Thursday, January 19, 2012

tales of the hotel st crispian, chapter 43: "Mortimer's theory"

by Horace P. Sternwall

edited by Dan Leo*

illustrated by rhoda penmarq

*Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History; Assistant Volleyball Coach, Olney Community College; editor of Say Hi to All the Gang: Collected Letters of Horace P. Sternwall, Vol.4 (1946-1950); Olney Community College Press, “The Sternwall Papers”.

Mortimer knew that people looked down on him.

He knew people looked down on him because he was an elevator operator.

A forty-two-year-old elevator operator.

A forty-two-year-old elevator operator who lived with his mother in a third-floor walk-up apartment down at Bleecker and the Bowery.

But Mortimer didn’t care what people thought about him. He didn’t care because he loved his job and he loved his life.

What more could a guy ask for?

Who needed a wife, or a girl friend? Mortimer had his mom to do his laundry and darn his socks for him. Not that Mortimer had anything against dames, mind you. Wasn’t his own mother a dame? And Mortimer’s mother was a saint, bringing up her seven children all alone after Mortimer’s poor overworked dad dropped dead in the rendering vat at the hot dog factory.

And now after all these years Mortimer’s brothers and sisters had all moved out and finally he had the old apartment just to himself and his mom. He would come home from work, and day or night his mom would make him a cup of hot Chase & Sanborn coffee and they would sit and listen to the radio while Mortimer read the sports pages.

Mortimer had lived his entire life in this building, in this neighborhood, and when at the age of sixteen he had first applied for the trainee elevator operator’s job at the Hotel St Crispian he had never ventured farther south than the Battery, nor farther north than the southern edge of the Central Park reservoir. He had never crossed either the Hudson nor the East Rivers. He had never been on the Staten Island Ferry, nor had he ever gone out to see the Statue of Liberty up close.

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