Excerpt From Licked Clean
from LICKED CLEAN
The phone rings before I am awake for the day. My boss tells me about some indecent trash found in Mr. Dewitt’s office. There is a rubber snake around my neck that prevents me from breathing enough air. My boss asks, are you still there and I ask, what kind of trash. She explains what I already know. I lie and claim cluelessness. She trusts me, tells me to watch Sandra closely, says, someone with that many tattoos needs extra eyes on them. I say assuring words and hang up, putting the phone back on the wall.
Before we start in on the first building I climb in Sandra’s truck and sit on the bench seat and talk loudly. I say, cleaning buildings is what I have, cleaning and reptiles, that’s what I am. I live alone and I own lizards and I clean mixed office buildings at night and I am kind-of to okay happy with that routine. You can’t mess that up for me. I can’t lose that for some of whatever this is. Saying stern words is difficult. I rub my long toes against the tough cuticle of my big toes. Stiff sweat slugs.
Sandra peels strips from a string cheese stick. She points one end at me then her and asks what’s this? What am I? Her voice teeters between strong and total failure. I sleep on a mattress in my brother’s half-ass remodeled garage. This is his truck he lets me borrow. I fucked up a lot and that’s what I have and I look forward to work. I look forward to this so I’m sorry. She gets out of the truck and slams the door. She throws the half-eaten cheese stick at the windshield on her way into the building.
We clean separate floors and eat lunch in our own vehicles. The second building goes the same.
When Sandra drives out of the parking lot I follow her and tailgate the beat up truck. I honk and pass her and slow down, clog the lane. I am excited and assertive? With my hand out the window I signal for her to follow me. She parks her truck next to my car, behind my apartment building. I unlock the outside door and lead her up the narrow stairs, down the hallway with too squishy carpet. My feet were sweating because of driving like Lethal Weapon but now sweat because what have I done.