would have shuddered.

Still, it finally conceded, all buildings…even those who were, unlike the Storage Space, still grand,…had rats.  But the size of this one!

Most unfortunately, the Storage Space had noticed Le Grand Rat before, but chose not to think about it.  Really it was beneath its dignity to even notice, let alone recognize the existence of, such a creature.

But this time was different.  Because of the woman who was so close to Le Grand Rat and in real danger.

If it had been The Snibbler, that horrible twenty-something named Jennifer, or her ex-lover, The Mannequin Martin, the Storage Space wouldn’t have cared one bit.

But this woman was different.   Not only had she seen, but she had caressed the once-grand carvings around the once-grand entrance from when the Storage Space had been a magnificent old theatre till, if a building could cry, it would have cried with gratitude.  This Karen knew it hadn’t always been a storage space!

Suddenly Le Grand Rat touched Karen.

Again the Storage Space would have shuddered if it only could.

Karen jumped back.

The rat spoke:  “I just wanted to give you the keys to your new storage unit.  I can’t help it if I have this disability.”

But the Storage Space wasn’t really paying attention to it anymore.  Because when Le Grand Rat touched Karen and the Storage Unit had wanted to shudder…something else had shuddered, something left over from long, long ago.

The Storage Space could see him now, resplendent in his Elizabethan finery, the consummate Shakespearean actor.  Until…

Karen had a lot more to worry about than Le Grand Rat.

Ink Splatters 3

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 5

Irwin smiled at “Karen,” as he read her name while she filled out the forms for a storage unit.  Irwin figured he was one smart cookie, and reading the paperwork upside down was just one of his many smart moves.  But he had other tricks up his sleeve.  Karen had already fallen for the one about his charging extra to clean up the mess when he appeared to be helpful so he could drop a box.  Irwin sneaked another look at her titties.  It was all he could do to keep from giggling aloud.  That damn Spook would be so jealous if he knew what Irwin was going to be able to do to Karen if Irwin played his cards right.  After all, there were some things smart-ass spooks just couldn’t do because they just didn’t have real bodies.

And Irwin always played his cards right.

Like right now:  this was a chance to touch them titties “accidentally” when he grabbed her arms, which he did, and con her out of more money besides.  “Now hold on a minute, there.”

She jerked back from him.  Frigid bitch.  He muttered something about being sorry, but secretly noted that her reaction proved she deserved what he was going to do to her eventually.  “I just wanted to point out,” he went on, “that you’ll need a much bigger unit for all this.”

Karen looked like she was going to bolt.  Some did.  Irwin had seen this.  But Irwin had learned.  He knew exactly what to do.  “Again, sorry.  I…I don’t like to mention this but…”  He gave his best, well-practiced, sheepish, innocent smile.  “…you see I have this disability.  It explains my dropping your box and what I just did completely by accident when I grabbed your arms to keep you from filling out the forms all wrong and having to start over again.”

Suddenly, instead of watching him like a goddamned hawk, Karen seemed to be looking through him.  “What got broken…”  Irwin couldn’t figure out why she trailed off.  She looked like she’d gotten some food caught in her throat.  “What got broken was…really…already broken.  Already…and forever…gone.”

There was a silence.  A rat scurried along a floorboard till it found a hole it could slither through.  Karen still seemed to be looking through Irwin.  He tested it by letting his gaze drop to her titties again.  No reaction.

Then, suddenly, she went back to watching poor Irwin like a goddamned hawk and asking all kinds of questions about if she’d ever have to come back into the storage space in person, except when she took her boxes out, and could she pay her monthly bill for her unit online and all kinds of other stupid shit.

Ink Splatters 3

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 4

Karen ran her fingers over ancient wooden carvings, which had lost all the finish that once protected them.  They surrounded the entrance to the storage space building she stood in front of.  Karen couldn’t bring herself to go inside.  Every time she started, she stroked the naked wood instead.  The way Karen ran her fingers over the storage space building reminded her of how her husband, Frank, ran his fingers over her naked body.

But no more.

Karen looked down at the few boxes stacked in and on top of her shopping cart.  That and her luggage were all she’d been able to get out of the apartment she’d shared with her soon-to-be ex-husband, Frank.  At least in a single trip.

And she wasn’t going back.

In those few boxes were the few physical objects Karen held dear, only because they reminded her of people, now dead, who she still held dear.  Things like a small metal horse on wheels with almost all its paint chipped off that had been her grandfather’s.  And her parents’ high-school yearbook that Karen had dog-eared since their fatal car accident on the way to a high school reunion.  And, very carefully wrapped because it could so easily shatter into a million pieces, the glass “friends forever” plaque with which she hoped to preserve the memory of what had been the greatest friendship of her life, with Marie.

Though Marie wasn’t technically dead.

Karen gulped back the pain and looked back up at the storage space building.  She caressed another ancient carving next to its entrance.  What had this grand old building been before?  Clearly it hadn’t always been a storage space.  The worn wood was somehow soft, almost like flannel, and warm from the sun.  Poor old building.  Hundreds of years old.  So many tales to tell.

If only it could speak.

And suddenly, at the thought of all this old building had seen but couldn’t possibly tell anyone, Karen cried.  It was the first time she’d cried since she’d burst in on Frank and her “friends forever” Marie in bed.  And what was she crying for?  Her soon-to-be ex-husband, Frank?  Her never-to-be-friends-again Marie?  Her own utterly broken heart?  No.  Instead, however crazily, Karen sank down until she sat on the sidewalk, sobbing for a building that couldn’t speak.

She tried to analyze her feelings.  Did she, like the building, feel she could never speak again since Frank would no longer be there to hear anything she had to say?

Karen got back to her feet, dusted herself off, and shook her head.  Nonsense.  And anyway it didn’t matter.  She dried her eyes with her shirt sleeves and plowed through the entrance with her shopping cart full of boxes and her luggage.

Beady eyes glittered in the gloom behind the reception counter.  Karen immediately thought of a rat.  A very big rat.  Still, feeling she had little choice, she pushed and pulled her things toward the counter.

The rat seemed to ooze over the reception counter to meet her, only coming up to her eye level after he snatched the top box from Karen’s shopping cart, fumbled, and dropped it.

Karen could hear Marie’s “friends forever” plaque shatter into a million pieces.

“That’ll be extra for my cleaning up the mess,” said the rat.

Karen looked at a floor that obviously hadn’t been cleaned anytime recently, but showed no signs of the pieces of that plaque he’d broken.

The rat’s eyes opened wide as he looked her over before asking the obvious:  “Need a unit?”

Karen fought back the urge to respond with several comments, including, “My, my, what big eyes you now have.”  Instead she simply said, “Yes.”

Ink Splatters 3