Piece of Cake
By Kamal Sunavala

It's a late Friday night. Six girls are returning home from a wild night out. Much champagne has been had, a lot of mussels in oyster sauce have been relished and the chocolate mousse was an absolute dream. The company was great. All in all it was a grand night. The girls call for the lift - alright, elevator if you're American - and it rumbles downwards. They are laughing as they squeeze into it expecting their blue chariot to whisk them homewards to the fifth floor. Only there is a slight problem with that plan. The lift wheezes to a complete grinding halt between the third and fourth floors.

The girls punch all the buttons and press the alarm bell as well. No one answers. There is complete silence for a whole minute which is a very long period of time if you are stuck in a lift. Then one of the girls meekly asks, "Shit, now what?"
     The second one answers, "Let's call the police."
     The third one says, "Nah, those bastards won't do anything. Let's call the fire brigade instead."
      The fourth one thinks she has the numbers but she discovers that she doesn't.
      The fifth one suggests calling the landlord but the sixth one, the wisest one, vetoes that. Instead she suggests reading the number on the panel of the lift and calling the lift people. There are two numbers. As the girls debate as to which number will respond at this time of night, the air is getting thinner and two of the girls begin to cough. Claustrophobia is quick to set in. Finally one of the girls grabs her cell phone and dials the first number. The only thing she hears is the phone ringing endlessly and disconnect itself. The third girl tries the second number. Someone mercifully responds. All she can decipher though is the word 'prosím' and she rattles off saying 'výtahu' over and over again and then remembering the word 'pomoc' as she tries to explain very slowly in English what the problem is. Then she clearly enunciates her street address when the phone at the other end clicks. They have been cut off.

The girls start shedding their coats off. It's getting warmer. One of them takes of her boots. The others follow suit. The third one peels off her jacket and her scarf and is unbuttoning her collar. The fourth one is almost down to her underwear - you have to understand she is claustrophobic. The other two start praying to Mother Mary and the Latter Day Saints respectively. Slowly the lights in the lift go off. The girls are now trapped not only inside a sheath of metal, tiny and claustrophobic, but also by darkness. They try to breathe evenly and think positive thoughts. They make promises about what they will do as soon as they get out of that damn cubicle alive. One promises to eat more vegetables. The other makes a vow to lose weight so that next time the lift won't overload. The other one says she will give up drinking for Lent although Lent has technically already started. The fourth one is getting delirious and says she will kiss a particular gentleman known to her as Petr because she doesn't want to die without finding out if he kisses as well as her ex boyfriend. Fair enough. The last one says she will never have casual sex again and this is God's way of warning her to stay on the right path.

Between the fervent rash promises, there is a sound. Footsteps. The girls start to scream. They scream help in at least six different languages. The footsteps recede. Perhaps it was only a cat. They settle down, quieter now. They smile at each other and offer pieces of left over gum. After about fifteen minutes there is a great rattling and the doors of the lift suddenly whoosh open. The girls are overjoyed but when they look at their rescuer they scream even louder. There is this great big hunchback of a man with a row of jagged teeth and beer breath smiling leerily at the six half naked girls. They don't know whether they should lock themselves into the lift again. They quickly struggle into their clothes and try to rush past him. He stands there, tool in hand, grinning at them and not saying a word.

Finally they compose themselves and realize that he isn't saying a word. Maybe it's the language thing again. They offer him money in the wordless language of money. He shakes his head. Then he slowly points to the foil wrapped piece of chocolate cake one of the girls is carrying. She is surprised but hands it to him. He takes it, tips his hat and walks away, his big boots thundering down the stairs.

The girls enter their apartment and pour themselves stiff drinks. They are speechless. They know that bad things could have happened to them. They know they have been lucky.

I say, let the Czechs have their cake. They don't deserve bread.