He kissed the elevator boy.
Well, he was trying to kiss him. The elevator boy—not really a boy, but a young man twenty-one years of age with an angelic face from the Midwest—did not want to be kissed. Anton, the man trying to kiss the elevator boy with the angelic face, was a little drunk, as were his two friends who were laughing at his antics. That’s the word they used with the police, before they realized they should shut up.
Oh, Anton, you rascal.
Anton was always a little crazy, causing trouble. They got off the elevator and went to the rooftop bar to have a few drinks and dinner. About thirty minutes later, as their foie gras appetizer was arriving, the police arrived and arrested Anton for sexual assault.
This was a problem, Anton’s lawyers explained, because not only was he facing sexual assault charges that if convicted would require him to register as a sexual offender for the rest of his life, but even if he didn’t serve any time in prison he would likely be removed from the country because as a foreign national he was here living under O-1 status, and US immigration law didn't look kindly on sexual assault.
The mother of the young man with the angelic face was an attorney in the Midwest. She was the one who told her son to call the police, even though the hotel management told him not to. A colleague of hers in New York was working with her on the case, deciding whether to file a lawsuit against her son’s employer and also Anton.
We watched the video. It showed Anton groping the elevator boy, trying to kiss him, and the elevator boy pushing him away. Anton grabs the elevator boy’s butt as he leaves and his two friends are laughing.
Oh, Anton, they say. Oh, Anton.
Anton came into our office. He looked tired with dark circles under his eyes. He had a headache, he said, a terrible headache. We brought him Advil. He took the pills and swallowed them without water, which impressed me. I could never do that.
We have to get these charges reduced, my boss said. Otherwise after the criminal portion of the case is concluded you’ll likely be put in removal proceedings.
Anton was staring out the window at the workers next door. A large crane was picking up huge pieces of metal and moving them twenty feet.
Your fears become worse as you get older, he said, suddenly.
Pardon? my boss said.
Just fix it, he said. My whole life is here, I can’t leave. I’m not ready. Fix it.
When he left with his criminal attorney I stayed in my boss’s office.
I hate that man, she said.
What’s going to happen to him?
He has a good criminal lawyer so he should be fine. He’ll just have to pay off the boy. That’s probably the best way. Give him some money to go away, and all his problems will be solved.
Money is great, I said. Isn’t it? Isn’t money wonderful?
Sure, it’s great, she said. I love it.
Yeah, I like money, I said. I like it a lot.
I heard a loud crack, and looked out the window. The crane was coming our away. It was crashing toward us.
We didn’t have time to move before it smashed into our building. It hit the upper floors first, killing two people on the fifth floor. The building shook, a bookshelf fell over, dust came down from the ceiling, but otherwise no one was hurt in our office, thankfully. We found out later about the two people who died from their injuries.
After I got home, still shaken, I poured myself a whiskey.
I was living in a tiny room with housemates to try to pay off my debts: my school loans, my credit card, my old Navy account—yes, that’s right, somehow I went into debt paying for Old Navy cargo pants during college—and so I was trying to survive. We didn’t have AC in my room. There was a hole in our hallway ceiling that hadn’t been fixed. The stove was permanently broken.
I thought about that elevator boy. I thought about Anton trying to kiss me as I pressed the elevator buttons. This elevator didn’t even need an operator, but the hotel felt it should have an elevator boy. I didn’t have an angelic face. It was a plain face; my pores were too big. He would never kiss me, not with these pores. I’d never be able to settle a lawsuit with him, get a few hundred thousand dollars in cash.
If I were an elevator boy I’d just be left pressing buttons. I’d press all the buttons. I’d make that elevator fly. We’d go up through the roof. It would be a glorious flight. I’d look down at the tiny city of Manhattan and all my debts and problems would be far away, they’d disappear. I’d explore. I’d fly to the moon. I’m pretty sure the elevator would go all the way there. It would be a hell of a ride. Oh, Anton, I’d say, before I pushed him out and watched him fall to the earth, you rascal.