Down

Edele Winnie

Edwina almost fell as she ran to catch the elevator. Her yellow heels– a brave choice, bright yellow- were far too high and likely she caught them in a fold in the carpet or something like that. The apartment building was old and frankly pretty much everything about it was worn out, smelly and crappy. She managed not to fall though and changed that forward momentum into a comical hop, step, jump and then bang, she smacked into the elevator doors. They hadn’t been cleaned since Moses had used the elevator but there were still patches of shiny and after she’d regained her feet she checked out her reflection to see if anything had come unglued.

She was tall, really tall with the yellow heels, and wore a tight matching yellow dress. She thought of it as her Tweety Bird ensemble and she’d given herself extra long and full eyelashes to complete the effect. Her pale blonde hair was piled up on top of her head to make her look even taller. Her lips were red, her eyes brown, and the black dot beauty mark on her left cheek completely fake. She smiled. She always looked better when she smiled. Not bad. She was going clubbing, hitting the lounges and night hot spots on the strip where the cool people hung. She did not consider herself cool. She was hot stuff.

The elevator dinged like a stupid toaster oven and she prepared herself in case there was someone inside. Head high, shoulders back, padded bra out and one foot in front of the other because she thought it made her look curvy. The elevator doors slowly parted and sadly there was no one inside. Well, there was a smell, but it was a permanent resident in the elevator- Reminiscent of sweaty gym socks and dead squirrels. It was the kind of smell that makes you take the stairs, but that was impossible for Edwina in the Tweety heels. She dropped her facade and clunked clumsily into the elevator and pressed G for ground floor.

Nothing happened. She pressed the button again and more nothing happened. She was not going to walk down nine flights in her bare feet either, holding her shoes, so she punched at the button panel in frustration. She was a lover and not a good puncher and the elevator continued to do even more nothing. At least the smell was more tolerable with the doors open.

She was considering calling the building super on her cell phone but pushed the thought aside as a last resort. He was short and wide, some Eastern European type, and he had one caterpillar eyebrow that did whatever it wanted especially around women. It was always up and wiggling and she really wanted to smack him in the face- which of course would be completely unsatisfying because she wasn’t a puncher. She should join a gym, and practice and then miraculously the elevator doors closed. She pushed the G button again. It didn’t light up so she pressed 6 and that one held. When she got to the sixth floor she’d hit the buttons again. The elevator shuddered and slowly began going down.

Edwina retreated to a corner and composed herself, preparing for the doors to open just in case someone might be there. Head high, shoulders back, bra out, one leg in front, lips pouted. The elevator stopped when it reached the sixth floor but nothing happened. The doors didn’t open. It was like the elevator had temporarily awakened and now it had gone back to sleep.

She pressed the G button again and of course nothing happened so she pressed 2 and then 3 and 4 and 5. She was not going to press anything higher because most likely it would go back up and she’d be even further from the ground floor. That’s the way things worked for her usually. Since nothing was working for her now she pressed 6 again because she had a feeling about it but it turned out the feeling was wrong because nothing happened. The elevator smell was starting to get to her and she wrinkled her nose. This stupid building. She really needed to move out. She kicked the button panel angrily and the doors slid open with a serpent like hiss to reveal a tall man in a suit with dark hair and hat. It was the kind of hat that gangster wore in old movies. Who the heck wears that?  He was young enough and he had a real black dot beauty mark on his right cheek and that’s all she saw before the doors closed and he turned to face the button panel.

The stranger pressed the G button and the elevator began to descend.

Sure, for him it works she thought and for some reason it made him seem more attractive. She was trying to think of something clever and alluring to say when the elevator shuddered and stopped on the third floor. The doors didn’t open and the button panel made a sound like it was gargling and then its lights went out. The over head light was still on, but Edwina thought the light from the panel filled out her face better. Now she’d be half in shadow.

The man looked at her and she tensed.

“This elevator is always an adventure,” he said. His voice was deep and playful, like he was a professional kitten trainer.

“An adventure for two,” she said because it was all she could think of and she hoped it wasn’t too forward.

He reached up and took his hat off, showing a full head of rich dark brown hair or at least that’s the way it looked in the florescent lighting.

“I’m Edwina,” she purred. “I don’t think we’ve met before.”

He gave her a half smile. “I’m Edwin, and I would have remembered meeting you.”

She gave him a full smile back.

“I don’t actually live in this building,” he continued. “I was just visiting a friend.

“Girlfriend?” she asked, allowing her eyebrows to raise teasingly.

He frowned. “Ex-girlfriend. There was some outstanding- business. I just had to finish it up.”      His face looked fierce now and Edwina suppressed a shiver.

“Well I hope everything worked out.”  She said, trying to sound kindly.

“What about you?” he asked then. “Off to meet your fiancé?”

She shook her head and laughed easily. “No, no, I’m not attached. No man can handle me.”

He smirked. “Is that a challenge?”

“If you think it is.”

He reached out a hand, touched her arm. She didn’t pull away so the hand continued and wrapped around her elbow. The hat dropped away from his other hand. She felt a sting of energy rush through her- fear, excitement, lust. His free hand reached into his suit jacket and withdrew a discoloured plastic bag. He grabbed something inside and shook the bag off. Drops of red landed on her beautiful Tweety dress and she saw that he was holding a bloody knife and the blood was still red and fresh.

“I’ve already killed one tonight, what difference does it make if I up the score?” he brought the knife up to her throat. “That’s a pretty yellow dress you’re wearing. It’s a shame it’s going to get ruined.”

Her eyes were as wide as they could be; her breath was trapped in her throat. A hundred things flashed through her head- self defence techniques, the view from her apartment, the fuzzy feel of her little black cat curled in her lap. She blinked.

There was a pop and the G button on the elevator panel shot off and hit him in the knee. All of the other buttons came off then all at once and struck at his face. He let her go and with both hands and the knife swatted at the suddenly airborne buttons which were buzzing around his eyes like flies.

The hat, she thought, can I control the hat?  It was on the ground and it didn’t listen for a moment but then it twitched and she made it crawl up his leg and torso and then crush into his mouth. His mouth was open in surprise and the hat went right in and she willed it to go deeper, to stick in his throat. He clamped his jaws shut on the hat and tried to pull it out.

He’s dropped the knife she thought. Knives were easy. Hats were too personal- usually once they had the sense of a person they were hard to control. His hat obviously didn’t like him and likewise the knife was quickly standing on its point ready to do her bidding. She saw the drops of red on her yellow dress and decided against the blade. Instead the handle of the knife led the charge as it jumped upwards, between his legs, over and over again, whacking at the balls like a first time tennis player.

He hit the floor with a thud, hands clutching at his testicles. The hat squirmed further into his throat and then stopped and got comfortable. She willed the elevator buttons back onto the panel and they reluctantly obeyed. She’d played with them too much and they wanted to be free. She was terrible at things with electricity though, being an old fashioned witch, and she could never get them to work correctly after the first time she’d made them dance.

The stranger thrashed about for a few moments, spastic impulses as his brain died from lack of oxygen. How funny, she thought. The police will wonder how he choked on his hat. Maybe they’ll think it was a suicide, spurred by his cruel murder of the woman he’d once loved.

Everything’s so tragic. People don’t know how to love. I’ve got red spots on my perfect dress and I’m trapped in an elevator with a compulsive hat eater. She blinked and the doors opened. Third floor. Oh well, not that bad. She stepped out onto the rotten carpeting and twisted her feet out of the high heels. She floated them up to her left hand and headed towards the stairs and began the climb back up to her apartment.

She didn’t rush. She was feeling down. Another lonely night, just her and her cat and the lights of the city winking in the darkness through her window.

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