Friday, July 15, 2022

The Janitor

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

detour ~ cygnet ~ Poké Bowl ~ cascading ~ golf club

They were submitted by: 


The cygnet swam behind its mother across the pond that bordered the old golf club. The two of them were in their own little world while Sadie ate her Poké bowl from the little Asian fusion place a couple blocks down the street from work and a half block shortcut from the pond. She often found herself drawn to this place like it was a santuary from the business of the city behind her and the mindlessness of her job. The golf club had long closed down so there weren't any rich assholes bloviating about stocks or politics to ruin the mood as they played around hole 8, the closest to the pond. And it was far enough from the street that traffic was muffled and people were scarce. It was just her, the quiet, and the birds.

Something was different about today though, and she couldn't quite put her finger on it. The undercurrent was different. She felt...

She felt like she was being watched.

And not by the swans.

Sure enough she looked around and saw some "gentlemen" standing on the unkempt green looking her way. They looked completely out of place in their track suits and black tinted sunglasses, but that didn't mean they were definitely here to mess with her. Maybe they just needed to get out of her line of sight so they could take a leak. Whatever. It must be nice to just stand around and relieve yourself wherever.

She wasn't going to give up her spot quite that easy and tried waiting them out. But they stood there. Staring quietly. And then one of them, the larger of the two, pointed his finger towards her and pantomimed shooting her before both of them erupted into laughter.

She tried to stay calm and finish her food, every bite feeling like a lead weight. The safety she normally felt here had been completely obliterated, and now she had to figure out an alternate path back to work, a detour of sorts, since the shortcut took her down a pretty isolated woody path between the old club and the street. She'd never once seen anyone on it unless you count Stevie, the albino squirrel she sometimes left a few peanuts and almonds for if she saw him around. She was on high alert and not taking any chances. One of the men could easily catch up to her there and very likely no one would even hear her scream.

So she walked around the pond to the gates of the park situated on the opposite bank to her lunch spot to put her on the street and in public for her return. She could be a few minutes late. It's not like she had anything too pressing waiting on her.

One block from the parking lot, she realized the two men were behind her. Walking briskly. With intent. She sped up a little thinking she could make it inside before they caught up with her and took off running as she neared the door. She tugged it open and made a leap for the elevator that would take her up to the 3rd floor where she knew people would be waiting. Of all the days for the lobby to be empty. Not even Stanley, the security guard, was in...


Where was Stanley?

The elevator doors opened just as the two men reached the front. She ran inside. Finding Stanley took a backseat to running from these two clowns. She pounded the 3 and watched as the doors closed. The men seemed remarkably calm for two dudes who seemed so intent on catching up to her, and then it dawned on her they knew now exactly what floor she would be on or at least what floor she would stop on. She never got a good enough signal in this building to dial out but she could still do her s.o.s. function. The notification would go straight to her mom, and knowing her mom, she would immediately worry and call 911 when she heard Sadie saying "HELP."

The doors opened on her floor just as the message recorded. She half expected a cascading wave of blood a la Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining given the way the day had already gone, but nothing looked amiss. She shoved the phone back in her pocket, and took a chance and left the elevator hoping her coworkers would know what to do next when she noticed how quiet it was. No typing. No one fielding calls. Milton's fucking speaker wasn't even blasting his stupid sports podcasts, and he usually had it one notch above the level of human decency for an office.

She walked down through the hallway. She peered into the first office to the left, no one. The right, no one. Each office, same story. Until the last. There she found them. Jenelle, Filipè, Larry, Madison, Ashlyn, Sid... Even Sid's dad Tony was there. Tony ran the whole building. He was dead. They were all dead or nearly there.

She was frozen. She'd never seen anything...the goriest of movies could never compare to the scene in front of her. She'd never get it clean. As the scream welled up ready to erupt out of her, a rather large hand clamped over her mouth. She hadn't even heard the elevator doors open. They must have taken the stairs.

"Listen, toots, you're going to tell us everything we need to know and you're going to do it quietly or I'm going to put you in pain you've never felt before."

He lowered his hand, and she couldn't help herself. "Worse than kidney stones?"


"Worse pain than kidney stones?" she nearly whispered.

"Much worse."

Shit. This is seriously fucked up, she thought. Kidney stones fucking hurt.

They took her into the office next door and sat her in a chair then sat on the desk in front of her gun pointing directly at her face.

"You move, doll, and you die."

She nodded not trusting her voice enough to speak. Her mom better get the message.

They'd pulled the glasses off and were giving her quite the death stare when one finally said, "so what's your job here, sweetheart?" A lot of pet names for men who were threatening to kill her...

"I'm the janitor."

They both shook their heads. "You expect us," one said as he pointed his thumb at himself then the other one, "to believe they let a broad like you scrub the toilets on one floor of a building during business hours? What do you take us for?"

She tilted her head to the side out of confusion. "Well, no... I do the whole building, but my locker and storage closet are here on the 3rd floor. I only really know the people here. Most of the other floors aren't occupied during the day much."

"You got some real nice nails for a lady who mops floors."

"I mean, I do wear gloves. Wouldn't you?"

"You don't smell like cleaner."

"Because before lunch I sweep and vacuum the empty floors and take out trash. I don't use cleaning stuff until after lunch. What's the point?"

"But you're... Tiny. Like a child."

"Ok and? I make $12 an hour. What do you expect me to be? Mr. Universe?"

The big one leaned over and whispered to the not as big one. She couldn't quite make our what was being said but they seemed to come to some kind of agreement.

"What can you tell us about your boss?"


The smaller one massaged his forehead a little bit. He looked tired.

"No, honey, Tony. You know fat tony? The guy that runs this building?"

"Well how was I supposed to know? Hes never really here. And calling him fat tony is kind of mean. He's just stocky."

"You want we should believe you don't even know who runs this place?"

"I'm just the goddamn janitor."

"You don't know Fat Tony of the Don Bilotti crew? Fat Tony the *second* most powerful don in this state? Fat Tony, your boss, who stole from my boss,The Bull Gravano, the most powerful don in this state. Maybe all the states. You don't know that Fat Tony?"

"Am I on like some new kind of candid camera show? What the fuck are you fat shaming Tony for? I don't know anything about Tony except he's Sid's dad and he technically owns this place. Ive only even met the guy 3 times and if you had asked him before you...before he uh died then he wouldn't have even known my name and then you wouldn't be asking me all these questions."

"Ok girlie do you have any idea what they do in this building?"

" stuff?"

"Phone stuff. How long you been working here? 2 years?"

"How'd you know?"

"Because we know. And there ain't no way Fat Tony hired an actual janitor to work in a front business laundering money. He ain't capable of that sort of irony."

"Excuse me, Mr, uh, sir, but I don't think that actually counts as irony."


She heard the sirens the same time they did. Mom came through! She was so predictably neurotic and it finally paid off.

The bigger one pulled the hammer back on his gun and pointed it at her, but the other one pulled him away. "Leave her. We can come back for her" before they took off.

That was fiveish hours ago? And she'd been trying to explain the whole thing to the police but apparently no one was ready to believe she was a just the fucking janitor today.

She sighed as yet another cop sat in front of her in the interrogation room. This one was playing good cop. He'd brought a sandwich and a coffee at least.

"Now what can you tell me about Fat Tony, Sadie?"

He wasn't even Fat, she thought. And repeated the whole thing once again. If she ever got out of this, she would never, ever take another cleaning job for the rest of her life.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

On the Border

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Climaxed Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, July 8, 2022

Molotovs > Fireworks

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 4 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. 

My “Secret Subject” is:

How do you celebrate the 4th of July?

It was submitted by:


I've answered this question before in a way, but that time I made it more or less about hating fireworks and having trauma related to my dad getting drunk and my parents fighting every holiday and especially the 4th because it's my mom's birthday. And that still remains true. Im not really big on the holiday at the best of times..

But I'll be honest here, what the fuck is there to celebrate anyway? Fascism? Loss of rights? Being terrified to be an out queer person for the first time in a fucking long time? No healthcare? Ignoring a pandemic? Essentially sending people to work in a pandemic to keep the capitalism train moving and then also removing access to free tests and vaccines? A president who won't even say the word abortion or at least didn't for his first 2 years in office much less have a real plan to address it? A president who, on the way roe was overturned and knowing it was coming like we all did, had plans to appoint a lifetime federal judge position to an extreme antiabortion Republican? A country that will make Juneteenth a federal holiday but won't let people talk about the implications of racism on this country's foundation and its presence in our system to children in history classes? A country who will give more rights to guns than people? A country that cares about the lives of babies unless they're shot to death in school classrooms? A country that will make every excuse possible for a police to kill an unarmed person especially ESPECIALLY if they're a person of color?

I guess it would be a lot easier to celebrate the birth of this nation if it wasnt so hard for those of us who live here and have been othered in it. If it didn't carry a risk of discrimination and death just for looking or being different. If it didn't mean old fucking losers with too much power didn't feel entitled to keep the poor begging for scraps and the othered to die with nothing. It would be so much easier to pop off some fireworks if Democrats didn't somehow hinge their 50 years of failures on Bernie once again or Susan Sarandon or those of us who ever vocally criticize one of their know the same party that paid for ads for an NRA A-rated, pro life democrat in Texas in no danger of losing their seat the day after children were gunned down in a school while the police (which Democrats gladly keep over funding) stood by in the same fucking state.

Fuck this country. There's nothing here to celebrate.

Whenever this country slides further into fascism, so many people always share that quote that says "don't fall into despair. Let this radicalize you." But somehow that means vote for the same people who never gave a shit about you to begin with and share bullshit meaningless memes. I'm sorry but in an oligarchy, voting is never a radical act. It's the very least you could possibly do.

Celebrate what?

A country still deeply in the throws of Satanic Panic and antisemitism? That still falls for conspiracies build on the foundation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion which we know was made up entirely to excuse antisemitism? A country so caught up in fear, exploitation, and the art of the grift that a man could spiral so far down the rabbit whole in a couple months that he became willing to kill his own children with a spearfishing gun? That could look his 10 month old in the face and think that was the best he could do for that child? 

A leftist spectrum that thinks making a Facebook profile named Lenin Bussy Marx and sharing low quality memes is praxis? The ones who have 392 comment threads on Twitter arguing about what a 200 years dead white dude would think about a grifting YouTuber who made millions passing off propaganda about the Syrian civil war? The same leftists who think any country that isn't the U.S. is fine and good no matter what they're doing to their own people?

And the worst thing of all is that we aren't actively attempting to address ANY of it. 

Will I celebrate? Do I?

No thanks. I'll be sleeping in and watching Scooby Doo and everything else can go fuck itself.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver

Part-time Working Hockey Mom