The Autobiography Project

Your Autobiographies

Jerome Wallace's Autobiography (submitted 5/15/06)


Owning a bicycle on the ninth floor of the projects was a big deal if the elevator was broken. Walk it down nine flights of stairs and carry it back up. Cherry red, twenty-six inches, fifty pounds, big white-wall balloon tires, chrome fenders, horn, chrome headlight. But I was lucky. The elevator was working.

I rolled toward the elevator and noticed the glass missing from the window. Sniffing the window, I smelled the musty air from the elevator shaft.

I leaned my bike against the wall, crept up to the door and poked my head through the window. The window was head high, but I had to tiptoe to get a good look. Hmmmm! I looked down. No elevator. I looked up. No elevator.

Pulling my head back inside, I stuck my arm through the open window, up to my shoulder, to see if I could reach the latch and open the door. Some of the older kids had learned how to unlatch the door, while the elevator was running, and cause it to stop between floors. Nope. Couldn't reach it. It was too far. My arm was too short.

Suddenly, as I pulled my arm back, the guillotine-like bottom of the elevator appeared in the window, from above, catching my arm at the elbow and squeezing it between the elevator bottom and the door while it traveled downward. It surprised me and it hurt.
I didn't scream. It stopped and the door opened. I forgot I pushed the button to make it stop at my floor. I got on and rode downstairs to ride my bike. And never told anyone.

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