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Union Member #448

by John Medaille

 

Dear diary,

How are you?

I was watching the TV today and they said they found a new star. It was a star that’s never been there before and then it just happened out there and none of the people on TV knew how. It’s a bright star and they said it’s getting closer real fast and the astronomer scientists say it’s impossible and shouldn’t be there. I’ve seen that star before.

Guess what else, diary. Today was my anniversary. I have been the Elevator Inspector Union Member Number Four Four Eight for thirty-seven years today. I am also state certified in escalators, dumbwaiters and industrial lifts. They gave me a coupon worth fifty dollars for it at the department store where I bought trousers. When you’ve been there for forty years they give you something gold. I already got a pin and a plaque and a certificate and other things. Only Oscar Phelps has been there in our chapter for longer than me and they gave him a new suit. He’s been in it for six more years than me but he’ll be dead by March. On a Friday. And then I’ll be there the longest.

Well, Diary, I’m going to hit the hay.

Your friend,

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

I’ve never told you before, but I’m a very good Elevator Inspector. I have performance reviews and I pass with flying colors each and every time. I know about torques and manifolds and viscosity and counterweights like nobodies business. Why, just four years ago, do you remember, diary? We saw that thing on the news where a cable got sheared over in Plattesville in the Standifer Building and an elevator fell six stories. And there was people inside of it. Three people and one was a seventeen-year-old boy. They said that his life was full of promise and that it was tragically cut short in his prime. They said that. They were all mashed into glue with their bones sticking out. They were just a puddle. All three of them. They did an inquiry and it turned out that it was all because some dip put a wheel on wrong.

I was working on a big old Skokie Freight Model Thirty over at Methodist Hospital today, diary. I was feeling up the wire and I thought, if I wanted to, I could fiddle with some bolts. I could get out my pry bar and make the cable go all wobbly. I know how. And it wouldn’t happen for months, diary. It’d take its time. But when I did, that car would crash so loud they d hear it over in China. Everybody in it would be made into soup and turn their spines into talcum and pop their skulls like balloons. They would be so full of promise and cut off in their prime. I could do that, diary. I know the way. If you knew what I knew, diary, you’d never take the elevator again. Believe me. You’d take the stairs.

Well, I’ll see you tomorrow,

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

I went to the doctor again today and he doesn’t know beans. He says there’s nothing wrong with me at all. He is a liar. I tell him I got headmoulde and the purples and he says he doesn’t know what those are. And him a doctor who’s been to school for years and years. He says I’m healthy as anything and I should see a psychotherapist. I think he should be impaled.

I liked it when you would go and the doctors would tell you you got quinsy and ague and St. Anthony’s Fire and the French Pox. Those were the doctors I liked. And they had those little lances and they’d open a vein and bleed you till you couldn’t see no more. Those were some doctors who knew their stuff.

This doctor says I’m fine and dandy and that I just keep coming to the doctor for no reason because I like it. I tell him I got the rickets real bad and he should open me up and poke around inside. He gives me little white pills but they re just sugar. I haven’t had a good bleeding in forever.

Also this doctor is always wanting me to take my underpants off which I don’t like because I don’t have anything down there where my legs come together. But I never do. I tell him I’m shy.

And I am shy.

Bye bye,
Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

Nothing to report today. Hope you are the same.

Sincerely,

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

Guess what?

I saw somebody today. It was Roger Buntzweiler. I was inspecting those elevators in the Federal Building near the bus station. Those are those big fifteen-ton American Hydraulic jobs. And who should be there but Roger Buntzweiler? And he saw me and he said, “Hassarquiel! Why you old so-and-so! How the heck are you?” And I said, “Melenchiel. That’s you. How are you?” It turns out he works in the Road Commision Office over there in the Federal Building and he’s a Notary Public. He’s been there for forty-three years which isn’t bad. He looks exactly the same. Just the same in every way. Even part of his hair is still burnt off. He says he is going to get a real good pension but mine is more. I didn’t say so. The hair I guess never grew back. We had a good talk and he said that we should get together over the holidays and have a coffee and I said that would be nice but I don’t want to. He gave me his telephone number and I put it on my kitchen counter and I’ll see what happens to it.

Can you imagine that, diary? Good old Roger Buntzweiler. And he hadn’t changed a bit. The hair even seemed to be smoking a little. But maybe not. Maybe it has simmered down. It was a very nice and pleasant meeting that I had with him today. I haven’t seen him for six thousand years.

Good night,

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

I am pooped.

Did I ever tell you that I met Jesus? He was mean to me. Back then I was a tax man for the dagoes. I had thirty-six years loyal service with the empire and when I was there for thirty years they gave me a gold aureus for my anniversary with Caesar’s head on it and everything. And Jesus, he looked just like he does in his pictures. They got him exactly right. But he was a real bastard. I saw him giving a talk in a market and I listened to him from a tree. And after I went up to him to talk about the Old City and see how it was doing those days and to say I knew his Daddy. He turned to me and he was a meanie and he said, “Go from me. You were a coward in the beginning of things and you will remain so until the end. Better you should have been a devil.” I think he would have slapped me if I hadn’t of left. I was glad when he got strung up. I laughed ha ha ha.

I hope his side loses.

Sincerely,

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

I got a letter today. It was a big, fat, manila envelope. It wanted me to register. I hated it. I told them a long time ago that I don’t want to. I was supposed to fill out the form with my numbers on it and say how much I weighed now and tell what colors my eyes were and if I still had my armor and my sword. I’m not going to fill that form out. It made me real mad. I said in the beginning I’m not going to be on a side and they can kill themselves. Way back then, me and Melenchiel and Sarumbiel and Alrifael and the others said we weren’t going to do it and we meant it and we were serious. We came down here and we had a big banner. A big brown-colored flag that we flew that meant to say that we weren’t in the war. We were non-combatants. It makes me mad as all-get-out, that letter being here. I think that the brown flag is still buried under Mount Hebron. I bet that we could dig it up with shovels and wash it in a washing machine and fly it again to let them know that we re not having no part of it. I can get a shovel at the department store because I still have twenty-two dollars left on my gift certificate.

I hope that they all die. It’s none of their beeswax what color my eyes are. I crumbled up their stupid letter and I threw it away. They’re going to be eaten alive by dragons. They’re going to be thrown into The Pit. And I’m going to laugh and laugh at them.

I’m so angry that it tuckered me out, diary. Have a good one.

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

I came home today. It was a terrible day. And the landlord was painting the lobby guess what dumb color? Yellow. Yellow is a bad color for a lobby. Yellow takes the eyes right out of your head. I liked the way it was before. White with a little brown in it. But I didn’t say so.

I think the landlord should be eviscerated. Do you know what eviscerated means, diary? It means to take the guts out. And I think he will be eviscerated too. And flayed too and get radiation until he glows in the dark. Pretty soon now. You’ll see.

Did I tell you I was a throne once?

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

Do you know what I don’t like? Birds. Also loud music. They get my dander up.

The end of the world is coming. Did you know that? Everybody is saying so. And I guess it is too. Today on the news they said a great big hole opened up in Asia and it ate a whole bunch of cities. And a doctor thinks that the dead are coming back to life. At least they’re twitching. And it turns out the Red Dragon really is the U.N. and that that lady who reads the news and has the sexy legs really is the Whore of Babylon. They all said it was so. I think she got stoned to death. And plus there are tanks on the Persian border and everybody is bombing everybody else. People don’t want to go outside anymore. I can’t blame them. I would stay inside if I didn’t have a job to go to.

Pretty soon, diary, it’s going to be all green horses and red moons and gold crowns and goats and sheep and I hate it, diary. I hate it when it gets like this and I know all about it because I’ve seen it before. I hate it like the devil.

It’s the third biggest thing I hate after birds and loud music.

Sleep well,

Abe Melfin

• • •

Hey diary,

On TV they said a big snake came out of the ocean and got on Africa. They never knew it was down there and they were all going crazy. It was very exciting. I didn’t like it. My upstairs neighbors died. I didn’t see of what. I think the soldiers got them.

Also I met the devil. This was long before I met Jesus. He wasn’t so bad I guess. He wanted me to be an archduke for him and command a thousand legions. But I don’t like the army. I also don’t like police. They make me feel funny. I would have liked to have had bat wings. And horns. A great big set of shiny black horns. But I was real scared. I said no way. I said no thank you.

I’ve seen him few times since. Just around. But he never talked to me again. One time I saw him in the Safeway near the bread. I wondered what he was doing near the bread but I didn’t go and ask. I don’t eat bread. I was looking for this cream for sores that they sell.

I’m beat. I’m going to bed.

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

I was the only one to show up for work today. The rest of them are a bunch of lazy nogoodniks. I inspected all the elevators in the Messerschmidt Tower Complex up on Eighth and Commonwealth. And there were twelve of them and I was all alone. And I got my finger pinched in a grip.

And also they said that one in six people died today from different things. They said that some got diseases and they were just mummies when they found them and some were eaten by bugs and lions and one whole country got drowned. And everyone in it got drowned too. And Florida is gone.

I remembered when we first came down here. Me and the others who wouldn’t do it. I remember coming by Jupiter on the way and some of us stayed there. But I didn’t want to because all the colors gave me a headache. The rest of us came down here and there was hardly anybody here. When we landed we made a big ruckus and a forest got flattened. For a long time I was alone. I sat on a tall rock and looked at the sky. Sometimes I saw dead warriors dropping. But then people came and I put on skins and got a job. My first job was bone man. I was a good bone man and I could rattle them real good and I’m good at counting. That was my favorite job ever. Sometimes they gave me the hearts of animals for my anniversary to eat. They don’t have that job anymore. Why don’t they have bone men like they used to?

Tell me that, diary.

Your friend,

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

I ‘ve been giving it another think and maybe I will take a side. I don’t know what side yet. It might be good to do.

Can you imagine me in the war, diary? It’d be funny. Think how it’d look. Me, Abe Melfin. I’d look real sharp in my armor and with my flaming sword. I bet I’d be real handsome like that. Can you picture that? I’d be all dolled up with a lance and whatnot. Can you see me, astride the earth, killing everybody? I’d move my arm, swoosh, and all their heads will fall off in a head pile. I would speak and great beams of light would come out and it would explode humans and demons and thrones and powers and tanks and skyscrapers and all the elevators. That’d be something. It’d be bathtubs and bathtubs full of blood and I’d fly again and ride a beast with nine horns and nine eyes and I’d wipe a third of the stars from the heavens. I’m the second oldest member of the Elevator Inspectors Union, Chapter Thirty-One. Can you see me carrying on like that?

I sure can.

Abe Melfin

• • •

Dear diary,

The TV went off last night and I don’t think that it’s coming back on. I’m not going to go into work today. I’ll call in sick. My boss got all exploded up and died. I’m the oldest living Elevator Inspector in the world now.

Guess what? I decided what to do. I’m not going to join a side. I mean it. Just like last time. They can both go to hell for all I care.

I think I’ll stay. That’s what I want to do. And when the world is burned and empty I will be the only Elevator Inspector Union Member there is. It will be my job to inspect them all. And I will grease the wheels and keep the cables taut forever. I’ll make sure there isn’t no slack. And I will be able to ride the elevators up and down all I want. Until I get tired of it. Because I will be the boss and there will be all the time in the world. I’ll make sure that the lights on the buttons still light up and that everything is shipshape.

And diary, that’s what I’m going to do. And I will ride the elevators up and down and up and down and up and down the world.

I remain,

Abe Melfin

 

 

John Medaille has been published at Pseudopod and is working on a short story collection called: Hideous Tales of Doomed Spacemen, Demonic Cameras, Protoplasmic Flesh-Eaters, The Supernatural, U.F.O.s, Interdimensional Beasts, Evil Children, Misunderstood Robots, Telephone Calls from Beyond the Grave, Mayhem, Murder AND THE MACABRE.


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ISSUE #18

October 2008

FICTION