Steve's toe was throbbing. He had never broken a bone, but he knew for certain he had just broken his big toe.
Looks like a percocet will be going along with that Arnold Palmer.
He hobbled back to his office building, contemplating whether he should even bother going back for the letter. That goddamn letter was the cause of all this. He should just forget it and slip it in the mail early Monday morning.
But some sense of duty or morality, or fear of his boss (despite the man's senility and high pitched voice, he still had a wiry strength beneath his wrinkled exterior and a menacing stare that haunted Steve at night) caused him to open the door to his building and hop to the elevators.
He waited for what he swore was longer than any stupid frickin elevator had ever taken since the sons of bitchin things were invented and finally stepped in as the doors opened. He pushed the "4" and immediately dropped to the floor in agony.
He took off the shoe and sock on his right foot. His big toe was now an even bigger toe, and it seemed to be pointing a little more to the left than usual. He gently touched the base of the toe and winced as pain shot through his whole foot.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened to his floor. He grabbed his sock and shoe and attempted to stand up. Before he could get to his feet, the doors closed. He reached for the "open door" button but the elevator already started downward.
Somebody downstairs must have pushed the button. Now he'd have to ride back up with another body in the cramped space of the elevator. He gingerly put his sock back on and put his foot into his shoe. He grabbed the railing on the wall and slowly pulled himself up. The pain increased.
The elevator stopped and the doors opened to reveal the building's custodian. He was a young man, nice enough, but very introverted. As usual he was wearing earbuds listening to some kind of music at a level that was completely unnecessary for a club, never mind for headphones.
Steve managed a slight smile that must have looked like he was biting his lip, because he was. The young custodian nodded in his direction and looked back down at the giant industrial sized vacuum cleaner he was pushing.
He shoved the vacuum into the elevator, maneuvering it around Steve's feet, but not quite enough, bumping the broken toe with the edge of the machine.
Steve bit down a little harder on his lip, tasting blood.
"Sorry, dude" the custodian mumbled.
"No problem," Steve replied in an unusually high pitched squeak.
The custodian pressed the "2" button and the elevator lunged upwards.
After a slow, jerky ride with unbearably awkward silence (basically, a typical elevator ride) they finally reached the second floor. The young man pushed the vacuum forward, this time missing Steve's swollen foot, and walked into the hallway.
The doors closed and Steve let out a loud groan. He reached down to grab his foot. It didn't do him any good, but it was an instinctual reaction that somehow soothed him slightly. He massaged his shoe for a moment then realized the elevator was not moving. He hadn't pressed the button for his floor.
He reached for the panel of buttons and felt the elevator start downward.
"Oh come on!"
He pushed the "4" button so he wouldn't forget, and leaned back on the elevator wall as the metal cage eased downward on its cables.
The doors opened on the ground floor to reveal a young brunette woman. Her arms were crossing her body, carrying a stack of papers and folders. A rung of keys hung from her hand.
This must be the new employee on the third floor that all the guys were talking about, Steve thought. He had been so busy in the past few weeks he hadn't even seen her yet. She was not as pretty as most of the guys said (then again most of the guys in the office were married and much older so any young woman in their presence was considered a goddess) but she was prettier than he had imagined. What was she doing here at this hour?
She smiled at him and stepped in the elevator. He attempted his best smile but was sure he looked like he was suppressing gas.
She turned toward the panel of buttons and pressed the "2". As she did, her keys fell onto the floor.
"Oops" she uttered, clenching her papers tightly to her chest.
They both looked at the keys, then each other, then back at the keys.
Clearly Steve was expected to pick up the keys in this situation, and normally he would not have hesitated. In fact, he would have offered to help with her things as soon as she got in if not for his throbbing appendage. (Usually, a throbbing appendage is the reason guys offer to help an attractive woman, but this was not a typical situation.)
Instead, he stepped towards the keys and cringed as his toe sent shock waves of pain up his leg. He stopped in his place and held on to the railing with both hands.
The silence filled the small space, and for Steve, lasted an eternity.
The young woman took a last exasperated look at Steve and bent down to pick up her keys. As she did, some of her papers fell to the floor.
Steve groaned to himself. He tried to move again, but the pain was too much. He wanted to explain himself to the woman. She'd understand. He just couldn't get the words out. The pain had erased his ability to form a coherent sentence.
By the time words started to form in his mouth, the doors had opened, all of the papers and keys were in her hands, and she was out the door. He couldn't see it, but he knew she had a look of disgust on her face.
"Toe...mm-broke!' He sputtered as the doors closed.
He really needed that Arnold Palmer.
-end pt. 2
I Love You All...Class Dismissed.