View Full Version : The Elevator Man

August 5th, 2016, 08:42 PM
Max Cady was an elevator operator working at the New York City Hilton Hotel. He was a graduate of Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire) and double-majored in business and psychology and gained a general understanding of sociology. After graduating, Max decided he wanted to use his understanding of sociology to work 'in the street.' He thought about being a hot-dog vendor and then a computer store sales representative before deciding to become an elevator-man at a nice hotel. Max realized that to be a handsome and respectable elevator-man, he would need an appreciation of hotel thoroughfare, the human experience of transit, gadget operations, and hospitality. The elevator-man job was perfect for everything Max was interested in --- general psychology, social activity (consumer-related), and casual networking. Max knew that people might wonder why a Dartmouth graduate, versed in the connection between sociology and the psychology of business, would want to work a street-thoroughfare job such as an elevator operator, but Max knew he was a 'poet of human traffic,' and did not care for a more sophisticated position in life.

Max worked six days a week (Monday through Saturday) and approximately twelve hours a day (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.). The Hilton Hotel where Max worked was very well-maintained and very professional, and the administration hired Max based on his excellent interview during which he described his interest in applying his understanding of psychology and business to delve into the world of urban traffic. The New York Hilton received many guests, businessmen and other professionals, diplomats, foreign tourists, and American travellers. Max became a very respectable elevator-man by the end of his first year of employment in 2002. He would make polite conversation with the guests who boarded the elevator he operated, and he would make relevant and simple and short appropriate remarks about the goings-on of the world and the amenities of New York City (e.g., "We're all very perturbed by the terrible 9/11 terrorism incident; we hope your stay at the Hilton is nothing but comfortable.").

Max lived alone in a nice modest apartment in Manhattan, which he found through a contact at the Hilton. He would come home from work and read mystery novels and enjoy Chinese take-out before watching a bit of TV and going to sleep and preparing for his next day's work. Max loved his job, and it nicely complemented what he liked about urban life, human psychology, and work in general. Max never partied and rarely drank and kept to himself mostly, and his co-workers at the Hilton came to know him as a steady and pleasurable hotel employee. He also received some nice compliments from the hotel guests who sometimes even thanked the hotel service desk staff for the congeniality of Max and the pleasurable experience of riding in the hotel elevator with him. His salary was fixed, and everything was basically perfect.

One day, an esteemed anthropologist named Stephen Williams visiting a prominent museum in New York and staying at the New York Hilton got into Max's elevator. Stephen noticed how professional and courteous Max was but also noticed that he was rather slightly and eccentrically quiet and reserved. Stephen asked Max how long he worked at the Hilton as an elevator-man and if he liked his job, and Max replied "Two years, and yes, my job is very rewarding." Stephen told Max he was doing a special lecture at a museum for the faculty of NYU and staying at the Hilton and anticipated a nice stay in New York, and Max replied in kind that he was sure Stephen's stay would be satisfying and wished him well on his museum lecture. Stephen got out of Max's elevator and stormed out into the streets. Stephen was sure there was something deeply wrong with Max but was not sure what it was. He found out from the hotel manager that Max did indeed work as the Hilton elevator-man for two years and was considered a dependable and 'normal' employee. Stephen did not believe any of it.

Stephen went to the New York Library and did some research on odd occurrences involving elevator operators in New York hotels. He discovered that in 1900, the Equitable Life Building in New York (the first building to offer passenger elevators) had an elevator-operator named Max Tillman who was killed by an insane guest named Thomas James who went on a gun-rampage after being fired from his job. Stephen did some more research and found a photograph of Max Tillman in public records. To his shock, Stephen discovered that Max Tillman nearly-perfectly resembled Max Cady, the elevator-man at the New York Hilton. Stephen made multiple hypotheses. "Maybe this Tillman was a past-life incarnation of Cady; maybe Cady is the ghost of Tillman who's assimilated himself into modern New York society as an elevator-man." Stephen realized his hypotheses were far-fetched, and he himself was sceptical of paranormal psychology or the idea of past-lives, but he could not get out of his head the feeling that there was something strangely reserved about Max Cady. Stephen decided to approach Max at the Hilton elevator the next day.

Stephen got into Max's elevator on Friday morning at 10 a.m. He pulled out his photograph of Max Tillman, the elevator-man who was killed in 1900 at the Equitable Life Building, and showed it to Max Cady. Stephen asked Max, "Isn't it strange that this killed elevator-man, also named Max, resembles you?" Max then turned to Stephen and gave a strange and eerie grin and replied, "Well, I suppose it's not as strange as the notion, Mr. Williams, that you are in fact the reincarnated Thomas James." Max pulled out a pocket-watch that belonged to Thomas James and showed it to Stephen, and to his horror, Stephen realized that it was a near-replica of a pocket-watch Stephen's late father gave to him before he died. Stephen had a heart-attack and died in Max Cady's elevator. Two weeks later, a news reporter got into Max Cady's Hilton elevator and asked him, "So, you were the working Hilton elevator-man when the esteemed anthropologist Stephen Williams had a heart attack?" to which Max jovially replied, "New York is full of ghosts."


Elevator Operator (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elevator_operator)


August 5th, 2016, 09:32 PM
Dude, for the love of God, stop posting summaries! Some of your stories sound interesting, but they're not stories yet. You have to write them.

August 5th, 2016, 09:57 PM

I know I've received that critique quite a bit on Writing Forums, but unfortunately, I think that was my final short-story.

I will definitely keep in mind the need to show and not tell and use the present tense more effectively so it doesn't sound like I'm writing summaries or presentations of stories.

Like for this story, I could've tried more tense-usage such as, "Max was considering a position at the Hilton..." and so forth.

I like the idea of creating 'skeleton keys' or structuralism conditions (sort of like ballet or break-dancing), so the theme is highlighted as if I'm a mime of sorts, so I can capture the curiosity about shadows and motion, but you're right dude, it comes off as brushstrokes about things that will happen rather than things that are actually happening.

Nevertheless, I'm glad people liked the concepts for the stories I've generated, so I'll work on my style before posting a short-story on the Internet again for people to critique.

Thanks and sorry!


August 5th, 2016, 11:02 PM
No, no, no, no, no! You don't get off that easily! I love horror fiction. You have a crazy brain that churns out some pretty awesome ideas. But thats all you have.
I need dialog. Action scenes.

Max Cady was an elevator operator working at the New York City Hilton Hotel.

Thats not fiction. Max needs to do something. I need action.

Max cringed as the elevator door closed. He looked at the wall of buttons.

"16," the well dressed man said, the looked at his watch.

"Yes, sir," said Max. He asked himself for the umpteenth time, how did I get here? Just two years ago he'd been studying sociology at Dartmouth College. He'd had a girlfriend, Amanda, and a dog she'd named Penzoil for some god forsaken reason.

EXPAND your sentences into story. I want to read this stuff.