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11th Floor.

 Bartle Library

Bartle Library, Binghamton University, New York


The elevator is definitely accelerating.


Could the emergency braking system hold up under such pressure even if it did kick in? It must kick in. It must hold up. They surely have tested the brakes under all circumstances. E = Mc2. The energy required to stop the elevator is equal to the mass of the elevator and its occupants times the square of the acceleration. Surely the elevator designers took that into consideration.

Didn’t they?


Where the hell did that thought come from?


Family memories rush into my mind. Somehow it displaces the fear. Family memories are likely to do that you know; they displace fear. We humans are so strange.


The look on my mother’s face – – – when I asked her “Who was I before I was me?”

The memory of that look remains, like the smoldering tattoo of a branding iron on livestock. What would make her recoil from such an innocent question?


There is the birth of my first grandson. The mother looks tired but cheerful. The father looks bewildered but proud. I cannot see the looks on the grandparent’s faces.


People, normally, cannot observe themselves.


Suddenly another strange memory enters my mind. It is the 4 AM breakfast at Denny’s after we leave the birthing hospital. There are a group of students sitting nearby. The language is atrocious. I hope the manager is nearby and he invokes his power.

He does not.


Where does such a thought come from in these dire circumstances of mine? The elapsed time between floors is growing narrower and narrower with each floor. I should think more serious thoughts.


The sons have reached the age where they are self-sufficient. They have done quite well for themselves; not overly comfortable yet able to pull their weight plus some of the weight of their offspring.


The hunting and fishing trips – – – what good times we had. Tired at the end of the day but not too tired to tease each other about missteps – – – real, invented or manufactured – – – supposed missteps that had occurred during the day in the woods or on the stream.


The wife and I have separated; not due to differences but due to Alzheimer’s.

We have lived together, yet separate in our thoughts, for eight years. Then it came time for her to get professional care. How horrible it is to put your love of fifty-three years into a “home.”


It is just another nice name for an “institution.”


TOMORROW:  10th Floor