A Dirty Job

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.”

Dam­nit, Chief!”

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.


Sure. Barry.”

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.

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3 thoughts on “A Dirty Job

  1. Pingback: Blood on the Linoleum, Rats in the Kitchen | Fingerwords.com