You never know how much blood you have in you until it starts pouring out.
Take a full bottle of ketchup, remove the lid, tip it over, that’s how much blood there is, and probably more. I’m not some weirdo, by the way, I’m only this comfortable talking about blood because I want to be a doctor.
That morning I had left the house in a bad mood. I got in the elevator and hit the basement button, planning on going to the gym to release some anger. The elevator here is messed up, instead of going down it went up and picked up another person, then up again to pick up a third and final passenger. When that was done, the elevator stopped, the three of us are stuck now.
I hold my hands behind my back and lean against the railing. One of the other passengers is leaning against the railing on the other corner, he has pale skin, blue eyes, and long blonde hair, like a surfer. He laughs at our predicament.
The third man in the elevator is tall and slim, with a somewhat long white beard, like Santa-clause on a weight-watchers program. He turns around suddenly and scares the crap out of me.
“Sorry, boy, didn’t mean to make you jump.”
I nod my head to indicate that it’s okay. The third man isn’t even supposed to be here, there’s a two-person per elevator rule. The blonde man had laughed and let this guy in, if it was just me in the elevator I would have pressed the ‘close doors’ button.
“Looks like we’re going to be stuck here for a while,” Surfer-hair says.
“I reckon the power’s out, happens all the time around here,” Mustache says.
I don’t know why, but the way they talk made me angry, it was very bright, and I was in a crappy mood. The sun had woken me up this morning, not in a gentle fairy-tale way, we just hadn’t bought curtains yet. A bright light, then I was up for the day. My parents were out doing something. Since the move here, they were always out and about.
“Calm down, son,” Mustache says.
“What do you mean? Also, don’t call me that, I’m angry at my real dad right now.”
“I see, that’s a shame, you should treat your parents with respect.”
“Who are you to judge me?”
Mustache chuckles without saying anything. Weird.
“Samuel, give the kid a break, huh?” Surfer-hair says.
I look over at Surfer-hair, smiling at me like I’m a hot girl on the beach.
Mustache nods. So they know each other?
“You should text your parents, young man, let them know where you are. This could take a long time,” Mustache says.
“Why not, my son?”
“No reason, they’ll be fine. I told them I was going to the gym so they’re expecting me to be gone for a long time. And again, I’m not your son.”
“You seem to be a tad bit angry at your parents,” Mustache says.
“Yes, I already told you that,” I say.
“Right, so why are you angry at them?” Mustache asks.
“What are you an elevator shrink?”
Surfer-hair laughs. I feel like I’m dreaming.
“Not quite, my son, but you can trust me nonetheless,” Mustache says.
What other choice do I have? He’ll just keep on asking me until I tell him. I’m a little embarrassed to admit why I’m so upset.
“My dad won’t let me go to a big party tonight,” I say with a red face.
“Is that all?” Mustache asks.
“Yes,” I say, “he doesn’t trust my friends.”
Silence, Surfer-hair gazes at me.
“What?” I mumble.
“Nothing,” Surfer-hair says.
Silence again. This time, Mustache looks at me as well. It’s too much for me to take, I think of something to break the silence.
“How am I supposed to make new friends if my parents don’t let me do anything?” I blurt out.
“What do your parents do for a living?” Surfer-hair asks.
“My mom’s a nurse and my dad is some sort of lawyer.”
“Those are good jobs, what are you doing in this crumbly old apartment, my son?” Mustache asks.
“Well, father, when we moved here my mother had to renew her nursing license or something, so she’s back to school. My father is looking for work, and I have a part-time job to help cover things.”
“What things?” Mustache inquires.
“My dad’s medical treatments.”
Mustache nods knowingly. Surfer-hair flashes his signature smile.
“Are you two related?” I ask.
The men nod their heads. They look and sound like a couple of countrymen.
“What’s up with your father?” Mustache asks.
“I thought we were talking about you two now,” I say.
“Consider this a brand new conversation,” Surfer-hair says.
“Besides, we already know each other, we don’t know you, or your father,” Mustache says.
My heart is beating fast. I don’t like being trapped with these two men. How far are they going to probe into my life?
“How long have we been here?” I ask.
“Quite a while,” Mustache says.
“Why doesn’t one of you call for help?”
“We don’t have our phones,” Mustache answers for himself and Surfer-hair.
Two grown men without phones?
“So,” Surfer-hair says, “what ailment does your father have?”
“Hemophilia,” I say, “and it’s not an ailment, it’s a disorder.”.
“Right,” Surfer-hair says, “and what does this disorder cause upon those it inflicts?”
“His blood doesn’t clot normally, so when he cuts himself he bleeds more than usual.”
“Is that a genetic thing, er, disorder I mean?” Mustache asks.
“Yes,” I say, “but he can’t pass it on to me, women are the carriers.”
“What do you want to be when you grow up, son?” Mustache asks.
“I’m not your son,” I say.
“Sorry, a force of habit. So, what do you wanna do, boy?”
“I want to be a doctor,” I say.
“Yeah, I thought so,” Mustache says.
I thought so. Like he knows enough about me to take an educated guess about my future career choice. I need to balance things out and find out more about them.
“Why were you two headed down in the first place?” I ask in a casual tone.
“That’s none of your business, son,” Mustache says.
“We’re not that interesting,” Surfer-hair adds, “he’s old and looks like Sam Elliot with a beard, and I look like an extra from a teen-beach movie. I reckon that’s as much as you’d want to know about us.”
“Why don’t you ever address each other? You’re always talking to me,” I say.
“You’re a clever one, son,” Mustache says.
His vague answer infuriates me, and he’s still calling me son. The only thing that hurts more in an argument than an insult is a compliment.
“Thanks, old man,” I say, fighting fire with fire.
“Speaking of your old man, are you planning on making amends with him?” Mustache asks. I frown, Surfer-hair chuckles.
“Why not? He was only trying to look out for you, this town is in the midst of a bit of a, well, drug crisis.”
“He doesn’t trust me,” I spit back.
“Ah, so that’s the problem. Do you love your father?” Mustache asks.
“Well, of course, I do, but…”
“But what?” Mustache encourages.
“He doesn’t listen to me. He’s planning on stopping his treatment until we can get settled in better. He could get hurt, not just from a cut or something, there’s internal bleeding too.”
Mustache offers a solemn nod but doesn’t probe any further.
“I’m also angry about the move, and the fact that he’s not letting me go to the party,” I say.
“I don’t think that’s the crux of the issue,” Surfer-hair says, “you don’t want anything bad to happen to your father.”
“Well, yeah, he’s my dad.”
“And you love him,” Mustache laughs, “that just warms my heart, son.”
Who are these guys?
“So, will you be going back up to your father now?” Mustache asks.
“Huh? I thought the elevator is broken,” I say.
“Look closer,” Surfer-hair says.
The buttons are glowing blue again.
“How long has it been working?” I ask.
“Around the time you called me old man,” Mustache says.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Well, as the so-called elevator-shrink, it’s my job to get you to talk. We were so close to making a break-through, I didn’t want to stop our session, son,” Mustache says.
I consider yelling at the two men, then I remember the bleeding episode my dad had this morning. He cut himself with a kitchen knife and bled all over the floor. We tied a piece of cloth around his arm to stop the blood circulation, and at his instance, we hadn’t bought any pills and didn’t take him to the hospital. Shit, I should go see him.
“I’ll go upstairs, to see my dad, and to stay as far away from you two as possible.”
“Good choice, my son,” Mustache says.
Surfer-hair presses the button for my floor, don’t ask me how he knew, and the three of us ride up in silence. I step out of the elevator and wave goodbye to these guys, trying my best to look resentful, even though they kind of grew on me. I go inside and hug my dad. He apologizes and says that I can go to the party tonight.
“I trust you,” he says.
“You know what, I think I’d rather just stay home.”