Yet here she is. A rock star. A legend. How could he not be proud of the person, GaGa, what she’s been able to achieve, a disappearing friend reborn as a star… reborn without him. What, would he have preferred for her to wait? To wallow with him as he burned his time away in droves, through the destructive relationships and the sabotages and squandering of his own talent? If the choice was between one of them being successful and neither of them being successful, why can’t he embrace the obvious preference? Why is it not obvious? The kind of friendship he and Stefani had, it had been the essential kind, the talk-about-anything-honestly kind, the laugh-hard-at-stupid-things kind that was meant to be lifelong. But what a force, success, attacking each side of a friendship, carrying the chosen away on the wings of white steeds while emphatically relegating the forsaken to the daily shock of the real world, where pain, not magic, is life force.
Sammy works his fingers into the vertical crevice between the chrome doors and pries them apart, revealing only a fully expansive concrete wall. Near the top of the giant concrete rectangle before him is the edge of some black, rubber fitting. He guesses the next floor up must be only inches above, but in the elevator’s current freeze, there isn’t even the smallest horizon of clearance. They are stuck squarely between floors like souls at the peak of limbo. Sammy sighs.
“I don’t know what else to do,” he says. “What do you think?”
She’s staring at the floor, moving not at all save for the lids of her eyes, their heavy three-inch lashes beating slowly to unheard rhythms. She doesn’t answer.
Sammy hikes his right foot up onto the side railing in the corner of the elevator and pushes off with the opposite foot. He stabilizes himself with right foot on the rail and hands on the white plaster ceiling. He pushes upwards and around, looking for the famous slide-away panel that cinema tells him will surely be there.
“Nothing. Not a budge.” He hops down. GaGa is staring at the floor, seemingly oblivious to Sammy’s efforts. “Wow, weren’t you just screaming a second ago? Are you taking an emergency meditation break or something?” No answer. “It’s starting to worry me a little, actually. We’re stuck. Just like you said we were going to be.”
“Any ideas?” Sammy asks again.
“Hey? GaGa. You ok?”
Her head remains still and bent downwards. A tear rolls down under her eye and drops from the crest of her cheek to the floor.
“GaGa?” Sammy steps closer to her. He wants to touch her. It would be normal for him to touch her now, he thinks, on the shoulder, gently, like he would have back in high school. His thumbs go into his back pockets and he regards her quizzically.
She sinks down against the wall until her butt is planted on the floor. Her arms wrap around her shins, pulling her thighs inward, protectively, against her chest.
“GaGa?” Sammy says again to this now compacted, leggy entanglement of an apparently mute rock star. “Ok, this isn’t funny. I need you to tell me what’s wrong with you.”
“What does it want?” she says without looking at Sammy. Her voice is cold. Her eyes continue studying the floor.
What does it want? What the hell is that supposed to mean? “GaGa?” Sammy squats slowly and sits on the floor, facing her, trying to get her to at least look up, to look at him. Her eyes remain anchored to the corner of the floor carpet, black lashes thumping away mindlessly like curtains beaten by an unseen wind roaming about the elevator’s stagnation. “GaGa, what does what want?...Hey… Do you even here me?”
Sammy waits, patiently again for her to reply. She doesn’t. He’s never seen her act like this before. He stands and goes back to the silver doors and bangs and shouts, “Hey, SHE NEEDS HELP! IT’S STEFA… IT’S LADY GAGA AND SHE NEEDS HELP. SHE’S… LIKE, HAVING A PANIC ATTACK!!... OR SOMETHING, I DON’T FUCKING KNOW!”
<<See tsip.org for more information on this project>>