Detective Davies had called in sick. I’ve cleaned that man’s vomit off walls and his diarrhea out of cubicles. The man never calls in sick. Norovirus, blood poisoning, swine flu, he’s on duty. If he was calling in sick then I knew something was wrong, and I was the man to find out what. I finished cleaning the locker room and went to see my supervisor.
“I need to head out and check on Davies. He called in sick.”
“I’ve cleaned that man’s vomit off walls and his diarrhea out of cubicles. The man never calls in sick. Norovirus, blood poisoning-”
“I get the picture George. You’re not leaving.”
“What if something’s happened?”
“Not your problem, George, and it sure as hell ain’t mine.”
“So that’s how it is, chief? What happened to looking out for each other? What happened to never leaving a man behind?”
“Don’t give me that crap, George. I’ve got to order in more stock today. We’re nearly out of bleach and the detectives complained they saw another rat in their break room.”
“And don’t call me Chief, George. It’s Barry. Can you get out of here and check the toilets on floor three? They’re out of order again.”
“You’re out of order, Chief!”
I’d had it with this guy’s crap. The whole damn department was full of half-job Harrys, men who’d wipe a urinal once and call it clean. The whole damn place was getting a foul stink.
The last thing on my mind was fixing those toilets. I went straight to the fifth floor and into the personnel files. One perk of the job is getting keys to every room in the building. Ten minutes later I had Davies’ address. Five minutes after that I was on a bus to his apartment.
Nobody answered the buzzer, and when I jimmied my way in I found what I’d known would be there all along. Davies’ body was lying crumpled at the bottom of the stairs, a knife in his back and a puddle of blood on the linoleum.
Blood on the linoleum. None on the walls. None on the carpeted stairs (a nightmare to get out). Just the linoleum. Easy, wipe-clean linoleum. Anybody else would think that was a coincidence, but I’ve been working this beat long enough to know professional work when I see it.
A rummage through his pockets netted me his wallet and I spread its contents over the kitchen table. Loose change, picture of his girl, receipt for a bar, stamp book. Stamp book? Who uses stamps nowadays?
I flipped it open. One was gone. The laptop on his kitchen counter was giving me the eye. I opened it up and soon found what I was looking for.
It was sitting in the Recycle Bin. Somebody had tried to get rid of the evidence but not gone far enough to outwit an old bloodhound like me. Just a single document titled “Letter of Complaint — Kitchen Rat”. I printed it out and headed back to the department. I’d got my man. I needed to confront the Chief.
It was just past noon when I got back and the Chief’s office was deserted. I swore and ran to the break room. “Where’s the Chief?” I yelled to the two other members of cleaning staff in there.
“I think he went to get lunch.”
“Lunch! Of course!”
Lunch for the Chief meant one thing: a sandwich from Eduardo’s. The slimy jerk would get a sub and then head to the bar across the road to eat it. Unfortunately for him, the only bar he’d see today would be in a jail cell. Which he’d be inside. After being arrested for murder. The murder of Detective Davies.
I caught sight of him just as he was crossing the road. “Freeze, Chief!” I yelled. He turned just in time for my fist to slam into his fat, sloppy gut. He went down like the sack of shit he was.
“Jesus Christ, George!” he wheezed as he lay on the floor, “what the fuck is wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me, Chief? What’s wrong with you? I know you killed Davies.”
“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.”
“Oh yeah, Chief? And I suppose you don’t know anything about this either?”
I shoved the letter in his face. It was from Detective Davies to the company the PD’s cleaning is outsourced to, complaining about the rats, the constantly blocked toilets and the open hostility of the staff. I was referred to numerous times, but this was bigger than just me.
The Chief’s face dropped. “Hardly proof,” he said, “we get dozens of complaints like that every month.”
“Oh sure. We do. But does head office?”
“You still can’t prove it was me!”
“Can’t I, Chief? No blood on the walls? No blood on the carpet? Just on the linoleum? It was perfect, Chief. Too perfect.” I had him now and he knew it.
“You son of a bitch!” he screamed, still lying at my feet, “do you realise what you’ve done? I was keeping this department safe! I was keeping this department clean!”
“Then it’s too bad you got your hands so dirty, Chief.”
Three days later, the cleaning company was shut down and I was off the payroll. It doesn’t matter though. I’m the Janitor, and keeping this city clean is a full time job.