This Just Stinks

Standing now, shaking flecks of plaster and brick from his hair, Max walked tentatively toward the gaping hole where once the elevator doors stood, mindful of the rubble strewn across the hallway. There was no sign of Ralphie, or the cop, or the dark, hooded figures…

Did he remember that correctly? Had there truly been dark, hooded figures in the hallway? The last day or so melted in his memory like so much rainwater streaming down the windowpanes of his friend’s apartment building. A ringing persisted in his left ear, bothersome that.

A crowd of startled faces appeared from Ralphie’s open doorway behind Max. Various neighbors on the floor began filing out, a quiet rumble of questions and exclamations emanating from them as they gathered, transfixed by the aftermath of what seemingly was some kind of explosion. Was it terrorists? A gas leak?

Though Max hadn’t invited him, the elderly gentleman from 9A was suddenly at his elbow, peering down the ruined shaft. The scent of oil and burning electrical wires assaulted their senses. The old man muttered, “how positively noisome.”

Max looked at him, blinking.

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