Tales of the Storage Space, Part 73

Martin was crossing “watching the sun set over San Francisco Bay” off his new, trusty to-do list.  The pink and orange reflected off the screen of that extra phone of hers she’d given him.  It started to undulate.

Bloody hell!  Had he really stopped hallucinating?

Soft fingers traced delicate patterns around the back of his neck.  Martin relaxed; he was safe.

The whole Pacific Ocean was undulating.  Martin stiffened.  Was it his imagination or were the colors of the sunset worming their way onto shore, mocking him with their undulations?

“Mo chuisle!”  Her voice was so deep it could have been a man’s.  Her fingers caressing him all over were so soft it could only be a dream.  “It means my darling, my blood.”

He twisted away from her.  “The bloody ocean…  Look at it!  Is it…undulating?  Really?”

She didn’t even look; she just kept staring at Martin…thoroughly gobsmacked.  “Of course it is.  It’s an ocean, silly!  You’re safe.  Relax.”

Martin looked back at the phone.  Okay, the reflection of the sunset off the Pacific was undulating on its screen, but oceans undulate.  What it was not doing was worming off the screen onto other things.  He was safe.  He relaxed.

Never had he seen such a sunset.  Not even in the Highlands and Islands, when he was a child.  Never had he seen such love in another person’s eyes, not even his mum’s or dad’s…

Thinking about his parents bothered him…  Something about all their lectures about all the hallucinogenic drugs he used to do.  Something about his father’s garden hose…  Martin shuddered.  The girl he was with reached up to stroke his face.

The last of the sunset lit up her face.  “I love you, Martin!”

Martin was still struggling unsuccessfully to remember her name.

“I know.  It doesn’t matter if you can’t even remember my name.  You call me what…Karen?…in your sleep?  But for me you’re the pulse running through my veins.  Crazy.  Completely irrational.  But I knew it before I knew what color your eyes were because, when I first laid eyes on you, you were also asleep.  Yet I could feel it.  I could feel you in every beat of my own heart.”

In that moment, even the dying sunset paled in comparison.  He didn’t need to know her name to know she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.  Martin had never been safer.

“You know,” she said in that impossibly deep voice.  “It doesn’t matter if you don’t know me consciously, if you call me Karen.  A rose by any other name…  Somewhere deep inside, you know my soul.”

He could feel every muscle in his body relaxing.  Sunset over, the tranquility of blue took over.  He gazed dreamily out over the undulating sea of blue…uniforms.  A cop blessed his soul and shoved some papers in his face.  “It was self defense!  If I hadn’t killed him, Frank would have killed me!”  What was he saying?  Maybe he hadn’t said it aloud.  Was he in Brooklyn or San Francisco?  Maybe the woman whose name he couldn’t remember hadn’t heard him.

It was dark.  Fog descended on them, wet soaking him through to his bone marrow.  Her face was dark; he couldn’t tell who she was.  Light, he had to have light.  He could get light from his phone, but it wasn’t his phone.  It was her phone, and he didn’t know who she was.

“It doesn’t matter if you call me Karen, or…Jennifer.”

Jennifer!  He had to have light.  He fumbled for Jennifer’s phone, trying desperately to ignore the light from the sleeping T-rex’s slowly opening eye.

Jennifer’s phone prompted him for a password.  At first he was stumped.  Then he remembered and typed in his own name.

“You have six unheard messages.”

A dry cleaner wanted him to pick up her “stuff.”  Jennifer’s phone changed into his own, the one he’d left in Brooklyn.  The messages continued with his loan shark Frank reminding him that, even though he was dead, Martin still owed him a whole shitload of money.  Ms. Morales told him a whole shitload of money was missing from work and reminded him that they both worked for a non-profit charity.  He threw the phone down so he wouldn’t have to listen to the rest.

Water.  He could hear it.  The undulating sea of blue.

Something about his father’s garden hose.  But it wasn’t water that gurgled and twisted and turned out of it.  It was blood.  “Ma cushla.”  His darling, his blood, his pulse, his million-dollar baby was the million dollars he’d stolen from a million starving children.

The whole Pacific Ocean turned red.

Martin sprang to his feet.

The red blood was worming its way onto shore, undulating on its way up the hills to him.  It wasn’t his imagination.

“Blood everywhere.  Perp died.  But it was necessary force on my part.  Nothing my Uncle Ed, first of our family to join the force, wouldn’t have done.”

That deep voice again.  Martin’s eyes snapped open.  They were in bed, in the room with the bay window.  The girl was talking in her sleep again.  Business as usual.  Nothing was undulating.  He almost choked on his relief.

His laughter must have woken her.  She looked as cold as her last words had been.  “Vanilla latte…Randolph?”  Then she softened as she looked at him and smiled the sweetest, warmest smile he’d ever seen.  “Dreams.  Funny how they move from such sublime sweetness to…well…”  Her voice was cold again, just for a moment.  “Never mind.”

Breakfast.  More vanilla lattes.  Sex.  Loving words when he jumped at her touch once.  Her trying to get him to open up about his troubles and tell all, by reading to him from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.  Business as usual.  Martin decided to put everything in his dreams firmly behind him.  It had all been his imagination after all; he was fine.  But he also decided that the coldness of hers he’d woken up to was something he’d never forget.  That had not been his imagination.

She looked deep into his eyes again, gobsmacked again.

He still didn’t remember her name.  So he looked down at her great retro shag carpet, eyes widening a bit as the green formed itself into scales and the T-rex winked up at him.  But Martin decided firmly that it was nothing.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 72

Imogene like looked up from her phone at that effin elephant again.  Like how had ^URS known re elephant Imogene didn’t remember?  Like how glad was she that she’d stopped typing after the 3 in 38 and not told ^URS the RL number of her storage unit?

^URSunPC&proud:  U there?

WTFwasImogeneCoca:  Sec

Imogene looked up from her phone again and was like not going to look back.  Real Life…  She picked up the elephant, like almost dropping it and breaking it like ^URS had said she should tell her dad she did.  Effin elephant was a lot lighter than it looked, effin hollow or something.

But, like, who cared?  Her dad had made it and it was ugly, like RL was ugly.  She could see where he’d carved it with a knife.  Imogene dropped it.

Something like rattled inside.

Imogene ignored her phone and picked the elephant up again.  Carved wood.  All like mid-century modern, and her dad never did anything good with a knife anyway.  Only the bottom where she held the legs was any good, like a machine had done that part.

She took a quick look at a scar on her arm, something else her dad had done with a knife, then shook the elephant.  Like way too light to be solid, and it sounded like there was a bunch of shit inside.  But how did it get there?  She turned it over.  Effin elephant was one solid piece of wood.

Her phone was making her like all cray cray.  Finally she looked at it.  Bunch of silly pics, like all Snapchat-filtered and shit.  Def not RL

Much better than RL.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 71

The Storage Space was appalled, simply appalled.

Karen looked equally appalled, staring in surprise at the scalpel in her hand before dropping it.

Inexplicably, the Storage Space was suddenly furious, something about one witness still there who was being wasted.

Suddenly Karen looked equally furious too, scrambling to retrieve the scalpel, still unsteady on her feet.

Amelia got it first.  “Please, you must stay seated!”  Then she turned toward that dreadfully beat-up middle-aged woman who’d screamed after asking for the key to Unit 3.  “Don’t be frightened; she was just trying to retrieve it for me.”

But the screamer was now too busy texting to notice.

The Storage Space was completely confused.  Among other things, what precisely and exactly was “texting”?

Karen sat with her eyes half-closed.

Amelia was looking at the middle-aged woman across the counter.  “What is it with this neighborhood?  Has every woman here been beaten?  Except for the woman who just ran out with that little girl?

Karen’s eyes widened at “little girl.”  Suddenly the poor, long-suffering Karen looked simply terrified.

The middle-aged woman at last looked up from her phone to repeat her whispered request for the key to Unit 3, shyly but insistently pushing some money across the counter.

The Storage Space, still completely confused, concentrated on the play of emotions sculpting Amelia’s exquisitely wrought features as she looked deep into the eyes of the woman across the counter.  Some other thoughts, about Amelia’s jugular veins, slithered through its consciousness but fled like cockroaches from light when the Storage Space sensed them.

Finally Amelia caressed the money before resolutely pushing it back across the counter.  Then she reached under the counter and pulled out a key to Unit 3.  “Why do you need this?”

“To save someone’s life.”

Amelia paused, still looking deep into the middle-aged woman’s eyes, then pushed the key across the counter.

The woman clutched the key to her heart, then quickly texted something, before meeting Amelia’s eyes again.  “One last favor…”

“Which is?”

“Please, whatever you do, don’t let anyone know you gave me this.”

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 70

Suzy didn’t want to do what Mommy said.  Daddy didn’t do what Mommy said.  So Suzy didn’t have to do what Mommy said either.

“Susan Witherspoon, you fucking wait up for me!  Right now!  Or else!”

But Mommy was a whole big block away.  And Mommy was what Mommy called “middle-aged,” so she couldn’t run really fast.  So Suzy ran really fast into that funny, big ole building right behind another middle-aged lady who was going into the building.  But this middle-aged lady had funny marks all over her face.  Suzy got so close to the funny lady with marks all over her face that she could smell her perfume, just like Mommy’s perfume.  But the lady was so busy texting she didn’t see Suzy.

The lady with the same perfume as Mommy went over to the counter and asked if there was an extra key to Unit 3.  She was whispering and held up some money.  Suzy thought it would be fun to hide behind her, then jump out and say “boo” to the really old lady behind the counter.  But just then Suzy saw someone else jump up behind the really old lady at the counter.  Then Suzy was glad she’d hidden behind the lady with the funny marks all over her face.

It was the really scary mean lady!  From the little room with the man in it that didn’t move!  And she looked even meaner now and was even holding a funny little knife!

The lady with the funny marks all over her face screamed.  Loud.  It hurt Suzy’s ears bad, but not as bad as Mommy snatching her up from behind and running out of that funny building.