The noises of fussing began twenty feet below me, then louder, louder, until the elevator doors opened and here they were, two man-sized creatures doing their damnedest to impersonate infants.
“Becase bwa bwa bwuh bwuh!” said the smaller of the two angry men. They stepped off the elevator nearly shoulder to shoulder, but were obviously each trying to be the first through the door.
“Well der der der,” said the other man, leaning down into the little man’s face and making angry noises signifying nothing. Before I knew what was happening I was between them saying “Hey, what’s going on? I mean, fellas, yo!” (I didn’t and don’t say yo).
The little guy was about 5’5”, white, sporting stylish glasses with sleek, futuristic gray frames. he was wearing one of those tracksuits that whisper when you walk and hiss loudly when you’re really strutting. “I was just telling this freak that I don’t liked to be talked to, but he, hey! Don’t you look at me like–”
The other guy was walking away, but still looking back at us. His black hair was very messy and he looked sleepy. “Yeah yeah, you bitch! You better just run along or I don’t even know what I’ll–”
“You can’t call him names,” I said.
“You called him a bitch.”
“Well that’s not a name, it’s a fact. And anyway, I called him a little bitch, weirdo.” His eyes open and shut rapidly as he sprinted for the finish in some blinking contest I wasn’t aware of.
“See! See!” The little guy stomped his foot. I’d never seen someone actually do this. I wanted to put him in my pocket. “I mean, can’t I Just ride in the elevator without some freak talking to me?”
The other guy was gone. Where did he go?
“I’m going to call security,” I said, “And you can tell them what you told me and we’ll get it sorted out.”
“Yeah yeah yeah you do that,” he said, voice rising with every word. He was starting right into my eyes, then he took a step towards me, so I’d really get it, I guess. “I’ll tell them. I’ll tell them!” I still didn’t know just what had happened, if anything, but he was way more intense that made any sense.
“This is Josh on Level three,’ I said into the phone.
“Hey! Hey! Just in case that guy comes back while you’re on the phone I’m going to be over here because I don’t want him to come back while I’m right here or I’ll totally mess him up so I’ll be right over here. Or I mean, I’ll just totally wreck him.”
“Hello?” said the security guard on the phone.
“This isn’t urgent yet,” I said, “but please come up to level three as–”
“I said I’ll be right over here!” The guy jumped up and down. His arms performed a spastic semaphore. I waved a hand at him, but that only made him wave harder.
“–as soon as you can. I need you to hear one guy’s story and then another guy’s story. I have no idea what happened.”
The security guards arrived. When I pointed at the first gentleman they each rolled their eyes. “Sir,” I said to him, “Will you please tell them what happened? And for you two,” I said to the guards, “I didn’t see the whole thing, so I’ll just listen. It did seem like the other guy was being more aggressive, though.”
And so commenced a fiery and fierce oration. He really committed. He was so intense with his tone and gestures that I wondered if he might implode. I wondered if I would ever care about anything as much as he cared about the injustice he had suffered.
Here came the other guy, slouching through the aisle. “Sir,” I said, waving him over. “Can you come over here and talk to these two please?”
“I got nothing to say.” He walked faster.
“Sir, please come here,” said one of the guards.
The guy came closer and the two heroes reinvested themselves in the clash and clatter of battle.
“I just think it’s okay for me not to be spoken to in the elevator! I mean can’t I just get in the elevator without someone talking to me!”
“I wasn’t talking to you you little bitch! You wanna take it outside?”
“Please don’t threaten each other,” said the guard. “Can you two just stay away from each other?”
“I can. I was. but then he started talking to me.”
“He, the other guy, did actually seem more aggressive,” I said.
The other guy looked at me. “What’d you say, weirdo? You wanna take it outside too?”
“No,” I said. “Let’s stay in here. Well, I’ll stay in here. But I think we’re done for the day. We can try again tomorrow. Please show him out,” I said to the guards.
“Have a good night,” I said.
He turned so quickly that I could almost hear the wind whistling around him. “Good night? Good night? What are you talking about you damn weirdo? It’s eleven in the morning!”
“You’re right,” I said. He was right. I have no idea why I said have a good night. “But I didn’t say it to agitate you.”
By this point the two guys were both heading down the stairs. “You can’t agitate me, you little bitch weirdo. Try it!”
I walked away, but the sounds of their fury lingered, lingered, and lingered until it grew faint enough that I knew they had left the building. I walked to the window to see where they might go. They were walking shoulder to shoulder across the crosswalk. They walked with great purpose. They stopped underneath a tree on the other side of the street, near the steps of the Courthouse building. Some signal occurred and they began swinging and flailing at each other in the most half-hearted fistfight I’ve ever seen. Very few of the blows were landing, and those that were lacked conviction. Soon they were each bent over, hands on knees, gasping. They looked up at each other from this position. Another signal. They entered the crosswalk again, heading to the library.
The guards met them at the library doors. There was much shouting and gesticulating. Then someone came to my desk and I had work to do. A few minutes later the guards approached, laughing. “What on earth happened?”
“Well, I don’t know if you saw, but they went across the street and tried to have a fight. Then they came back over and tried to come back in. At that point they’d both been kicked out for a month for threatening each other, and us, and you, while they were leaving. When I said they couldn’t come back in they started yelling at me. But then they started screaming at each other again and I think they went off to have another fight.”
“Who do you think won?” I said.
He just shook his head and laughed. “Oh man,” he said. “That’s the wrong question.”
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25103209@N06/