It’s Friday, so time for another story for The Red Dress Club. This week’s prompt was:
“Think of a person you don’t like, and describe what you might say if you had to share an elevator ride together. Then describe what happens when the elevator breaks down. For six hours.”
Please to enjoy. As usual, criticisms and critiques are welcome. Please, please, please. It helps make me a better writer. If you read this blog, you may benefit from that as well. Just sayin’.
Mark sipped his steaming coffee from Starbucks. He had taken the lid off to be able to drink it faster. Those little holes didn’t allow the caffeine to get into his body fast enough. Not looking up from his newspaper, he stepped into the elevator. He turned to push the button for floor 17, but stopped since it was already lit. As the doors closed, he noticed too sweet perfume descending on him like a cloud of smog.
“Good morning, Mark,” she chirped.
Mark pulled the newspaper up high, close to his face, too close to actually read the words. No luck.
“I’m so glad I ran into you this morning,” she began. “I was talking to Hank last night over dinner. I mean Henry, Henry Glaser. You know, the CEO? Anyway, we were having dinner last night and I was saying how I think our marketing campaign is a little, well, boring. You know, run of the mill, not a lot of pizzazz. I mean, you write great copy usually, but this ad, well, it’s a little, well, I guess I was telling Hank I think it could be fresher, you know?”
The elevator came to an abrupt stop between floors 16 and 17. Mark moved his coffee and newspaper forward and body back and watched as some of the contents of his cup splashed onto the tiled floor. Fantastic, he thought. He really needed that caffeine this morning.
Alaine teetered forward on her three inch heels. Her black skirt was too tight to allow her to catch herself, so she grabbed Mark’s arm as her knees buckled, and hung on to keep from falling on the ground. She stood, tugged down her skirt, straightened the large, red pendant necklace around her neck, and smoothed her sleek dark brown hair.
“I’m sure it will start again shortly,” Mark said, returning to his newspaper.
“Oh, I’m sure you’re right. Doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t have a problem with small spaces or anything like that. As I was saying, I came up with a few ideas and bounced them off Hank last night, and he loved them! I wanted to meet with you this morning and go over them.”
Mark smiled, he was pretty sure ideas weren’t the only thing Alaine bounced off Hank last night. Their newly divorced CEO wasn’t very discrete about his interest in the new girl.
“Sounds great, Alaine. I have some time around ten this morning, why don’t you come by my office and we’ll discuss them.”
Mark punched the button for the seventeenth floor repeatedly and looked at the numbers at the top of the elevator, willing them to move. Half a floor, he thought.
“Wonder what’s going on with this elevator,” he said.
He picked up the call phone.
“Hello? Yes, the elevator isn’t moving. There’s two of us in here. Oh, okay, thanks.”
He hung up the phone.
“The guy said there’s a problem with the motor or something. They’re working on it and should have us going again shortly.”
He punched the button a few more times.
“Well, since we’re stuck in here, why don’t we go over my ideas now? No reason to waste time, don’t you think? They’re really great, I think you’re going to love them. Sometimes you just need some newer ideas, you know. That’s what they taught us in school. Always bring a fresh approach to a project. Clients love new trends to attract that 25-40 year old demographic. So I was thinking. What’s new? What would I like to see in an ad? You know, since I am in the target demographic now, since last week.”
She smiled. Mark remembered her birthday celebration in the office last week. Apparently, it was her twenty-fifth. He didn’t pay much attention, just chipped in his twenty bucks for the food and the cake. Chocolate cake from Costco. He had two pieces. Not that he needed two pieces, his waistline had been expanding over the last few years, but it was good cake.
The phone in the elevator rang. Mark answered.
“Well, how much longer do you think? Yes, yes, we’re both fine, but we’d like to get out of here sooner rather than later. Great. Thanks.”
Mark loosened the tie around his neck, placed his sports jacket on the floor and sat down.
“The guy said it could be a while. They need a new part or something. Might as well get comfortable.”
He grabbed his cell phone.
“Hey, Joanne. Fine. Fine. How are you? Good. Listen. Alaine and I are stuck in the elevator. Yeah, it’s great. The repair guy said it could be a while. Could you just let everyone know we’ll be in late. I have my cell, but I was going to charge it when I got to the office, so it’s not going to last long. Great. Thanks.”
Alaine looked around, assessing the floor. Then leaned against the wall.
“Well, then, let’s get back to my ideas,” she said. “I was thinking we could use a novel approach to our writing style, setting up the copy like tweets and Facebook messages. Do you know what Twitter and Facebook are? Your kids must have accounts I assume?”
Mark looked up at her. He probably could have seen up her skirt from this angle if he wanted. He always suspected she didn’t wear underwear.
He was beginning to regret the cup of coffee this morning. His bladder wasn’t what it used to be. He wondered if he was going to have to resort to peeing in his coffee cup.
“Yes, I know what Facebook and Twitter are. I even have a Facebook page. I don’t do Twitter though. I don’t really see the point.”
“See, that’s what I’m talking about. That’s why you need young people like me to bring some freshness into the copy. I, mean, really, just because you don’t get Twitter is no reason to not use it. It’s a marketing dream, widely used and recognized by the target demographic. I understand the target demographic. I am the target demographic. That’s why Hank is so excited about me working on this project.”
“You’re copy is not what Hank is so excited about,” Mark said.
Alaine looked at him with her mouth wide open for a moment. Then she strutted up to him and leaned over with breasts popping out of her blouse.
“Don’t you talk to me like that,” she hissed, her eyes narrowed. “Hank appreciates my work, that’s why he hired me. We happen to have hit it off, but that’s besides the point. Hank has a vision, and that vision involves young talent and not washed up has beens waiting for their retirement.”
Mark stood up. He wasn’t a tall man, but he was large, and he had teenage daughters. He knew how to get young girls to listen well.
“Listen, Little Miss” Mark said, bumping his belly up against her until she backed into the corner. “The only thing Henry appreciates about you is your ass. I’ve been with Henry for twenty years. He hasn’t gotten rid of me yet because I write good copy. He can depend on me. Every couple years he hires some young thing, saying he needs to instill some fresh ideas into the company. Then, when their relationship has run the course, he writes an excellent letter of recommendation and sends her on her way. Meanwhile, I have to babysit and make sure his new toy doesn’t make the company a laughing stock.”
Alaine stared at him, mouth open, but said nothing.
“Oh, don’t look so surprised. The only thing different about you is he isn’t married anymore. The Missus finally got tired of his indiscretions and left him after the last one, much poorer, I might add. There’s nothing new or original about you at all. Twitter,” he scoffed.
Mark paused to take a breath. He really had to pee now, and the yelling had made him flushed. His heart was racing and he knew his blood pressure was through the roof. He looked at Alaine. She had tears welling up in her eyes but her chin was set. Mark looked at her and saw one of his daughters in ten years.
“Listen,” he said. “I’ve got ten years until I retire, and I guarantee you aren’t my replacement. I have no intention of treating you as if you are by taking you under my wing and nurturing you. I’m raising two girls, I don’t have time to raise a third. But I will tell you this, and listen closely, because no one else is ever going to tell you this. You’re an adult, you really shouldn’t need to be told. Don’t ever, under any circumstances, sleep with your boss. Or your boss’s boss. In fact, don’t sleep with any coworker. It just never ends well. You don’t shit where you eat. Know what I mean?”
Alaine nodded, wiping her eyes quickly with both hands. She turned her back to him and stood quietly in the corner.
Mark turned and walked to the opposite corner and slid down to the floor. He wiped his forehead with his hands, picked up his newspaper, and began reading.