By Maxine Flam
“Time to play musical cars,” I said out loud as I circled the block for the second time. I cannot afford to park in the lot and my doctor doesn’t validate. Yes! A spot opened up. I parked and walked into the lobby.
As I entered the elevator, I heard a voice say, “Hey lady, would you hold it for me?” It was a kid no more than 16. I pressed the open button and he got in with his ear buds and skateboard. I pressed 4; he wanted 5 and I hit the close button. The elevator made its normal creaking noise and went up. While looking around, I noticed something peculiar. The elevator was going up, but the indicator light showed it was going down. I figured since we were going up, I shrugged off this peculiarity. It stopped at the second level where visitor parking was. A man in a three piece suit entered. Five was already pushed, but Mr. Business Suit pushed it again. We rode together in silence for a couple of seconds before the kid cracked his gum. Mr. Business Suit looked over in disgust.
Half way between 3 and 4, the elevator groaned and stopped. I should have known something was wrong. The light was the tip off. I always have hated elevators, putting your life in a box, suspended over a shaft by a cable, going up and down all day. It breaking down was inevitable.
Mr. Business Suit was quite perturbed, yelling, “What just happened?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it will go in a minute.”
“Maybe? It could be stuck for good. Hit the bell, pick up the phone and call someone.”
“And who are you to give me orders?!” I replied in a loud voice. It was a good thing he was on the other side of the car. I was thinking how I’d like to kick him in the butt. The kid had was deep into his music. He had no idea we were stuck and I wasn’t about to involve him in this shouting match.
I pressed the alarm button and picked up the phone. It rang several times before someone answered. “We’re stuck in the elevator….You know? Oh, okay, about 20 minutes. I’ll let the others know.” I hung up.
Mr. Business Suit screamed, “What did you just say? Twenty minutes? I can’t be in here that long. I’ll be late for an appointment.”
“Well, if you don’t like it, why don’t you put on your super suit and crawl out through the top or better yet, why don’t you open the doors with your teeth?”
“Why don’t you keep your mouth shut?”
“You started it, you dumb ape. The last place I’d like to be is with you on this elevator, but the man said they are working on it. We’ll be on our way soon.”
“Hey man,” said the kid. “What’s all the yelling all about?” The kid saw Mr. Business Suit and I were about to come to some serious blows.
“If you wouldn’t have had those ear blasters in, you’d know the elevator is stuck,” replied Mr. Business Suit. “Idiot!”
“Leave the kid alone.”
“What are you, his mommy?”
“You don’t have to yell, man. Just be cool,” said the kid.
“Be cool? I don’t feel like being cool. Why don’t you just shut up?”
“And why don’t you take a pill and chill out,” I said.
“Mr. Business Suit suddenly darted across from his side of the elevator to the doors and began pounding on them. “Get me the hell out of here!” he screamed.
I picked up the phone again. “One of the people in here is having a complete nervous breakdown. We need paramedics….Yeah, ASAP.”
Mr. Business Suit collapsed. The kid took off his shirt and made a pillow for his head. I loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt. Nine minutes later, the elevator opened on the first floor. The paramedics pulled the man out, put him on a gurney, and whisked him away with lights and siren blaring. The kid grabbed his shirt from the floor, put it on, picked up the skateboard and ear buds, and headed for the stairs. I started for the lobby doors when I heard him say, “Hey lady.” I turned around and replied,
“Yes?” “Have a better day.” I smiled.
I went outside the building to call the doctor to cancel my appointment and tell him why.
* * *
Maxine lives in North Hollywood, California with her aquatic friends. She refuses to allow her physical and mental disability to slow her down. Maxine resumed attending classes at the local junior college taking short story analysis and advanced scriptwriting this semester. She has two A.A. degrees, one in Natural Science and one in Liberal Arts. She has been published in the Los Angeles Daily News, the Epoch Times, Nail Polish Stories, DarkWinterLit, CafeLit twice, and DarkWinterLit.