Cleaning Up




Desdemona looked out the window as the underground bus drove swiftly from stop to stop. She wished she’d taken a different line so that there would have been traffic. She watched the unsuspecting faces of the people boarding the bus, wondering what they would think of her if they knew. She arrived at her stop and walked toward the address as slowly as possible, maybe they would fire her if she was late to her first day of work.

She had been unemployed for nine months and her unemployment had ended several weeks before, she’d had no choice but to take this job. She could hear the music thumping when she got there. She wrapped her shirt sleeve around her hand and opened the door.

Abigail, her new boss was waiting for her behind the bar. Desdemona thought she looked even heavier than when she’d met her a week ago. The many tattoos she sported on her flabby arms seemed to swing around with reckless abandon as she cleaned glasses and shelved, the bottles of fancy booze on the wall behind her. Abigail looked a bit thicker and her glasses appeared to be dirtier than they were last week.

She smiled warmly and told Desdemona to take off her coat and hang it in the storage room. No one had arrived at the bar yet. The DJ, a tall thin man who looked like he had just been thawed out from a cryogenic freezing that had taken place in the mid-seventies, was preparing his set for the night. He danced around enthusiastically to the Britany Spears tune that he was currently spinning.

“Glad to see you made it on time,” said Abigail. “Let’s go downstairs and I’ll show you where everything is.”

Desdemona’s stomach tightened as the older woman led the way down the narrow staircase that led to the basement. The walls were lined with old Playboy and Penthouse center folds. They walked into the lounge area which contained several sofas and a couple of easy chairs.

“So this is where people generally sit when they first come downstairs she said. You want to keep a close watch on this area. You have upholstery cleaner in your bag. If anything gets stained scrub it up before the next person sits there.  The private rooms are back here.  As soon as one couple leaves be sure to change the sheets and spray everything down right away. It can get tricky if it’s crowded, because sometimes they’ll be so many people around the viewing window that it’s hard to see what’s going on. Also sometimes one couple will get started and others will join in, if that happens wait until its twenty minutes after the original couple leaves. Remember there’s no nudity at the buffet and no sex on the floor. If anyone breaks a rule come upstairs and get a security guard.”

Desdemona sat upstairs waiting for the first guest to arrive and hoping time would freeze. She looked in one of the many mirrors at herself. Short, a little plump, nice long dark hair clad in a white shirt and black skirt she was told to wear, she looked like a secretary.

An elderly couple made their way down stairs, smiled at her and sat on one of the couches. She watched in horror as they began to finger each other. More people began to arrive. She stood in the corner and tried to go unseen emerging only when absolutely necessary to do her job. She tried not to   look at the collection of paunchy, middle aged people who were coupling all around her. Fortunately there were not that many people around the viewing windows and she was able to see when a couple was leaving.  She dashed out of the shadows and made the bed as quickly as humanly possible. Several men eyed her and a few asked her if she wanted to go into a room. She had never been the most attractive person in a bar in her life. She told them she couldn’t and went on about her business.

While dashing from a room back to her corner she noticed a man walking around the room looking at everyone and masturbating as he walked. He was slightly more normal looking than the rest of the men there. He was tall and skinny, with a long plain face, but his face was shaven and he appeared to have showered. She suddenly realized she’d seen him before. It was her high school history teacher Mr. Kramer. He caught sight of her and the two of them stared at each other for a long moment. He zipped up and ran out of the club.

She got off of work just as the sun was coming up. The swingers were enjoying their breakfast buffet as she left. As she rode the bus home she thought this might not be such a bad job after all.


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