Short Stories

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Here you can find examples of some of my short stories, many of which are featured in ‘Mr Pinkerton’

 

The Lift

She reminded me of my Granny, silver grey hair in a plaited bun

and knitting needles poking out of an oversized handbag.

     An occasional night of luxury is the perfect antidote to the pressures of modern living and as I soaked in the Jacuzzi bath trying all those complementary little bottles of shampoo and body wash, I resolved to do it more often. I worked hard and deserved such little treats. The hotel room was a dream; king sized bed with satin sheets, TV, mini bar and a view to die for. Wrapping myself in the thick white towels I was grateful for the air conditioning as temperatures outside soared to record highs but reality beckoned and I needed to get back out there to earn my living.

I like to dress soberly when I’m working, not wanting to draw attention to myself, so I left off the party clothes from the night before and prepared for my working day. A charcoal grey suit, not too short, with my hair scraped back and twisted into a knot held in place with clips and just the slightest hint of make-up. I grabbed my bulky shoulder bag and was ready to face the day. Stepping out of the room was like opening an oven door, the heat engulfed me immediately. The windowless corridors were stuffy and airless but I’d soon be out of here and it would probably be a long time before I returned to this particular hotel. As I waited for the lift, (eighteen floors up is really too much for the stairs, even going down), a young man in a suit came along with his eyes firmly locked onto his mobile phone. He stopped beside me but there was no eye contact as we waited in silence. The lift seemed to take eons and when it eventually arrived there was just enough room for mobile man and myself to squeeze in.

I worked my way to the back wall as the other passengers shifted positions to make room for us. The heat in the lift was stifling with pungent smells of cologne and body odour mingling together, I sighed and waited. Directly in front of me was a balding man with one of those thin, straggly ponytails which only served to make him look ridiculous, hanging over his suit collar. I was seized by a sudden urge to cut it off and was grateful that I didn’t have a pair of scissors in my bag. He was probably approaching sixty with his middle aged spread sitting firmly in all the wrong places and a sheen of perspiration threatening to run off his bald pate. The other occupants of the lift were a large, rather loud American lady and her husband. From her loud grumblings it was obvious that she was fixated on the diabolical service at the evening meal the previous night. There was another older business man with a pin stripe suit and the obligatory briefcase, which was most likely only used for his sandwiches. We were all heading for the ground floor where we would scurry off to our daily duties, most likely never to see one other again. The American lady continued her diatribe on poor service, her husband nodding in what he probably hoped to be the right places. They reminded me of one of those old sea-side postcards of the fat lady with the scrawny little husband wearing his knotted hankie on his head, although she certainly didn’t look as if she would approve of him wearing such casual attire.

The Lift suddenly jerked and ground to a halt, accompanied by a grating, mechanical noise which made me wince, like finger nails on a blackboard. When the doors didn’t open it became obvious that we were in between floors and there was a problem.

‘Well. This is just typical!’ the American lady, who was dressed as loudly as she spoke, drawled. All the occupants began to look around as if the answer to why the lift had stopped would be written on the walls. One or two little shuffles suggested the anxiety that some of the occupants felt but apart from our cousin from across the pond, we all remained silent.

Mobile man didn’t flinch, he was busy texting as if his life depended on it. A few years ago he would have been described as a yuppie, designer labels on every item of clothing and the Rolex watch to show the world that he was upwardly mobile. The other business man unfolded his copy of the Times and began to read. I’d been standing behind the ponytail long enough by then, so I edged along the back wall until I was next to Mr and Mrs USA. The lift was less than two metres square and by the time we had been stationary for four minutes, the heat was getting to us all. I moved on from the couple and weaved my way behind the pin striped suit. He was still reading having only lifted his head once, to remark knowledgably that this sort of thing occurred frequently and the lift would soon be on the move. Ah… the comforting voice of experience.

The smell of recycled garlic from the pin striped suit was getting to me, so I moved on again to a spot between mobile man and the pony tail; I’d almost completed a full circle. After five minutes, which took several hours to pass, the grinding mechanical noise was to be heard again, coupled with a few more jerking movements and then the lift was back on track, arriving eventually at the ground floor much to the relief of all the occupants.

As soon as the doors opened the American lady steered her husband towards reception to lodge her growing list of complaints. The other three of my travelling companions headed towards the dining room, no doubt to sample the full English breakfast on offer. And me? I turned to go in the direction of the concierge’s office. Well, I say office, although it’s more of a cupboard really, behind reception but it gives him the status he thinks he deserves. I was just thinking that my working day was coming quickly to an end when my progress was halted by a little old lady in the reception area. She had the look of a sweet Miss Marple type, (but hopefully without the perceptive mind) and was obviously struggling with an assortment of bags and a lumpy old suitcase. She reminded me of my Granny, silver grey hair in a plaited bun and knitting needles poking out of her oversized handbag.

‘Excuse me dear.’ Her dulcet, southern counties accent was barely audible. ‘Do you think you could help me into the lift, the porters are all so busy?’ How could I refuse?

‘Thank you my dear, you’re so kind, I can always tell from the face and yours is such a pretty, honest face. I pride myself on being a good judge of character.’ She held onto my arm for support. As I placed her bags inside the lift, I smiled and pressed the floor number for her and as the doors closed her periwinkle blue eyes held mine for an instant and then she was gone and I was left, still smiling. I turned back towards the concierge’s office with a sigh and tapped lightly on the door.

‘Hi Tony!’ I beamed at him. ‘Great timing today, spot on. I managed to get round all the occupants in the five minutes you gave me. Three wallets, nice fat ones too, a Rolex, a couple of credit cards and a crocodile purse, no doubt stuffed full of lovely dollars. Not a bad day’s work eh? Pretty good hourly rate there don’t you think?’

Tony began to sort through my day’s ‘takings’ nodding his approval, while telling me,

‘Good girl but you’ll have to leave this hotel off your list for a while, the maintenance men are getting suspicious. My old pal Jimmy, the concierge at The Maple Leaf says you could go back there again and I’ve a couple of new hotels you could add to your list…’

Tony’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open as I pulled out the last thing I had procured that day, a magnificent Cartier diamond bracelet courtesy of Miss Marple.

‘What on earth…’ he gasped. I grinned at him, sharing his pleasure, it must have been one of the best items we’d ever had.

‘Just a little overtime bonus Tony!’ I grinned.

The End