What Does It All Mean?
I work in a skyscraper miles away from my dream job. My office is wedged between Blimey and Blimey law firm and Bio-Q Medical Solutions on the twenty seventh floor.
Today is like every other repetitious day; I buy a caramel latte from the lobby and take the elevator up to the prison in the clouds.
I walk alone into the elevator dreading the music that is so depressing it actually coaches you into a bad day. I steal a few sips of my latte and press my floor button. Just before the closes, a man sneaks in.
Once I realize who it is, I become disgusted. It's Toby, play boy of the year. He has a repetition so scandalous that the gossip follows him like toliet paper trailing from his paints. I hear the man has around twenty girlfriends in this building, but he denies cheating because they all work on different floors. I also am informed he once fondled a woman in a meeting underneath the table and blamed it on looking for his lost contact lense. To me he has the appeal like that old lost nacho chip pinned under a sofa cushion. To get to the point, I don’t want to arouse his attention.
The elevator starts to climb as I watch the buttons light up each floor.
Without warning, the elevator stops. I grab the red emergency phone to call for help, but no one answers. Why do I have to be stuck on a broken elevator with a man I can’t stand, even though I don’t know him ?
“They’ll know something is up when the elevator doesn’t go back down to pick up the next load”, Toby comments while his traveling eyes stare down my shirt.
I stay comfortably mute. I refuse to talk to a man that thinks women are disposable. I only hope that Toby doesn’t take another stab at conversation.
Briefly peaceful, we are alarmed by the ringing red phone. Toby decides to answer it. He listens diligently and doesn’t say much, only “Aha” and “I understand” until he hangs up.
“Well that was the engineer downstairs, there has been a power grid failure and we probably will be in here for a while”, Toby advises.
“How long is a while?”, I ask.
“ He didn’t say”, Toby answers.
“That’s just great!” I mumble.
“It could be worse, you could be in here alone”, Toby adds.
“That’s more appealing”, I huff underneath my breath.
“I’ve seen you around, but I don’t believe we have met…I’m Toby Collins, I work close to the top”, Toby speaks pridefully while extending his hand for a shake.
I cringe at his hand; I’m reluctant to touch it, I don’t know where its been.
“Come on, I won’t bite…unless you want me to”, Toby giggles a little while moving closer to me.
“I’m Dorothy”, I speak shaking his snake skin hand.
“Dorothy…that’s a pretty name”, Toby charms.
“Please don’t”, I gently request.
“Ouch…you must have heard all the rumors about me huh”, Toby guesses.
“Yes”, I speak in a soft yet affirmative tone.
“What’s the headline lately? Call my number for a good time on bathroom stalls, I own a girlfriend on each floor, or that women pay my bills for a toss they’ll never forget”, Toby recalls vainly.
“All of it and then some”, I speak.
It occurs to me that I am being very unprofessional, so I decide to stop encouraging him.
“My…my how I get around”, Toby reflects.
“Look, I’m sorry. It is none of my business and I shouldn’t be judging you”, I apologize.
“You don’t have to apologize kitten… it’s all true”, Toby brags.
“Why do you act like this?”, I ask.
“Because I can, but there is something you can do about it”, Toby answers while invading my personal space. His eyes are raw and predatory…I’m helpless.
“What?”, I gulp
“Leave before its too late and speak to quiet Eddie”, Toby smirks.
“Dorothy…Dorothy!”, a pestering voice demands.
“Huh”, I slur unaware that I was napping.
“You better have those budget reports ready and on my desk within the hour”, my boss grips.
“I’m sorry I must have dozed off”, I yawn.
“Like I said, within the hour”, my boss threatens.
I glance at my watch; I wasn’t out for more than a minute yet it felt like forever.
“What a vivid dream”, I think while preparing the reports.
“Toby Collins, Quiet Eddie; never heard of them. Leave, leave what?”, I question.
I hear the mail cart squeaking nearby; the sound is more pleasant than co-workers killing the keyboards. The cart stops at my desk and I accept my mail. He always takes special care of my mail by organizing it to my specifications, he rarely flashes a smile and never speaks a word.
I quickly scan through my mail only to be immediately distracted.
“This is urgent, make sure they over night it this time, thanks quiet Eddie”, my co-worker speaks over in the next cubicle.
He is “quiet Eddie?”, the saving one I need to speak to. This is a man I have seen everyday for the past year and I hardly notice him. I’m dumbfounded…how do I talk to a man named quiet Eddie?.
I peek my head out of my cubicle and see quiet Eddie pushing the mail cart down the aisle. I have to make a decision, should I talk to him or dismiss the ridiculous dream I had?
I decide to take a chance, I will try to strike up something with this hermit crab. I scurry over to quiet Eddie while dodging the scalding eyes of a my boss seeking my whereabouts.
I tap quiet Eddie on the shoulder.
“Excuse me, I was hoping to have a word with you”, I faintly whisper.
He just stands there straight faced waiting for the purpose of this disturbance, but at least he seems perceptive.
“Okay then, this may sound a little weird but a Toby Collins told me to speak with you”, I bluntly convey.
He pulls a slip of scrap paper from his back pocket and writes cursive in pencil.
“When do you go on break?”, quiet Eddie writes.
“I can take one after my reports are done”, I write back.
“How long will that take?”, quiet Eddie asks.
“Around twenty minutes”, I jot down.
“I’ll meet you in the lobby café, I’ll spring for coffee”, quiet Eddie writes.
He places the scrap paper back in his pocket and nods his head to confirm our secret meeting.
For a man lost for words, he is on fire.
I struggle to get the reports done in time as my boss is breathing down my neck. I have to evade her; I have the feeling quiet Eddie knows something.
Once the last report is printing, I scope the office to see where my boss is hiding. She is no where in sight…I skip out to meet him.
“What if he doesn’t show”? I ask myself. He could of just agreed to meet me to get out of it.
I approach the lobby and see quiet Eddie. In fact, he chose a table dead center to make sure I would spot him.
“Tall caramel latte, extra whip and cinnamon crunchies on top”, quiet Eddie speaks.
The man speaks perfectly and interestingly enough knows exactly how I like my coffee.
“How do you know what I like?”, I ask.
“The see it on your desk everyday”, Eddie speaks.
“How come you never talk to anyone?”, I ask feeling like a reporter interviewing a felon.
“In order to know my thoughts, you must earn my trust”, Eddie wisely confirms.
“ Smart, I like that”, I compliment.
“So why did Toby tell you to speak to me?”, Eddie asks.
“I don’t know, I dozed off and he was in my dream. We were in a broken elevator…I never met him, but I knew about his reputation. Anyway…he tells me to leave while I still can and to speak to quiet Eddie, that’s about it”, I sum up.
“What reputation?”, Eddie asks.
“How do I say this without being condescending…I guess he was a “lady’s man”, I speak.
“Yeah…that was Toby alright”, Eddie smiles.
“If you don’t mind me asking who was Toby Collins?”, I question.
“A guy who used to work in this building and got me this job. Everybody knows the story…don’t you?…”, Eddie asks.
“I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about”, I speak feeling a bit intimidated.
“Toby was a womanizer. He promised women the moon and stars only to get what he wanted. I tried to tell him he was doing wrong, but he didn’t listen. Then he is accused of raping a woman in a conference room on the tenth floor. The woman eventually drops the charges, but his life is already ruined.
Toby changed his ways and vowed he would spend the rest of his life protecting women from bad men. They say Toby committed suicide by leaping down the thirty-first floor elevator shaft, but I know he was pushed.
“How do you know all of this?”, I ask.
“He was my brother”, Eddie grins.
“What does all of this have to do with me?”, I ask.
“Maybe he is trying to protect you from something or someone”, Eddie speculates.
“Why doesn’t he just tell me what’s going on?”, I ask back.
“I think in life, as in death, you can’t mess with free will. He probably can warn you with a few words, but is forbidden to reveal anything else”, Eddie theorizes.
“It could be nothing…it was just a dream”, I speak trying to make myself feel better.
“Knowing Toby…your dream means something and maybe I can help you figure it out”, Eddie offers while drinking his Kona blend coffee.
“I’m indebted to you, thank you so much”, I say.
“No problem”, Eddie blushes.
There is something so fluent about this man. He is very articulate, humorous and open minded. Never once did he rain on me.
“How come you never asked me out?”, I challenge. I don’t know if he has eyes for me or not.
“Good question…and I’ve got a good answer, your engaged”, Eddie chuckles while pointing at my dull engagement ring.
“That I am”, I confirm, yet when I say it now there’s no sunshine in it.
“Wait a minute…you don’t think Toby was trying to warn you to leave your fiancé?’, Eddie queries cautiously.
“Who…Clyde?, I don’t think so”, I defend.
“Just a thought…well it was nice to speak with you Dorothy”, Eddie concludes.
Hearing him say my name is a breath of fresh air.
“When you see me again…don’t be a stranger”, I speak.
“I won’t… I’ll write longer words next time…I’ve got a reputation to uphold”, Eddie replies with a sense of humor.
I drive home thinking about what Toby and Eddie said to me. This whole experience is scrambling my brain and it all seems too real.
I arrive at a red light and look down at the shiny wet road. Before the light changes I decide to take a detour and make an unannounced visit to Clyde’s house.
I approach his colonial style brick home right before the downpour. I enter, forgetting he is gone for the week with his father on a fishing trip. I don’t know exactly what I’m doing. Slowly I walk the house, maybe searching for clues.
I trust Clyde, he never gave me a reason not to, but he has been acting a bit off lately.
I’d suspect wedding plans can make a person act reasonably different, but getting hitched is something he is looking forward to.
I walk on the travertine tiles examining every detail, I don’t know what I’m looking for. I find myself astray, leaning towards Clyde’s office. I have a overwhelming urge to open the bottom drawer on his desk. It is almost as if my hands are being guided by something else.
In the drawer I find a pay as you go cell phone. I turn it on to find several unknown female names and numbers. The more I scroll down the blue screen, the more shocking and surreal it becomes.
At the bottom of the contact list on his phone he had three names labeled as wife number 1 (the cook), wife number two (the maid) and wife number three (the bit*ch).
“What is this? There’s got to be a reasonable explanation for everything.
Just as I am about to call one of the women to interrogate, I hear a loud thump coming from the basement.
“Clyde never uses the basement…it makes him sick from all the mold down there…he keeps the door locked”, I say to myself.
I swipe the fireplace poker and unlock the basement door to see what is going on.
I turn on the light switch, but there is no light. It is drafty and pitch black. I decide to use the light on my keychain to lead me.
Down the creaky wooden steps I go, fearing there is an intruder in the house.
When I reach the end of the steps I hear a whimpering deeper within the basement, there I find a badly beaten woman gagged and tied to an old soiled metal framed twin bed.
I immediately run over to her and pull the duct tape across to release the dirty tee shirt shoved in her mouth.
“He left me to die!”, she wheezes.
“Who did this to you?”, I ask while untying her.
“Clyde”, she sobs.
I call the police and after a thorough investigation it is revealed that Clyde is a serial rapist and is married to at least three women. They also inform me he is wanted in the connection of a two murders in the past year.
Toby was warning me, displaying the sociopath behavior of my husband to be.
I should have saw it coming, but Clyde had been covering his tracks for years.
It had been two weeks since I have seen quiet Eddie. I wanted to thank him for helping me fill in the gaps and ask if he wants to share coffee again. I hear the mail cart roll down my aisle and my heart flutters.
The cart rolls into my aisle, but once I lay eyes on the mail guy, I realize it is not quiet Eddie.
“Where’s quiet Eddie?”, I ask.
“He quit a week ago”, the man speaks while carelessly flinging my mail on the edge of my desk.
“If it wouldn’t be too much to ask, I like my mail organized and put in this little cubby over here…”, I gently criticize.
“I’ll put it where I feel like it”, the man sasses.
“I miss quiet Eddie”, I groan to myself.
The elevator is taking forever today, I’m tempted to go stair diving.
The elevator finally opens and I press the lobby button, a man rushes in just before the door shuts.
I’m not paying much attention to the man until he speaks.
“How are you Dorothy?”, the man asks.
I know this voice…it is one of a kind…it is quiet Eddie.
I look over at him, he is dashing. The straw beard is gone, replaced by a neatly groomed goatee. The man waxed his unruly bushy eye brows to a beautiful arch. He colored his graying hair a swagger slick black. He cleans up nice.
“I’m good Eddie…I thought you quit?”, I ask.
“I did, my internship at Blimey and Blimey law firm started”, Eddie speaks.
“You’re a lawyer?” I ask surprised.
“I didn’t take the bar exam for nothing”, Eddie speaks.
“ I wanted to tell you Toby was right…I needed to leave before it was too late, who knows what would have happened to me”, I speak.
“So does that mean we are on for tonight?”, Eddie charms assertively.
“Are you asking me out?”, I ask.
“Yes, if you don’t mind my reputation”, Eddie smiles.
“What reputation…I already know your quiet”, I laugh.
“You know that thing that goes bump in the night is probably me; late night cravings; oh how silence is overrated”, Eddie speaks with a devious smirk.
He aggressively places his arms against the elevator wall trapping me within them.
“Sure…I’ll go out with you”, I speak.
The elevator stops descending, it is broke.
“I guess we are stuck in here”, Eddie speaks.
“I think Toby is up to something”, I say.
“It wouldn’t be the first time, too bad he can’t protect you from me”, Eddie speaks.