Tales of the Storage Space, Part 81

The Storage Space was appalled, simply appalled.  How unforgivable!  Consummately unfeeling!  Someone walking by outside had mentioned December 5th

1876.  Close to midnight. No one walking by then but many running.  Another Brooklyn theatre, the Brooklyn Theatre, only five years old and burning.  Screaming, the constant screaming of those trapped at the top in the Family Circle and still conscious.  The swirl and twists of the bright blaze illuminating the sky.  Extra ferry boats swarming across the river from Manhattan.

But wait, where was that…laughing…coming from?  Something slithered.  And the Storage Space knew.  And at that point there was even more laughing.  The poor long-suffering Storage Space was desolate, so desperately unable to figure out what to do that it found itself wishing Le Grand Rat was still alive.

Karen lifted her head.  Did she sense his presence too?

But ancient Amelia soothed Karen with a song Amelia’s wonderful ancestor once sang from the stage when the Storage Space was such a grand old theatre.  (Though never as grand as the mighty, majestic, mansard-roofed Brooklyn Theatre had been.)

And all that remained of the grand old theatre the Storage Space once was creaked happily from their dark, musty hiding places and forgotten corners beneath the tinny metal of the Storage Space’s wall, and floors, and stairs.  All was calmness.  All was sweet.

Karen smiled softly, every muscle relaxing.  Then she lifted her head again and opened her mouth to speak as if about to recite some beautiful poetry.  But what she said was, “I did kill Irwin.”  Suddenly she shuddered violently and tears started.  “But you should have seen what he did to me.”

The woman who had said she was a detective clapped a hand over Karen’s mouth.

Amelia gasped.

A bottle clattered down the closest set of stairs.  The three women turned at that but couldn’t see where the bottle had come from.  Faintly, though, so faint the Storage Space could feel Karen writing it off to her imagination, a voice could be heard saying, “Clumsy, Hank, clumsy.”

And there it was again, grating and seemingly without end:  the laughing.

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