A cold breeze, and the faint whistling of the steam radiator, greeted Nervous Thomas as he rose to greet the day back. His apartment was unusually breezy, and he shivered against the cold morning air, an herbaceous skunk scent filled the cold, windy room. On the other side of the thin sheet dividing the bedroom Heryll, Nervous Thomas's room mate, labored over a bong. Nervous Thomas slid out of bed, bare feet shocked by the frigid, sticky floor.
"Tommy! I hope I did not wake you up." Heryll commented wryly, staring up at Nervous Thomas from his bed, a languid grin developing.
"I have to get a package, sorry! I got-" Heryll looked up, dreamily, but said nothing. Nervous Thomas was forced to continue. "I think it's tapes that I ordered."
Swiftly dressing Nervous Thomas left his room, promptly locking himself out, and continued to the elevator, frustrated with himself.
Nervous Thomas found himself walking behind one of his neighbors, a young man with broad shoulders and huge legs. Keeping pace ten feet behind him Nervous Thomas noticed he had a black garbage bag slung over his shoulder, and a smaller white one in hand. Nervous Thomas lived adjacent to the trash room on their floor-the horrible room was one of his least favorite places-, and so assumed his neighbor was just carrying laundry. Once inside the elevator, however, he only pushed the button for the lobby, and not the laundry room in the basement. Nervous Thomas, curious now, peered upwards at the massive black bag, his neighbor seemed to notice this and Nervous Thomas quickly turned to stare at the wall.
On the sixth floor the elevator stopped and the doors slid open, a tall Chassidic Jew, gaunt with a wispy black beard, drifted past Nervous Thomas and vanished into the corner out of his eye-line. Nervous Thomas felt a dreaded tremble travel down his spine and into his ankle, he gritted against the shiver in his body. Distracting himself from the presence behind him, he returned his attention to the garbage bags toted by his neighbor. The bags bulged and smoothed at different points, one looked as though it had a box inside of it, another seemed lumpy with cans- certainly not clothing. Looking closer at the white bag Nervous Thomas felt suddenly nauseated as he realized the bags were his own garbage, placed in the reviled garbage room the night previously. Suddenly, the faint impression of his own plain yogurt container and the familiar bulge of his vomit caked button down, seemed to assault him.
No sooner had the dizzying realization set in than the elevator came to a plodding halt, the doors struggled to open, and when they did Nervous Thomas was dismayed to discover the elevator had become stuck slightly beneath the lobby. His neighbor quickly pulled the doors open, revealing the lobby floor at nose level. Despite the crisis Nervous Thomas took this time to glance briefly back at his trash, as used tissues began to bubble up from the discarded bags on the floor. As his neighbor began to clamor against the wall the gaunt man from the sixth floor suddenly spoke.
"You should wait until the manager gets here! We're not supposed to try and leave the elevator if it gets stuck."
He stared back, scowled, and begin pushing the bags of Nervous Thomas's trash out the opening, onto the floor above him, before jumping up and beginning to crawl out. Nervous Thomas heard the man behind him sigh when suddenly the elevator trembled and with a jolt dropped into the lower lobby and bounced back to it's prior position. On the ground, and disoriented Nervous Thomas briefly saw the gaunt man scramble up and out of the elevator, calling hurriedly for the staff. Nervous Thomas rose to his feet, pensively surveyed his surrounding, and violently vomited onto the lower torso of his neighbor.
An hour later, the paramedics had come and left. Nervous Thomas shoes were soaked with water-the management had hosed down the elevator- and he leaned against the railing, throat burning from acid, crying softly to himself in a dissipating pool of watered down vomit and blood. The other man from the elevator had returned quickly, and remained nearby for most of the ordeal, offering a prayer and accompanying Nervous Thomas until the legs and pelvis were extricated. Nervous Thomas did not remember the conversation inside the elevator, except for a single unsettling quote the man said in passing. "A great rabbi once said, and my father said this to me, 'Time is yet another of God's creations, and as such, it has a life of it's own."
Kneeling in a nauseating puddle Nervous Thomas focused on the repairmen attending to the mechanisms above him. He had forced himself into a state of hyper focus, trying to imagine what the men on the roof of the car were doing, how the doors worked. He had become so entranced that he almost did not notice the grinning face peering at him from above.
"Hey Tommy! I heard you were stuck down there." Heryll cooed from above. "Everyone did, I think..." With grim curiosity he surveyed the interior of the elevator car.
Nervous Thomas smiled back weekly, attempting but unable to respond. There was a moment of silence, Heryll's face slowly transitioned into an expression of amicable frustration before finally breaking the silence.
"Well I hope you get upstairs soon, you left your keys on the table. Here." He began to pass a box down into the car, but thought better of it, and gingerly tossed it to Nervous Thomas, who did not catch it. "I got your tapes or whatever from the front desk... hang in there!" And turning on his heels walked towards the door.
Nervous Thomas stomach began to settle slightly as he cradled his package against his chest. He caught himself watching Heryll leaving, and craned his neck to follow until he was out of sight.
"He didn't bring my keys..."