Site menu:


The Waiting Room

~ Chapter Fifty

Boxes in the Basement

Example content image

Ichabod banished Mort from his desk, wishing to do more research on the damaged computer.

“I assure you, Mr. Rainey, I will discover the culprit responsible for the assault against your property. But it will take time. Please, allow me the opportunity to investigate further.” The inspector paused, a finger pressed to his lips. “Unless of course, you have no need to know the identity of the person responsible, but I have to add, that I myself have so missed sifting through a crime scene.”

Mort rose from his desk, grabbing his Doritos and Mountain Dew.

“Knock yourself out. The damn thing is no good to me this way.” Mort shuffled to the couch and flopped down, bouncing as he did to get comfortable. Across the way Gilbert flinched. He really wasn’t sure if the floor would hold up to such abuse. He made his way over to talk to Mort about his concern.

“I really don’t think you should jump up and down on the couch that way, Mort. It’s not good for the floor you know. I don’t think Roux likes going down in the basement all the time to check. He says he really doesn’t like going down there to fix things. Too much stuff down there to move around.”

There it was again, Mort thought. A reference to the basement. He hadn’t even know the Room had one until a few days ago.

“Tell me again, Grape, how does Roux get into the basement and where in the hell is it located?”

Gilbert gave Mort a quizzical look.

“It’s where all basements are located,” he said pointing down. “It’s under the floor”

Mort rolled his eyes and sighed.

“No, dips--t…I mean how do you get into the basement? Where’s the door?”

Mort shook his head. This boy must have raisins for brains.

“Oh, the door.” Gilbert flushed at his mistake. “That’s in the kitchen. The banana cabinet hides it. Then there is the key to open the door.” Gilbert pointed to William Blake. “He has a skeleton key. The one his girl Angee gave him. It opens any door in the Room…except the exit.”

“What’s down there?” Mort’s curiosity rose.

Gilbert shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t go down there. I never go in basements. That’s why Roux does it. He’s doesn’t have a problem with basements and besides, he’s better at fixing things than I am. I’m not good at fixing problems.”

Mort wanted to say that Gilbert fixed the problem with his family’s house, but thought better of it. He already had too many enemies in the Room.

“Roux did say there were marked boxes down there. But he doesn’t bother with any of them. Said they don’t belong to him, so they are none of his business.”

The writer glanced over at the gypsy. Roux was strumming his guitar and helping himself to a bowl of strawberries.

Mort was curious as to what was in those boxes. It was the writer in him. Maybe there was something down there he could write about.

“But don’t you forget, Mr. Rainey,” came that Mississippian accent. “Don’t you be forgetting now, that curiosity killed the cat.”

“Yeah?” Mort snapped “But you tried to kill my dog…so keep your red-necked, southern ass out of my business. Besides being in this Room is already like being dead…it’s just there’s no gift shop to buy a souvenir tee-shirt.”

“I don’t believe I understand your analogy, Mr Rainey.”

Mort stood and strode over to Roux, trying to leave behind the sound of Shooter’s voice.

Roux nodded as Mort approached, lifting up the bowl and offering a strawberry.

Mort declined, holding up his crumpled bag of Doritos.

“No thanks. Brought my own snacks. But nice of you to offer.”

He watched as Roux lifted one of the berries tenderly between two fingers and bit into the red fruit. The juice dripped down his chin bringing a quick smile to Roux’s lips. He wiped it away with the heel of his hand then licked his hand clean, not wanting to waste any of the sweet goodness.

“Are you sure you don’t want one, Mr. Rainey? They are the best. Grown personally by Sarah in her own little hothouse. Lovely little place. This variety is know as CeaDepp. They are the sweetest, reddest fruit I have ever placed upon my lips. It is as if I have been kissed by an angel.”

The word ‘angel’ caught Jack’s attention. It reminded him that he still did not know the whereabouts of Carrie, his singing angel. He turned back to the bar, grumbling to himself.

“Eh, no thanks, Roux. But I did have a question about the basement.”

Roux set aside his guitar and sighed. “What is wrong down there now? I really don’t see the point in fixing every little thing. Sometimes I don’t have the proper tools. But I will do what I can.”

“No, nothing to be fixed,” Mort assured him. “I was just curious about the boxes. Like how many, what might be in them. Let’s just say it’s the curious writer in me.”

“Oh,” Roux replied, “The boxes. There’s a roomful of them down there. Quite aggravating if you ask me. Having to move them around every time I have to go fix something.”

“Think I could have a look. Might get me an idea for a story. You know, the one that might get us all out of here.”

“Yeah, sure. We can do that. Let me go ask William Blake for the skeleton key. He trusts me with it. I always give it back, unlike Gilbert. I don’t have ill words of the boy, but he tends to forget to return the key back to William. Upsets him. Gift from his girl, you know? William says if Gilbert forgets to give it back one more time he’ll be a dead man. William can get a bit harsh.”

Mort watched as Roux went to ask William Blake for the key. Blake nodded and whispered a few words. The accountant turned cowboy climbed the ladder to the top of the bookcase where he had hidden the key.

Blake stood at the top, feeling for the key back in the shadows between shelf and ceiling. The cowboy’s facial expression told Mort that the key was not where he had left it. As he climbed down the ladder, rung by rung, Mort saw Blake glaring in Gilbert Grape’s direction. The young boy was standing at the window, waiting and watching for Arnie.

Before anyone could do or say anything, Blake had his pistol drawn and beaded in Grape’s direction.

“You’re a dead man, boy!” Blake warned Gilbert.


Next Chapter