He was used to taking charge. Buttoning up his suit coat, he elbowed through the other three and opened up the emergency phone case, fifty floors up.
He waited looking above the heads of the small herd around him,
“Come on, come on. I’ve got a meeting to go to and they can’t start without me.” he shouted down the mouthpiece of the phone.
Thrusting out his arm to look once again at the face of his shiny Rolex his elbow connected with the back of a very red head.
“Ow!” the tall red head girl yelled. She stumbled backwards and fell into the other two all heels and skirts. A sharp crack was heard.
“My arm! Oh! My arm’s broken…” she sucked in her breath and exhaled with a pitiful sob,
“It hurts, it hurts so much.”
A dark nuggetty man stepped over her and spun the Health Minister around. He jabbed a calloused hand onto the Minister’s chest,
“Whatsa matta wiva you mate? Look a watta you done to my girl a friend. You bloody broka her arm. I’m a gonna breaka you bloody face hey! Hey! Repeatedly jabbing his finger near his face.
“We all know who you are an a we gonna sue your pants right offa you okay!”
The Health Minister, face steeled impassively turned and regarded the three occupants of the stuck lift. Not seeing anyone he judged of any importance or relevance he turned to the dark man and softly snarled,
“Listen Luigi, you touch me again and I’ll have your greasy face thrown so far in prison your cheap whore’ll be a grey old crone when you surface – get that olive oil!”
He looked back over his shoulder at the fourth occupant and tried a smile which he hoped would disarm her and show her he was really very civilised. Seeing his bared teeth and the strange grimace on his face she jumped back a step.
“No worries there” he thought judging her to be a faded timid nondescript old woman.
He played his hands out like a prophet and said in a deep sonorous voice used to giving orders,
“Just everyone calm down. They’ll be already looking for me.”
“Are you really the Health Minister?” the old faded woman asked softly.
He stretched himself up like a lizard in the sun,
“I am that Minister madam, the Federal Health Minister to be precise” and smiled that same reptilian grimace.
She nodded quietly and looked away. The redhead was still sobbing and the Minister hoping to retrieve something from the situation and maybe even grab some positive headlines, bent down to help her up to her feet.
He grabbed the wrong arm.
She screamed, “Roberto, Roberto he’s killing me, he’s hurting me”
Roberto passionate with hatred at the “Luigi” tag spun the Health Minister around and “thunk, thunk, thunk!” three solid punches to his guts. The Health Minister doubled over and crawled into the other corner. He extended his right arm straight at Roberto and nodded to the small gun it held.
Everyone stopped moving.
The lift started moving.
The old faded woman moved to the front of the lift and pressed Ground floor and then the lowest basement. The lift descended rapidly to Ground.
She stood in front of the Health Minister’s gun and indicated to Roberto and his girlfriend to get out, which they did with sobs and thankyous. The doors closed and the lift descended to Lower basement.
The Minister smiled deprecatingly,
“Why thank you madam. I didn’t really want to have to use this. It was just a precaution. Someone in my situation…well you know with all this terrorism and that, and a Health Minister is never very well loved.”
“It can’t be easy,” she murmured.
“Well no it isn’t. I could be earning millions out in the private sector with my talents.” He drew himself up as high as he could and tried his best to look down on her…
“Mmmm I have had wads of job offers from Health Insurers and private hospital chains. And only the other day one of the big four banks offered me a top spot, by way of thanks…er” he stopped babbling.
“What’s the matter with me?” he thought to himself. “Why on earth did I let that out
“You are that Health Minister, the Federal Health Minister?” She asked.
“I am madam. I am that Minister and very close to the Prime Minister.” Wondering would she ask for his autograph soon. It wouldn’t do to offer it without being asked. The faded old woman smiled gently at him as the lift stopped and the doors open. She fumbled in her bag and almost dropped it on the floor as she got out.
“Stupid clumsy old cow” he thought. He pressed floor fifty- four.
The doors began to close. An old hand appeared briefly in the space between the doors. A grenade dropped softly onto the carpeted floor of the lift and the doors shut
“Now you will be late for your meeting Mr Federal Health Minister”
She chuckled softly as shuffled along to her r old Hillman. “But not late for your own funeral you cost cutting privateer.” Mr Minister’s Government had privatised maintenance and security in all its buildings, schools, trains and hospitals as per the World Bank’s requirement and the business of making a profit made cost cutting the order of the day. Mr Federal Health Minister had been a most enthusiastic supporter
“Good onya Beryl. We knew you could do it. Now who’s the next hard hearted greedy bastard on the list Henry?” Beryl settled with a bit of a rustle and re arranging of clothes. Three pairs of wrinkled hands reached out to gently pat her on the back.
“Hm, well now let me see, that’d be the State Transport Minister wouldn’t it Horrie?
The little car cautiously poked its nose out onto Pitt Street and a chorus of “It’s a long way to Tipperary” from its interior made the people on the street smile.
A soft thud was barely heard from inside the huge building. It was barely heard from the opulent boardroom up in the sky, where the meeting was progressing happily. Only Roberto and the redhead heard anything, as the lift exploded just below where they were standing near the ground floor lift doors.
It was Friday afternoon and as the four working lifts sped up and down emptying the building for the weekend, nobody queried why lift number five wasn’t working. Nobody had answered Mr Minister’s earlier emergency phone call .
These days sometimes they didn’t get round to it.