The last real exercise that Sydney had was climbing on a step stool to dismantle the smoke detector in the elevator. That was back in October. Now, all the residents, that is, his fellow warehoused nobodies waiting to die, know enough to take the elevator on the left unless they’re okay breathing in the foul air that is Sydney’s life line. When he’s smoking, Sydney feels the young buck rearing inside him — the guy who worked the deal down to the penny, knew which corners to cut and always came out ahead. Having spent so much time in the elevator riding up and down alone, Sydney is intimately familiar with the cabin. This information came in mighty handy on the day of the accident, a Sunday, when guests crowd the hallways. It was late afternoon, moments before the early dinner shift when Rude Alice’s young granddaughter stumbled into the wrong elevator moments after Sydney lit up. Midway between the second and third floor, the cabin shuddered to a stop. Then the lights blinked off. Sydney, not wanting to waste a match, felt for the protruding alarm button and pressed it. While waiting for help to arrive, Sydney regaled the granddaughter with tales of fighting in Korea, and then offered the young tyke a cigarette, which she politely declined.
August 20, 2014
by Lee Eiferman