“Is Bobbie late again?” John asked, then chuckled. “John, her light’s off and the door is locked,” Jamie answered. “She’s here,” Mick said, replacing the string on his bass guitar. John looked at the wall clock. “Lenny, what’s going on?” “Bobbie’s here,” Lenny responded. He pulled his cell phone from his sweatshirt pocket, and then showed him. John gave Lenny a “for certain” stare. He groaned, “I’ll call Roy upstairs.” “Bobbie’s with J.J. Shedel,” Brandon said. Trevor lit his cigar. “I’m not worried,” he said, exhaling. He snubbed out the cigar in the ashtray. Lenny told them, “Nick said she went into the elevator about forty-five minutes ago. Wait here. I’ll go visit Shedel.” “I’ll check the ladies’ restroom¾” everyone gave Brandon a look of disgust “¾to see if she’s sick,” he explained. “I’ll meet up with Lenny. If she’s not with Shedel,” Trevor added, “I’ll check the hallways¾” “And the stairwells,” John added. “Jamie?” Mick called out to her, as her hand squeezed the brass handle. “I’ll be with Suzie,” Jamie told Mick and John. She wiped her tearful eyes. “Thank you,” John said, looking into her line of vision. “Ask Suzie if she’s seen Bobbie,” Mick said in a tender way. “But,” John said. “Jamie”¾he paused¾“I’m not worried.” She gave him a brief nod before leaving the room. “You don’t think¾?” “She’d walk past you to see Shedel first?” Mick asked. “Do you?” John lowered a microphone. “No. No way,” Mick said, as he hung his bass onto the stand. “Don’t worry, man. I’m not worried.” His voice was nervous. “Although, she’s never done this before, Bobbie’s with Shedel; she just has to be.” Lenny entered the studio room. “She’s not with J.J.” “Shit,” Mick muttered. “Where’s Dillon?” John asked him. “They’re all in Studio B,” Lenny said. “And they haven’t seen her.” “Bobbie’s been sick; I’m sure Brandon will find her in the bathroom.” John stared through the glass, into the hallway, hoping. “What about the elevator?” Lenny asked them. “She’s not in the elevator,” John said. “Did anyone see Bobbie get off of it?” Mick mentioned. “She would’ve sounded the alarm.” John swung open the door. “Not the ...” He ran toward the elevator corridor, followed by Mick and Lenny. “Bobbie!” they yelled together. “John!” she shouted. “I’m stuck in the elevator!” He took a deep breath, and then exhaled the air slowly through his teeth with a slight “Whew.” John placed his release key into the panel to open the guard shaft doors. The two doors opened instantly. “Stand back,” John said, his voice a cautious whisper. “Check the frame.” John examined the elevator car. The stationed cab seemed to be a little more than six feet above the platform. “Are you all right?” he asked. “I’m fine!” He breathed an outward sigh of relief. “You’re not claustrophobic are you?” Mick shouted. “No”¾she laughed¾“I’m bored!” “She’s bored. Oh no.” Lenny’s gaze turned to Mick. “I don’t see or hear anything.” Lenny muffled his voice. John’s gaze fell to Mick. Mick responded by shaking his head no. “Bobbie, why didn’t you sound the alarm?” John asked. “Why didn’t you pick up the emergency phone?” “Are you nuts?” she answered. “This is embarrassing!” John subdued a laugh, as he, as well as Mick and Lenny looked upward into the elevator shaft. Brandon and Trevor joined them at the opened doorway. “Brandon,” John said. “We need flashlights.” “I know where they are,” Trevor replied. “Bobbie?” John called out to her. “Are the lights on?” “Not the normal ones,” she shouted. “Did you touch any buttons when the car stalled?” John asked. “No,” she said. “Do you want me to?” “No!” His voice boomed out into the shaft. “I’ll just sit here and twiddle my thumbs then!” “Mick,” John said, “we’ll go to the control room and set the mainline disconnect switch to the off position.” “Is Bobbie stuck in the elevator?” Suzie asked, then slapped Jamie’s arm. “Why didn’t you tell me she was missing?” John looked underneath the elevator car. “Bobbie, I’ll get you out!” “Don’t call the fire department,” Bobbie yelled. “Have Roy close the music store,” Lenny told Suzie. Mick added, “And you two¾” “We know.” Suzie revealed. “We’ll stay in my office,” Jamie said. “We’d be closer to the stairs. Tell us when we can be spectators.” “Bobbie, I don’t know how long this’s gonna take me!” “Call the elevator company!” she insisted. John and Mick walked within the lighted elevator pit. They shined their flashlights onto the ropes fastened to the top of the cylinder jack stands. John followed the cables, which traveled over the plunger sheave, and then the ropes advanced to the bottom of the elevator car frame. Everything looks normal, he thought. John noticed the bottom of the elevator was about two inches below the top of the frame of the first floor and wondered if the elevator was “just stuck” between the two floors. “Do you see anything?” John asked Mick. “Not a damn thing,” Mick whispered. “I can’t believe this shit. This elevator has never been stuck before.” “Not even when we had that power outage years ago,” John mentioned. “This car stopped at the landing and opened its doors.” He shut off his flashlight. “And today, we have power in the building, but we had no electricity coming from the electrical panel to power this thing.” Mick walked to him, and then whispered, “How can this thing just be stuck?” “I don’t know. It doesn’t make any sense for it to be stuck without a cause. It’s not likely.” “If we do find something¾?” “We’ll get her out safely,” John said. “Let’s go back to the control room.” “Whaddya want me to do?” “Open the relief valve and lower the car,” John said. “Is the manual lowering valve a push button, ’cause if it is we’re gonna need power?” Mick asked. “I took your advice and kept the “t” handle.” John continued, “There’s not gonna be any power to that motor, until everyone’s outta here, including us.” “Should Trevor shut down the other switches then?” “Nah. I want to keep powering the card readers on both floors. Even though, those back-up lights are on, tell Trevor to keep the power on for the permanent lighting fixtures.” “When we got the updated panel, we moved the exhaust fan to a separate switch, but I noticed the fan’s not working either.” “The power is to stay on,” John ordered, “except for that motor, since we know for sure, something kicked its ass.” He added, “I’m going up there. I’ll check that fan. I’ll check the cables to see if anything is slacked or broken. The slack-rope device could’ve shut the power to the pump motor and those valves. I’ll check the governor to see if it activated the car safety device.” “What does that do?” Mick asked. “It opens a switch, which cuts off power to the drive motor and brake, if the car speeds up when going down.” John thought for a moment. “I’ll check if anything’s rigged to the top hatch.” “John, check the siren for the ‘Alarm’ button.” “I’ll look over everything while I talk to her. She could’ve heard something that would signal, power failure. Phone on?” “Yeah. We’ll have to get radios for next time,” Mick said. “There won’t be a next time. Lenny will call me; I’ll call you.” Mick ran his fingers through his hair and rubbed his face. “Do you want me to close the relief valve when I’m done?” “No,” John informed him. “I’ll be right back.” Bobbie felt a slight disturbance to the elevator car. “What’s happening?” she yelled. “Mick’s gonna lower the car, then the doors will pop open,” Lenny said, “but if they don’t, I’m gonna have fun with this iron bar that I’m holding.” “The elevator’s not gonna crash into the ground is it?” she asked lightheartedly, but with obviously growing nervous undertones in her voice. “Is it?” “Noooo. The elevator’s not gonna crash,” she heard John say from above. “At least, not with me sitting here,” he mumbled. “What are you doing up there? Why couldn’t you just call the elevator company like I asked you to?” “Then, he wouldn’t be able to rescue you,” Lenny said. “How you doin’ in there?” John asked her. “Are you sick, sweetheart? It’s not getting too hot, is it?” “I’m fine,” Bobbie said. “I should’ve brought a book.” “What happened, Bobbie?” “Whaddya mean?” “What’d you hear when you stepped into the elevator? Any strange noises or anything?” “I hope you’re not blaming me for this. Per Bobbie’s elevator code, I’m not supposed to be trapped alone.” John smirked. “I need to know, so I can figure out what your problem¾” “Do you know anything about elevators?” she asked. “Bobbie, this is my elevator, so just tell me,” he groaned. “I scanned my new key card and the doors opened,” she said. “Immediately? With normal power?” “Yes,” Bobbie said. “Then what happened?” “I jumped inside.” She paused. “You entered the elevator. Then what?” he asked. “After pressing the ‘One’ button for the elevator to move down to The Recording Studio, the doors stayed opened. I pressed the button again, but still nada. Then I pressed the ‘Door Close’ button.” “You pressed the ‘One’ button twice and the ‘Door Close’ button once to get yourself stuck?” “Yep. And then the doors closed,” she said. “Well, the doors didn’t close like they normally do¾”“Whaddya mean? Chopping action?” He chuckled.“No.” She giggled. “They closed¾uh¾unevenly, I guess, but then the elevator went down. Suddenly, the electrical energy gradually diminished.” Her voice grew excited. “I felt a slight shudder as the elevator car reached its stopping point, then the emergency lights shined upon me, and then I said, Noooo, just like you normally do. Roy, can you hear me? I’m stuck in the elevator! I banged on the door. As you know, I didn’t pick up a red phone or touch any more buttons after that.” “Bobbie,” John whispered, “I’m gonna rescue you.” She laughed, but then stopped, since she felt the elevator rock, and then she knew John wasn’t on top of the car anymore. Then, gradually, the elevator descended to the first floor. “Bobbie, how you doin’ in there?” Mick asked. “I’m fine.” “Why didn’t the doors open?” John’s voice was angry. “I’m sitting here in the dark, you guys.” Her voice sounded unlike her own when she added, “I’m scared of the dark.” “Whaddya mean?” John asked her. “Those lights are made to stay on for four hours.” “Is Bobbie stuck in the elevator?” J.J. Shedel laughed. “Do you have a back-up power supply?” he asked. “We have a generator,” John told J.J. “Make sure there’s power going to those buttons; they should be on after the standby system is hooked up. Have her press the, ‘Door Open’ button. Works every time.” “Brandon, Trevor, come and help me find the generator by-pass switch,” Lenny told them. “So. Whaddya think?” Lenny asked Trevor and Brandon. “Besides, Shedel’s stupidity, thinking we should turn a high powered generator on for the ‘Door Open’ button to work.” “I wonder if he thinks a generator is used for everything, except for a motor,” Brandon added. “Forget about Shedel,” Trevor said. “There’s power in the building, and there should’ve been constant power to that elevator.” “So,” Lenny said, “she swipes her same key card, and it’s rigged to stop the elevator. That’s it.” “Maybe, a breaker tripped due to an overload or short,” Brandon suggested. Lenny said, “I don’t understand how someone could hate John so much and go after a beautiful¾” “Lenny, think now,” Trevor told him. “Nothing appears to be unusual at the electrical panel.” “What stopped that car?” Brandon asked. “It doesn’t matter how it stopped. The question is: what’s gonna trigger it to explode?” Lenny reflected. Brandon asked, “Why won’t those doors open? The cars in the unlocking zone.” Card reader? “Yeah,” Lenny said. “What if we close the outside doors and John uses his key card to open both sets?” “I didn’t even think about that,” Trevor said. “Good work, Lenny,” Brandon agreed, and gave him a high-five. “We’re not trying it,” Trevor said. “Very bad idea,” Brandon declared. “I’m disconnecting the power to the card reader now, before someone else gets an idea. I’ll leave the power on for the ‘Door Open’ button and the ‘Alarm’ button. As long as she doesn’t touch the ‘Alarm’ button¾” “We did this purposely.” Trevor grew angry. “We gave everything separate zones, so we could troubleshoot a problem immediately. Why is nothing working and these panels show that everything is? If anything happens¾” Mick entered. “Nothing’s gonna happen to Bobbie.” “We think it’s the card reader,” Lenny told Mick. “Or the ‘Alarm’ button,” Brandon added. “It’s what someone other than Bobbie would’ve pressed, and has to be the trigger.” “If it were the buttons¾” Lenny exhaled “¾‘Alarm’ button.” Mick asked, “What does the electrician think?” “I think”¾Trevor paused¾“if it’s the ‘Alarm’ button, the wires were tampered with inside the car. I could go in from the top hatch, except then, Bobbie will suspect something. We don’t know¾if she knows, about electricity. Hell, her IQ is way above genius.” “The card readers are shut down,” Brandon informed them. Trevor continued, “After we get her out, I’ll first check the alarm wires. If I don’t find anything, I’ll open both card readers. If I find something, we’ll have new readers and cards.” “If it was the card reader why didn’t it blow when Bobbie swiped her card upstairs?” Mick asked. “Meant for John to kill her,” Lenny supplied. “Down here, instead of up there. She activates it; he detonates it. She dies; he lives.” “John kills himself. Thanks for being so blunt,” Mick said. “Card readers are easy to mess with,” Brandon offered. “We have a consensus then, card and alarm,” Mick concluded. “Meeting adjourned,” Lenny added. “I’ll let John know,” Mick said. “As for the rest of those buttons, Bobbie’s already pressed two, it’s John’s call.” “Press the green button now,” John told Bobbie. “The one that reads, ‘Door Open’?” “Yes,” he said. “The one with the arrows pointing in opposite directions?” “Yes,” John told her. “It’s dark. I can’t tell which one it is.” She giggled. “I’m gonna pull you out through the hatch on top,” John told her, “and make you slide down¾” “No way¾” she laughed “¾I’m coming out, the way I came in.” “Be right back, Bobbie. Lenny, call me if the doors unlock.” “What about the card reader?” J.J. asked. “The card won’t open the doors,” John said walking away. Lenny added, “It’s not a card reader issue.” “If I swipe this, the doors may open,” J.J. said. “Put your card away,” Lenny told him. “It’s not gonna work,” Mick growled. “Stop. Don’t scan¾” He scanned his card. “The power’s not on for the card reader, either? Why’d you people disconnect everything? And, if you had power going to those buttons on the inside¾” “Bobbie, press any button, except for the ‘Alarm’ button,” Mick said. “I’d strangle Shedel if I heard the siren.” I must’ve pressed the ‘Door Close’ button. She pressed the button underneath. “Okay.” “No. Don’t do it!” J.J. shouted at her. “The elevator will move, and you probably took it off its track,” J.J. pointed out to Mick. “Lenny,” she said quietly. “I pressed them all.” Lenny sat on the floor. “At least you tried,” he told her. “How do you take an elevator off its track?” Mick’s voice climbed louder. “You know nothing about elevators, man.” “Bobbie, I’m sorry about this.” “It’s not your fault, Lenny.” Bobbie stood in front of the buttons, but she couldn’t remember which one happened to be the button to open the doors or sound the alarm. She cautiously pressed another, then another one. An irritated Mick continued, “Shedel, the elevator can’t move. There’s no power going to that motor, and there is, to the ‘Door Open’ button.” “How can there be power when she can’t see those buttons?” Mick blurted out, “If you knew anything about elevators¾” “The card reader doesn’t even have power.” “¾you’d know that John’s keys are holdin’ the doors open upstairs and down here. The keys override the doors and the card key access.” “But, doesn’t override the ‘Open Door’ button,” J.J. said. John ignored the argument as he walked past. He stood in front of the elevator, and said to Bobbie, “The doors won’t release, sweetheart. You’re coming out the top.” “No John.” Her voice now upset. “I thought Lenny was gonna pry open the doors.” “Mick’s got the bar,” Lenny told her, except she didn’t respond to his sarcasm. “I’m ready with the bar, Bobbie. I’m waiting for the good word.” “Two minutes,” John said. “She’ll be inside for another hour. Bobbie, press the open button. I know what I’m talkin’ ’bout,” J.J. told John. “Look, Shedel. There’s a signal going to those buttons,” John said calmly, “but they’re not¾what’s the word¾illuminating for her to see them. Since they’re not illuminating, the signals not strong enough. Your idea won’t work.” “Lenny, I feel sick now,” Bobbie said softly. “John, she’s had enough.” “We won’t wait. Get her out, Lenny. Now.” John ordered. “Don’t pry open the doors,” J.J. said. Mick argued, “It’s only logical, since there’s not enough power and the doors won’t unlock.” Suddenly, Bobbie noticed a soft glow, and then pressed the ‘Open Door’ button. She held her push with her right index finger. “Do you have a better idea?” John asked J.J., as the doors slid open with the power source draining. “I did,” Bobbie said, as Lenny helped the left side glide to open. Bobbie looked around and there was applause from the audience in the hallway erupting from everyone except John and Mick. Their blond hair, faces, and clothing were covered with dust particles, remains of spider webs, and what seemed to be some sort of oil. Trevor and Brandon came running through the hall with equipment in hand. Bobbie wrapped her arms around J.J. and then kissed his cheek. “Can we have elevator picnics more often?” Bobbie asked John. “John’s elevator code is different than Bobbie’s,” he replied placing a blanket to the floor. “John’s codes always are,” she groaned. “I’ll tell you now, there’s a major conflict with our stairwell codes.” She sat. “I think I’ll be rejecting John’s elevator code, as well.” “There’s nothing romantic about a cold-hearted stairwell. You’re impressed with my beach code, aren’t ya?” “I have to wait five months for you to initiate it. What does John’s elevator code entail?” Bobbie asked. “John and Bobbie shall only have picnics¾on the evening of¾when Bobbie gets stuck in the elevator¾without John.” John sat across from her, and then Bobbie handed him a plastic champagne glass, filled with purple liquid, along with an opened bottle. “What you’re trying to say is, you made sure Al here will never keep me alone with him again, didn’t you?” They linked their arms and John took a sip from his glass. “Didn’t you?” Bobbie asked again, then drank a gulp full. “Yep,” he said. Bobbie gave an exaggerated sigh, and then he kissed her, as they sat, with the doors opened within the main hall of The Recording Studio. “You named the elevator Al?” “Yep. We bonded. He likes the name.” “What would I do without you? You have the ponytail going on; you’re all slaphappy.” “I’m happy I rescued myself before I got sick in your elevator.” “You told me you weren’t sick. Didn’t Shedel rescue you?” “Nope,” she said. “Didn’t Trevor or Brandon, since¾?” “I was the one who pressed the button.” “Then why’d you hug Shedel?” “You and Mick were dirty,” Bobbie said. “Lenny was inspecting the doors. Trevor and Brandon were the paramedics on the scene. They had all that equipment as if Al was in cardiac arrest. And, I did feel nauseous toward the end. I thought if I were to, I’d puke on J.J., since he made Mick so angry. J.J. had no right to interfere¾” “You thought me and Mick were already having serious fashion problems, didn’t you?” “No hard feelings?” “No hard feelings. I think you’ve had too much to drink.” “Me too. A couple sips of grape juice gets me drunk, real fast.” She giggled uncontrollably. “Bobbie, you drank almost the whole bottle. Grape juice causes constipation.” “Does not, But just in case, I’ll need prune juice to reverse the effect.” “Okay now, I have serious questions for you. Stop laughing.” “I’m laughing, because ... you ... have grease in your ear.” Bobbie fell backward, her laughter hysterical. John leaned forward, then licked the tip of his index finger, and attempted to place his finger in her left ear. “What’d you think of Jamie and Suzie’s reaction?” He pulled her arms to sit. “Hell, I was in shock,” Bobbie said. “Jamie hugged me before Suzie had. They both acted as if Al was torturing me. Jamie even looked like she’d been crying.” Bobbie took a sip of John’s grape juice. “I thanked Jamie for tattle-telling that I was late, when, actually, I wasn’t. I showed for work fifteen minutes early.” “You still weren’t on time.” He chuckled. Bobbie took another sip. “Did I mention Jamie spent eighteen dollars on my lunch today?” “I’ve lost count how many¾” “Tomorrow, Suzie’s buying?” “I gave them the money,” John said. “You did not¾” she looked at him wide-eyed¾ “Did you?” “Noooo¾” he chuckled “¾How’d you stay so calm? You were inside Al here, for almost two hours.” He filled her glass. “I know somethin’ ’bout Al besides, him being a roped hydraulic driving machine.” “What’d he tell you?” His voice was nervous. John handed Bobbie’s glass to her. “He’s your elevator. Then, after we’re married, he’ll be our elevator. Then, my elevator code will override yours and we’ll have many more picnics.” She removed the blanket a tad and then stood the glass near her right side. “He told me you said so.” “I know you’re not finished,” John said then smiled. “Hm. I trust you with”¾she paused¾“with¾” “Spit it out.” “¾my life. Yours and Mick’s grease and grime was a little overwhelming I must add, and brought tears to my blue eyes.” Her voice grew serious. “I knew¾you knew¾what you were doing. I remained calm for you, since I knew how worried you were.” “No one was worried ’bout you. We were worried about Al.” Bobbie moved her face close to his. “I know the truth. You’re my hero,” she said softly. John smirked. “I love you,” he told her, and kissed her. “I know.” She smiled, with her lips touching his. Bobbie handed John his empty glass. “I see Al’s internal organs have not yet been replaced.” “Maybe, you can assist Trevor with the surgery tomorrow.” “You just sounded like¾” “I’m sorry. I feel like an ass. Do you know about elect¾?” “I was gonna say Jamie; not my father. She always tells me, ‘maybe, you can assist tomorrow.’ Did the fabulous five figure out what was wrong with my new friend?” “The consensus is¾” he did a drum roll on his thighs “¾heart failure.” “Power failure? I noticed Trevor had this device. He seemed to be checking for a magnetic field or electrical current, while Al was detached from his life force. You never told me Trevor had multiple degrees.” “I can never keep a secret from you.” John bumped the wall with his forearm and the fluorescent-white lighting changed to a purple glow. “Ooh, I am so very surprised. I am. I am.” She began to giggle. “I thought ... Trevor and Brandon ... too funny.” “What?” He smiled at her. “You thought what?” His smile grew wider. “Tell me?” “I thought ... they were searching ... for a bomb.” “A bomb?” His laughter filled the room. “You never cease to amaze me. Just wait until the guys hear ’bout this one.” “No. Don’t you ever tell ’em,” she said, laughing. “With that answer, you are surprised then?” “Oh yes. I do like your elevator code,” she said, scooting closer. “Oh no, I spilled my other glass of champagne.” He smirked. “Bobbie, per my code only I do the customizing.” “Don’t worry John, grape juice doesn’t stain.” “’Course not. Or soak through your favorite blankey.” “My blankey.” She attempted to stand, while John pulled her to the floor. Bobbie sat in John’s lap with her legs wrapped around his waist, her palms at his chest. John supported her back with his arms, and said, “Clap your hands.” She did. The sound of instrumental music played through the overhead speaker. “Tell me,” he whispered. She gave a blank stare. She smiled. “John, I love you.”
The door closed.