Most nights, you will find me sitting at my favorite booth in Mel’s Bar. I like Mel’s for the simple fact, the other customers are much like me. We nod a silent hello upon walking in, claim our spot and our drink of choice appears magically, courtesy of Marita, of course. I’m not anti-social, mind you, just extremely socially selective. I prefer my own company over the irritating voices of my fellow mankind.
After a particularly annoying day of interacting with co-worker’s, I was looking forward to an extra hour or two of sipping my sorrows. It was Friday; an invitation to endless sipping. Ol’ Timer, yep, that’s what we call him, was standing at the jukebox, arguing with the voices in his head about which buttons to push. Long-legged Marita was perched on her bar stool, reapplying blood-red lipstick on her downward turned mouth. I imagine when she looks into the mirror, she sees the woman she was thirty years ago.
Good, everyone was in their usual somber moods. Just how I like it.
As the first notes of music floated through the air, the door opened with a clash. Our heads swiveled simultaneously, faces mirroring a collective offended look. A frantic businessman stood in the doorway. His eyes scanned the bar, choosing me as the ending target. I gave my best leave-me-alone look and turned my back to him.
He half-ran, half-skipped to my booth, stumbling into the opposite seat. I sipped my beer, ignoring his presence.
“You have to pass it on,” he whispered urgently. “You have to pass it on or you’ll be next.”
“Uh huh,” I replied, looking at Mel. No help there. I took another swig, gathered my coat to leave. No sooner had I raised from the booth, the stranger grabbed my wrist. I winced. His grip was strong, camouflaged by his frail appearance.
“Sit,” he hissed. “Sit, and listen. I’m trying to do you a favor.
I sat. Mel raised an eyebrow, cocking his head. I shrugged slightly. Two beers appeared magically on our table. I caught the rear-side of Marita sashaying from our table. The stranger snapped his fingers in my face.
“Pay attention,” he snarled, nervously glancing at the front door. “I don’t have much time before they get here.”
I settled back in the booth. “Okay,” my tone patronizing as I reached for the fresh beer.
“Before you go to work Monday, you need to pass this on.” He pushed over a worn wallet, with a faded gold monogram. “If you don’t, you will be seeing me again.” His eyes darted wildly at the door.
I stared at the wallet, half-tempted to pick it up. It was stuffed beyond my craziest dreams, hundred-dollar bills, peeking out. I reached for the beer bottle instead.
“Are you listening?” he demanded, his voice rising. “Do you hear me? You need to pass this on.”
I regarded him silently, wondering if he was going to drink the other beer. “Okay, I’ll pass it on.” His face registered relief. “On one condition.” He paused, unsure. Then nodded. “I’ll pass it on,” I continued, reaching for the wallet, “If I can have your beer.”
Before he could respond, two men,dressed in white shirts and white trousers burst through the door.
Again, our heads swiveled.
“Is it a full moon?” Old Timer yelled. “Is it a bloody full moon?”
The two men ignored him, spying the stranger. They rushed over, grabbing him. I have to admit he put up a good fight but he was no match for the two brutes. We all watched as they dragged him to the front door. No one offered to help or called the police. Once the door shut behind them, we went back to business as usual.
Last call came too soon after the night’s events but I knew I could repeat my endless sipping the next night. I stood, reached for my coat and spied the wallet on the table. Shrugging my shoulders, I thought, why not? and stuffed it in my pocket. When I got home, I became curious about how much sipping I could do with the wad of cash stuffed in the worn wallet. Let’s just say, I was going to be doing a lot of sipping. Chuckling, I took the wallet with me to my room, to hide it in my mattress. As I lifted the mattress, I saw a white piece of paper sticking out of the wallet. Strange, I hadn’t noticed this little compartment.
I pulled out the paper and read the words: If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the Up button. Huh, that man really was off his rocker. I stuffed the wallet under the mattress and laid down to surf in liquid dreams.
I spent the weekend trying to sip as often and as fast as I could. Come Monday, I’d all but forgotten about how I came to have the wallet.
I admit, I hesitated briefly before stepping onto the elevator to go to work Monday, the note flashing through my mind. I had a good chuckle when I arrived on my floor, safe and sound. I dredged through the eight hours of paid annoyance, looking forward to a couple of hours of sipping.
I all but ran to the elevator to partake in my plan as soon as five o’clock hit. Feeling pretty confident, I padded the worn wallet in my pocket. My mind danced around the idea of shaking things up a little by ordering something besides beer. Then I realized, I really was shaking! The screech of cable snapping dropped my heart. Screams filled my ears as my stomach flew up into my throat. We were falling at lightening speed.
When I woke up, I was sitting at my favorite booth in Mel’s bar.
A frantic businessman stood in the doorway. His eyes scanned the bar, choosing me as the ending target.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
For the Scriptic.org prompt exchange this week, Carrie at http://viewsfromnature.com gave me this prompt: If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the Up button.’ –Sam Levenson and I gave Amy I. Bloom at https://www.bloomindc.com this prompt: Time stood still as he/she watched…