ONE MAN'S ELEVATOR IS ANOTHER MAN'S COMEDY CLUB.THAT OTHER MAN JUST HAPPENS TO BE ME.
I printed out a giant brick backdrop, covered the elevator’s lights with red cellophane, hooked up a microphone to a mini amp and got some bartenders to pour the drinks. When the elevator doors opened, the jokes poured out.
The 12th Floor Comedy Club had taken over for one night and one night only.
The response from the agency was electric. Showing a creative agency how to get creative right inside it's very own walls.
"In my opinion, Humpty Dumpty was the first crackhead"
" Me and my mom had the sex talk, but I could tell she wasn't listening"
"My Grandmother was on her death bed, but we moved her to the couch"
THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM A SHORT STORY I WROTE THAT IS CURRENTLY BEING CONSIDERED FOR PUBLICATION BY FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA'S LITERARY MAGAZINE "ZOETROPE".
The Union Forever
The sign taped to a brown metal box reads:
We apologize for the inconvenience but our intercom system is not working please pull forward to the first window to place your order
He reads the sign. He had read it before. He didn’t need to notice the fading of the letters written in sharpie or the curling of the duct tape around the sign’s edges to know that it had been up for almost a month. The inconvenience was not that the intercom was broken- it was that he had to keep the game going. A game invented by necessity and guilt. A game that he was willing to play because the winner’s prize was covered in cheese and slabs of bacon.
“Ok, 20 piece…got it…. yeah and fries, double cheeseburger, apple pie, bacon…bacon single and vanilla shake…Ok honey…. got it…love you too…”
He takes the cell phone away from his ear, pretends to hang up by pressing a button and places it into his shirt pocket. There was no one there, not in a long time.
He looks up at the young black girl waiting to take his order. She is wearing a maroon visor with black hair in a bun sitting on top of her head like a meatball. She knows him the way a bartender knows their drunks’ prescriptions. Whisky neat with a beer back, Gin with two limes, nuggets with sweet and sour.
Without looking directly into her eyes but somewhere off in space right over the top of her meatball, he begins his order.
“OK, the old ball and chain (snorts) will be having…”
He always places ownership on whose food is for whom. The young black girl doesn’t care. He does. This is the single most important principle of the whole game. As he rattles off what sounds like a Christmas wish list for a spoiled brat wearing his oddly same maroon color as the girl’s visor sweatpants, he begins drooling. She doesn’t notice because she is too busy furiously keeping up with him, punching in his order.
“…apple pie, and for the kids let’s get…”
The line of cars behind him is now four deep and he is just reaching the apex of the order. He brings it all to a crashing halt when he says,
“…. and I think that’s it”.
The race is over. She looks up at him and for first time she notices he has a little river of drool running down the left side of his chin. He lets his stare lose its grip from over her head and slowly finds her eyes. She is still staring at the drool that has put her into a trance. He can sense it. He instantly wipes the drool away as a horn honks from a car in line behind him. The sound is violent- knocking her back into herself.
He looks down at his maroon colored crotch in shame.
“What’s the total?” he says. They are both embarrassed. She doesn’t know why and he does.
He pays without looking at her. She tells him to pull up to the next window. He is already halfway there by the time she says window. He is sweating now. His back through his t-shirt is stuck to the car’s leather seat.
At the next window another black girl in a maroon visor is waiting for him.
The drinks come first, five in total filling up every available cup holder. Then the food comes. Bag after bag. Sandbagging the dam as the river swells. The front seat disappears. Then he starts putting them on the floorboards.
He places the last bag on his lap and turns to the window to ask the girl, “That’s it?”
He turns to find the window is closed. The girl is gone. He puts the car in drive.
A large, empty parking lot with a dark corner- he backs in. He always starts with his favorite. Apple pie. Backwards, desert first but he can’t help it. The little apple pie reminds him of his mother.
It’s gone in two bites. In the darkness, the parking lot laid out before him in its vast expansive asphalt glowing under the yellow french fry colored lights, he catches his reflection in the rearview mirror. He has little flecks of mustard and ketchup on his chin. He looks at his eyes. He is drooling from them little streams of tears.