Memorial Elevasion

Last Friday morning I came bebopping down from my Jefferson-esque deluxe apartment in the sky filled with a special kind of piss and vinegar that only the promise of a three day weekend can impose upon a stinkin’ thinkin’ fella like myself. LIke many New Yorkers, I was only mere hours away from hopping into some form of transportation to skedaddle from my Point A to a Country B in order to rid myself of a little of the city’s oppressive this and thats. My mood was aces, my demeanor, spirited, and as I bounced off the elevator into the lobby to head out into the world I might have even been humming Matthew Wilder’s Break My Stride. “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, oh no…” and so forth.

On the other side of my building’s lobby’s wall of glass widows and electronically locked double doors were two towering gentleman in orange jumpsuits. They had tool belts, tool boxes, and each smoked a cigarette–a sure sign of questionable character–while standing there, peering into the lobby like sharks on the other side of a flimsy Jaws sequel aquarium attraction looking for the rube who’d set them loose–and after a moment of hesitation, one in which I rapidly considered recoiling back into the elevator while feigning a look that communicated “Oops, I forgot something,” indirectly to these mindless stealing machines–I decided to be their Dennis Quaid.

Precision Elevator was embroidered on the left chest pocket of their matching garb. A nice touch I thought, and as I inched closer I could see that there were indeed all manner of tools in their belts and boxes–sinister in their appearance, think torture table instrumentation from any spy, slasher, or film about dentistry. As I made it through the first set of doors into the foyer, I tried to decide if I the adult thing to do was inquire about credentials. After all, it was the start of a holiday in which countless city dwellers abandon their abodes, and posing as elevator repairmen seemed like a clever way to get inside a building with the very tools required for picking the cheap locks contractors had outfitted my condo building with, if not every condo building in greater Williamsburg.

I opened the second door to the outside world, and before I could utter the first syllable of my credentials request, the first gentleman entered and in the thickest of Russian accents said, “We are here to look at elevator.” He hadn’t even bothered to put out his smoke before joining me in the foyer, and his buddy was quick to put his foot in the door just in case I decided to try any last minute slam-and-go maneuvers–you know the kind; where you let a door close on someone and act like you had your head so far up your own ass that you totally missed seeing them there, so you act hurried and give the person a shrug while holding your cellular to your ear that says, “I’m sorry, so busy I can’t even come back to open the door for you.” Aren’t we all armed with that routine?

They had gained entry, but they hadn’t made me a believer. I decided to situate myself under the steel awning over the entrance of my building under the guise of having a smoke while texting in order to assess what options I was left with. I began mentally cataloging everything of worth in our own apartment. There wasn’t much I cared about losing to these thieves. We live an almost ridiculously minimal existence at this particular address, so if they started or finished with our unit the joke would be on them. If they got around to ransacking our apartment in the middle of all the others, its lack of quality thievables probably wouldn’t have the same impact. But then I remembered our cat, Target. If they were to break in, there was a good chance she’d escape and probably end up in a ditch by the side of a road somewhere, meowing for money, and doing unspeakable things to try to make it by in a cruel world she’d never asked to have been born in.

Panic set in, and I debated going back into the lobby to demand those credentials. I’d noticed the two of them weren’t doing anything other than milling around inside the lobby and staring back at me. I figured they were trying to decide if they should wait for me to leave before emptying out this modern day Whoville, or worse, come back out and throw me into a van they most certainly had parked around the corner (for I saw no van out front while trying to assess their legitimacy) only to deal with me later. I could leave right then, with my life, and hope that the cat might bury herself under the bed until they were gone–this seemed like my best option at that point.

Then, as I was feigning playing words with friends, I remembered, “You have a working cell phone now idiot, and Ariele put the super’s number in there for you.” A simple text was made to that very gentleman, it read something like this: “Hey dude, it’s Peter from Unit XYZ, I just let a couple of dudes in to repair the elevator and I’m concerned that they might be Memorial Day thieves of some sort.” I hit send and waited impatiently. Tick, tock, tick, tock…

“Cool. I’m here. I’ll come get them.” He wrote back.

I would say I was relieved, and I was for a moment, but it was truly short lived and any peace about the situation was almost immediately replaced with the realization that the super was in on it too. And barring that scenario, the elevator needed repairing? When would its cables be snapping, and would me or the Mrs. be the unfortunate rider on that fateful plunge. I headed to work and the sweet docile tones of Wilder’s Break My Stride never returned.

A Cure for the Common Kidnapping

I’ve not made it a secret that I am currently in Mexico. In and of itself, this action goes against all kinds of rules I’ve set to keep my own paranoia in check. There are dozens of reasons that exist in my head as to why revealing your current location is a bad idea. Here are just a few: 1) It let’s people know you aren’t home, and if anyone in your social network is actually a closeted cat-burglar, or even worse, someone on the take for full-time cat-burglars, then pretty much you are letting them in on the most delicious piece of information they can obtain – an empty home, the contents of which they might already know about if they have had the pleasure of visiting your abode. 2) Perhaps someone will get jealous that you are on vacation and they are not. Maybe this will lead to nothing more than a lit sack of poop on your doorstep one night, or maybe it will fester deep inside them and the next time you just happen to be strolling along the edge of a cliff with them on one of your many cliff excursions, they’ll push you off, just because you had the nerve to boast about having seen yet another lizard, but referred to it as a ‘lagarto,’ because you are a smug user of local languages. 3) You are putting it out there to the entities that control the big life puzzle – I’m not sure who they are, but Matt Damon’s last movie made a compelling case that there could be men in trenchcoats assigned to making sure your life goes as planned – and maybe they had been previously buried in piles of paperwork, too busy to notice that you had slipped off your preordained grid to get a few rays in sunny Mexico – but I digress… What was the title of this post? Oh right.

We hadn’t been in Mexico, on our own in Mexico, more than a few moments when my wife told me that if you are kidnapped, America’s leading kidnapping insurance provider suggested you immediately ask for a bible. All good. I know how to say enough in Spanish to do that, and I get why it might work – we’d more likely be seen as human beings, our captors – despicable as they may be – are probably a religious lot, and the very mention of the Bible might give them just enough of a push to be a tad more decent with us as they bound, gagged, and threw us into a dark cell somewhere. That they would be in fear of God at all given their decision to abduct people and hold them for randsom might strike you as odd already, but I have a bigger concern. If my wife saw this little tidbit on Gawker or CNN, why wouldn’t they have too? I mean, they’ve got money right? They kidnap people for huge sums. It stands to reason in my mind that they would use some of that money to buy computers and pay a monthly subscription for internet access like the rest of us – probably makes some things easier for them. At the very least, they need to entertain themselves while waiting for phone calls from distressed loved ones back in the states. And if they have those things, aren’t they running a few google searches themselves like, “What might someone say when I kidnap them that isn’t true?” Am I just to assume that because they are considering hauling me away due to the fact that they mistakenly believe my family has donut money, like in that Kurt Russell film, that they don’t have the smarts to research what kinds of tricks captors might play on them?

Perhaps I give a little more credit to the dwellers of all things underworld than America’s leading kidnapping insurance provider. Or perhaps, I’ve got heat stroke. Let’s call it fifty/fifty.

One-Fifty-Four vs. Beelzebub’s Best

In general I don’t fear mythical beings or deities – I’m not a non-believer in demons, ghosts, and beasts of otherworldly origins, but it’s the monsters lurking within human forms that give me the most unease. Dahmer, Albert Fish, Bundy and the two-hundred or so active serial killers an article I recently read suggested were currently running amok around the country. These men, and sometimes women, represent an evil that is far more believable – the number of missing persons reported on a daily basis, an exact tally I forget, also factors into my constant concern for my attractive better-half.

Running with her, on trails and streets, is a real delight. If she didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t do it, and vice versa – each day one of us guilts/encourages the other to get on with it, and the runs are the best part of any morning we do them. My mile-time is just a fraction less than hers, and so it isn’t unusual for me to have gained a fair amount of distance between us by the twenty-minute mark – I am usually just close enough to still hear her signature steps, but from time to time I find myself out of earshot, and once in a while, too far away to even see her.

When this happens I tend to pause, run in place, and wait for her to reappear – in those few seconds before she does, I am always quite certain she has been nabbed right off the trail by one of the world’s not-yet-monikered killers at-large. The more statistically obvious scenarios involving bears, random mountain lions, tripping sticks, or bee-swarms don’t really enter my noggin. Until she reveals herself again, I am always operating under the notion that she has been abducted and begin speculating that had I just stayed closer it would have never happened.

But here’s the thing: I know no karate, I didn’t wrestle in school, I don’t exercise with a concealed weapon, and even my shouting-for-help-voice is probably not great, I doubt the baritone nature of my vocal chords would carry for shit. One hundred and fifty-four pounds vs. the drooling, machete toting, unfeeling, born-from-the-seed-of-demons-soul hellbent on turning her into first-prize country fair beef jerky – it makes little sense and I’m quite sure I’m no deterrent.

We tend to run during the hours I let my mind believe these hellions are sleeping – early in the morning. They are a lazy sort, and our only advantage is being up before noon. Rosch – 1, Beelzebub’s Best – o.

Three Minutes for Number One

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause behind my public bathroom/sinister abduction correlation. I surmise it is probably a combination of the following: A true tale or two about people disappearing from rest stops. My mother’s own branding of public facilities as the most foul of places and her insistence that my brother and I hold it until we got home no matter how distant home may have been. The hidden and often nearly invisible backside location of many anybody-can-use toilets at gas stations and the like.

Bottom line? When my wife has to use the can she’s got about three minutes before I count out a fourth. If she doesn’t make it back by then, terror grips my being and I start to consider all my options: Asking another woman to check on her, going in myself, whistling our special whistle from outside in the hopes that I’ll hear her do the same, or simply giving in to the notion that she has done been took.

It is at this point, when a fifth or sixth minute comes to pass, that my mind begins fabricating how telling her parents, friends, and possibly the police about her public bathroom abduction will play out later that day. Even as I am aware that typically female facilities move much slower, I am helpless to stop the crazy.

You might be asking, “What if she has to go number two?” My wife doesn’t go number two, at least not in the same mind that created the public bathroom anti-abduction three minute rule. Duh.