I hate hospitals. As soon as I stepped out from the revolving doors, the stench of cheap disinfectant raging war against thousands of germs infiltrated my nostrils. While following the poor directions to the elevators, waves of people passed me by in every direction. The ceiling lights were bright, but no one wore a smile to match. The tension in the building was thick. The sense of death and uncertainty in the air combed the hairs on the back of my neck.
Finally I got away from the morbid depressing crowd and reached my destination, the sign read “Kaiser Stockwell Building.” I was in the right place, I guess the directions weren’t that bad after all. The doors to the second elevator on my right were propped open by a feminine hand. A neatly manicured hand that wore no symbol of love. I picked up the pace and quickly stepped into the steel box. I then saw that the hand was attached to a beautiful woman. She was wearing dull colors, shades of gray and black, but her radiant skin made it all pop. Her hair was pulled back and hoop earrings gracefully hung from her ears. The shape of her body mirrored that of Alicia Keys. Hell, she had me falling. She reached to press a button and soon after the dim light behind the number 14 appeared. I sure wished I was that keypad. As if she heard my thoughts, she turned and faced me, smiling.
“What floor?” she asked.
“15 please. Thank you.”
Damn her and her lovely smile. I could not stand there in complete silence while awkwardness filled the ascending steel tomb. She was too gorgeous, I had to say something, anything.
“So, are you visiting someone?” I asked, regretting the day I was born. What kind of dumb question was that.
“Yea, I’m here to see my friend. She’s a little sick, but she will be fine. What about you? Do you work here?”
I looked down and saw my work badge dangling from my neck. The GQ suaveness in me was pretty weak today. Fortunately my ID was face down. She was still smiling and most wouldn’t have released that information. I guess I hadn’t made a complete fool of myself. Not yet at least. All signs were a go to keep the convo going. I was running out of time though, the elevator ride wasn’t going to last forever. I only had so many floors before I lost my chance.
“Oh no, I forgot to take my badge off. I’m here to see my aunt. I’m John by the way.”
“Shanti. Nice to meet you.”
“I know this is a little weird, but I was wondering…” The elevator beeped to tell me I was out of time. I looked up and saw the number 14 display in red LEDs. The doors started to open.
“Good luck with your aunt, hope she’s ok.” she said while slowly stepping off the elevator as if expecting me to follow.
So I did.
We spoke for a while and engaged in a lot flirting. Eventually we exchanged information and parted ways. I caught the next elevator and rode to the next floor. I ignored the “you are so lazy” looks and stepped out. I pulled out my phone to double-check the room number. Shit, I was on the wrong floor. I was supposed to get off on the 14th. It’s better this way, I thought. I didn’t have to get off with Shanti, that whole seeing my aunt thing was a lie.
Back on the correct floor I looked for room number 1486. Once I found it I stepped inside only to be greeted by my young wife-to-be. I spotted a familiar face in the back of the room. It was Shanti and beside her stood another man. I felt my heart spin through a tornado of surprise and fear. My girl dragged me towards her. “Come and meet my friend.” she whispered.
“Erica, this is my boyfriend Stephen. My fiance I should say, I’m still getting used to it. Stephen, this is Erica and her husband Samuel.” my girl joyfully announced.
“Nice to meet you, Stephen.” the woman previously known as Shanti said. I guess we are both liars.
30 torturous minutes later, it was time to go. I stepped into an elevator, relieved the situation didn’t boil over. Glad she played it cool. While scanning the elevator walls, my eyes caught something. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A plaque that is probably in every elevator in the building. A plaque I was too busy to notice before. Damn, she played me Verbal Kint style. The plaque read “Shanti Systems Incorporated.”
– Vic Louis
I hope you enjoyed the quickie, aka extremely short story. Although this is fictitious, there was some true event behind it. The other morning I got to work and walked up to the elevator doors. A woman was holding the doors for me. Her lips moved and sounds came out, but I was too tired to quickly analyze what she said. I nodded my head and said yes. Seconds later I realized the words that came out were asking me if I was going down, unfortunately I actually needed to go up. I mumbled something that she probably couldn’t decipher, then jumped out the elevator. It was way too early for that exchange. My imagination ran with it and a story was born.