Tales of the Storage Space, Part 130

Marie couldn’t douche long enough, hard enough.  That emergency worker had been disgusting.  She deserved an Oscar for acting that shouldn’t even have been necessary.  Instead of handcuffing Karen to her hospital bed for stabbing the prick, they should have awarded her the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Finally Marie stopped douching, leaned back in her tub, rested her head against the wall, and closed her eyes.

Karen…  Free…  Fabuloso!

But it had cost Marie everything…even her own face, altered beyond recognition by witness protection’s plastic surgeon after she neutralized the mob connections to Karen’s boyfriend Frank.

Marie let her eyes flutter open in the steamy room, then squeezed them shut again, imagining she could still feel the pain from the plastic surgeon’s stitches.  Her favorite playlist, from the phone she’d plugged into a speaker by the door, would end soon.  Good thing she’d set the volume low…

And, speaking of low, all Karen would ever remember was Marie’s resorting to the same tactic as she did with the emergency worker to get all the information she needed from Frank.  Karen would never know it had been the only way Marie could protect Karen.

Marie thought she heard something in the hall, then laughed at herself…naked in a bathtub.  What was this?  Psycho?

Had it been the only way, sleeping with Frank?  That sudden thought hurt worse than Alan Bates stabbing Janet Leigh with the knife.  All the others, even those in the mob, she’d slept with, and finally that emergency worker…

What was this, the 19th century, not the 21st?  Wasn’t there some other way she could have done it all, accomplished it all, other than sleeping with…at least…Frank?

Her gut knotted.  Her eyes flickered open again.  The douche she’d left on its side drizzled its last remaining liquid over the tub like a garden sprinkler someone had knocked over.

Douching wouldn’t help with this.  Her gut re-knotted as the next stab of emotional pain came:  Had she hidden all her own flaws…including liking to credit herself with everything, an odd self-absorption, and false pride…beneath the supposedly pure altruism of helping her friend?

The shower curtain was yanked aside.  Some guy she thought she recognized…some cop from the hospital, though he wasn’t in uniform now…clamped a hand over her mouth.  Some other guy with him turned the volume up on her least favorite playlist.  She couldn’t catch all they were whispering, but she knew it had to do with making it look like an accident. 

Shit. False pride indeed.  She’d thought she could escape the mob.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 129

Karen couldn’t have cared less about anything.  Except it was fun to torment roommate Lydia with…or, Karen smirked, should she say without…the amputated leg.

Soft shadows from the sunlight passing through the leaves outside danced across the floor.

Karen couldn’t have cared less.

The plaintive, heartbreaking cry of a child could be heard in the hall.

“Stupid brat!”

Lydia stopped weeping for long enough to ask, “Who are you calling a stupid brat?”

Karen smirked again.  “Not you, gimp!  At least not this time…”

Some cop came in with a look of absolute disdain for the donut he was eating.  “Anyone know where I can get a jelly donut?”  Then he gave Karen a sharp look, mumbling something about “the crazy blonde,” before he approached with a pasted-on smile.  “Good afternoon, young lady, Officer Grover Sanders here, at your service with some very good news for you today.”

Karen eyed him suspiciously.  Despite the smile, something in his eyes and body language suggested he was there to get something from her rather than give her anything.  But she went along while he made his way through some preliminaries like confirming her name and a home address she’d all but forgotten at this point.

“So,” continued Officer Grover Moore, “it seems the individual you allegedly assaulted with a scalpel has…suddenly and miraculously, one might add…decided to drop the charges.”

What?  Why?

“You look puzzled.  You…”  He trailed off.  Karen shivered.  Something in the stillness of the air reminded her of a lion about to pounce on its prey.  “You don’t happen to have a friend named Marie?”

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 128

Tommy had to respawn a skin because he got distracted by a bitch like that?  He’d thought she was cute for a sec, like that puppy in the elevator, but…no.

“I…I…like I need to borrow your tablet.”

Enough of this vanilla Minecraft shit; he was going back to mods.

“Like…  Please?”

He was too busy installing a mod.  That’s why the door opening behind him didn’t register until it was too late.

“Tommy!”

That fucking nurse.  Tommy spun around.

“How long have you been playing with that tablet instead of doing your work?”

Real Life.  The same RL where his mother had laughed as she drowned his puppy.  Tommy’s gut tightened.  He could feel the sneer deepen on his face, even though he figured he was about to lose his job.

But then the pregs spoke up!  “Like, it’s not his fault!  He was just turning his tablet off after I, like, kept him from cleaning up after The Gray…after the woman who was my roommate…because I kept asking him for…like, all kinds of effin’ stuff.”

The nurse looked suspicious.  She made a point of looking around the empty room.  “Like, what kinds of effin’ stuff?”

Pregs had it down.  “Like, none of your business.”

The nurse opened her mouth, then shut it.

Tommy mentally crossed his fingers.

The nurse nailed him with her ruthless RL eyes and slammed her hands around her scrawny little hips.  “Well…’like’…you just better have all your work done by the end of your shift or else.”  She spun, left, and tried to slam a door that wouldn’t really slam.

Tommy almost laughed.  “Hey, Pregs, why’d ya’ do it?”

“Don’t call me that!”

“Okay!”  He guessed he owed her that much.  “But why?”

“I…I…like really need to borrow your tablet.”

“For what?”  He was beginning to think she looked kinda’ cute again. 

“Snapchat.”

Hell, he would fuck with Pregs on Snapchat.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 127

Imogene was like watching that blond boy she hated on sight play Minecraft on his tablet rather than clean up after The Gray Monster.  Just because she hated him, she used The Gray Monster’s words to tell him in what she hoped was a sickening singsong, “Denial of what’s real, no matter how ugly, is your biggest enemy!”

“Yo, Pregs, shut the fuck up.”

“I am not pregs!”

The Blond Monster actually looked away from Minecraft long enough to look at her, stunned, before laughing so hard he could hardly singsong back to her, “Denial of what’s real, no matter how ugly, is your biggest enemy!”

It was Imogene’s turn to be stunned.  Like, why was he effin’ telling her that?  She wasn’t playing Minecraft instead of changing a bed that was, like, cray cray gross and really needed to be changed.  Hopelessly puzzled, she could feel her expression change to what her father had always, like, actually thought was cute and called her puppy face.

At that The Blond Monster’s face changed too.  He wasn’t sneering anymore.  Even though she could see and hear that his latest skin on Minecraft had just died, he was still watching her.  “Do…do you like Minecraft?”

Not one, but two drops from the ceiling hit the side of her face, making her suddenly furious.  “What are you, some kind of noob?  Minecraft is so so so def not woke!”

The sneer, and a short snort of laughter were back.  “If Minecraft’s not woke, what the fuck are you?  Woke?”  He turned his back on her and went back to Minecraft.

Tales of the Storage Space, Part 126

The Storage Space was appalled, simply appalled, watching poor Amelia do all the work now that its beloved Karen was gone.  Why even Sweater Woman, the supposed “cop” who seemed to have appointed herself Karen’s guardian angel, was currently absent.

Still…Amelia sang so sweetly while she worked.  Having spent the day with Bellini, she had finally arrived at his most enchanting aria, “Casta Diva” from Norma.  Even the tinny acoustics from all its corrugated metal walls resonated, a dreamy and thankfully subtle echoing as if she’d been singing in a canyon.

Until the subtle echoing of Amelia’s sweet voice suddenly turned into a perfectly dreadful clanging.  Why it was that oddly dressed Pat.  He’d just ripped a wall open with a crowbar!  Oh no!  Oh no, no, no!  Not that wall!  How had he known, who could have told him, that was the exact location of the old theatre’s most valuable possessions?

Karen…  The only person in all these long, lonely years who had ever heard the poor, long-suffering Storage Space share its secrets.  She had…she must have…betrayed it.

Amelia…racing toward the source of that horrid, horrid noise…had stopped singing.  It wouldn’t have mattered.  Even her magnificent voice couldn’t have reached the Storage Space now.

People.  Each and every one of them.  Even Amelia.  Even the dead ones like Edward and most particularly that rodent Irwin.  Even Bellini.  Even Puccini.  Even Karen…  Even…her

Nothing but a most hideous infestation that should have been exterminated immediately.  None of them, not a one, should ever have been allowed to draw a single one of their breaths.

It felt a vast, unimaginable cold creep steadily over everything it had once held dear.  Why revere the grand old theatre it used to be?  It had only been yet another vehicle for the use of…people.