Hunter pulled the door closed and locked the deadbolt with the key he kept on a leather cord around his neck. Bill visibly winced at the sound made by the door, knowing that even the slightest noise coming from their end of the hall would draw the attention of Doris; the divorced, forty-something, building manager who lived in the flat opposite the lifts, the flat right next to theirs.
Bill looked down the hallway, the carpet that would have been psychedelic and cool if the colours were anything other than brown and beige stretched out before him. The elevator call button was between the two lifts, about fifteen steps away. They could make it, he thought, if they were very, very stealthy…
Twelve steps in, and Doris appeared in her doorway, the ever-present SuperCan™ of Molson Canadian in one hand, a More Menthol 120 at her lips, and “Mississippi Queen” belting out from a stereo somewhere inside the dark, smoky flat.
“Evening boys, how’s it going?”
Bill’s finger hovered over the ancient, concave glass style elevator call button, noticing for perhaps the first time the greasy finger-prints on and all around it. He wondered briefly how many hundreds, if not thousands of filthy fingers had pressed the button since the seventies when London House was erected. He decided he didn’t want to know. There was a decision to be made here and he had to be the one to make it. Hunter smirked bemusedly at his friend and seemed to read his mind. Hunter was going to blow it for them by starting up a conversation with her, Bill just knew it. The conversation would lead, possibly, to them going into Doris’s place for a beer, and perhaps a joint, and by the end of the night Bill would have to “take care of business” as it were. There would be “free” beers, but at what price? No, he decided, not tonight, not on his watch. Bill’s finger stabbed at the call button five more times than was necessary, the downward facing triangle lit up orange and the lift was on its way.
Hunter however had other plans. He wanted to see Bill squirm, bastard that he was. Hunter spun on his heel.
“Oh, hey Doris? What’re you up to tonight?”
“You know, just hanging out, drinking a beer, listening to some tunes,” she craned her head so she could see Bill, “Hows it hangin’ Billy?”
Bill winced. He hated it when she tried to sound younger than she was, almost as much as he hated being called “Billy.” His finger stabbed away at the elevator call button three more times before turning around.
Doris took a swig of beer, “So you boys are on your way out somewhere?”
Hunter piped up, determined to prolong Bill’s agony, “Yeah we need to go pick up some beers.”
“Well, why didn’t you say so?” Doris looked at Bill, “I’ve got plenty of beer. You guys should come in and join me for a couple-three!”
“Oh, thanks Doris but we were actually headed down to the Unicorn to meet a buddy so-“
Hunter cut him off, “We are?”
“Yes we are. You not listening back there?” Bill jerked a thumb back towards the door of #1401.
“Oh, yeah…” Hunter shrugged, “You know my hearing is a little off in the one ear.”
Bill grumbled, saying every word like it was its own sentence, “So. It. Would. Seem.”
Hunter turned to Doris, “Sorry love, I guess we’ll have to take a rain-check.”
The elevator chimed its arrival.
“No problem Joe, you know you two are welcome anytime!” Doris smiled.
The elevator doors slid open, and Bill was inside before they had fully parted, dragging Hunter in behind him by the arm. The lift doors slid shut and Bill glanced annoyed at the elevator floor panel, Superstitious nonsense! Just because they don’t call it the thirteenth floor doesn’t mean it isn’t, he thought as he pushed the L button to take them down to the Lobby.
Will Bill and Hunter make it out of Lond Ho ALIVE? Tune in next time for part 3!