Vertical Hold

This started in a discussion with Remittance Girl, and became a bit of a writer’s challenge. Her most excellent take on the scenario is The Virtue of Patience. Here is mine. –Raz

Vertical Hold

Nine a.m. The year may start new for everyone else, but for me it is just another ride up to the 70th floor to another sheaf of reports, another season of accounts. It’s a long ride, and a crowded elevator, and the strange anti-social dynamic of never meeting the eyes of your fellow riders. I don’t even say good morning to colleagues on my floor until we get off.  Everyone waits, expectantly, smelling of soap, aftershave, perfume, watching the floor number creep across over the door, listening to muzak or iPods, invoking their own isolation in the crowd.

I’m not always the one to punch 70, but sometimes, as I’m pressed to the back of the car, I have to make sure. I could wait, I suppose, until lower floors get off and make space. But I don’t. Maybe it’s a territory thing. Maybe it’s a message to everyone else that I’m there, and you’re all going to fucking stop for me when it’s my turn.

So I have to reach for my button, past a shorter woman ahead of me, before I lose my chance in the press. I make it and lower my hand, carelessly. Her blouse is sheer, silky against the back of my hand, warm with her, and – I graze her nipple. By accident I swear, but I’m sure that is it. Even in the fleeting moment, through the fabric, it is hard. And then gone – my hand slides off her breast, and down to my side before I can flinch. I feel my own color rise, though. Embarrassing. I grimace, thankful for the first time for the drug-like stupor of the full elevator crowd. I try to join them, but the back of my hand tingles. She stands just in front and to the side of me, my hand probably just an inch from her rear end. You ignore those kinds of touches in the elevator. You have to, or else there’d be a pandemonium of perceived assaults, insults, misconstrued signals.

Her hand brushes my leg. I know it was hers. I ignore it like it is any other. Only it isn’t any other. It isn’t fleeting, either. Fingers sweep over the front of my suit pants, and down, touching me. Fuck, touching my cock through my pants. And I am hard. You ignore that stuff in the elevator too, when it’s just you – it’s only polite. But when someone else – on purpose! It has to be.  I have to stifle a gasp. The spell on the elevator can be broken, after all, and nobody likes that. But what was she doing? Jesus. She unzips my pants, her fingers hot and searching against my boxers.  She knows exactly what she’s done to me. Now if not before. And my hand slowly, stupidly, turns toward her skirted thigh. To push away? To return in kind?

And then she is gone, pushing out through the door at her floor – 63. All I can see are short, brown curls and a pink neck above a cream colored blouse.  She doesn’t even look back as the door closes. I’m sure my face is still red by the time my floor comes up. I am certainly still hard, barely with the presence of mind to zip up, and strategically place my briefcase as I step out of the doors. I am agitated, edgy all day. Not that anyone notices. The work still gets done, maybe even faster than normal. Not that anyone notices. The elevator down is never as crowded, until the bottom. I don’t see her, though I look.

I don’t see her the next morning either, until she is there, just behind me this time.  I know it is her – I sense her height, and her fingers on my thigh are the same, I know it. And a scent – she is different than the cloying Channels and over-sprayed Drakkars. I stiffen as she reaches the front of my slacks. My body, I mean – my cock was already there as soon as I identified her. But she slows, stops, resting on my bulge as I stand there like a coiled spring. Waiting? Only after I force myself to relax does she move again, finding her way through my zipper to my straining erection. If I startle or tense again, she stops, waiting for me to relax. She can’t keep my heart from hammering, though, or my cheeks from coloring like a schoolboy. And when I press my palm back to her, against her silk-covered belly, she lets me. Her fingers run up and down by shaft – the portion of it she can touch through the boxers anyway, and every nerve she grazes awakens. Against her belly, my hand rides the rhythm of her breathing. I don’t think to move it until she pushes past me again. 63rd floor. I am useless all morning, sitting at my desk, staring at nothing, feeling the memory of her on my cock, on my hand. But I get everything in my inbox done, and then some. At home on my bed, I think about her, how I’d just caught the angle of her nose, the curve of a cheek, I expend myself, and sleep like the dead.

Wednesday, Nine, she is in front of me, I find when I turn around. I am all the way in the back of the car this time, and her hand is on my zipper before the door closes. I don’t startle or stiffen this time – well, except down there, and her warm palm presses against me, forcing a sigh from me. I have to measure it, make it slow, unnoticeable, directed down to her neck. One hand stuck holding my briefcase; I use my free hand to inch over her hip, up her side. Barely able to divide my attention between touching, being touched, and staying still, I find her breast, soft and warm under her blouse. Her nipple is hard between my fingers, and she stops, momentarily. I think maybe she is working to keep still now, too. I bring my hand down her belly again, and start slow circles there as she resumes caressing my cock through my boxers. I want to pull her to me, bend lower, and delve my hand under the waistband of her skirt, but I can’t. Not here.

Thursday, Friday, Monday again, and the week. I find myself hard in the lobby, standing before the elevator doors, hiding myself with my briefcase or coat. I search for her, but never find her before we are inside. I stand stock still, just another lone rider.  But we both know different, as her hand explores me. I try to trade in kind, catching a soft curve of her hip, or the swell of her ass before she disappears at her floor. I walk stiffly from the elevator to my desk. Her touch echoes in my body as I try to work. Her face, sharper in flashes and glimpses each day, carries in my head, looks sidelong at me through my ledgers. And turns to grin at me at night.

She is better at this game than I am, but I learn. At least I think it is a game. I think she thinks it’s a game. When, by accident or contrivance, I am next right in front of her, I, a statue behind her, flatten my palm against her belly, and slide down the fabric, under her skirt, to find her moist heat. And it is – hot and wet there through panties sheer and soft. I think it is because of me, and I lurch against her hand. She rewards me with a slow, warm exhalation against the back of my neck. Then, she changes the rules. Her hand, always gentle, teasing and exploring up and down my shaft, grips me, squeezes, pumps. Stops before I can stiffen, before I can gasp. My hand twitches spastically against her, fingers pressing into her cleft. I am, suddenly, a breath away from coming, strung tight again, as she slides from behind me, out of my grip. Her floor. I bring my damp fingers to my nose and lips. This is her, the scent, the taste I have noticed before. As the doors close, I see her bring her own fingers to her lips.

Work is a blur. Night is a blur. I can’t compartmentalize anymore. The elevator contains nothing but her, and we find each other, I believe by instinct. She is faster, more direct, more in control. She finds her way to my skin and grips my directly. She strokes me to painful hardness, finds and smears my precum on her fingers and my shaft. And I stand, as I always have, month in and out before, as if I were not on the verge of climax from nearly the moment I sense her – smell her nearby. And I can sense her approach now. Her scent precedes her, and lingers when she is gone. It is the smell of sex. Her sex. How can no one else know it? Fucking drones all of them. As I used to be. Thank God. Now, I am something else, though I don’t know what. Sometimes I can reach her, maybe only when she is wearing higher heels. My fingers learn her folds, and I have felt her squeeze them, betraying nothing but a bare breath. I taste her honey on them as I walk to my desk.

I tell myself I will follow her this time. Out on her floor so I may pin her to the wall, and look her in the eye as I kiss her, then take her. But then she is gone, and I am watching the door close. I make up my mind I will grab her and turn her to me this time on the elevator, and to hell with the other faceless people there. But when she stands next to me, reaches for me, I don’t move. I spend my day at attention, screaming through my work. My efficiency, through the roof. My superiors notice, but I pay it no attention. It doesn’t matter. My nights are haunted, my dreams, incomplete.

There is only so much a man can take. Today I will follow her out. Today I will have her. Or tomorrow.

Before you read and go, let us know what you thought. I promise we won’t regret it.


Latest Comments

  1. remittance girl says:

    There’s a lovely dark, dystopian quality to this story. I love it.

  2. Morag says:

    Having read both versions of the tale, I am torn in deciding which I prefer. I know RG’s work of old, so there’s the preference of the familiar. But yours – written by a man, I assume – has a greater degree of urgency and intimacy.

  3. thextraman says:

    Tantalizingly unresolved and a great read, just as RG’s version is.

  4. e_woman says:

    wow… the different takes and styles contrast beautifully, well done to both of you on this.
    I need to ride more elevators…

    • Monocle says:

      Thanks, e-woman. Thanks to everyone who’s stopped by from RG’s link and elsewhere. It was both challenging and fun to write.

  5. Ange says:

    i’ll have to read remittance girl’s version.your writing is so much more visceral when you write as a man.this was torturously,painfully delicious.

  6. Ashes says:

    Fantastic. Dark & haunting. I came over from RG’s site. Definitely worth reading. I may have to take a wander through your thoughts now ;) Thanks for posting

  7. max says:

    wow. i’m there. i’m him. great.

  8. J says:

    Wow…. Dark, mildly painful, exhilarating.

  9. Caryatid says:

    Fun! This is the first I have read your work; I came here from RG’s site

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