The 13th Floor Elevators

Alex Romanov 17 June, 2017

I lie in bed listening to music, trying to sleep. Roky Erickson sings: it’s a cold night for alligators, but the night is humid and warm. Half past twelve. I turn my pillow to the cool side, and hear a noise. It’s a familiar noise. Metal clanking on metal. Probably the next door neighbours on one of their midnight excursions to the roof of the building. I live on the top floor of a flat, and it’s not the first time I hear the stumbling sounds. It annoys me. It keeps me awake. Only three days ago I got up in the middle of the night to remind my nice neighbours I was trying to sleep, so please get the fuck off my roof. I lay listening to the ongoing clutter. Quiet again. Roky Erickson sings: you’re gonna miss me baby. Noise again. It goes on for ten minutes, and I finally get sick of it. Get out of bed, put on my angry face and my shorts.

‘We’re trapped!’ I hear a man’s voice shouting.

In the staircase the hatch to the roof is closed. Instead I see silhouettes in the elevator. Our beloved elevator. The painstakingly slow and claustrophobic joke among elevators. I knock on the door. No answer. I decide to violently pull at the door to scare them, but almost dislocate my shoulder. The thing is stuck. I knock on the door again.

‘We’re trapped!’ I hear a man’s voice shouting.
‘Trapped?’
‘Yeah, we’ve been in here for twenty minutes.’ Nervous laughter.
‘What should I do?’ I ask.
‘Can you go up in the elevator shaft and take a picture of the circuit board?’

What are these guys? Electricians? We exchange phone numbers so I can text him the picture. I go up in the shaft and take the picture, send it to him.
He shouts up through the elevator right below me: ‘Switch to battery power, then try switch B!’

I run out of patience and call the fire department

I try, nothing happens. I run out of patience and call the fire department. I tell the guys to wait, but they’re probably not going anywhere.
I wait downstairs outside, until I hear the low rumbling of a heavy engine in the distance. A big red truck comes around the corner.

‘Hi guys, got some people stuck in the elevator. Top floor.’
The firemen follow me up the stairs.
‘Unfortunately we can’t take the elevator,’ I mumble.

‘Why not?’ one replies sarcastically. It takes the firemen a few seconds to open the door. The inside of the elevator looks like a shoebox that has been ravaged by some panicking mice, the mirror lies shattered on the floor. The floorboard ripped up, wires hanging from the ceiling.

‘That was some claustrophobic experience,’ one sighs in relief.
They thank the firemen and me.
‘So what now?’, he asks his mates.
‘I could really use a beer’, the others respond. They disappear downstairs.
‘Hey wait!’, I shout, ‘what do you study?’

A moment of silence. ‘Electrical Engineering!’ A voice echoes through the staircase. The front door slams shut and I’m wide awake…