Tales of the Storage Space, Part 14

Karen shivered.  No reason to heat a storage unit much, especially this late at night.  Shame she hadn’t grabbed more of her clothing before bolting out through Martin’s back door.

Frank…

But no more.  She mustn’t think about Frank, not now, not ever again.

“Karen, how could you?”  Frank’s startlingly formal words when he kicked the front door open at Martin’s.  His words that seemed to ricochet endlessly off the corrugated metal walls inside a space where no human was ever meant to spend the night.  Karen couldn’t even stand up in it.  How high was her storage unit?  What had that horrible rodent of a man at the front desk said when she first rented it and he’d broken the glass “friends forever” plaque Marie had given her?  Didn’t matter.  Where else could she go at this hour with little money and fewer clothes.  She checked again to be sure.  And no phone.

Frank…

She’d actually managed to imagine she heard him kicking a door in again.  Karen’s stomach clenched remembering the first time.  It had been just like when she’d come in on Frank in bed with her best friend Marie!  But Karen had ended her relationship with Frank, who didn’t even know Martin.  So why did she feel so damn…cheap…that she wanted to cry?

Frank…

Karen was sure she heard a footstep.  But it was so soft it didn’t seem quite real.  She moved toward the door of her unit, which she’d left open a little for light and air, and felt a yearning.  Frank!  She realized with disgust that she actually wanted it to be Frank and backed away into the darkness of her unit.  She thought she’d glimpsed something, but it was more like a mist than anything physically solid, a trick of the street lights glaring through the windows, no doubt.  She shivered in the dark.

Then she remembered.  In her boxes.  Hadn’t she wrapped her grandmother’s warm shawl around her grandfather’s little metal horse with all its paint chipped off?  Still shivering, Karen dived into her boxes in the dark, but she couldn’t find it.  Just as she remembered she hadn’t included it after all, because there wasn’t enough room, she heard the telltale clanking of glass.  A huge piece of Marie’s shattered “friends forever” plaque stabbed her hand.

It might as well have been her heart.  She had to take off most of the little she was wearing and use it to staunch the bleeding.  Sobbing and shivering even more violently, she finally began to lose consciousness, half hoping that, rather than falling asleep, she was bleeding to death.

Was it minutes, hours or days later?  Or a century earlier occurred to her for some strange reason.  Half asleep, Karen’s eyes flickered open briefly.  That mist she’d thought she saw before seemed to be seeping ever so slowly into her unit.  Perhaps it was just moonlight.  She dozed.

A speech in some ancient, far-more-formal English that she knew was terribly familiar teased at the corners of her consciousness.  She barely caught the sense of it, but it was something about comparing her to a summer’s day.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 13

Martin screamed for help again.

But the cop ignored him again.

How could an officer of the law ignore a naked man running down the middle of the street toward him when stopped in his patrol car with the window rolled down?  Especially at this hour, with nobody else around.  Bloody fool.  Too damn busy with…  Oh, the cruelty of it all; Martin would have recognized that smell a lightyear away!  The cop was too busy stirring his vanilla latte.

Martin’s bare feet, slapping the rough, uneven pavement, were killing him.  Every sharp intake of air sounded like a hurricane.  Knackered, he was totally, completely knackered.  How was he to know that his friend-with-benefits Karen’s husband Frank was the same Frank as Martin’s murderous loan shark?

He could hear Frank thundering after him like an overweight T-rex, gaining on him.  Could he make it to the police car in time?  He screamed for help yet again.

The cop ignored him yet again, taking a long, leisurely guzzle of his vanilla latte while rolling up the patrol car window.  Then Martin heard the one sound on earth even more terrifying than Frank’s approach:  the cop starting the engine.  Just as Martin reached it, the patrol car pulled out from the curb and sped away.

Martin ducked down a familiar street.  He had to disappear.  Somehow he had to disappear before Frank got to the corner and could see where he had gone.  Familiar…  What did he know this street from?  Oh yeah, Jennifer’s storage unit.  He could see the door to its building just ahead.  Ajar?  Wishful thinking?  He barreled into it with his shoulder, and through it.  Had he been in time?  Had Frank seen?

Unfortunately he was halfway up the stairs before he realized he shouldn’t have left the front door ajar.  He started back down but froze when he heard a sound even more sickening than the sound of that cop car taking off:  The front door slamming open sounded like his apartment door when Frank kicked it in.  Martin headed back up the stairs again but quietly now, thankful at last for his bare feet.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 12

Jennifer looked up from compulsively flipping open and shut her first-ever phone, a Motorola Razr, when she heard someone else clang through the storage space building’s front door.  At this hour?  Jennifer tossed her old phone back into its box.  She could hear the other person on the stairs.  Some complete idiot had nothing better to do than to visit their storage unit on a Saturday night?  Ridiculous.  People were so unreasonable.

Like Martin.  His letting that woman with the suitcases in had forced Jennifer to go to her stupid storage unit and search for that big fluffy bear from when she was six.

She started rifling through another box of her precious stuff.

Bunch of Beanie Babies?

No.

Weird Barbies of one sort of another?

No.

Different box?

That big fluffy bear had to be somewhere in her storage unit.  She was sure of this because she never threw anything out, not even stuff she didn’t want anymore.

A wild-haired Troll Doll.  Perfect example.  She remembered begging her parents for it, even though she never wanted it.

She thought of other things.  Her childhood.

Then she remembered Brittany.

They’d both been ten years old.  Fifth grade.  Nobody at school liked Jennifer, though she never understood why.  There was no reason.  People were so unreasonable.

Brittany.  Just thinking the name of the most popular girl in her fifth-grade class made Jennifer twitch with the envy she still felt.  She would have given anything to be Brittany’s friend, but she didn’t have a chance.  Then one day if happened.  She found Brittany sobbing in the bathroom, clinging to something.

“Please,” Brittany choked out.  “Help me!”

“Help you?” Jennifer asked.  It was the first time Brittany had ever spoken to her.  She was so mesmerized she drew closer, almost knocking over Brittany’s bottle of Coco by Chanel.

“My ‘friends’…”  Brittany trailed off, the word “friends” full of bitterness and pain.  “The ones that are always bumming my Coco by Chanel.”  Then she opened up her hands so Jennifer could see what she’d been clinging to.  It was a ratty old Doodle Bear.  Jennifer recognized Brittany’s writing on it, even though it had obviously been written years ago when Brittany had been much younger.  It said, “I’ll always love Kevin Adams.”

If Jennifer was the most unpopular girl in her class, Kevin Adams was the most unpopular boy.

“I can’t get it off, but I can’t give up my precious Doodle Bear, and I’ll be ruined if anyone sees it.  I’m having a sleepover and can’t risk anyone finding it.”  She stuffed the Doodle Bear inside Jennifer’s jacket.  “Promise you won’t let anyone see it, and that you’ll give it back after the sleepover?  Solemnly swear?”

Brittany’s precious stuff.  In her care.  Jennifer felt something swelling up inside her, something she’d never felt before.  She wrapped an arm around Brittany and said, “I solemnly swear.”

A scream outside the storage space building snapped Jennifer back to the present.  It sounded like Martin!  She went back to searching for that big fluffy bear from when she was six with a vengeance.

Another ratty, wild-haired Troll Doll she talked her parents into buying for her.

No.

Brittany’s old bottle of Coco by Chanel, even though Jennifer always hated the stuff.

No.

The Doodle Bear she’d showed everyone in her fifth grade, making her the most popular girl in her fifth grade.

No.

Her big fluffy bear!

Jennifer sank her face into a teeny bit of fur that she hadn’t plucked off.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 11

The Storage Space would have sighed with pleasure, titillating each of its individual storage units, if only a building could sigh with pleasure.  That wonderful Karen was there again, caressing the once-grand carvings around the once-grand entrance from when the Storage Space had been a magnificent old theatre.  She was dressed a little strangely, half-dressed really, but she was there.

Ah, when those grand old carvings were new.  Many had touched them with wonder then, though they didn’t linger as lovingly as Karen.  Still, it took the Storage Space back to when La Grande Troupe cavorted upon its mahogany stage.  When an equally wonderful woman, an actress, sensitive and sweet like Karen, but a lot more frail, graced its stage.  The sparkle of love in that actress’ eye, whenever the one the Storage Space would prefer not to think about any more appeared on stage at her side.  The touching sincerity most often expressed in the unconscious tremolo of her tone.  But, alas, ravished one night.  Never the same.  Especially after…  Never mind.  It couldn’t bear to think about that.

It was most rudely jolted back to the present anyway, when Le Grand Rat, that Irwin, that…what did they call them now?…”employee” left for the night.

Karen stopped caressing the grand-old carvings and hid behind them instead.  Le Grand Rat was so busy muttering to himself about being one smart cookie that always played his cards right that he didn’t even notice her, though he walked right past her.

What was she doing there at that hour anyway, and half-dressed?

Karen waited, then used the front-door key Irwin gave out so he didn’t have to keep regular hours, clutching the precious little she wore about her, poor dear, and hurrying in so fast that she left the front door ajar.