February 13, 2004

Final Product: A Boxed Affair

The entire short story...ending and all.

The pairs of footsteps stopped clacking the granite floor as the elevator button, tarnished yellow from too many pushes, lit.
With long gray hair in disarrayed braids, Grace let her cane thump faintly against the polished surface, heading toward the shadowed gold opening. Two people stood closely together left of the door.
Grace noticed the young lady first. A lady, maybe, but she played the part to Grace’s eyes well: the pink tweed was tailored to the best advantage of her slim form and her shoes matched the pink perfectly. Then Grace angled her gaze to the tall middle-aged fellow at the young lady’s side. With a neatly clipped beard and a prodigious comb-over of Men’s Grecian Formula, he insisted on touching the glossy lit button like a child caressing his favorite Aggie. Grace waited in silence, listening to the pair converse in the brusque tones of business.
“You see Mr. Fromwell, I have many plans that I would like to incorporate here. Fromwell & Fromwell needs someone to promote the image of wholesomeness in family justice this firm embodies,” the young woman gushed with a pink hue tinting her cheek.
“I think I am just the person you need,” she said with excessive conviction, leaning toward him, raising her eyes to his. “Just give me a chance. I’m sure I won’t let you down,” she whispered with a grin.
“Yes, well, we could talk this over for lunch. Are you free, Miss Faith?” a light baritone responded.
He stepped a bit closer and looked into Faith’s eyes.
“I don’t believe I have anything planned. I would love to go, Mr. Fromwell.”
“Call me Henry, please,” Fromwell said with a hesitant smile. “We could go to Georgiania’s over on Fifth…Have you ever been there before?”
A muffled ding called from the rectangle, and the slow door opened the dam of briefcases, suits, and pumps—a rapid flow that left as quickly as it had come.
Clutching a purse as large as her head, Grace turned toward the elevator.
The couple was already inside. Fromwell took Faith’s hand and quickly pressed it to his lips, then returned it to the small space between their bodies. A conqueror’s smile slashed Faith’s porcelain features.
Grace shuffled toward the entrance, glancing down between the cracks, then to the couple, as she walked onto the elevator’s carpet.
Turned away, Grace stood in front of them, looking at the grimy yellow buttons. Mr. Fromwell leaned close to Grace’s shoulder and pushed the button for the first floor, dingier than the rest.
“Do you need a floor?” he asked with indulgence looking down at her unkempt gray hair.
“No, I am going down too,” Grace said, fiddling with the strap on her purse as the door closed.
Sighing softly, the young woman looked to the tiled gold ceiling. “What’s good at Georgiania’s Mr. Fromwell—Henry?” she quickly added with an alluring smile.
“Well, I usually have the—”
Stopped in mid-sentence, Mr. Fromwell looked at the numbers above the door; the lights were between one and two. The elevator drifted to a complete stop sluggishly.
“Damn, one more floor and we would have been out.”
Now at Grace’s side, Fromwell opened the emergency call box and held the receiver to his ear, waiting for an answer.
“Nothing,” he muttered. “Damn people. It looks like we’ll miss Georgiana’s today,” he said, a frown puckering his shiny forehead. “I suggest we all sit. We may be in here a while.”
Grace knelt with a grunt, holding onto the gold handles that circled the interior and sat with an audible thud in the buttoned corner of the car, her cane resting at her hip. Following suit, Faith splayed her manicured nails over her Henry’s forearm for support, and then softly placed herself on the carpet in the center. Finally Fromwell sat with legs outstretched, crossed at the ankles, looking toward Grace with a newfound awareness.
“Well, we might introduce ourselves. I am Henry Fromwell, and this is Faith Aster,” he said turning himself toward Faith.
Grace lifted her head from her purse and nodded.
“I’m Grace Gibson.”
“Are you any relation to the late Hugh Gibson, CEO of the GI Oil Company, Ms. Gibson?” Fromwell asked.
“Mrs. Gibson, Mr. Fromwell. I am the ex Mrs. Hugh Gibson. I came today to hear my ex-husband’s will.”
“You see,” she said raising her head higher, her green eyes shrewdly scanning them, “my husband had an affair with his secretary about ten years into our marriage. It took me eight more years to divorce him, but I did it.”
“I am very sorry,” Fromwell said in an overly sympathetic tone. “He was one of our best clients; my brother handled his case specifically. I am so sorry for your loss.”
“Well, yes I am too,” an edge rising in her voice.
Readjusting her leather purse handles, she said quietly, “And then I left his little mansion over on Camille Avenue. I was alone. No man. No money. That’s what it was like back then. Couples didn’t get divorced,” she said as if reciting from a rule book.
Shifting her girth on the carpet, she fixed her eyes on the door.
“My family, everyone that I loved, was gone—including him. I did love him.”
“His secretary,” Faith interrupted, combing her long blond strands through her fingers, her eyes fixed on the split ends. “That must have really hurt. Such a cliché.”
“Well honey, the movies got that cliché from people like us. He lived with her for fourteen years after we divorced, quite the ‘modern’ couple,” she said with an ironic smile, tilting her head back. “I was quite surprised to hear from his lawyer when he died last Tuesday.”
“What happened?” Faith said, leaning her elbow on her crossed knee, looking closely at Grace.
“You mean today?” Grace asked.
“Yes,” Faith responded flipping her hair back from her face.
Grace opened her mouth to speak when squealing cables sounded overhead.
“Looks like we’re getting out of here,” Fromwell said.
“Yes, it would appear so,” said Grace, gathering her skirts. Fromwell grabbed her arm, helping her rise from her sitting position. Grace fixed her eyes on his left hand.
“What a beautiful band, Mr. Fromwell. How long have you been married?” Grace asked, slinging her purse over a shoulder.
“Um…s-seventeen years, I believe.” Fromwell responded.
Faith looked at him unflinchingly.
“And you, Faith—was it? How about you?” Grace said, causing Faith to blink.
“No, I am not married,” she said with a blush.
The elevator began to move, and the light flicked to one and slowly opened.
“Did you receive anything in the will, Mrs. Gibson?” Mr. Fromwell said, allowing her to step out before him.
“Why yes,” she said walking slowly to the revolving door in the lobby, her cane thumping once more. “He gave me everything: the company, the stocks, the houses. But it doesn’t mean anything now.”
A lone tear welled up in her wrinkled eye and settled on her gray hair.
“He taped it all, you know,” Grace said, another tear escaping her left eye’s corner, “on one of those VCR things. He made it about a year ago… He said he’d loved me all of those years, regretted every moment we had apart. He was too ashamed, too old to try again…We both were.”
She stepped inside the revolving door compartment and quickened her deliberate step with the swinging pace of the door.
Grace waited outside the building on a rusting metal bench when Faith left alone, a frown marring her comely visage. Mr. Fromwell stepped out of the building, a cell phone to his ear. Grace watched him pass—listening—a small smile smoothing her wrinkled face.
“No, honey,” Grace heard on the wind, “I won’t be having lunch at Georgiana’s today.”

Posted by Amanda Cochran at February 13, 2004 4:48 PM

Very Very intresting Amanda. Unfortunately Mr. Fromwell did not get some today, but seriously how long could that last. It really does make you think, but men are just so perverted

Posted by: Cassey Hauser at February 14, 2004 1:11 PM

Maybe he will later. He is supposedly going home--to his wife. But is he really?

Posted by: Amanda at February 14, 2004 6:39 PM

Actually to fully end the story.
Mr. Fromwell walked into the street. The bus driver coming down the road knew what dirty scum Mr. Fromwell was and slammed the gas instead of the brake. His body flew, momentarily a bird, before he landed in a construction site. The cement poured over top of him, now forever to be walked upon by people better then himself. :) The end. I love happy ending...aww.

Posted by: Puff at February 15, 2004 6:08 PM

Amanda, I posted the revised God's Bowling Alley under a post called UPDATE!!!! Sorry if you couldn't find it...Thanks again!

Posted by: Tiffany at February 16, 2004 12:48 AM

I finally got some time to read it, and I'm glad that I did. You didn't let me down :)

(Missing a few commas here and there, and you use "well" frequently enough that it's noticeable, but otherwise, I totally enjoyed it!)

Posted by: Karissa at February 16, 2004 1:44 PM

Thanks Karissa. I will mark that one down. I say that in a lot in e-mails and it has sneaked into my dialogue! Merci, ma amie.

Posted by: Amanda at February 16, 2004 7:09 PM
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