He honestly never thought he'd find himself called back to duty. Lenny never sees it coming. His starched uniform hangs so far back in his closet, it's now practically part of the wood paneling. The cancer has actually made him a smaller man than he once was, so fitting into the old uniform, most likely, would not be a problem.
On his fourth visit to the hospital for chemo, Lenny steps into an elevator that quickly fills to near capacity. He finds himself closest to the buttons. The shouting begins; "Fourth floor", "I need tenth, please". The moment his finger presses the circular, indented number 'ten', Lenny can almost feel his white gloves reappear. "Twelfth floor, please", a foreign voice breaks from the back. All the buttons pressed and glowing, Lenny inches back and clasps his hands behind his back, settling into position.
On each floor, he removes his stocking cap and nods politely to everyone exiting, "have a pleasant day". Finally, it is only Lenny and a tall middle eastern man watching carefully from the back of the space. As he exits the elevator, the man removes his own stocking cap and abruptly turns back and faces Lenny.
"My wife has just passed. She was fifty-four years old."
Lenny grabs at the closing door, forcing it to remain open; confronting one another.
"I'm retired. We have no children and no family here."
Lenny swallows, nothing but dry throat. He nods slowly, thinking about the slow drip that will soon be in his arm. He thinks about seeing his grandchild and the cribbage game he has later that afternoon with his neighbor. He thinks about his wife, getting her hair done before coming to pick him up.
"Thank you for saying something to me, I thought I had turned into a ghost", the man says before turning down the hall.
Lenny lets the doors slide shut, travels up to his final destination, the 13th floor, and momentarily steps away from his post.