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|Concrete, pt. 1|
entry by AnAppleSnail
1/8/2011 4:27 AM
|I had a short fiction class and focused on concrete in my writing. These stories are fictional, generally represent bad decision-making, and such.|
The sunshine outside seems to jump at the cabinet door slamming. I straighten the paperclip and listen.
“Dammit Bill, don't be that way!”
I carefully scrape the dirt from one fingernail. There was already nothing to do but wait.
“Honey, I work all day and don't want to come home to more backtalk. Why's my goddamned Bud gone?”
The littles balls of dirt collect on my desk. Not long now.
“You know I don't touch that stuff – Ask Rob.”
Stomp stomp stomp
Yep, it’s time.
“Rob. A word please,” he yells from the stairs.
Waiting for the bus into town I touch my lip. It'll swell up and... agh. Dumb bastard can't even remember how many he's had, but he'll just blame other people for his beer being gone. Nights like this I like to head for CM Pitt. The head librarian knows me by now, and it's open 24 hours a day. Nobody there throws punches because he drank all his own beer, and I can usually find a back spot to sleep. The security guards hardly ever try to kick me out with the homeless people who try to sleep there, or watch porn on the computers. It's kind of a refuge to me, and even though I'm not a huge nerd there are some good books to read.
I look up from my thoughts to see the bus coming and wave for the driver. As I put my bus card on the scanner, he squints at me, at my split lip, then grunts. I'm a bit nervous because I'm the only white person on the bus. There's an oriental bag lady, a skinny black kid with a skateboard, and a lump of clothing in the back rocking to a beat – who knows? I take a seat and the bus rolls on.
The library is never really dead. The nearby community college has a lot of night classes to keep bumping enrollment without expanding facilities. There's usually a cluster of students puzzling out algebra, calculus or physics together. Night owls unite. I head to my favorite section, fiction. I've been working my way through it, most nights I'll grab a few of the books from here and retreat to the poofy couches. I try not to think about what the couches have been subjected to by the denizens of Pitt. That's what hoodies are for, pillow and tarp all in one.
I grab a few from H, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and War of the Worlds look like fun. My 'short books' are getting longer as Bill punches more readily. Books in hand, I go to the elevators. I like the elevators, they're old brass and wood ones with huge numbers on a giant lever control. Waiting in the quiet elevator lobby, I hear the usual clunk, whirr of the elevator shaft. The door opens onto darkness. I start – someone my age is standing on a platform, holding some thick metal cables. He's on top of the damn elevator!
He starts too. “Oh! Uh, keep this on the down-low? Want a ride?”
I regard him. He's wearing jeans, skateboard shoes, and a gray hoodie. He looks like a troublemaker...but I'm dressed similarly. Aside from the details of carpenter pants and sneakers and we match. “Uh, sure. How dangerous is it?” Maybe being pissed at Dad has me doing dumb things.
“Well, these shafts are slow, but this is kind of a podunk town. Just keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle at all times, eh?”
“Har har. What are you, the gondolier?” I step into the dim elevator shaft. The lobby doors roll shut behind me. The top of the elevator is fairly plain, with a large metal beam about two feet up connecting to the cables and rollers like a rollercoaster on rails tacked to the walls of the shaft. I pocket the books and ask “Where do I hold on?”
“Grab the cable, 'k? Mind the back of the car, the counterweight'll take your head off.” My new companion moves to the other side of the center beam and clicks a switch. The elevator below me clicks, and starts to rise – fast. “This old bird seems fast, right? It's nothin'. The only alarming thing is the headroom up top isn't what you'd like it to be.” He sits next to a box on top of the elevator.
A large metal object whooshes down past us in the shaft, frighteningly close to the car. He lays down on his side of the beam. I look up. Shit! I quickly crouch on the roof of the elevator. The elevator slows down and stops with that beam about two feet short of the top of the elevator shaft. Four feet of headroom isn't quite enough. I hear mumbling voices from the library. The elevator dings and the doors roll open. The mumblers get onto the elevator car, and I can hear them more clearly now. The car bounces slightly as their weight settles.
My companion whispers, “You haveta be quiet when there's people on the floor next to ya or in the car below ya. If not, they might notice. There aren't many places to go in a hurry if the staff wise up, see?”
I hear the elevator lever slide, and the control box clicks again. The elevator drifts downwards, picking up speed. I feel the motor vibrating through the cable in my hand.
I hiss back, “Man, you coulda warned me about the roof! Jeeze!”
“You ducked, dint ya?”
“Ok yeah, I'll stay quiet. How'd you start doing this?”
“I dunno, I just tried it one day.”
“How'd you get the elevator open?”
“No fair. So why are you riding this thing anyway? My name's Rob, by the way.”
“For fun, man. Steph.”
“Steph? Have I seen you at school?”
“Maybe. When I go.”
The elevator slows, putting weight on me. I'm still crouched, but now I sit up. Steph says, “Okay, look around for a light switch. But ask me before you push anything, okay?”
The elevator clicks, and starts upwards. I look up and see the counterweight coming down. I cringe a bit as it passes, but it's like walking next to traffic – no problem if you’re not a moron. I look around in the darkness – like if you go into a dark room but the windows glow a bit – and find a switch. “Steph, is this it?”
“Nah, wouldn’t be over there.”
“You sure? It says LIGHT: ON/OFF here on the metal.” He comes over to look, grunts, and flips the switch. The single bulb does a lot to enhance the gloom. Nearby things are bright, the bulb is blinding, and the concrete top of the elevator shaft a few floors above us is almost completely dark. I look around in wonder at the old machinery that makes this elevator run. I’d never really thought about the spaces behind the built world. Shafts for elevators, huh! What about vents in buildings? And the steam pipes around this library must go someplace. Whatever Bill did to me, he couldn’t take away this new world. Nothing could.
[last edit 1/8/2011 4:30 AM by AnAppleSnail - edited 1 times]
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