Monday, March 2, 2015
Over a Barrel
Today's muse: This is a true story. No names have been changed. The whole scenario happened, except for the last line.
* * *
Over a Barrel
I follow Roberta into the elevator, press the button for the ground floor.
“Starbucks or Timmies,” I ask her.
Roberta looks up at the ceiling as she contemplates the daily morning query. “Timmies,” she replies.
I nod. I can get my vanilla latte fix at lunch.
The elevator stops at the thirtieth floor and a woman enters, pushing a rather large black barrel on wheels. She positions herself in the elevator, hitches her leather bag over her shoulder.
Roberta says what I’m thinking. “That’s big enough to hold a body.”
We all laugh.
“There are a few people I’d like to stuff in here,” Barrel Woman says.
Roberta and I laugh again. “We can think of a few co-workers,” I say.
The other woman nods. “Getting the body out of the office is one thing. It’s disposing of it that’s the problem.”
I say the phrase I use all the time. “My husband is an undertaker. I’ll help you get rid of the body.”
She laughs hard at this, swipes away faux tears. “Appreciate that.”
I nod. “I got your back.”
We all fade to silence as the elevator moves down. Barrel Woman pats the enormous black bin. “It’s a portable marketing sign.”
Roberta and I both smile. “Oh!” It’s as though we’re both relieved to know that she’s not really transporting dismembered colleagues.
We reach the ground floor and I hold the elevator door for Barrel Woman as she maneuvers her tube.
“Have a great day,” I call out, as she walks away in the opposite direction.
“You, too,” she replies, and disappears around the corner.
I elbow Roberta. “Hey. Maybe we just met a serial killer.”
Roberta lets out a nervous laugh. “Yeah, right.”
We glance back—I don’t know why, and I regret it now—to see a zigzag of crimson drops along the terrazzo floor.