Benny was on the elevator of a building he'd never been in before. It was climbing fast. Too fast. "It didn't stop on those floors," he said, looking at the still-lit numbers as it sped upward.
When no one replied, he looked to see if anyone heard him. Apparently not.
To his right stood an attractive blonde woman, thirtyish, in a blue blazer, matching skirt and white silk blouse. Seeing the crazed look in his eyes, she turned away and clutched her purse with both hands.
To his left stood a young couple. The woman's long black hair hung down over most of her face. She seemed intent on avoiding eye contact. Her heavily-muscled friend met Benny's gaze with a silent glare.
Benny returned his attention to the elevator control panel. He was the only one concerned or even aware the elevator was not stopping on their floors. What is with these people? he thought. He hadn't pushed all those buttons. Didn't they?
The elevator continued upward with increasing speed. A knot formed in the pit of his stomach. It's going too fast! They were just a few floors below Benny's, and the knot in his stomach cinched tighter and tighter.
As if stabbed, he fell to the floor, doubled over in agony. Then the phone rang.
What the….? Benny's mind gasped. Embedded in the wall near his head was the elevator's emergency telephone. The ringing was so close and loud, he thought his eardrums would burst. The other passengers looked at him expectantly.
"Aren't you going to answer it?" the blonde woman asked. "You're the closest."
Through blurred vision, he saw his fellow passengers standing over him, waiting. The younger, dark-haired woman was shaking her head in disapproval. With a clear view of her now from the floor, Benny realized it was his wife. Or, rather, ex-wife as of two weeks ago.
Her new boyfriend was now stretching his calves against one of the elevator walls. Athletic type, Benny thought. She always did like those.
Benny turned and stared at the ringing phone and wondered what could possibly happen next.
The phone was still ringing when he shot up in bed in a cold sweat. Whipping his head around to gather his bearings, he was relieved to be back in his apartment. His ex- was nowhere around. The sun leaked through a gap in the curtains. Birds chirped happily outside his window. It was just another normal L.A. day.
Rubbing his still-aching stomach, he slowly got up and made his way toward the phone, on the desk between the bed and bathroom in his tiny studio apartment. He cursed himself for drinking so much last night. Eating half a large pizza just before passing out didn't help. It gave him nightmares every time.
"Mmm, hullo?" he struggled to get the words out.
"Wake up!" a woman screamed in his ear. "We have a job for you downtown!" It took Benny a moment to realize it was Margaret calling from the temporary employment agency, Your Temps.
There was no way he could work today. He just wanted to sleep. Well, throw up, then go back to sleep. The past two weeks had consisted almost entirely of drunken celebrations of his divorce. He couldn't remember the last time he'd gotten a good night's sleep.
This Margaret woman proceeded to give directions – rapid-fire – to his latest temporary assignment. "Be there by 8:30!" she said before hanging up.