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So I?m on the hospital elevator today?working at my volunteer job in the EKG department; on my way to deliver EKG print-outs to various wards?
I get on at the second floor?
The elevator is in service but it?s being renovated? Two guys working in there from Paolucci contractors? One guy is around 5 foot 8, maybe 200 pounds, big gut, completely bald. The other guy is around six-two?looks like a retired professional athlete?thick, dark, wavy salt-and-pepper hair. Both of them have thick arms, beat-up faces; both in their mid-to-late forties; Stained sweatshirts, canvas pants, work shoes covered in white dust.
They glance at me for a second: some older guy?a clerk type in clerk clothes with a green volunteer ID tag hanging around his neck.
Then they look away and Baldy says to wavy hair?obviously continuing a conversation they were having before I stepped in: ?So this guy calls me up?the guy I told you about; He?s talkin? to me?he?s got a voice like a baseball bat?you know what I?m sayin?? Bam! Bam! Bam! Bam! How the fuck am I suppose to talk to a guy like that? Nice? friendly? I?m supposed to say, Hey man, no problem? Fuck that!

The elevator slows and the door opens on 3. Standing there is a perfectly beautiful Indian woman in her early twenties?maybe five foot two?long, inky dark, glowing black hair. She has a dark green coat on; a dark red scarf, long gold earrings with red stones in them. She has a face like a princess in a fairy-tale and that ineffable grace that young Indian women sometimes have. Her hand is supporting the arm of an older woman?her mother? her aunt? Maybe her grandmother. The older woman is overweight. The skin of her face is multi-colored and unhealthy looking. She has clearly been in pain for a long time and has clearly borne it for a long time with forbearance and dignity.

?Excuse me,? says the young woman?in a voice that sounds like a silver bell, ?Is there room??

?Sure, sweetheart,? says Baldy, ?Step in?where you goin??

A bright though melancholy smile: ?Radiation, please.?

?Sure, no problem?7th floor.?

The two women get on? We all stand there in silence while the elevator rises.
7th floor? The women get out?on their way to Radiation; leaving behind them a slight scent ?something exotic, strange; something that pulls you?
The door closes. Again, silence. The three of us look down at our shoes.

The elevator rises?

– Mike Feder (New York City – December 9, 2005)

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