Tales of the Storage Space, Part 40

“Honey, you’ve got it baa-aad!”

Sam, tailing the twitchy little barefoot bitch, coulda’ puked when the woman in a wheelchair told her that.  He knew what he was looking at.  He’d known since he was a teen that anyone who didn’t react that way to him really wasn’t interested in men.  He wouldn’t mind banging her, if he could just cover those thin, twitchy lips with the proverbial paper bag, but she was fucking up government business with all this dawdling.

Oblivious to everything, including the fact that the love of her life wasn’t more than ten feet away, she had now stopped to…oh fuck, what a cliché!…smell the roses.  Sam rolled the beautiful green eyes with which he’d broken a million hearts.  Sure, he could take Alex on without resorting to using this idiot as a distraction.  Sam knew how good he was.  But he had also seen more than enough special ops to know the one thing even a consummate martial artist such as himself was no match for:  complete unmitigated insanity.  He had done his homework on Alex; he knew what he was dealing with.

Finally, finally, Ms. Twitch approached Alex’ front door…just as a rather hideous female scream could be heard.

So much for the homeless woman…

Ms. Twitch, obviously oblivious to another person’s agony…and her own bare feet…straightened her clothes.  She looked puzzled when she fished a broken stiletto heel out of one pocket, then shrugged and crammed it back in her pocket.

Not a bad weapon, thought Sam.  And you’re going to need it.

Ms. Twitch rang the doorbell.

I would have waited till the screaming stopped, he thought.  But then he prepared, positioning himself to dart inside when Alex let the seemingly harmless Ms. Twitch in.

The silence that followed the doorbell ringing was…ghastly.  Ms. Twitch, predictably, stamped her feet and rang it again.  Sam amused himself with visions of Bela Lugosi in some ancient Dracula flick answering.

Alex creaked the door open a sliver.  Not enough yet for Sam’s purposes.

Ms. Twitch started right in:  “That stupid homeless woman you kidnapped…and don’t tell me otherwise because I just heard her scream…stole my phone.  If you don’t give it back to me right now, I’m going to call the cops right this second!”

Sam could tell from Alex’ face that they were both wondering with what phone she planned to call the cops “right this second.”  But Ms. Twitch hadn’t exactly whispered her demand.  He couldn’t imagine Alex choosing to continue this conversation out in the open, so he braced himself for what he assumed would follow.

Alex opened the door wide.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 39

Karen came to with a start.  She could feel Irwin’s arms tighten around her.  Somewhere in her mind the thought came that the building would have screamed at the top of its lungs in only a building could scream.  Irwin, who was lying next to her smoking a cigarette, jerked her even closer…and rumpled her hair as if she were a kid.

His voice was…soft.  “You know, your hair’s the exact same color as that puppy I found out back when I was a kid.  I had so much fun with that puppy…”  He went on; Karen was not surprised to learn that that puppy didn’t live long.  Then she started, slowly, to remember all the experiences with Irwin that she and that puppy had in common.

“Do not think of such things!”  It was the Storage Space, her imaginary playmate, but who was she to question hearing voices at a time like this?  “I would torture Le Grand Rat to death slowly, very slowly, if only a building could…”  It went on.  Briefly, Karen distracted herself from the horror of her situation by wondering how her subconscious came by such extensive knowledge of the 19th century.  Then, while both her companions indulged in their respective sentimentality…the real one about all the animals he’d tortured, the imaginary one about tales of 19th-century theatre that it thought would distract her…she took inventory of her new wounds.

Irwin broke off to rumple her hair again.  “Hungry?  Thirsty?”  He sounded like a kid with a guest sleeping over.

Karen suppressed a shudder.  “Kind of hungry,” she managed in a little-kid voice.

“Gotcha covered!  Back in a jiff!”  Irwin scooted out of her storage unit like a boy scout out of a pup tent, clattered down the hall, and was gone.

Karen bolted for the hall in the opposite direction, half falling out of her storage unit before she realized, for the second time since she’d taken up residence in her storage unit, that she didn’t have the strength to go far.  But this time even her imaginary playmate, the building, started replaying the horror of what Irwin had done to her, which succeeded in releasing enough adrenaline to get her halfway down the hall before she passed out again.

She immediately fell into a dark dream filled with a hatred for Irwin that was like no hatred she had ever felt before.  Then, once again, despite Frank’s appearance in her dream to protest, she saw the light and moved toward it this time.  That voice again, that had gone on so about a summer’s day…  As she drew closer she could hear it clearly:

“Those lips that Love’s own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said ‘I hate,’
To me that languish’d for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom,
And taught it thus anew to greet:
‘I hate’ she alter’d with an end,
That follow’d it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away;
‘I hate’ from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying ‘not you.'”

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 38

Martin stood beside the front door he’d just opened, gazing at an undulating sea of blue uniforms.

Someone screamed, “Bloody!  Fucking!  Bitch!”

Ever so slowly, while this latest shock ate at him like a fast-acting acid, Martin realized he was the one who had screamed.

The nearest cop spoke.  But just then Martin felt something insidious shift inside his mind.  What had the cop said?  He couldn’t hear over a terrible ringing in his ears.  All he could do was seethe at the thought of that bloody, fucking Jennifer turning the tables on him and wonder what the even-louder grinding sound was…until he realized it was his teeth.

The nearest cop said something he couldn’t understand again.  Could his terror and so much nightmare-interrupted sleep prevent him from understanding what was presumably English?

Another cop spoke loudly and very slowly.

“What?” Martin snapped.  ID.  They probably wanted his ID.  He looked down as he fished it out of his pocket and saw the floor beneath him was undulating just like all those blue uniforms.  Were those huge insects crawling up his legs?  Or were they just shadows and he was really wide awake and…hallucinating?

He looked up and squinted, hoping it would help him to see straight, and for just a moment he was sure he detected something odd about their uniforms.  Meanwhile the cop who’d taken his ID shook his head and handed it back quickly.  Martin thought he heard someone laugh.  Then the first cop started in on what was obviously a canned speech of some sort, though Martin still couldn’t understand him.  Probably reading him his rights.

Suddenly the ringing in his ears climaxed, and it wasn’t Jennifer he was seething over; it was himself.  How knackered was he to think for a moment that she wouldn’t obnoxious her way out of anything, including a murder rap?  Would picking up her dry cleaning and getting it up for her till he’d had the time to work out a viable way to get rid of her…or just discovered what was on her phone, damn it all to hell!…really have been so bad?

Gone, his mind was completely bloody gone!  The cop even said something Martin actually picked up vaguely about blessing his soul.  Then he shoved some papers in Martin’s face.

“It was self defense!  If I hadn’t killed him, Frank would have killed me!”  Martin wiped the foam from the corners of his mouth.

The undulating sea of blue uniforms seemed to jerk to attention at that, then get sparse and start to disappear.

And they were gone.  Martin glanced at the papers.  Subpoena?  Looked like bible quotes and a big-ass old cross at the top.

No matter.  He wasn’t taking any chances.  He grabbed a few things, tripped over the pink monster undulating its way across his vintage atomic-inspired rug, and ran out his back door.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 37

Jennifer knew she should feel ecstatic.  She had been so, so lucky to get the address of the “homeless man.”  What could be more important than retrieving her phone from the homeless woman he’d carried away…to a snazzy Brooklyn address that included no apartment number?

Instead, Jennifer felt hungry in some weird way she didn’t understand.  Also, she felt all fidgety.  She kept thinking about blond hair, chiseled cheekbones, and piercing green eyes.  Instead of being ecstatic over getting the address she needed so, so badly from that weird man, all she could do was pointlessly think, over and over again, about that weird man. Ridiculous.  She was being so unreasonable.

She started off toward the address he’d given her again.  The birds overhead interrupted this time, singing more beautifully than they ever had in her whole life.  Next thing she knew, she was leaning her cheek up against a tree, oddly aware of how the sun warmed it.  Ridiculous.  Utterly ridiculous.

A small, laughing child ran down the sidewalk stepping on Jennifer’s toe and reminding her that she was now barefoot.  So unreasonable.  So why was she laughing along with the child?

Why wasn’t she crying instead for those expensive shoes she’d lost?

What was that…song of some kind?…going through her mind?

Whose laughter was that?

She spun around.  Behind her was a woman in a wheelchair.  What the hell did she have to laugh about?  But there she was, bent over her withered legs because she was laughing so hard.  Finally she looked up at Jennifer.  “Honey, you’ve got it baa-aad!”

Jennifer had no idea what she was talking about.