By Foster Trecost
Sometimes the time was right and sometimes the place, but never both. When they finally showed up together, I got promoted.
From the outside, The Express looked ordinary. It lacked an impressive entry or anything else that might hint to what lay beyond the gray metal doors. But beyond those doors, that’s where it got interesting. The inside was trimmed in mirrors and brass. A chandelier hung up top and tiny marble squares tiled the floor. Maybe the most extravagant elevator ever built, she pulled passengers to the sky lobby, forty-eight floors up.
These assignments aren’t doled out to just anyone. Seasoned operators, that’s who gets them. Elderly men with an easy demeanor achieved only through the time-consuming process of aging. And Carlson had aged plenty. He was the perfect elevator man, called his regulars by name, knew who had children and who had grandchildren. He had both.
I’d been stuck in Bank B for about fourteen months, which was long enough to know I needed more than “What floor, Sir,” and “Where today, Ma’am.” I didn’t know their names, didn’t want to know, but knew I needed more. After a few Monday morning trips, I decided I’d had enough. I made my way to the man in charge, but not because someone filed a complaint. This time I’d gone to quit.
It was just about the time Carlson closed his doors. He’d greeted everyone and asked about their weekends. “Next stop, sky lobby,” he said, and the elevator started its ascent, but about halfway up, he decided he’d had enough, too.
In his wordless way, the man in charge asked what I wanted, but before I could answer, his phone rang. He picked it up, listened, and hung up. There was no way me or anyone could’ve known he’d just been informed of Carlson’s untimely passing. “Report to The Express,” he said. “You’ve been promoted. I don’t know why you’re here, but the job’s yours. I suggest you take it.”
Right time, right place. I’ve been running The Express ever since. I’m sorry Carlson had to die, he was decent in every way: “Next stop, sky lobby,” were his last words, and I’m sure they rang about as true as any he’d ever said.
About the author
Foster Trecost writes stories that are mostly made up. They tend to follow his attention span: sometimes short, sometimes very short. Recent work has appeared in New World Writing, Fiction Kitchen Berlin, and The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts (Matter Press). He lives near New Orleans with his wife and dog.
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