“There was a time when things were different. Ya know?” a woman’s voice boomed through the lobby, followed by the sharp click of her heels. I turned, startled by her presence, and watched her exit to the street through the revolving door, evidently talking on her phone.

After I was alone again, I returned to my previous position, hovered over the elevator call buttons. I pressed the little circle lit with an “up” arrow, again. I knew it wasn’t going to make the elevator arrive any faster, but my black high heels were killing my feet and my purse felt like a anvil hanging off my shoulder. Finally, a ding echoed throughout the lobby, signifying the right elevator cab’s arrival. Despite being a new building, the elevators operated with the rickety movement and questionable reliability of much older elevators.

The doors separated like they were trying to build suspense. I immediately noticed a man standing in the left corner, so I took a step back, avoiding eye contact, because I was not in the mood for pleasantries, and waited for him to exit. He didn’t move, so I finally looked up at his face, anger and impatience radiating off of me. He looked back at me with an expression that mirrored mine and made an exaggerated sweeping motion with his left hand that indicated I should board the elevator. I tilted my head in confusion, my eyes suspicious, but slowly obliged. His obnoxious tie caught my eye as I passed; it had two large parrots in the middle, one a brilliant red and the other a bright blue.

I turned around, so I could face the doors in the awkward manner that people stand in elevators. As I watched the doors close, a feeling of dread came over me, but it was too late; even if I leapt at the call buttons and pressed the “Open Doors” button 100 frantic times, it wouldn’t make any difference. The car began its ascent and I shifted my feet uncomfortably. The light above me flickered and I jumped. Looking up, I silently begged it to not go out, but it didn’t cooperate. The entire car came to a rather violent halt, darkness surrounding me suddenly.

A strange sound of pure terror escaped my lips as worst case scenarios played out in my mind. I opened my eyes as wide as possible, as if it would help me see better in the absolute darkness. My body was frozen as my mind raced. The strange man to my right made an audible movement, reminding me he was still there. And, so, my terror grew.

After what seemed like an hour, but was little more than 30 seconds, a dim light came on above the call buttons. I immediately looked towards the man, fully expecting him to be standing inches from me, holding a kitchen knife above his head. Instead, he was looking back at me with the same fear in his eyes. The tension was so high that it took me a minute to find the ironic humor in the situation, but I eventually did and suddenly broke out laughing. I felt ridiculous, but relief flooded my body.

The man looked at me like I was crazy. “Why are you laughing?” he asked, harshly.

“I thought…” I started, but had to catch my breath. “I though you were going to murder me.” His expression changed in that moment, but not in the way I was expecting. The corners of his mouth turned up slowly, but his eyes narrowed, making him look sinister. My laughter stopped abruptly and I froze under that look.

“Oh, I am,” he said, simply.


Writing submission to The Speakeasy #147

Heated Argument

I was relieved to be sitting in the shade. Despite the salty breeze brushing the San Diego coast from the ocean, the heat was heavy. It made movement exhausting, so I sat at the side-street cafe without much conscious thought. I was watching a bead of condensation move slowly down my plastic cup of sweet tea, when an explosion erupted to my right. The sound of a young woman’s grating voice startled me to the present.

“You did wha’?” she boomed in a thick Brooklyn accent, glasses spilling their contents as she stood so quickly she knocked over anything standing tall on the table between her and a thick-necked man.

“Sorry, babe. It just happened,” the mass of muscles half-whispered in a matching Brooklyn accent, shifting his eyes left and right to the other patrons that were now captivated by the scene unraveling in front of them.

“I came all the way ‘ere from New York for you and you cheated? It’s ova -” she started, standing bent at the waist, hands on her hips, so she could tower over the seated, terrified man. I suddenly became aware of the tense muscles holding the horrified expression on my face and closed my mouth, probably just as scared of her as he was.

“It was a mistake,” he interrupted, a little louder. “I love you. I wanna be wit chu. I know that now.” I immediately felt misplaced hatred toward him, for every man who had done something similar to me.

“Don’t give me that bull. You shoulda known before you slept with that whore.” She had a point. She glanced down at the table, taking in the destruction she had caused. She turned and took a couple of steps towards me, not really looking me in the eye. My heart stopped. “Can I borrow this?” she asked, indicating my sweet tea with a pointed and manicured index finger. I gave a small nod, unable to remember how to speak.

She grabbed it and, in one smooth, perfected movement, like she had done this many times before, threw it in the muscle-man’s face. Without waiting for a response, she grabbed her blue leather Coach satchel and walked away from the stunned man. I watched the wind press the fabric of her floral print dress against her right side as she walked down the sidewalk and crossed the busy street with the purpose of putting as much distance as possible between her and this man that sat at the table next to me, mouth still hanging open.

Go Gonzo Weekly Writing Challenge: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/gonzo-writing-challenge/