Six Stories

by Paul de Denus

The First Floor

O.H. stepped from the bus wearing the look of a man about to perform a usual routine. Entering the building, the gray-lit lobby silently greeted him, absorbed him like a ghost. His appointment wasn't until later so he took time to gather himself, smoothing his thinning hair, adjusting the collar of a crisp short-sleeve shirt. The stairs were on the east side and he listened to the soft echo of his shoes as they clocked against the marble floor, followed the slow tap of his heart up the long stairway. His mind was free to task and he issued a quiet whistle through his teeth as he ran through mental notes. His mouth snapped shut when voices floated down from above.


Up To The Second Floor

He entered the cafeteria where several fellow workers milled about. A Negro woman wiping down one of the tables looked his way, offered only a blank stare. He wasn't hungry but his throat was dry. He dropped coin into the vending machine slot, punched a Coke. At the foot of the stairs, he glanced back into the cafeteria. He wondered if it might be a good idea to eat lunch first.


Reaching The Third Floor

Reaching the third floor landing, a man and woman approached. O.H. had seen them before; they worked in accounting. They passed by without a glance, without acknowledgement, without a whisper. The lack of interaction emboldened him. He was not a part of the crowd. He was the ghost, an outsider, and imagined it might serve him well later.


Up To The Fourth Floor

The fourth floor was open and empty save for long white tables and chairs running parallel to arched windows. A chalkboard silhouetted a dark horizon along the entire west wall. Out front stood a tall podium. He imagined someone important standing there, a leader, a thinker, someone like himself, talking to a young audience of open minds, drinking in new views and bold ideas. He saw them hanging on his every word. There was much to say.


On The Fifth Floor

The lights were out. O.H. stared into the darkness for some time. It was the abyss. Marina's face appeared but for only a moment. The thought of their daughter, June, flickered briefly before he extinguished it. Quickly checking his watch, he took the final flight.


The Sixth Floor

The floor was crammed with rows of brown boxes. Scattered across a table, book orders waited to be fulfilled. A tower of large boxes screened the corner window. Squatting low, he inhaled a deep breath, exhaled his rage. On the street below, he heard the motorcade, the cheers. O.H. raised the rifle.