The Elevator Pitch
by Mark Glenchur
The elevator doors clanged shut.
I did not say a word
To the other fellow in the car
But suddenly I heard:
“Are you that famous editor?
Say, I’m a writer, too!
You see, I wrote this manuscript—”
I thought, How nice for you.
Alas, he did not hear my thought
And babbled like a brook:
“In fact, I have it with me now.
You want to take a look?”
Of course I did. Why else was I
Alive, except for that?
I checked the panel: second floor,
Three dozen from my flat.
Then, from his knapsack he withdrew
A folder one inch thick.
At least it wasn’t two. And yet
I started feeling sick.
He proudly plunked it in my hands.
My feverish pulse raced.
Four hundred-twenty pages. Times
New Roman, single-spaced.
I had a minor heart attack.
No matter, chapter one:
“It was a dark and stormy night.”
My kingdom for a gun…
A plastic smile upon my face,
I tried to read some more.
I sneaked a glance; the panel said
We’d reached the thirteenth floor.
Thus, five-and-twenty floors remained.
I did not think I’d last.
Page two: already, he had killed
Off half his starting cast.
I fought the urge to rip the sheet
In twain before his eyes.
I kept on reading, but resolved:
The next such “author” dies.
I have to say, I’ve never seen
A rough draft so…unique.
I almost thought, at first, the man
Had written it in Greek.
But, fortunately, I know Greek;
I learned it as a lad.
Yet this man’s Greek, if Greek it were,
Was bound to drive me mad.
His grammar seemed a Frankenstein
Of Martian, French, and Dutch.
(Yes, I know Martian, though I do
Not really speak it much.)
His use of punctuation looked
Like dominoes, or Braille,
Or Morse code, or a gambler’s dice,
Or some Dalmatian’s tail.
And, in the meantime, floor by floor,
The elevator rose,
But, when I thought to tell him off
And speak my mind, it froze.
How aggravating, being trapped
With this demented loon!
I prayed the elevator would
Resume its climb, and would do it soon.
“So, do you like it?” he inquired.
“Please, tell me what you think.”
To be quite honest, what I thought
Has driven men to drink.
I did not tell him all I thought,
But part of it, instead.
“I’ve never read its equal yet.
It’s something else,” I said.
I handed back his manuscript.
He clutched it, fighting tears.
“Oh, thank you, sir. That means so much.
It took me twenty years.”
“Don’t mention it,” I said; “No, please.
Just keep on at your work.”
And then, the elevator shook
And started with a jerk.
Floor thirty-eight — Ah, free at last;
Such joy I never knew.
The fellow joined me in the hall.
“Say, this is my floor, too!”
What happened next, I dare not say,
Since there are ladies here—
Though, when I was, at last, arraigned,
I got off with a year.
You authors and you editors,
Lest you should, unawares,
Fall into my unhappy fate,
Remember: take the stairs.