Fred moved closer to Tina and said, “Your secondhand smoke would also hurt the people in the fiery elevator. I don’t think they’d want you in their elevator.”
“Yes, they would want me there. I could help by starting their fires with my cigarettes.”
Debbie stepped between Fred and Tina. Debbie’s hands were clenched, but her long red fingernails were still visible. Her shoulder-length brown hair was strongly frizzled. Her plaid suit and three-inch heels made her look tall and strong as she said, “Whether you think you belong somewhere else or not, it doesn’t matter. You’re in this elevator. Three of us are nonsmokers, and we need to breathe.”
“If I stand in this corner, most of the smoke will go out through the crack,” Tina said.
“What crack?” Kate asked.
Tina pointed toward the upper half of the right corner of the elevator. Where the side wall and the back wall were joined together, a two-foot long crack was visible.
Kate stared at the crack. She did not say anything, but her wide eyes and open mouth showed her anxiety.
Joe said, “Two other cracks are also in this elevator.”
When Joe pointed to two places on the floor, Kate looked downward and said, “Oh, no!”
“Even with these cracks, our elevator is still safe,” Joe said.
“If our elevator weren’t safe, it would’ve fallen before now,” Debbie said. She looked over at Tina, who was even more upset than Kate was. Tina had tears in her eyes, and her hand was holding onto her almost-finished cigarette.
Joe also looked at Tina and then asked Debbie, “Do we need some more music?”
“We definitely need music right now.” Debbie turned on her iPod. “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra began to play. Fred threw Tina’s cigarette on the floor, stepped on it, and then started to dance the foxtrot with Tina. The elevator shook slightly, but they continued to dance.
Kate yelled, “The elevator’s shaking.” However, no one listened to her. Joe and Debbie were busy watching Fred and Tina’s steps. After a minute of trying to learn the correct movements, Joe moved closer to Debbie and began dancing with her. Their steps were uncertain and erratic; they were obviously less experienced dancers than Fred and Tina. Both couples began to move clockwise around the small elevator. While the dance steps were almost too small, the dancers were still moving in time to the music. After the song ended, all four of the dancers stopped moving. At the same time, the elevator stopped its shaking.
Another song, “Get Down Tonight” by KC & the Sunshine Band, began playing on the iPod. Fred and Tina started to dance the cha-cha together.
Joe asked, “What are you dancing?”
Fred showed Joe and Debbie how to do a couple of basic cha-cha steps, and then all four people were again dancing. The elevator tilted slightly to the left before switching to tilt at a bigger angle on the right side. Kate said loudly, “You’re shaking the elevator again.”
The four people inside the elevator completely ignored her and continued their dancing.
Kate yelled, “Please, stop! The other elevators weren’t shaking like this one is.”
Joe looked up at Kate, frowned at her, and shook his head. He then put one of his fingers in front of his lips. He obviously wanted her to be quiet.
The elevator tilted to the left again, but only Kate seemed to notice. She yelled out, “I have to run.”
“You’re just trying to stop us from dancing,” Debbie yelled.
“You can’t dance in a shaking elevator. It’s too dangerous,” Kate said.
“This is our elevator! We can dance in here if we want to,” Fred said.
“You’re just psyching out because you’re stuck in an elevator.”
“You may be right, Kate. Perhaps we just need to feel like we’re free because we’re not really free,” Tina said.
Fred yelled, “Of course we’re free. We live in a democracy, which means someone like Kate can’t tell us what to do.”
“I’m just trying to help you—like Roger Williams was also trying to help people back in the seventeenth century.”
“No, you’re not like Roger Williams was. He was an advocate of freedom, not for people telling each other what to do,” Fred said.
Kate frowned. “Roger Williams did tell people what to do.”
“No, he didn’t,” Fred said.
“Yes, he did. He told people in the Massachusetts Bay Colony that they needed to separate religious activities from political ones, and he was completely correct. Separation of church and state became a part of our constitution.”
“Separation of church and state is very different from separation of dancing and elevator activities,” Fred said.
“I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I’m just trying to help,” Kate said.
Fred jumped up and down several times. The elevator shook each time he jumped. Finally, he said, “Especially since your boss is in this elevator, you have to listen to us.”
“No, you should listen to me. I also think Joe agrees with me. It makes no sense to jump around inside a shaking elevator.”
Joe said, “I only partially agree with you, Kate. You’re actually making Fred even more upset than he already is. Tina’s also quite anxious. Please, get away from here, so they can calm down a little bit.”
Fred laughed loudly. His angry face turned even redder. “You’re banished!”
“It’s the twenty-first century. You can’t banish me like Roger Williams was.”
“It’s our elevator. We can do what we want to!” Fred reached into his pocket and took out a gun. When he pointed it upward toward Kate, she jumped away from the top of the shaking elevator and moved over to the ladder. As she gripped one of the rusty metal rungs, she felt a rush of wind behind her. The sounds of screaming voices and scraping metal fell downward with the elevator through the shaft.