Pushing Buttons

“Push the button” the man said. Mitchell glared at the keypad in front of him and wished he’d stayed indoors this evening. “Push the button” the man repeated, slowly leaning in towards Mitchell. Mitchells hand trembled towards the pad, his mind wasn’t working so well but it was only money. If he lived he would be grateful, right now he would be very grateful, the man was mean and stank, whatever he had in his pocket, it gave him power. Mitchell thought about pizza as he touched the keypad, then he thought about how weird this was, him alone on the street with this man menacing him, then he prayed, ‘please let it just be about money’. He pushed the button, hard, so the man was in no doubt. Silence. Was this it? The man flicked his fingers in his face, snapping them on his palm “Damn” Mitchell strained to keep from reacting, his stomach clenching, tension coiling inside. Nothing. “Push the button”. Mitchell tried again, stabbing, three times, pantomime style. A car passed by, it’s head lights etching the mans face, fighting the urge to scream Mitchell shrugged. “Damn” the man snapped his fingers again and flung his fist at the screen, hard. Must have hurt thought Mitchell, ashamed that he had flinched at the impact. “I tried it four times, guess it’s broke”. Mitchell was swimming through panic but not yet drowning, he nodded jerkily. “I tried it, you tried. Damn”. The man lurched past Mitchell with one final “Damn” swiftly fading into the murky shadows where the betting shop awning flapped in the wind. Pizza popped into Mitchells head again as the scent of garlic was blown past.

Mitchell couldn’t move, didn’t want to. He felt guilty about an episode at work today. He felt scared. He felt an urge to cry with relief. He was feeling bad that he had been hard on the girl from finance sharing the lift to the ground floor today. She had poured her heart out and not only did he barely listen, what was it he had said? Someone stepped into the light cast by the bus stop’s digital timetable. Mitchell froze, was it him again? No. Someone waiting for a bus. What must he look like, Mitchell wondered, stood here like a criminal, or a mad man? What had he said? Mitchell laughed but it sounded wrong and the man at the bus stop pulled his collar up around his neck protectively. Of course, what else would he have said, he was anxious to get out of the building and the doors had a habit of sticking on the ‘slow lift’ . What else would he say, she was nearest to the panel, sniffing into a hanky as if that might buy her sympathy, she had bent his ear all the way from floor 17 to floor 4, when irritatingly the lift had stopped and the doors had opened but no-one was there. “Push the button” he had said with all the sensitivity and understanding of an idiot. It had been a slow but quiet ride down to the ground floor, she’d gotten the message.
Stories on the side © Juliet Brain, Artsmonkey, October 2008

Blog link: Imustbedreaming : Quickie: “I’m going to be very, very disappointed if we end up electing a man who can’t figure out which button to push. Since he’ll be the one who’ll have the authority to, you know, PUSH THE BUTTON.”


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