Tales of the Storage Space, Part 48

Martin staggered out of the cab that was no longer green but swirling shades of magenta. Overhead huge dragons, flying through the sky, roared.

“Is this JFK?” he asked the cab driver.

The cab driver clapped a hand to his forehead and sped away without a word.

Martin staggered backwards. There was a swooshing hiss, twice, and glass suddenly separated him from the outside world. Inside, everyone was dragging rectangularly shaped animals back and forth.

Red, white, and blue. He squinted hard and could make out the letters: American Airlines. He approached the counter, alternately squinting and widening his eyes in an attempt to see past the hallucinations.

The woman at the counter was…he was proud of himself for picking up such details…flirting with a man dressed in blue. Martin couldn’t quite figure out what the man in blue was wearing, some kind of uniform with something gold-colored pinned to it, but he saved his efforts for the woman at the counter, who was the important one. A hard squint even gave him the letters on her name badge: Carol. The man gave him a long look, probably feeling threatened by such a good-looking chap, and seemed to sulk away.

Didn’t matter; bloke was gone. Martin dug deep and came up with a prize-winning smile. He also tried hard to purge himself of any American drawl that might have infiltrated a British accent he knew women loved. “Hi, Carol, wondering if you could help me out. Need the best possible price you can give me on a one-way ticket back home to London. For today. Family emergency and all that. Don’t mind standing by.”

“Passport?”

“Of course,” Martin crooned, digging into his pocket. Bollocks! He only came up with those funny religious papers the cops gave him. Passport must be in the other pocket. But all he could find in the other pocket was his ATM card and a whole lot of cash. Hadn’t he checked for his passport? Or had he decided against it since he didn’t want to travel using his real name?

“A moment, please,” he crooned, trying to keep up appearances. “Left in a bit of a hurry.” Better to escape as far as London under his real name, where he knew many more ways to disappear and would be harder to get to? Or travel within the States with a phony name, if that was even possible? He couldn’t even make up his mind. Flustered, he started emptying the contents of his pockets onto the counter between them as he continued to search for the passport he just must have brought with him. He started with those funny religious papers the cops gave him.

“Here, let me see if I can assist you, sir,” Carol said, looking through the papers, then frowning. “You’re not with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, are you? I mean I love their new blue uniforms…always been a sucker for a blue uniform…but really!”

“What? No.” Martin was hardly paying attention as he dragged every last bill out of his other pocket, and topped the pile with his ATM card, still lost in furious debate over domestic vs. foreign travel. But his pockets were now empty. No passport. It would have to be domestic, if he could even get away with that without ID. He looked up and squinted hard.

Carol’s eyes were widening as she looked at the money.

“Change of plans,” said Martin, looking around quickly. No one seemed to be near. He shoved all the money over the counter where it would presumably land at her feet. “One-way ticket to…Los Angeles.”

Carol darted a quick look at her feet, took a very long pause during which she contemplated the ATM card left on the counter, then tightened her jaw. She seemed to be kicking the bills under the counter while pounding away at her keyboard. “It’ll have to be San Francisco. Flight’s leaving now. I’ve given you special pre-clearance. Got the passenger name…”

“Randolph Barclay,” he interrupted her, pocketing his ATM card.

Carol gave him a sharp look as she leaned on the backspace key, typed, printed, and handed him his boarding pass. “Enjoy your travel, Mr. Barclay.”

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 47

Jennifer was seeing red, a long skinny triangle of it warbling in front of her, slightly obstructed by…were those her own fingers? Yes! It was so hard for her to see, especially with a headache that pounded through her like a gong, but she knew those were her own fingers when some of the red splattered in her eye and the obstruction flew to her face to wipe it away.

An arm tightened around her, its hand covering the mouth she’d opened to scream. Another hand, not her own this time, now obstructed the skinny red triangle, fluttering about it like a bird.

For a moment her vision returned; she was staring into the most beautiful green eyes she’d ever seen. They widened; he put a finger to his lips. Then that hand, shaking, returned to the skinny red triangle Jennifer now realized was the heel of her shoe. It was embedded in his neck.

Just before she again lost consciousness, her senses picked up the sound of the homeless woman pleading and that strange thing she’d smelled before, though a bit fainter this time, as if more distant. Her eyes fluttered open one last time, leaving her with the impression that she and the man with the green eyes and gorgeous blonde hair were lying on some junky old oriental rug.

Then she was safely back in her bedroom as a child. Mommy and Daddy had bought her a new toy! No. It was alive. Warm and fuzzy and sweet smelling. A kitten! Jennifer remembered what Mommy had said and was very, very gentle. She pet the kitten. The kitten arched its back and purred, looking up at Jennifer with big green eyes. Jennifer heard the door to her bedroom open and called out happily, “See, Mommy? I remembered what you said! My kitty likes me!”

But there was no answer, just footsteps, approaching softly. Jennifer looked up, expecting Mommy, since she knew Daddy was at work. But what she saw was impossible, since she knew she was an only child. Still, she was staring at herself, an almost exact duplicate, a twin. She even found herself mouthing a name: Judy.

Judy was looking at Jennifer’s kitten, literally licking her lips.

“Mommy!” cried Jennifer.

“Out shopping,” said Judy.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 46

The Storage Space would have been quite violently ill if only a building could… No! Those dreadful little filthy vermin people could be quite violently ill! It was the very least they deserved, an appallingly inadequate punishment, really! But why would a dignified old building who’d never ruined an exquisite carpet with boots encrusted with horse manure, let alone killed anyone or anything…like a charmingly dainty, old tea room…aspire to doing anything at all that people could do? The Storage Space determined it would never think like that again. Really it felt quite strongly… Was absolutely adamant…

“I wouldn’t blame you!”

Oh… Well… It was that Karen, who’d actually spoken aloud to the poor, long-suffering Storage Unit. A bit…different…all right, maybe…that one, after all.

“Wouldn’t blame me for what?”

Le Grand Rat! Thought she was talking to him, the fool. But to be fair he was at present helping Karen clean up the nauseatingly disgusting mess that her storage unit had become.

“For anything…”

Karen had startled when he first spoke, but her response was almost loving, flirty. The Storage Space doubted Irwin would notice the slight shudder still in her voice.

“Anything?”

He put his hand on her derriere, the coarse beast, not seeing the look of terror that prompted and apparently mistaking the little jerk she couldn’t suppress for pleasure.

“When we’re done with all this and have…a more suitable place for your…anything.”

Even Le Grand Rat looked a tad disbelieving in response to that one. Still, he shoved the remaining filth into a garbage bag with his bare hand before using that same hand to grab a handful of the French fries he’d brought for Karen and stuff them in his mouth. Then he poured a bucketful of disinfectant all over the floor, all without noticing that Karen had all but passed out behind him and wasn’t helping at all.

“Hey!”

But he did notice when she managed to stir herself enough to grab the empty bucket and stash it with what had been salvaged of her possessions.

“In case I can’t make it to the ladies room.”

She passed out.

“Or my ‘anything’ means I’ll have to get that saw out and clean up another mess.”

She forced her eyes open and smiled at him, all innocent little kid. “Say, did you get some food and drink for little ole me?”

He grabbed the takeout and moved closer.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 45

Frank felt himself freeze, then laughed at his word choice.  Fuggettaboudit!  How much colder could a fuckin’ ghost get?  But what had stopped him in his tracks, though green mists didn’t leave fuckin’ tracks, was the sight of a woman…one Frank thought he recognized…stabbing a man in the neck with the broken-off stiletto heel of a shoe.  Jugular?  Frank knew exactly what that felt like, as he watched the man’s green eyes go wide.  Vaguely he remembered some other man put something over the woman’s nose that closed her eyes, though not fast enough to stop what must have been a reflexive defense mechanism that got the wrong man.  But Frank hadn’t been paying attention then, and he was still struggling to get used to this 360-degree vision that seemed to see both everything and nothing.

Fucking A!

Now that he concentrated he could see that the man who’d knocked the woman out…with chloroform most likely, knowing his ways…was none other than his crazy partner Alex!

But Frank didn’t give a flying fuck.  His partner Alex, after all, wasn’t the one in danger.  Frank…what…flowed?…oozed?…whatever the fuck, but sure as shit didn’t walk on.

All Frank gave a shit about was that for one fuckin’ brief moment he’d been startled out of thinking about Karen.  But now he paid for it big time as it all came crashing back down on him like an avalanche of pain.  Martin.  She’d eaten, admittedly by mistake, Frank’s life’s blood and all she could think about was fuckin’ Martin.

Frank had sworn to himself that he would never again flow/ooze/whatever-the-fuck back to Karen in that storage unit.  He had sworn to himself that he no longer cared if that Shakespearean ghost lured her into death.  Fantasies of her ghost…scared, unable to adjust to 360-degree sight…seeking him out only to have him pretend he didn’t know she was there felt so good.  At least that’s what he kept fuckin’ telling himself, while the stomach he no longer had did somersaults.

Where the fuck was he?  Maybe he could distract himself again by finding some righteous bastard getting the better of some asshole in a fight, or a poor loan shark getting his money back by murdering someone.

That fuckin’ storage space building!  He could still make it out in the distance.  All this time.  All this fuckin’ time.  He could go anywhere:  Europe, Asia, the moon.  But, no.  He’d just been going around and around in circles, in orbit around Karen.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 44

Karen was just saying, “Oh, no!” Yet again. To her imaginary playmate, the building, as it continued to recite all the terrible things her kind, people, had done to it. But all this was distracting her from the bright light she was headed toward and that exquisite voice reciting Shakespeare’s sonnets.

She felt so strange. Rather like a light herself, flickering on and off due to faulty wiring.

Off. So much more comfortable. All the pain was gone. The light wasn’t warm, but it was peaceful. There was something strange about the Shakespeare, as if she wasn’t really hearing it but was only thinking it. But it was beautiful. It felt like she would never, ever have to worry about anything again.

On. Shooting pains from everywhere. Horrible sounds that she was not only really hearing but could feel reverberating through her many wounds. A truck rattled over a pothole. Someone clattered up the stairs. She thought that last might be important but couldn’t remember why.

“That’s it, my dear, dear Karen! You’re no longer green! Stay with me…”

A building talking to her? She may as well go back to the Shakespeare. The light.

“No, Karen, no! Le Grand Rat. He’ll put you out back in bags for refuse. Like he did with Frank.”

Frank? The name sent a pain reverberating through her that was far more powerful than a truck bouncing over a pothole the size of the Grand Canyon. Frank? A slip. Of her own subconscious. Her imaginary playmate must have meant poor Martin.

“That’s it, dear Karen, stay with me. Yours is such a pure heart that I know you won’t desert me if I recount again the horror of having my tea room crushed.”

“Oh, no!” Karen could feel her own words crashing out of her body, re-splitting her already split lip.

“‘Oh, no,’ what?” That voice was also real, not her imaginary playmate. Karen’s eyes fluttered open. One was almost swollen shut now, but through the other she could see Irwin leaning over her, and smell some French fries. Just as she’d felt herself flickering between off and on, she could see Irwin’s face flickering between the monster who’d so brutally raped and beaten her and the innocent little kid who’d run off to get her French fries. “What are you doing here in the hall? Trying to get away?”

Suddenly Karen was completely on, all her flickering gone. Horribly, Martin was dead. Frank was gone. Her own wounds were screaming with pain. But she didn’t care. She wanted to live. She wanted…someday, some way, somehow…to find beauty again somewhere. Though it re-split her split lip even more, she smiled. “Get away? From you? No!” She tried her right arm, but it wasn’t working so well so she used her left to reach out and put a friendly hand on his shoulder. “I just…”

“Just what, girlie?” He was still flickering between psychopath and wounded boy scout.

“Just…my storage unit; it’s a mess in more ways than one. I was hoping I could find a bathroom.”

He didn’t look too sure.

“And then maybe a mop. To help you out some!” Karen added in her best girl-scout voice.

Irwin still didn’t look too sure.