Or What If (Life or Death, Fourth Installment) – Patrick Pineyro
January 31, 2017
Author’s note: Are you waiting for something to happen? Something is always happening, because everything happens in the mind, and something is always happening in the mind.
Also: The possibilities listed in bullets below are all based on true stories.
Or what if
An empty hallway. Smith dashes to the elevator, Smith with the heel of his palm smashes the Down button, and then again, and again and again.
Smith cycles through permutations of potential dangers one might face during an elevator ride.
In no particular order:
- What if the safety inspector imbibed a fifth of bourbon or a fifth of vodka or a fifth of gin or a six-pack of beer prior to inspecting the elevator cars in Smith’s grandmother’s apartment building? Wouldn’t imbibing a fifth of bourbon or a fifth of vodka or a fifth of gin or a six-pack of beer prior to inspecting the elevator cars in Smith’s grandmother’s apartment building reduce the legitimacy of the certificates of inspection in the elevator cars in Smith’s grandmother’s apartment building to nothing but a waste of paper and ink, at best, or, at worst, a deadly deception?
- Or what if as Smith is stepping into the elevator the doors of the elevator close on him and, with Smith stuck between the elevator’s doors, the elevator begins to rise or descend?
- Or what if within the elevator a murderous psychopath rides awaiting a targeted victim who happens to live in Smith’s grandmother’s apartment and who simultaneously happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to Smith himself? What if this hypothetical targeted victim whom this hypothetical (and try to disprove that this situation herein outlined is impossible) murderous psychopath desires to remove from existence bears such a close resemblance to Smith that the hypothetical murderous psychopath actually mistakes Smith for the hypothetical potential victim? What if this hypothetical murderous psychopath actually mistakes Smith for the hypothetical targeted victim and then douses Smith in some sort of flammable material, a flammable material such as gasoline, or kerosene, or ethanol, or acetone, or biodiesel, or dimethyl ether, or diesel, or diethyl ether, or methanol, and then shoves Smith to the back of the elevator, and then steps out of the elevator, and then lights a match, and then throws the lit match into the back of the elevator and at Smith, transforming Smith into a human Molotov cocktail, burning Smith alive?
- Or what if the elevator cable simply snaps?
- Or what if with the elevator door open Smith, about to enter the elevator through the open elevator door, what if through a momentary lapse of attention Smith ceases to focus upon that which lies before him, and because of this momentary lapse in attention Smith fails to realize that the open elevator door through which he is about to enter the elevator has remained open and due to some malfunction of which Smith cannot possibly yet be aware the open elevator door stays open as Smith is about to enter the elevator, which would be fine, that would be how one typically enters an elevator, through an open elevator door, except that in this hypothetical scenario this as-yet unapparent malfunction results in the open elevator door staying open while simultaneously the elevator car itself begins to rise, so that when Smith steps through the open elevator door Smith rather than stepping safely into the elevator instead plummets ten stories down an empty elevator shaft to his death?
- Or what if Smith were forced to ride with a dozen strangers, and during this ride with a dozen strangers abruptly the elevator stops and Smith along with the dozen strangers becomes stuck between floors, and the emergency call button fails, and cell phone reception is shoddy at best, rendering Smith and all dozen of the strangers unable to summon the emergency response team or anyone else, such that Smith and the dozen strangers are forced to face rising temperatures inside the elevator, temperatures which rise to 95 degrees inside the elevator with the malfunctioning emergency call button stuck between floors, temperatures which rise to 95 degrees before rising to 100 degrees inside the elevator with the malfunctioning emergency call button stuck between floors, as naturally the temperatures must rise to 95 degrees before they rise to 100 degrees, as naturally the temperatures must rise inside the elevator with the malfunctioning emergency call button stuck between floors, what with all dozen of those strangers’ bodies plus Smith’s body radiating body heat, radiating so much body heat that soon the temperature inside the elevator rises beyond 100 degrees, resulting, sooner or later, in the deaths of the dozen strangers, plus Smith, one by one, all dozen strangers plus Smith dying of heat exhaustion, or one by one dying of oxygen depletion, and one by one the dozen strangers plus Smith die because they happened to be riding inside an elevator with a malfunctioning emergency call button stuck between floors?
All of these possibilities having in the past occurred, Smith, despite knowing better than to turn on the local or national news, be it local or national news transmitted via local newspaper, or national newspaper, or local evening television news, or national morning television news, or local newspaper online blog, or national newspaper online blog; despite Smith knowing better than to check in on local or national news, Smith inevitably comes across such stories or articles detailing such events.
Though the rational side of Smith recognizes that such occurrences happen but rarely, Smith cannot help but reason thusly: Can anyone guarantee to Smith, or guarantee to anyone else for that matter, can anyone guarantee beyond the shadow of a doubt that neither Smith nor anyone else will not meet the same or a similar end as any of those described before?
Who will – nay, who can deliver on such a promise that neither Smith nor anyone else, for that matter, will not meet the same nor a similar end as any of those imagined?
Approaching the elevator outside his grandmother’s apartment Smith mentally spits in the face of the images in his head of heads sliced to pieces like deli meat, of blood or brain particles or pulverized bone, Smith mentally spits in the face of such dangers that might arise on his mission to obtain for his grandmother a Cuban sandwich from the Cuban restaurant around the corner from his grandmother’s apartment.
Such is the love that he bears her; such is the confidence Smith possesses that he can live forever if he so chooses.
Such is Smith: a closed system, full of internal contradictions, yet perfectly consistent, perfectly logical, perfectly obedient to the demands of survival, and subject to the side-effects of human evolution, as we all, each one of us, are.