he woman eyed the elevator doors attentively.
"They don't always close," she said. "You've got to watch them." She watched them and, with a melancholic groan, the doors joined. She nodded, "Very good. Not always this lucky, you know. Press twelve, Creskin."
Creskin, the husband, pressed twelve.
Her thin lips parted again, "These old elevators! Terrifying sometimes!"
Slouched in the opposite corner, Paxton, a ruddy-headed man in a wrinkled suit, got the feeling her words were directed at him. He straightened, "Oh, well, yes...yes..."
Creskin rubbed his nose, "Interesting, at least. I don't know about terrifying, really."
"Oh, stop it, Creskin!" the woman hissed. "For God's sake! I cannot take your constant contradictions!" Her purse fell to the floor and her large eyes rolled in her head. "Are we going to fight in front of this nice--what's your name, dear?"
"Paxton," Paxton said.
"This nice Paxton man?"
"Yes, darling," said Creskin, unbuttoning his sports jacket. "I'm afraid we are." He kicked her purse across the elevator floor, into Paxton's legs.
"Oh!" yipped the woman, "Oh!" She removed her dainty black heels and threw them swiftly at his large, rather pear-shaped head. Creskin keeled over,
"Damn you! Oh, evil! Evil!"
No one, save Paxton, seemed very interested in the fact that the elevator had just come to a grinding halt. And the doors were not planning on opening again. Not for all the tea in China.
Paxton, his legs entangled in the purse handles, slumped further into his corner and thought,
NOTHING TO BE DONE. I WILL DIE IN HERE.
Oh, indeed. Death was a serious possibility for Paxton. He was, after all, trapped in a box with high society's most sought after couple. Nobody who's anybody wouldn't want these two at their cocktail party, their fund-raiser, their bris.
With slow and heavy steps, Creskin staggered towards his wife. "You!" he jabbed his finger violently at her. "You!"
"Me, Creskin?" she laughed. "Me what? You son of a bitch Creskin! You fat old queen! Huh, fatty Creskin? Fatty fatty fat fat Creskin!"
"Yooouuuu!" and he hurled himself at her. They landed on (guess who? that's right) Paxton, who, while being jumped upon and kicked about, rendered himself incompetent. As incompetent, he is not expected to "step in and help." As incompetent, he may just lay there and do his best to protect his vital organs.
After a particularly forceful blow to the ribs, Creskin groaned and rolled out of the hullabaloo. The woman gripped Paxton's face, pushed herself into an upright position and began to yank wildly at her purse, it's handles woven between Paxton's legs.
"Oh, Creskin, help me! My purse is stuck on this man! It's stuck! It won't come off!"
Creskin turned from the corner. The nostrils of his irregular and rather bulbous nose reddened and flared. His soft, fleshy cheeks inflated. Removing his spectacles, he narrowed his eyes, lowered his head and cried,
"Filthy rogue! Relinquish the purse!" Once again Paxton was pounced upon. He whimpered as Creskin, paunchy and stinking of cologne, squeezed his gut and smashed his liver and as the woman yanked at her purse, still attached to his legs.
This violence and fun may have gone well into the night had the woman's purse not finally come loose. But with the purse, of course, came Paxton's shoe, of course. In a series of astounding acrobatic feats, the shoe flew straight up, hit the ceiling and stuck there.
Intrigued by the oddity, Creskin released the limp and beaten Paxton, and gazed heavenwards. Paxton slid back into his corner, panting.
"By God, man! Your shoe's on the ceiling! You see this, old girl?" Creskin turned to the woman and pointed up. "You see it? I've never seen anything like it!"
The woman flipped open her compact and smoothed her hair.
"Oh, stop it," she scolded. "Don't carry on so." She snapped the compact shut and, as if sensing something was amiss, glanced around the elevator. "Press twelve, Creskin," she said.
Creskin pressed twelve and took his place besides his wife. Quickly, he straightened his tie and re-buttoned his coat. Holding out his mangled spectacles, he asked, "Do you suppose they can fix these?"
"I'm sure." She tucked them in her purse.
Paxton peered up at the handsome couple. They stood, side by side, still and silent, their eyes fixated on the darkened numbers above the elevator doors. An eerie silent stillness ensued. Paxton soon became convinced that he would never make it back to reality as he knew it, much less his hotel room.
Suddenly, and with great fuss and clamor, a crowbar was forced through the crack between the doors. The couple jumped back to life.
"Dear God!" cried Creskin. "It's an elevator hijacking!"
As the crowbar wiggled back and forth, the doors parted, revealing a crowd of hotel employees, firemen and gawkers. Mr. Tab, the hotel owner, stepped forward, concerned and apologetic.
"Mr. and Mrs. Creskin! I'm so sorry! Very sorry! How do you feel? Is everything alright?"
"No, Mr. Shift!" Creskin exclaimed to the thoroughly fascinated crowd. "Everything is not alright! That man is sleeping with my wife!" he pointed an accusing finger at Paxton.
The woman threw her arms into the air. "Lies! Lies! " she shrieked.
Just then, Paxton's shoe came loose and fell, with a soft thud, to the elevator floor. The woman picked it up and promptly put it in her purse. She turned to Creskin, "And so what if I am? What are you going to do about it?!"
Paxton rose to his feet and shuffled cautiously past the couple and out of the elevator.
"This is what I'll do about it!" Creskin grabbed a fist full of her hair and pulled.
"Ow! Damn you!"
Paxton, the ruddy-headed man in a torn and wrinkled suit, limped his way through the augmenting crowd, towards his room. He let himself in, locked the door and ordered up some nice hard liquor.
--Lulu Grant lives with her ill-tempered goldfish Ludwig along the shores of San Francisco Bay.
Copyright © 1999 by Lulu Grant. Used by permission of the author.