Tales of the Storage Space, Part 121

The Storage Space was enthralled, simply enthralled.  That rude, odious child “Suzy Q” and her mother had…at last…stopped all the shrill screaming about the pregnant teenager’s father hitting them and left.  Amelia had gone back to singing Puccini.

The only thing left to worry about was that very oddly dressed “Pat” with the crowbar.  Why did he keep wandering around places where only the Storage Space knew there were magnificent 19th-century treasures still hidden behind those hideous new metal walls?  How did this “Pat” know its secrets?

It simply refused to worry about such things.  Really, when all was said and done, people were all perfectly dreadful creatures.  A vile disruption of all that was holy.  A desecration of any true beauty.  Perfect justification for a mass extermination.  Still, for now, the Storage Space would content itself with listening to Puccini.

But it couldn’t help getting distracted again when a new person, yet another cause for worry, walked in.  A blond boy with a “device” he was pecking at in one hand and a suitcase he dragged along behind him with the other…this one even bigger than the ones that other young boy with the rainbow shoes, currently with Fifi, had brought in.

The worst of it was that Amelia, while arranging for this new person to have a storage unit, had to stop singing.  And he was odd too, because when that Pat with a crowbar walked by and he asked Amelia why he had a crowbar, he referred to Pat as “they.”

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 120

Beth wasn’t sure if she was thinking or speaking.  She wished she was typing; she had so many stories to tell:

“So that’s how I ended my marriage to the only man who really did love me.  Who loved the pilgrim soul in me.  For the first ten years after my divorce I was sure I’d ended it because he was distant.  For the next ten years I was sure I’d ended it because I was distant.  Finally I realized I’d ended it because, in our strange and mystical way, we were closer to each other than either of us ever was to anyone else…either before or after our marriage.  I’d ended it because it was the only way I could free myself of my constant, nagging fear that I was going to lose that closeness.”

Beth’s mind twisted and turned through even more complexities in her life, all of which were finally clear to her:

“Denial. Denial of what’s real, no matter how ugly, is your biggest enemy. If only I’d had the courage to stand firm and let those hard waves of truth wash over me, I could have found so many more coral reefs teaming with life’s treasures beneath those waves.”

Suddenly the memory of Beth’s mother surfaced from deep below the roiling waves of her subconscious:  A woman she hadn’t thought about for years.  A complex woman Beth had also separated herself from, supposedly because her mother was the consummate embarrassment and just too crude to be endured.  But now a hard wave of truth hit and she realized it was because her mother had threatened Beth’s starry-eyed idealism with actual facts.

Equally suddenly, her long-estranged, and even longer-dead mother was standing in the center of the brightest light Beth had ever seen, beckoning toward her, saying something about it being time.  Her words wafted toward Beth, warming her with long-lost memories of bedtime stories, yet swirling around and reverberating within her now in a refreshingly cool breeze.

“Def not woke! Dumbest effin’ stories I’ve ever heard!”

The pregnant teenager sharing her room.  For a moment Beth’s eyes flickered open, and her heart reached out one last time to the world she suddenly felt so removed from.  With every feeling Beth had ever felt, every memory, and every story she had ever had to tell, she wished this teenager well.

Then her eyes closed again and she could feel other things in her closing as well, a bit like dominoes falling.  She grasped her mother’s outstretched hand, took a giant step into the cool light that now surrounded them both, and just…let go.

All the pain was, at last, gone.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 119

Karen was not happy. Something that drunk at the storage space kept muttering, about sobriety being way overrated, kept repeating on her like a hideous but catchy tune. Karen felt like she had never in her life been as sober.

Something that middle-aged nurse had given her.  What had she said…  Adrenaline?  She was so wide-awake.  A doctor came in and smiled at her chart before leaving.  She was also a whole lot healthier than she’d been in a very long time.  And a whole lot more alert and aware…

Sobriety is way overrated.

Her whole life as a hopeless romantic…  Caressing ancient wood carvings and imagining she experienced telepathic communication with a storage space that was once a grand old theatre.  Falling hopelessly in love with a violent man, a criminal, whose two favorite words were “fuck” and “fugettaboudit.”  Who cheated on her with her very best, friends forever, Marie.  Whose face had already been hideously scarred by a prior attempt on his life and who finally prompted that effeminate Brit Martin to kill him.  Marie…  How could she?  Yet Karen was still so fixated on her that she imagined she was that cop with a completely different face who showed up with the sweater Karen had made her.

Irwin…

Karen’s new roommate, the one whose leg had been amputated, stirred…though she’d been heavily drugged.  “I can’t believe they did this to me!”

Karen fought to remember her name, which some nurse had said.  “I’m so sorry, Lydia!”

Lydia’s eyes opened.  She looked straight at her.  “Just because I splattered some dumb kid all over my windshield.”

Something snapped in Karen, something that felt…permanent.  “Fugettaboudit…  Fuck you, Lydia!”

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 118

All Martin ever wanted was to be…forever…happy.

He was playing with a stuffed animal, his pudgy-pink T-rex.  His parents must have been watching a movie in another room.  But something was wrong…

The film.  The actor’s voice was soft, but it was…Clint Eastwood!

Martin hated Clint Eastwood.  His whole body shook with rage.  Why did he hate Clint Eastwood so?

No Name!  Now revealed as Detective Ann Worth.  She kept calling him that funny name, “ma cushla” or whatever, from a Clint Eastwood movie.  Which Clint Eastwood was it?  Million Dollar Baby? 

No Name!

The pink T-rex was winking at him furiously.  But something else was wrong:  his wrists hurt.  He saw the bars of his cell and the dried blood leading toward him and something he’d missed before and even the guards had missed, the homemade rope left behind the toilet…and remembered why his wrists hurt.  And remembered that oily male voice behind him, always breathing the cruelest possible taunts into Martin’s ear while he…

The pudgy-cute T-rex was winking at Martin even more furiously until it somehow turned ugly, its voice joining that oily voice and Clint Eastwood’s:  “Beginning to like it now, aren’t you?”

The stuffed animal’s winking sped up until it blurred just before its eye split open.  The broken eye fell out of its socket, dripping blood.  The shiny pink fur withered, curled up, and blackened.

Martin knew what was coming, what almost always came while the movies were on to conceal his screams.

He got to the rope first.  Then the chair.

Clint Eastwood’s voice alone sang out from the film’s soundtrack:  “Mo chuisle!”

“Ma cushla?” Martin muttered.  So this was the bloody American macho movie, designed to humiliate an effeminate, weakling Brit?  What irony!  Because he wouldn’t be doing this, he could have and would have borne it all if only…

And it finally came to him, the supreme surprise, as he watched his distancing contempt for “No Name” drop away like a house of cards.

…if only Detective Ann Worth had loved him too.

He was having trouble with the knot around the pipe overhead but finally got it, got up on the chair, placed the noose around his neck, and kicked away the chair.

“Mo chuisle,” said Clint Eastwood in an unimaginably soft and loving voice, “means ‘my darling, my blood.'”

Ma cushla means my darling?  Martin’s hands flew to the rope around his neck, clawing at it futilely while he looked down beyond his “still alive and kicking” feet to see they couldn’t possibly reach the chair he’d kicked over.  Then his vision seemed to curl up and blacken.

The last thing he heard was footsteps outside his cell.  The man with the oily voice, whose attentions he’d now welcome if it wasn’t too late?  If those footsteps weren’t too far away?

Martin was six.  In his mum’s garden in Kent.  All was as prim and proper as the primroses.  Even Martin.  He would never fall in with what his Daa called “that bad lot.”  Martin was happy.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 117

Imogene fiddled with the data sticks still in her pocket.  Like, what-the-fuck else did she have to do?

The gray, hairless monster in the other bed like had the effin’ nerve to speak:  “You…seem restless.  Shall I…attempt to amuse you…with a story?”

Def not woke.  Could hardly speak.  Imogene was about to tell her to shut the fuck up, when another drop of water fell into Imogene’s eye from the ceiling and she screamed instead, at the top of her lungs.

That nurse that was always Draking like burst into the room to scream at The Gray Monster.  “Lord Jesus Christ, will you please stop screaming?”  Then she looked def not woke.  “No, can’t be you, The Moaner.  I just gave you enough pain meds to sink the Titanic.”  The nurse turned to yell at Imogene.  “Lord Jesus Christ, will you please stop screaming?”  Next she kicked the wall.  “And I can’t even shut you up with an injection because you’re pregnant!”  The nurse stormed out of the room, easy to hear Draking away to some other nurse in the hall.

Imogene yelled after her, “I am not pregnant!”  Another drop of water fell into her other eye.  She turned her head to the side and saw The Gray Monster was nodding off, like real high on her pain meds.  Imogene like couldn’t believe what she was about to say, but what choice did she have?  Anything.  Like effin’ anything was better than just lying there.  “Like don’t go to sleep!  Tell me an effin’ story!”

“Huh?”

“A story!  Tell me a story!”