Speed Kills

by George Beckerman

Six strangers are trapped in an elevator, stuck between floors. An ELDERLY WOMAN rests on her walker. A uniformed FLORIST DELIVERY GUY protects a vase artfully stuffed with yellow tulips. A bored PRE-TEEN GIRL bounces a basketball. An ATTRACTIVE YOUNG MAN is backed into the left corner. A PRETTY YOUNG LADY and her black Lhasa Apso occupy the right corner. Between them is a GREY-HAIRED GENTLEMAN clinging to what obviously is a gift wrapped bottle of alcohol.

Help is on the way. But as the late, great Tom Petty sang, “Waiting is the hardest part.” Aside from the annoying bouncing b’ball, there is silence among the passengers. All aboard defy logic by mindlessly staring up at the limboed floor numbers, until… Elderly Walker Woman intercepts the basketball in mid-dribble and glares at Pre-teen Girl. Facial message received, Pre-teen Girl rolls her eyes in surrender and is handed back her ball.

While that showdown played out, Attractive Young Man and Pretty Young Lady exchanged flirtatious looks from their respective corners at the back of the elevator. Then, in a move not seen since (insert rom-com title of your choice), Attractive Young Man stealthily lifts one of the yellow tulips from Florist Delivery Guy’s vase, reaches behind Grey-haired Gentleman, across the back wall of the elevator and presents it to Pretty Young Lady, who is so taken aback that her mouth forms an O for a full ten seconds, which is a long of time. I.e., a rocket launch countdown.

At this point, the tenacious Pre-Teen Girl removes a kazoo from her jacket pocket and produces the hateful buzzing vibration that courses through our bodies like a Thomas Edison special. Elderly Walker Woman tries to snatch the juvenile’s jaw harp, but her reflexes refuse to cooperate no matter how many attempts she musters. As a last resort, Elderly Walker Woman lifts her aluminum four-legged ride off the ground and as hard as she can, brings one of its tennis ball-bottomed legs down on the kid’s foot, causing her to reflexively release the kazoo into the air upon which it is snatched by EWW as nimbly as any wide receiver in the NFL. The mobility-disadvantaged matron throws a devilish wink at her youthful, virile, but humiliated opponent, then stuffs the captured kazoo into her handbag.

In the meantime, Attractive Young Man has deftly switched places with Grey-haired Gentleman to be closer to Pretty Young Lady. It takes them all of ten seconds to begin making out in the right corner of the elevator, which goes unnoticed by three of the other four who are back to being mesmerized by the inert floor numbers. The fourth, Florist Delivery Guy has noticed that one of his tulips is missing and does a quick eyeball surveillance around the elevator discovering that it is in the hair of Pretty Young Lady.  But before he can protest, AYM and PYL announce that they are engaged to be married.

As the passengers congratulate the happy couple, Pretty Young Lady declares that she dislikes long engagements, and would like nuptials to happen as soon as they find a Justice of the Peace. Grey-haired Gentleman excitedly reveals that he is an ordained online minister. Elation courses through the elevator like a Colorado River rapid.  Well, before global warming reduced the water level to a wading pool. Pretty Young Lady’s black Lhasa leaps into Attractive Young Man’s arms and lovingly licks his face.

Grey-haired Gentleman conducts the wedding ceremony. Florist Delivery Guy tosses yellow tulip petals into the air. Elderly Walker Woman performs the wedding song on the confiscated kazoo accompanied by Pre-Teen Girl who bounces the basketball, a.k.a., laying down the beats.

After the ceremony, Grey-Haired Gentleman unwraps and uncorks his bottle of alcohol, which happily is champagne. Bubbly is poured for all (except Pre-Teen Girl, who is pissed) into cupped hands. After Pretty Young Lady and Attractive Young Man express the desire to have a child ASAP, their lift comrades enthusiastically pitch baby-name suggestions.

While the celebration rages on, Florist Delivery Guy hands Pretty Young Lady his business card, offering that if she needs flowers for any occasion, give him a call. Attractive Young Man eyes FDG suspiciously before confronting Pretty Young Lady with the question: “Are you cheating on me with that tulip monger?” PYL swears up and down that she wasn’t, but AYM ain’t buyin’ it. She waves FDG’s business card and retorts with “At least he’s offering me more than one tulip.” AYM angrily asks for a divorce. PYL gladly grants him wish.  

It just so happens that Grey-Haired Gentleman is an attorney. Done and done. After they go back to their separate corners, the only sound heard in the elevator is Pretty Young Lady’s soft weeping. She is consoled by Elderly Walker Woman, and of course, Florist Delivery Guy. Grey-Haired Gentleman commiserates with Attractive Young Man.

Suddenly, a rumbling. The elevator begins moving. All stare up at the floor numbers, even black Lhasa Apso. As the doors open and exits begin, Attractive Young Man directs a succinct accusation in the direction of Pretty Young Lady…”Adulterer.” Her rejoinder? “Cheapskate.” And she keeps walking. 

But not black Lhasa Apso. He takes a chunk out of Attractive Young Man’s left calf. As AYM lies writhing in pain on the lobby floor, black Lhasa Apso jauntily catches up to his queen and they depart the building.

MORAL: Take the stairs.

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