The police have already been through the place. The job is nothing more than clean up after the fact. Photos have already been taken so never mind what might’ve been missed. There’s still a chance to see the scene a second time, even after the room doesn’t look like a slaughter house. The job is erasure not preservation. If anyone wanted the place to remain a testament then that would be the job. As the matter stands, slop the mop across the floor, and get the sponge on the walls.
Yes, it’s a mess. No need to comment. All the words that could describe the horror have already been spoken; and the rookie puke is a sure sign this is one of a kind. No need to say this is gruesome. The cops were here for hours. They got their fill. So take the graffiti off the walls. Bloody runes, it doesn’t matter how quick they disappear. Cops must’ve taken note, and the gist of the runes is obvious -- occult overtones.
Scrub away the chalk outline then pick the brains off the wall. Take a sponge to the ceiling to get rid of the Latin. Gibberish as far as anyone is concerned, though a few years as an altar server made the phrase clear. Deus vult means God wills it. But don’t stick in two cents. Surely the FBI can make sense of a little used language. Get to the business of collecting skull fragments before the sun sets. Don’t want to be here when it gets dark.
One routine evolves another. This isn’t the first time such a scene needed scrubbing. With any luck this’ll be the last, though there’s no reason to think as such. The cops keep saying any day now they’ll be closing in on the fiend, but all they ever say is vague. The killer is a white man between the ages of 18 to 42 who might be fit or not with extensive tattooing or not, and he comes from a broken home unless he doesn’t. The profilers are experts at covering their bases without committing to a single possibility. If anyone ever gets caught it’ll seem like the cops were always within a hair of grasping the right killer. That said, the clean up catches little bits no one seems to have noticed. Fragments of lipstick on the rug suggesting an uncommon maroon, the empty slots on book shelves implying missing novels, and the plants clipped of blooms – push the rag Sherlock don’t think too much.
Days turn to weeks, turn to months. The pay is great. A flat rate for coming out followed by an hourly charge after the first two, and it always takes at least four to clean the mess the Reaper leaves behind. He’s walking artillery, a mortar shell that hunts for targets. The mess is often profound, and something no one wants to linger. It’s bad enough seeing the aftermath once, let alone having any hint of a reminder. Some horrors are best left behind.
Remember the days erasing the traces of suicides, murders, deathly accidents, and the general carnage which makes ordinary life more melodramatic than it ever intends to be. Then this whole nightmare started, and the other cleaners wanted nothing to do with it. Seemed like a chance to make some extra cash, but it soon became clear why no one else wanted to clean up after the Reaper. It always feels like the killer is watching, getting more and more pissed at the erasure of his art work. Hell, sometimes at the end of a session there are silent messages on the voicemail like someone called to leave a glare.
Every cleaning session involves stains overflowing with implication. The skull bits on the ceiling despite the fact the only weapon seems to be a corkscrew. 82 paper clips twisted into a kind of spike explain the arterial arc painted across the far wall. Another couch darkened by human grease leaving a silhouette implying a morbidly obese person. Shot gun speckles in the wall over a blood soaked teddy bear. Fragments give glimpses into backgrounds. Myriad CDs, a fridge full of homemade preserves, an inch of dust on the ceiling fan blades, glasses on the nightstand scratched to seemingly useless, entire bookshelves full of classics half finished, bookmarks noting where the reading stopped, cobwebs holding starved spiders, clothes in various states, pristine dishes set next to dirty cups – the suggestive elements of everyday lives. Never mind the little details, there’s a stain in the carpet that needs to be removed otherwise this house won’t sell. Buyers can get past the idea the previous owner killed his wife so long as there’s no sign it ever happened. But these Reaper jobs say so much without words; the pool of blood on the bathroom floor that turned into a trail, a slick running up the ceiling into one corner as if the body got dragged up the wall. Either the Reaper painted a swash with the body or else… don’t think about it. There are already too many rumors about the guy being a ghost.
And last night, half awake on the way to take a piss, it seemed for a second, a brief moment before eyes adjusted to the light, there was someone else in the apartment, a shade that vanished in the blink of an eye. Cleaning up after the dead, it’s a living. It’s just a paycheck, but considering how far it’s getting under the skin seems time to say, “I quit.”