The Elevator Ride

by Douglas Young

     When Marcellus Stovall got to a good stopping place, he sighed, saw it was already well after 5, and decided it was time to leave the university library. The firm did not pay him overtime and the place would close soon anyway since it was Friday. So he got up from the table, shoved his notes in the briefcase, put on his sport coat, adjusted his tie, and quickly walked to the elevator. Along the way he noted how much more tattooed, hair-dyed, and scruffy the students appeared than when he was in school. I have become middle aged, he mused, and just do not relate to this young crowd.

     He got on the elevator but was disappointed to see it stop at the next floor. Three thirty-something men strolled in to join him. They all had long hair, thoroughly frayed shirts hanging out, blue jeans pockmarked full of holes, and very old sneakers. One wore a beat-up red fedora hat with a big green feather. Another had a beard, and the others had not shaved in days. One was ensconced in reading a book while the other two silently stared ahead.

     Mr. Stovall suspected they were homeless. What are they doing here? He frowned. It’s bad enough so many students look like bums, but these guys are almost middle-aged. They’re just a tad younger than me. I’m surprised to see one of them actually reading a book. Good Lord, could they be students?

     Though he would normally look away from such people, for some reason he kept examining them from the back of the elevator. Do I know these losers? He wondered. They seem familiar. But who do I know who looks like a street person? Or who has tattoos on his arm — or neck? That one’s tennis shoes look barely wearable. His laces need tying too. But does the slacker even notice or care? Yet Marcellus still studied the men the entire ever so slow elevator ride.

     He also detected the same distinct odor he often picked up from student bohemians playing guitars and singing for tips downtown. Mr. Stovall did not know if it was from clove cigarettes, incense, or what, but hoped it did not stick to him.

     How very different our lives are, he lamented looking askance at the men. I have worked my butt off all my life, but look at these tramps. Have they ever put in an honest-to-God, full day’s work in their whole lives? These vagabonds are likely knocking on forty, but dress as if they are in college or even high school. Think you will ever attract a decent lady looking like that, boys? Oh, but y’all sure seem relaxed all right. Utterly laid back. Look at that one just a humming and moving his head to some imaginary beat. Shoot, I bet these hobos sleep better than me and likely have lower blood pressure too.

     Why do I keep staring at these jerks? He chastised himself. This is rude. They have done nothing to or for me and will never have anything to do with my life. Just ignore these clowns.

     But I know these guys, he insisted. I have definitely seen them somewhere, and not just in passing because they really look familiar.

     Then he blinked as his mouth opened. Oh, my gosh, that gentleman with the blond hair and the hat is Earl Van Dorn, the lead guitarist for Wyndex, one of the biggest rock bands on the planet, he noted in awe. Stepping forward and to the right to get a better look, he recognized the fellow reading the book as Marcus Wright, Wyndex’s bassist, and the bearded man as Thomas Toon, the group’s drummer. I have these guys’ albums and have seen them in concert more times than I can count, he marveled. These bums are multimillionaires who live in mansions, are beloved the world over, and could have all the gorgeous babes they ever wanted.

     The elevator doors finally opened on the first floor and the gentlemen sauntered out. Gosh, I ought to try to get a picture with them, he thought. When will I ever get such a chance again? If I pass this opportunity up, I will absolutely regret it forever. I can truthfully tell them how I saw them in clubs way back when they were still just a local band. Mustering his nerve, Mr. Stovall finally spoke as they walked toward the checkout counter.

     “Excuse me, sirs, but are y’all from Wyndex?”

     “Last I checked,” Mr. Toon replied with a smile. “But I don’t have an I.D. on me.”

     “Haven’t been fired yet.” Mr. Wright looked up from his book.

     “Now truth be told, I b’leive we’re them boys’ evil twins,” Mr. Van Dorn remarked with a mock serious look.

     “I’ve got all y’all’s albums and have been a fan since y’all were still in school playing gigs at the Dixie Club,” Marcellus volunteered.

     “Thanks, man. You are a long-time loyal fan,” Mr. Van Dorn said and extended his hand.

     Marcellus gladly shook hands with each of them and asked if he could please get a picture. Readily agreeing, they posed with Mr. Toon and Mr. Wright’s arms around Marcellus’s shoulders, Mr. Wright holding and making a face at his tie, and Mr. Van Dorn happily lifting Marcellus’s briefcase while giving a thumbs up sign.

     Mr. Stovall thanked them profusely, they wished each other well, and they said their goodbyes. As Marcellus turned to walk away, he noticed he wore a grin and was walking slower. Hearing some squeals behind him, he turned to see several pretty coeds run up to his elevator buddies.

     “We are your biggest fans,” one girl exclaimed as the bandmates beamed.

     Seeing Marcellus smiling at them, Mr. Van Dorn pointed to him and pronounced with a wink, “But that there fellow’s our best-dressed fan.”

     Marcellus Stovall chuckled and walked out of the library. I’m not as smart as I think I am, he concluded.

The Elevator Ride

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