The Custodian

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

The clock strikes five. All the worker bees in Suite 320 suddenly come to life, shutting down their computers, tossing their empty coffee cups. Others lock up their drawers as if afraid somebody might steal their company-issued office supplies.

“Bye, Henry.”

“Have a nice weekend, Linda.”

“TGIF!”

Farewells among colleagues are exchanged; they give and accept their goodbyes like eager squirrels storing away their nuts for winter.

Less than five minutes later, the whole office is cleared. Sounds of rolling wheels break the silence as the little man behind a gray trash barrel comes in. As Head Custodian, he rips up all the computers, along with the desks and pitches them into the bottomless barrel. He has determined this last batch of worker bees does not work hard enough. They will not have a place to work when they return on Monday morning. He wheels away to the next floor to decide on the fate of the group in Suite 420.

Lost in Sleep

lost
You have restless legs, Felix recalls his doctor saying, as he finds himself walking around in his underwear in the middle of a busy street.

I have to be dreaming, Felix thinks because people seem to ignore him. He sees a woman approach him with a rictus that is supposed to pass off as a smile, but not quite successfully.

“Are you lost, dear? My husband used to fade out and wander off too. God rest his soul.” She takes his arm and guides him down the street. “Let me take you to my place; it’s just a short walk down to get you reoriented.”

Definitely a dream, Felix decides, as he plays along and allows the woman to help him. When he sees an uneven, worn looking building with missing bricks on its façade and a couple of windows with fine cracks like spider webs, he’s confident it’s all a dream. How can a lady who carries a Gucci purse and wears fine leather shoes live here?

But the woman acts like she’s right at home when she opens the door and leads him inside. The bright interior and clean spartan lines of the furniture cements his belief it’s all a dream. She leaves him thinking and reappears with a glistening cold glass of milk. “Here, you look thirsty to me.”

Felix drinks it quickly, not really tasting anything. He suddenly feels drowsy and again assures himself it’s only a dream, as he finds himself on a bed. His lids are weighing down.

He wakes, not knowing how much time has passed, and sees he’s now chained in bed, underwear removed. The same woman hovers nearby with the same thin smile. “You’re still dreaming, dear.”