I’m still waiting for my book, “My Precious Life” to hit the stores, and have been blogging bits and pieces of my life that didn’t make it into the book. This post is a work of fiction, which I normally don’t write. Feedback would be good.
Running for the elevator, Elsie quickly glanced at her watch.
Damn, late again, she muttered to herself as she flew through the door just as it was closing.
“Where to, young lady?” the voice was phlegm-filled.
“Fourteen,” she panted, “And make it quick!”
As the last few inches of space closed behind her, the ancient elevator lurched into its ascent.
“You think I control the speed?” The sarcastic reply was accompanied by a racking cough.
Elsie eyed the only other person on board.
He was wearing faded Levis with a blue plaid flannel shirt half tucked in, and black sneakers that looked like they had seen a marathon or two.
His pudgy face, under a balding head, was as gray as her kid-leather briefcase, and showed beads of perspiration which he mopped with an even grayer handkerchief. His full-lipped mouth was missing a couple of teeth.
“I was kidding,” she retorted, unconsciously pressing herself against the wall. “I’m late for an appointment. Of course I know you don’t control the speed!”
But I wish I could, she thought, noticing an unpleasant odor coming from the old guy’s direction.
Come on, come on, she eyed the slow moving indicator above the elevator door. Four, five, six.
Why is it so slow, she wondered, and when is he going to get off?
Suddenly, there was another lurch and then–no movement.
“Push fourteen again, please,” Elsie was agitated.
But his arthritic fingers were already pushing the buttons–nothing.
“What’s going on?” She was beginning to panic.
“Don’t know, young lady, but looks like we’re stuck between floors,” the old man wheezed, and then broke into another coughing fit.
Oh, no, Elsie moaned to herself, this can’t be happening.
“Well, push the emergency button!” she almost yelled at him.
“You think I don’t know what to do?” He glared at her and mopped his face again. “This here’s an old elevator. I’ve been stuck in it before. Last time it took ‘em an hour to get it goin’ again.” His gravelly voice rasped on the young woman’s fraying nerves.
The odor was getting stronger and Elsie didn’t know how she was going to cope.
“What do you mean, an hour! That’s preposterous!” she exclaimed, “I must get to my appointment!”
The old man started to speak, but instead, a rattling cough shook his body.
Elsie watched in horror as he doubled over, coughing uncontrollably.
Next thing she knew he was on the floor gasping for air. Her two-piece, light linen suit suddenly felt like a fur coat.
Her feet swelled in the high-heel shoes she had chosen so carefully for their comfort.
Her own body became sticky with perspiration.
The leather briefcase seemed to be filled with bricks rather than the manuscript she had been studying so hard for the past few weeks.
But now she was hopelessly late. Her dream of becoming a star was dying on this stifling elevator.
Elsie looked down at the ashen face and wondered how often he had these attacks, or if this was a first. She felt totally helpless and frustrated.
As she watched the old man struggling for breath, she suddenly realized how self-centered she was.
Instead of trying to help this poor soul, she was only concerned with her own discomfort, and the fact that she was missing the audition of a lifetime.
She had found him so repugnant it didn’t occur to her that he might be suffering. Elsie knelt down and loosened his collar.
As her hand made contact with the clammy skin of his throat he stirred and muttered something unintelligible.
She remembered a bottle of water tucked into a loop in her case.
She tilted his head, put the water to his lips, and he slowly opened his puffy eyes. “Thank ye kindly, young lady,” he croaked, and tried to sit up.
“It’s okay.” Elsie forced a smile. “Will it really take an hour for somebody to get us going again?” Her tone was now conciliatory.
“Nah,” he said, “any minute now.”
With that, the elevator started to move, and suddenly the air didn’t smell so bad after all.
“You’d better have that cough checked out, Mister.” Elsie told the old man.
“Yep, an’ you better book another appointment, young lady.”
The elevator came to an abrupt stop at the fourteenth floor, and the old man waited until Elsie was off before he followed her.
They headed in the same direction and stopped at the same office.
Elsie smiled uncertainly as the old man held the door open and ushered her inside.
He motioned to a chair, and as she slowly sat down he removed the blue plaid shirt, revealing a stark white tee shirt with the logo – DUO.
“Now, young lady,” he said with a grin, pulling off the bald latex wig, and removing two black patches from his teeth, “you’re here to audition for the lead part in the Angel in Disguise production?”
He wiped the gray-toned makeup off his face and pulled puffy patches from beneath his eyes. He leaned across the desk and offered his hand. It was not arthritic, and he was not a bald old man with a hacking cough.
Elsie’s heart raced as she placed her hand in his.
“What’s this all about?” she asked.
“I’m Daniel Bayes, producer and director of the upcoming TV series, Do Unto Others.”
“I’ve played the elevator scene with every hopeful applicant so far and believe me, there were no angels among them.”
“But you, although you were repulsed and frightened, overcame your feelings and tried to make me comfortable. You showed concern for my well-being, and when we reached the fourteenth floor, didn’t rush away to make up for lost time.”
“I had my doubts in the beginning, but when the elevator began to move again I knew my search for the lead angel was over.”
“The part is yours, young lady, if you want it. Your audition was on that elevator.”
Elsie smiled at this pleasant man who was not much older than herself.
“Thanks, old man,” she joked, “I think I’ll take it.”