Just a lift

Short Stories / Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

The elevator door closed with a shut. He stepped inside. Gold rimmed the walls. The carpet was slightly stained. He glanced down, wondering how many people must have walked on it, stepped on it, waited on it. “Like me,” he thought wryly.

39. 38. 37. 36. The doors swung open on 35. For a moment, he thought there was no one there. Then he saw him – in this 60s perhaps, with a briefcase, the blue shirt, the suit, the polished boots. How he wished. Never mind, that is not a wish, he admonished himself. The man stepped inside, looking at the monitor inside that displayed news. He knew he wasn’t even in the man’s periphery. He wondered what he would have to do to get his attention. Strip naked perhaps, he smiled.

30, 29, 28. The doors swung again. This time a woman. Petite, trim with a leopard print purse. An Elizabeth Arden perfume sunk into the gold rimmed walls. 26, 25, 24, 23. There were no one else apparently standing on those lonely corridors, waiting for this steel mesh to grab them from the world they thought they belonged to. Faster and faster, they were almost at 15. The man in the suit glanced at the woman. Smiled. The woman looked at him an instant. No impression there. The news monitor fascinated her more. He laughed. People were so strange so inexplicable, so burdened, so frivolous, so utterly tiresome.

10, 9, 8. Clinton had made a surprise visit to North Korea. The Bill that is. Did he embarass Hillary, the screen asked. 7, 6, 5. He thought about it for a moment. Old Bill. Doing what Old Bill always did – loving the limelight, the chivalrous knight to the ladies’ rescue, the dashing Bond, the Bill who all women loved, and who all men must probably hate. The lady in front was impatient. Glancing at her watch. The man with the briefcase seemed more content. He tapped his feet. No one turned. 3, 2, 1. His ears screamed from the pressure.

The doors swung open. He stood there for a moment, waiting for the lady to exit. He didn’t have to wait long. She swooped bye, heels clicking, on her way to whatever it was that must have been so important as to make 50 seconds in an elevator an unendurable torture. The man with the briefcase walked out more slowly. Head down. Weighed down by the billions he had made that day.

And he? I walked out. I had chosen. My black shadow a ripple on the floor, pushing my cart with all the other souls I had collected through a morning’s work. Now where did that lady go?

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