by Ami Thompson
Mark couldn’t believe his luck. His very trusted, tried and true Garfield alarm clock, the same clock that he had since he was six, didn’t wake him this Monday morning. Instead of being well prepared, calm, and casually cool for his meeting, Mark was in a state of panic. His feet barely touched the floor as he catapulted himself into the bathroom. As his six foot three frame jumped into the shower, his elbow hit the shelf that held his shampoo. The shampoo took on a life of its own. It flew across the shower, hit the glass door, and cracked the opening, causing Herbal Essence to empty out on the floor. The room filled with the scent of ginseng and ginger. At least my feet will smell good, he thought.
The sun rose at 7:45 AM that Monday. Gina had already been up two hours. She had done three loads of laundry, had eaten her Quaker Oats and had finished her daily Soduko puzzle. Already feeling a sense of accomplishment, Gina headed upstairs to decide on the perfect outfit. It had to “wow” without looking like it was meant to impress. Five blouses, six skirts and two dresses later she was finally ready. She stood in front of the mirror and felt as though nothing could stand in her way.
Peter was completely drenched. The skies might just as well have opened up and unleashed a biblical flood. However, this was not the case. Peter was well over three hundred pounds and had a litany of medical issues. His doctors suggested starting a workout regimen. Peter had circled Monday the 24th as the day. So, Peter got on the treadmill and began. He walked for what he thought was an eternity. Sweat was running down his forehead and into his eyes.The eternity turned out to be 12 minutes.
Mark put on his Mickey watch and realized he just might make it to his meeting on time. Maybe his luck was changing. He grabbed his briefcase and ran to his beloved jalopy. A little rust never hurt anyone he told himself as he pried open the door with a coat hanger. Mark looked down at the sticky note on his briefcase. 212 Washington St. 1 pm.
Oozing confidence, Gina opened the calendar app on her new iPhone. She scrolled down to confirm her meeting was at 1pm. She got in her brand new silver Rogue and punched 212 Washington Street into the onboard GPS.
Peter, basking in the afterglow of his work out, mentally began going through his day. He had a meeting at Panera. This made him smile because he figured his earlier workout would justify eating a giant cinnamon roll. “Maybe I can do this exercise thing after all,” he laughed. After his lunch, he had to go to the offices at 212 Washington St.
Gina was the first to arrive at 212 Washington St. She entered the building and was reading the directory when Mark absentmindedly ran into her. Ever apologetic, Mark helped Gina to her feet. Gina’s outfit, the one that she thought would make her a killing, was now wrinkled and torn. The heel from one of her shoes had broken off. Steaming, she got up, not accepting either Mark’s help or apologies, and continued reading the directory. She found her listing and realized it was on the fourth floor. Still refusing to even recognize that Mark was still standing beside her, she marched to the elevator. Mark ran after her. She continued on.
Reaching the bank of elevators, she was forced to stop and wait for one to reach the first floor. This gave Mark the opportunity to explain his actions.
“You see,” he began, “I have an important meeting to attend and I am running slightly behind. I was running to make up some time and you got in my way.”
“I got in your way?” she replied in disbelief.
“Well, technically yes.”
As she was about to explode, the elevator door opened. Gina entered and before she could punch in the fourth floor, Mark had followed her onto the elevator.
Gina hoped that more people would enter the elevator so that she did not have to be alone with Mark. Elevators, in her opinion, although highly efficient, were inherently awkward. There was the question of where to look in the elevator. Do you look at the floor, or the ceiling? Do you look at the back of a stranger’s head and if so, how long before the stranger can feel your eyes burning through them? Slowly, a faint smile took a hold of her face. She was lost in the idea of burning more than her eyes through Mark.
Unaware of Gina’s daydream, Mark continued the conversation. “Even with you causing a minor time stoppage, I should still make it in time.”
“Congratulations,” Gina snapped.
“Congratulations? Well, thank you, but I am not there yet.”
With the hairs on the back of her neck beginning to stand up, Gina could not help but
question whether her elevator mate was for real. Who speaks with terms such as “technically, and time stoppage?” she wondered. Who barrels though someone and not only blames the victim, but does not even show concern for her? And his meeting. Who could seriously want a meeting with him? The only reason she could come up with for a meeting was so they could arrange his passage back to the mothership.
Peter pulled into the parking garage at 212 Washington St. The first spot he could find was two floors below ground level. Maybe because of the sugar high from his breakfast, or maybe because deep down he wanted to become healthier, Peter decided to walk up to the office. It will be invigorating he told himself. It will be good to clear the mind before the meeting. Peter reached the second floor above ground level and was completely winded. He stopped to catch his breath. While recouping, he realized that his exercising efforts, although they were well intentioned, were not helping him today. He had to put the importance of the meeting before the importance of his health. He left the staircase behind and hunted for the nearest elevator. He pushed the button and waited.
The elevator arrived and Peter entered. He was surprised by what he saw. A middle aged women was standing at the rear of the elevator. Peter was taken aback by her appearance. Her obviously expensive ensemble was torn in the shoulder. He also wondered why she was holding a broken heel from what he guessed were her Michael Kors shoes in her hand. Conversely, there was also a gentleman on the elevator. He was dressed in a powder blue three piece suit and stood staring at the ceiling. Peter wondered how the gentleman was able to breathe with the amount of spray starch ironed into the suit. After his quick surveying of the scene, Peter shrugged his shoulders, turned around and hit the button for floor four.
The offices on the fourth floor of 212 Washington were on the cutting edge of style meeting productivity. They were no doubt furnished by a high end interior designer. The couches in the waiting room were not your average couches. They were grey Italian leather with abstract designed sheepskin pillows at either end. It was inviting and intimidating at the same time. They offered the client the ability to sit and wait, while also telling the client they were in the midst of a high powered business. Currently, the offices were silent. A calm before the storm.
Peter stood still in the front portion of the elevator. He did not want to expend any unnecessary energy. His journey up the stairs was still waring on him. He began to meditate in an effort to find his inner “pizza”. Peter had decided long ago that this mantra appealed to his senses much more so than simply mumbling about inner peace. This way he could easily envision his piece of peace within. Mark stood on the right side of the elevator. He kept checking his watch, as if trying to somehow will time to stop, so he wouldn’t be late for the meeting. Gina remained in the back corner of elevator. She could not believe how quickly her day had changed. She had planned every aspect of her day, ensuring peak performance and excellence. Unfortunately, she didn’t plan on meeting Mark. As she began thinking of a world without Mark, the elevator made an ear shattering noise and came to a complete stop.
“Oh, this is quite an unexpected inconvenience,” declared Mark.
With that breaking the last piece of straw on Gina’s back, Gina fumed, “Believe it or not, you are not the only one with a meeting to attend.”
“Mine is very important. It could prove to be life altering,” stated Mark.
“Mine too, has the potential for being life changing,” replied Gina.
As this standoff was taking place before him, Peter remained quiet. Should he reveal that he was also headed to an important meeting? Maybe it was best to keep this to himself. Finally, feeling as though he had to say something, Peter said, “I’m going to try to call for help.”
Peter picked up the phone and quickly started talking. “Yes, yes hello. We are trapped somewhere between floors two and four. What was that? As a matter of fact, no, I didn’t hear any alarm. Just a horrific high-pitched screech and then the elevator stopped. There are three of us stuck in here. Please send help.”
Peter returned the phone to its holder and turned to face the other two. “Well, they were unaware of our predicament, but are alerting the authorities and sending help.”
“Thank goodness, “ shrieked Mark.
Gina too felt a sense of relief.
Trying to keep his elevator mates from killing each other, Peter, having found his inner pizza, said, “Well I hope you can make your meetings. They sound important. Who may I ask are they with and what are they about? Telling me will pass the time and calm your nerves.”
Agreeing with his logic, Mark piped up, “I am meeting with Raymond at his family owned business. I received a letter requesting my appearance today at 1:00. The letter hinted at finding a just reward.”
“A just reward? For what?”
“I am not certain. Only that I needed to be there at 1:00 and will have a big surprise.” And what a surprise it will be thought Peter.
Suddenly, the elevator began dropping, and then equally suddenly, began moving upward. This
continued for a minute and then it came to a complete stop.
Even with the jostling, Gina kept her eye on the prize. She couldn’t wait to attend her meeting. She had heard of Raymond and family and was impressed. Their exploits were legendary. Seems like a day didn’t go by without Raymond providing a storyline to the papers. Yes, thought Gina He is exactly the person to know about my brother and his killer.
“And what about you?” Peter asked Gina. “Are you getting a just reward too?”
“No. As it happens though, I too, have a meeting with Raymond at 1:00.”
“I am sure you are mistaken. I am meeting with him at 1:00. You will just have to wait until my appointment is over before you conduct your business,” offered Mark.
With blood boiling, Gina stammered, “I have had enough of you and your blue suit and your self-centered narcissistic way. I have a meeting and I am going to attend it at 1:00!” Mark took that verbal hit to the heart and stood speechless.
Raymond waited the arrival of his guests. The family was certain it had chosen wisely. Then and again, it was 1:00 and no-one had arrived. No-one was ever late for a meeting with Raymond.
Peter had seen all he needed to. He picked up the phone and began speaking. “Raymond, it’s Peter. You have chosen well. Let the elevator work again.”
Mark and Gina heard Peter, but they really couldn’t believe their ears. Who had they been sharing an elevator with? How did he know Raymond? Hadn’t he used the same phone to call for help earlier?
Gina was the first to question Peter. “What is this all about?” she demanded.
“Raymond only lets an elite few to the fourth floor. Think of this as passing your first test.”
“You mean you planned the elevator malfunction?” queried Mark.
“Think of it as a precautionary drill.”
“Who are you?” questioned Gina.
“I am the real world liaison for Raymond. I’m part of the family.”
Raymond was pleased upon hearing the news. He fluffed the sheepskin pillows, puffed his cigar, and waited. Although rare, he did so like to expand the family and the family’s business.
“You’re part of the family?” Gina quipped incredulously.
“Yes. And soon you will be too. Raymond will handle the initiation process.”
Mark stood in disbelief and while processing what he just heard, mumbled, “But I thought you called for help using that phone. That was part of the charade I guess. Simply ingenious really. I never even thought to ask to speak to the person on the other end. You were taking care of it…Well I guess you were really taking care of it. Simply ingenious.”
The elevator doors opened onto the luxurious waiting room of the powerful Raymond family. Gina was dutifully impressed, but not surprised. Raymond was known for taking care of every little detail of a job, so why should his attention to appearance be any different? Mark on the other hand, stood gawking. The opulence was overwhelming and poor Mark didn’t know exactly how to act. To say he was out of his element would be an understatement. It was more like he was out of his chemical compound.
Raymond rose to greet his guests. First, he strode toward Mark. Smiling, and who, he thought, would not smile looking at this blue clad specimen, he greeted Mark. “Greetings, my fine friend. I trust you enjoyed your ride. Would you like to take a tour of the fourth floor? You will find it much more spacious than your previous surroundings.”
“Thank you. When I return I expect we will discuss my just reward. After all, our meeting was for 1:00 and it is currently 1:04.”
“Certainly, I have not forgotten, and fear not your reward is forthcoming.” Raymond motioned toward Peter. “Please show our guest around.” Without hesitation, Peter whisked Mark away.
Raymond took Gina’s hand and kissed it. “Welcome my dear. Please sit and relax.”
Ever gracious, Gina sat. “I wanted to thank you,” she began. “This is an extraordinary opportunity. Just to be sitting here in your presence…”
Although pleased at the profuse flattering, he immediately told her to stop groveling. He already had a slew of sycophants. He had invited her for her allegedly forthright attitude. She was said to have killer instincts. Raymond was going to put these instincts to the test—literally. “Gina, I know you came here for a job. It is true I know his killer.
Instead of feeling nauseous, unnerved, or frightened upon hearing this, Gina sat up a little higher and listened that much harder. Her adrenaline and her heart were racing. She wanted to know her brother’s killer.
“You are partially correct. We are not in the unclaimed money business, but we are in the just reward business.”
From his pocket, Raymond pulled out a revolver and placed it on the gleaming table before him. Either for effect or for personal pleasure, Raymond then sat motionless and waited.
Gina did not disappoint. Instead of recoiling, she leaned in and studied the piece. She envisioned holding the gun. The frictionless handle meeting her perfectly manicured hand. The trigger begging for her touch. Finally, she spoke, “Is this the initiation Peter hinted at?”
“This is meant for Mark? This is his just reward?”
“Does it matter?”
Gina internally repeated the question. To her surprise and to her relief, the answer was no.
It didn’t matter. Ridding the world of the annoying enigma of Mark, however, that mattered. Slowly and methodically, she took hold of the revolver.
From around the corner she could hear Peter and Mark approaching. Peter was going on about the new restaurant around the corner. Mark surprisingly, was giving obligatory answers. His concentration however, was still focused on his watch. Mickey read 1:13.
Mark began, “I find your boss to be insufferable. He is keeping me waiting. That is unacceptable. I demand my reward!”
Upon hearing this, as almost on a scripted cue, Gina delivered. Reward received.
About the Author:
Ami grew up in the historic town of Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, she was always a Southerner in her heart, so in 2019 she moved to Florida with her husband Matt and her precious Yorkie Paisley. Ami has her Masters in Special Education and was in the education field for fifteen years. Currently, she is in real estate as she pursues her writing career. When not with pen in hand, Ami enjoys crafting. Ami is a sports enthusiast and enjoys watching baseball and hockey. This is her debut into the writing world.