The Masking Tape Prison

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
The Masking Tape Prison is a story about a young girl in a self-imposed exile, and the only thing to break it is something stronger than fear.

Submitted: February 04, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: February 04, 2017

A A A

A A A


Dennis Evers

C 2008

The Masking Tape Prison

by

Dennis Evers

 

Today was just like any other day Angela thought, as she watched her mother leave their Second Avenue apartment, disappearing into the mass of humanity on the street below. She didn’t see the accident, but simply heard the screeching tires, not unusual for the city. When her mother didn’t return on time, her father Jacob began to worry, and the forcible knock and the sight of policemen through the peephole told him nothing would ever be the same – no wife- no mother and aside from Angela, no reason to live.

In the days and weeks that followed, Jacob buried himself in his work and Angela refused to step outside for any reason – preferring the safety of the apartment to the cruel world just outside the door.

In an effort to help, Jacob put a strip of masking tape across the threshold of the apartment’s door, and told Angela that it would keep the outside out, but - when she was ready - and only when she was ready, she could remove it and they would venture out. Until then, with groceries delivered and with Jacobs’s job at home, they really didn’t have to leave the comfort of their rent controlled womb. And they didn’t. Only Jacob attended the funeral, Angela couldn't, the thought of venturing out became darker and scarier with every passing day.The days turned into weeks, the weeks turned into months, and the months became years, prisoners held in check by a silly piece of masking tape.

Week after week – year after year for seven years, Jacob mourned the loss of his soul mate, until it was too much to bear, and a brief illness claimed him and he was laid to rest, in Angela’s absence. Her only support system and now he too was gone. Completely alone, Angela delved into her father’s work, which she had mastered with an identical style.

When Nicky delivered groceries and other essentials to apartment 3B every Wednesday at 6 PM, he couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of the pretty young women through the slightly opened door, as well as the strange strip of old yellowing masking tape on the hardwood threshold. After three and a half years of delivering groceries, the routine never changed - set the groceries on the doorstep, the exchange of money, along with a small tip and a demure “thank you” - exactly the same protocol as the eight previous delivery boys.

Nicky had asked a few questions but as a rule, apartment dwellers aren’t really interested in getting to know each other, and sadly Angela’s neighbors were no different.

 

Chapter Two

The Interloper

At his weekly neighborhood basketball game, Andy Thomas, an aspiring banker happened to overhear a player on the other team talking about his Second Avenue recluse. He had heard Nicky talking about this unusual girl before, but it had never been of interest.

Finding his curiosity overriding his common sense Andy pulled Nicky aside and casually asked him about the girl. Nicky's description of the weekly delivery only served to pique Andy’s curiosity even more.

Like most compulsions, it started when Andy couldn’t get the mystery girl out of his mind and had to see her for himself, “just once would suffice” he thought.

Andy had an epiphany – bold and stupid in a single move. Deliver the groceries the next week and see the mystery girl for himself.

After tracking Nicky down, Andy made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. He would give him a ten spot for letting him deliver the groceries just one time. Meeting Nicky at her apartment and donning the stores official delivery boy baseball cap, Andy knocked on the door and waited. “Groceries” Andy nervously announced, not knowing what to expect.

Who is it”? Asked the timid voice from behind the door. “Where’s Nicky”?

He’s not delivering to you today. I’m delivering for him” replied Andy matter of factly. Not a lie, just not the whole truth. The door opened just enough to reveal the faint outline of a lovely young woman, her eyes averted, never making contact, and the curious aged masking tape line across the threshold he had only heard about.

Please set the groceries on the line,” Angela asked. “Uh, uh, my name’s Andy and uh, I’m new here and didn’t know there was a special way of doing things”. No response. “I’m really sorry if I’ve upset you in any way and it won’t happen again, I promise” he said, earnestly and completely fascinated by the girl hiding in the shadows. The door snapped shut and she was gone.

She must think I’m an idiot,” Andy thought. Down but not defeated, Andy made his way down the stairs to the crisp air outside.

One mistake and it could be all over he thought, too much cologne, too pushy, anything might cause her to request another delivery boy. Take it slow and easy he thought to himself, slow and easy.

Every week was now an adventure in Andy’s formerly boring banker's life. The girl in 3B was all he could think about. On week three he finally got her to say hello – not a word more, but it was a real breakthrough. Real conversation was currently out of the question, but the possibilities were endless and Andy knew that this was going to be one long ride. One good thing he thought semi-sarcastically, as he skipped every other step in his descent “she’s not on the dating circuit”.

In the weeks that followed, the ritual became comedic. Nicky showing up with the groceries, Andy slipped him the amount for the groceries and his ten dollar bribe. By now, Andy had his own delivery baseball cap which he wore around town.

Andy was irrevocably trapped in the lunacy at hand and wouldn’t rest until he saw it to the end.

The girl was making progress. Emerging from the shadows, she actually looked at him and smiled, revealing her beauty, ultimately making it even more difficult for Andy to wait another week.

At week eight, Andy secreted a small bouquet of flowers in the bag and said “good night Angela” after setting the bag on the line. A weak and somewhat belated good night returned to him as Andy leaped down the stairs with a smile on his face and a plan brewing for next week.

When next week rolled around, Andy was simply going to see if she mentioned the flowers and play it from there. Nervously he knocked at the door at six o clock sharp. This time the door opened and she held her arms out and reached for the bag. “You must have made a mistake last week and given me somebody else's flowers by mistake,” She said.

I insist on paying for them”. “No mistake” Andy shot back. “Thought you might like some fresh flowers,” he said earnestly. “See you next week” as he turned and walked away. “Good night Andy” she replied as she softly closed the door. It was the most conversation they had ever had.

Andy was caught in his own trap and it felt wonderful!

The next week, Andy decided to push the envelope and ask her about the weather.

It was like opening a floodgate.

Angela was extremely capable of conversation, proofreading reams of contemporary literary work as her father had before her, had given her an incredibly wide base of knowledge, she was just simply fearful of life outside. Inside she yearned for conversation, company and to be freed from her self-imposed exile.

After talking with her for over an hour, Andy didn’t know what to do. She was delightful yet he hadn’t prepared for a full-fledged conversation.

When Angela shut the door, all she could think of was how she had conversed more in that single hour than she had since her daddy died. Sad, alone, scared and anxious, Angela went to bed and thought of Andy.

By now Andy was worried about his duplicitous behavior. He was a banker, but if he told her it would be a betrayal. There were two ways out, tell her and risk losing everything he’d worked for, or get a job after work delivering groceries.

The next week at six sharp, Andy was somewhat surprised to find the door slightly ajar when he arrived at the third floor. Even more surprising was when it quietly closed as he approached. With her groceries in hand and a slightly larger bouquet of flowers hidden behind his back, Andy started to knock on the door, when it opened before his knuckles hit wood. Handing her the bag, “Hello Angela, how are you tonight?” After a shorter than normal pause, she replied somewhat more assuredly than before, “I’m fine Andy, thank you, and how are you?”

Somewhat taken aback by her brave attempt at normal conversation, Andy almost forgot about the flowers behind his back. As she said thank you and started to close the door, he blurted out “I got you these flowers, I hope you like them” Angela was embarrassed and feigned shutting the door when Andy said off offhandedly, “I can’t take them back” Still fighting the embarrassment, she slowly stuck her hand out for the flowers while offering a modest “Thank you, Andy”.

After a brief conversation, Andy looked at his watch and said he had to go as he, in fact, had another delivery to make for the evening.

Approaching week fifteen, and several hours of conversation, Andy had a pretty good idea as to the fears of the beautiful young woman in 3B. Not really knowing the conversational etiquette, she was unabashedly candid and as such spoke with refreshing sincerity.

At the end of his delivery, Andy popped the big question, “May I drop by and say hello on Saturday night?”

Realizing her inability to cross the line and her fear of his entering the sanctity of the apartment, Andy quickly followed with a promise to simply sit outside and visit as usual.

Angela thought to herself “What harm could there be in a visit?”

At six sharp on Saturday, Angela opened the door and to her astonishment, saw a small table, beautifully set with her favorite dishes and a candle in the center.

On the other side was a small chair, partially sticking out into the hallway, just offering enough room to pass. A dozen rosebuds sat in a tiny vase as there was barely room for them on the small table.

Andy greeted her with a courteous “Good evening Angela” would you care to dine with me this evening?”

Years of fear had taught her instinctively to shut the door at anything uncomfortable, and there Andy was, dressed in a suit and tie, with dinner set on a miniature table with miniature roses. As she started to push the door shut, Andy stopped her and said: “We’ve known each other for almost six months and I would really appreciate it if you would pull up a chair on your side of the line and open the door a little and let me enjoy your company”.

For some reason, the fear she had known didn’t exist at that moment. Why shouldn’t she eat dinner with Andy? She liked him and with this display realized that he liked her. And, she thought, her parents would like Andy, even thought he was just a delivery boy.

The dinner went well with few interruptions and the conversation was of the kind you have when you are courting and unintelligent statements are completely overlooked and not held against you.

After several hours of delightful conversation, Angela did the bravest thing she had ever done in her entire life and invited Andy to dinner the following Saturday.

The very next week, Andy ate his first meal inside 3B and after dinner, Angela asked him if she could ask him a question relating to his work. “Ask me anything you wish” he replied.

“Does your store sell anything that can remove old dried on masking tape?”

- End-

 


© Copyright 2018 Dennis Evers. All rights reserved.

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