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The Top Floor
At the bottom of the stair was the elevator landing. If Ronnie got on here there
was no way but up. Well, that’s what he wanted – all the beautiful people were
up there. The big salaried guys with their thousand dollar suits. Ronnie could
fit in up there. He pulled his cuffs a half inch out – just far enough so his
Rolex would show, if he had one.
But he didn’t have one, and besides the cuffs of his shirt were frayed, so he
pulled them back in under the sleeves of his jacket. He noticed a dark stain on
the left sleeve – it was from carrying the want-ads section of the newspaper
under his arm as he walked the streets of New York. He dropped the newspaper on
the floor – he was through with job-hunting. Sick of it. He’d been turned down
for everything. Plumber’s helper. Handyman. It was time for him to make a run
for the top.
That elevator would take him there, he was sure of it. It was brightly lit –
maybe a little too bright, he was afraid it would make the dirty collar of his
shirt and his run down heels plain to see. But, “What the hell!” If he put up a
bold front and talked fast he’d get away with it ... that was the main thing ...
The door opened at the top of the stair and a well dressed man in a blue serge
suit walked in, paused at the top of the stair and looked down, then he walked
quickly down and entered the elevator. He pushed the button for his floor and
the doors closed with a whoosh. The elevator rocketed upward and disappeared.
No question about it. If that guy could do it, Ronnie could do it! He stood
there waiting impatiently for the elevator to return. The doors opened with a
gentle hiss and he peeked inside. It was spotlessly clean, perfumed and the
sound of well tuned strings played familiar music. He stepped inside but held
the doors open, trying the read the call buttons.
He expected to find numbers – floor numbers. These weren't numbers, These were
words ... words like ... Control! Power! Wealth! Authority! He wanted all these
things, even when he was a little kid he wanted them. He couldn’t believe his
eyes. Could it be this simple – just push a button? But which one? Ronnie
considered the possibilities, how could he have Wealth without Authority? And
maybe along with Authority came Responsibility – wouldn’t he have to be
responsible for making decisions? He wondered which button the man in the blue
serge suit pushed, he didn’t hesitate, he just walked in – the doors slid shut
and off he went.
Ronnie swallowed hard and let the doors slide shut. He thought he’d push the top
button – that’s where the action must be. That’s where the beautiful people must
be. There was a question mark on that button – but it must be the top floor. The
top button was always the top floor, wasn’t it? Of course it was, every elevator
he’d ever been in was like that. The boss always pushed the top button.
He pushed the top button.
The elevator descended.
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