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A long post this week, as I hand over the blog to a short story by your friend and mine, that Mistress of the Macabre, Zelda Mcleich …

Self Storage
by
Zelda McLeich

Friday, June 13

Corrugated corridors, strip-lit passages stretching to infinity, at least in my imagination.  He always said I was too fanciful.  Maybe he had a point; it’s hard to work out what I ever imagined seeing in him, a man with no imagination of his own.

I can’t think there’s any harm in idle speculation about what lies behind all these doors.  What life stories must there be, boxed up and stacked high in all the storage units in the land?

Identical doors hiding myriad identities.  Folks in transit.  Lives in limbo, like mine.  Wonder what the numbers are?  Plenty of business lock-ups, naturally; loads between homes, waiting on ‘completion of missives’, redecoration and the like.  How many are like me, though, waiting on the chance to rebuild a life, hurting from the destruction of the old one?  Flood damage, fire damage, love damage?

My next door neighbour in here, Don in 145, he’s recession damage.  Lost his job, had to sell off, downsize.  He’s got a lot more confidence than me, so sure he’ll ‘bounce back pronto’, just comes in to ‘rationalise’ things.  Lots of management speak, but he still seems nice enough.

No.  I may be short on hope, and even confidence, but I think I have staying power — tenacity.

“Hang in there, girl,” as Don says.

______________

Monday, June 16

Don may have a point.  I got a bit huffy with him, but he may have a point.  Says I seem to just be shuffling stuff about.  Clinging.

Not that he’s making that much difference to his hoard.  It all looked obsessively neat and ordered from day one.  He spends more time making cuppas and chatting to me.  Maybe that’s all he comes in for?  It’s not helping me, especially if half his chat sounds critical, judgmental.

I mean, I have found the odd thing to throw out or pass on to friends or family.  Though most friends were his, not mine.  And my rellies live far, far away and I never saw them much after I married. Thank heaven for Vicky and her sofa.  But I didn’t hoard a lot of unnecessary rubbish like some people.  Whatever he said.  Whatever Don implies with those superior little smiles.

But maybe he’s right.  Maybe I’m just rationalising my ‘rationalising’. Making excuses to keep hold of stuff; not moving on with life.  But I need to sort. To categorise.  I like that term.

Categorise, before I can rationalise.  That’s categorically rational.

Oh dear, I need my bed.

______________

Thursday, June 19

My ex is being a pain
My best friend’s showing the strain
I shouldn’t wax poetic
De dum de dum pathetic.

Yes, I’m cracking up.  I think we all are.  Don’s being very supportive, but I’m even finding that a touch creepy.  Am I just being ungrateful, paranoid even?  He seems overly friendly some of the time, though his views on women (and his criticisms of me) are too familiar to be endearing, let alone seductive.  That’s what I’m trying to leave behind, that’s why I’m spending so much time in storage units.

And then he gets touchy over silly things. He seemed most put out that I insisted on making my own tea. What is it with men and their ‘builders’ tea’?  I couldn’t make a cup of Earl Grey without disparaging comments at home; if I get one thing out of all this, surely it’s the right to drink what I like, and to make it myself if I feel like it.  I was happy enough to use the boiled water from his kettle, but this need to make my tea for me is just silly.  It’s this proprietorial thing, like helping is a way of owning someone.  But then he acts all hurt and makes me feel guilty and mean.

And no, I don’t fancy going for a drink afterwards, either.  I try to explain to him that it’s all very wearing, all this sorting out of my stuff, my past, and all I want to do when the place closes up is go home and be alone with my thoughts.

Maybe he’s right though, maybe that’s not helping me move on.  It’s not as if he isn’t  affected in his own way.  I notice he keeps a bottle of tranquillisers with his tea things.

Should I give him the benefit of the doubt, stop off for a drink or a cheap and cheerless snack on the way home one night?  It might do us both good. I don’t have to let it go too far.

Unless I suddenly want to, of course.

_____________

Wednesday, June 25

I don’t know what made me google ‘flunitrazepam’ when I got home just now.  ‘Better known as Rohypnol’.  My blood ran cold.

Am I being over-suspicious?  It is a powerful tranquilliser, ‘used in some countries to treat severe insomnia’, and Don has said he has trouble sleeping.  But why bring it to the storage lockers? What use could it be there, he’d have to be at home to … and then the stuff about making my tea …

Am I flattering myself here, as well as getting paranoid? Perhaps he takes it with him at night, seeking younger and prettier victims than a jilted housewife?  As if that would make him any less disgusting.

Part of me wants to ask a few pointed questions, Columbo-style — just one more thing, Don — do you ever sleep in the lockup, ‘cos I can’t see why … Then that would be admitting I had a close look at his stuff while he was in the loo; he might even turn violent; he does seem to have quite a temper.

______________

Friday, June 27

With the mails from the old homestead alternating between veiled threats and naked ones, and Vicky letting me know her patience is wearing thin in no certain terms, it’s been a relief to be alone at the unit for a few days.

I don’t know where Don’s been, he won’t say, but he’s come back a changed man.  And not for the better.  Moodier than ever, and none of them good ones now.   Even making his own cup of tea is a production number, with mutterings accompanied by much clinking of cups and cutlery.  His friendliness has been replaced with a frosty politeness and sarcastic asides.  At least that’s less creepy, but he gets on my nerves even more.  Like a spoilt schoolboy who failed to get extra pocket money.  Is he trying to bully me now?  I’m never quite sure what people mean by ‘passive-aggressive’, but  I think Don’s joined the aggressive wing of that movement.

And I get the feeling, from a few comments and knowing looks, that the bastard’s been telling the guys on reception he and I were starting to get more than friendly lately.  Is there no rubbish men won’t brag about?

None of this is endearing the male sex to me.  I wonder if I’ve left it too late to turn lesbian? He’s being more of a pain now too.  Accusing me of running off with his things and hiding them in my ‘Aladdin’s cave’.  Aladdin? What’s that even supposed to mean? Maybe I should try rubbing some old lamps. I think I know what my three bloody wishes would be.

______________

Monday, June 30

I’ve just about had enough, to be frank.  I never wanted any of this to happen.  I never knowingly asked him to shag his colleague on ‘business trips’,  or go to working girls when that liaison led nowhere, surprise, surprise.  I certainly never wanted him to be so careless about leaving evidence around.  Maybe I let him down by not being a whore in the bedroom and an invisible domestic servant everywhere else.  As if his ideas of love-making were remotely adventurous; the things I bought from the ‘marital aids’ site did more to let things down than spice things up (except when he was out)!

But now he tries to blame me for all the fallout, accuses me of ‘taking advantage’ and wanting to ‘hang him out to dry’.  Me, who has resisted all my lawyer’s attempts to put any kind of squeeze on him.  I can’t even work out what he thinks I’ve ‘spirited away’ in the unit.

It’s given me an idea though.  I think it could even help me rethink how I view ‘all the crap’.  I’ve invited him over, I’ll make him a cup of super-strong tea, I’ll make one for Don too, and I’ll have my own cup of Darjeeling.  With lemon.

That way he can see that it’s just my stuff in there, while I get him to help me shift a few heavier things that need repositioning anyway.  He loves to think I can’t manage without him.  And he can meet Don; they can even have a good beef about me over their Tetley’s — as if I wasn’t there, no doubt.

Wednesdays are usually quiet.

______________

Tuesday, July 1

Poor old Vicky.  I should be more grateful for her help these past weeks, despite the good grace she didn’t give it with.  At least that made it a lot easier to fake the bust-up and the storm-out. In the heat of the moment I nearly said, “I’m going back to mother’s!”

Good job I didn’t.  It’s corny, she knows my Mum died fifteen years ago, and “cousins in Cornwall” was far more convincing, if equally untrue.

An evening in the pub and a night in the car is no great hardship.  I’ll find somewhere new in a night or two.

______________

Friday, July 4

Nice wee hotel, this. Sheryl was right, all those years ago.  I do love the Peloponnese, with its delightfully secluded villages, away from the tourist trails.  Back then I feigned lack of interest, ‘cos it was all but impossible to get him to go to major resorts, all keg beer and full English, even in countries that didn’t ‘write funny’ as well as speaking ‘in foreign’. I’ll get the hang of it.  As my new friend Stavros says, ‘meze’ is enough for starters. Oh, it’s so good to laugh again.

As well as friendly (and  hunky) locals, there are a few friendly expats to help, like Sheryl said; all pretty quirky, if not downright eccentric.  Lotophagi — lotus eaters.

Is it about forgetting — this ‘starting a new life’ game?  Obviously at some level for me.  I’ve finally resigned myself to never seeing any of that rubbish in the storage unit again.  That can only be a good thing.

Closing all the accounts too, even getting stuff out of the old joint account, what a palaver that was.  But what a relief to get it all sorted.  Thank heaven for electronic banking and a man who wrote down all his predictable passwords because he couldn’t be bothered to memorise them.  I thought bringing all that cash with me would be scary, but it was more thrilling, really.  Maybe they’re the same thing.

Better bank it soon though. In my new name of course.  Might be fiddly, but I’m sure I’ll find a way.  After all, a woman who can fool a security system can do anything, right?

It wasn’t that difficult, though I was sure they could hear my heart beating from the other side of the warehouse.  It was good, or should I say typically patronising of him to help put my ‘bloody triffid’, as he called my kentia palm, just where it would block the CCTV camera. He always said I was too soft, too friendly with strangers and tradesmen, but getting on the right side of security guards certainly pays dividends.  I do feel a bit bad about poor Gary though.  He’ll probably get it in the neck, for letting me sign people in and out while he was taking a sneaky extended toilet or ciggie break, and taking my word for it that the guys had left.

I told him I’d done all I could for a while; he probably thinks Don and I have run off together!  So it’s a question of whether the smell or the non-payment of bills gets to them first.

He’ll be missed at work of course, but the send-to-all mail about rushing to a distant sickbed will stall that long enough.  And from the way Don talked, it’s hard to imagine anyone will miss him at all, especially his medical supplies.  Still, I’ll always treasure my last view of them, sleeping peacefully like babies with their matching straps and plastic bag headgear.

The two of them deserve one another; I’m sure they’d have been as happy being miserable buggers together in life as they will be now, side by side in Unit 147.

 

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