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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Bookshelf

A janitor goes to work and sees something unexpected during his shift.

Work let out early on Fridays, thank God; the monotonous drone of the suits and ties talking about their business was a little too much for the nighttime janitor. According to these well-to-do insurance agents, this particular employee didn't have a name. Yes, it was true that he is an employee and the check he received every month clearly was given to Elijah Bajorski of 15 Dalton Avenue, but to them he was nothing - just a stupid custodian who was devoid of both skills and worth. The lowly employee had accepted it as such.

The Ayres-Millet Insurance Company was just a few blocks from the custodian's house, in a little plaza just before you get to the highway. A Petsmart was there ten years ago, but it shut down for God knows what reason. It only seemed fitting that two young men teamed up and formed this reliable business - at least that's what it says in the commercials; it was around their six year anniversary that Elijah first started cleaning the place up.

It was 9:30 when the janitor realized that there was someone else in the office besides him. A flash of red hair caught his attention as he was vacuuming the floor underneath the workstation of a Mrs. Devereaux, a lady who was a complete bitch to everyone except her clients; she was on a Caribbean cruise though, and wouldn't be seen again in the office for at least a week. He continued until the entire gray carpet was dirt and dust free, but not before seeing more of the familiar auburn in his peripheral vision. 

It was 11 o'clock when Elijah Bajorski finally called it a night. After making sure that every surface was sanitized and cleansed from the muck of the week, he walked sluggishly to the company break room; he always kept his keys on the counter. The custodian was shocked to find that the room was occupied by an individual he had never seen before - at least not directly. His brain registered the familiar red of the young man's curly tufts long before anything else. Elijah didn't notice that the freezer door was wide open, and wasn't aware that a small black dog was laying dutifully next to her owner's left foot. 

"I haven't seen you here before," said the weary man, walking slowly towards the mysterious invader. 

"I haven't seen you before either," replied the fiery-headed man. His dark brown eyes stared deeply into the janitor's hazel ones while he straightened out his black bowtie. Even though his shoes were dirtied, he made a point not to let that bother him; he could clean them before the ceremony started. "Got in a little fender-bender," he continued. "Not a good way to start your wedding day." 

"Is a tow truck coming for you?"

"Oh no; I'm short on cash. My best man is on his way here for me though."

"That's good. As long as you have somebody to rely on."

The janitor, now face to face with this man, smirked at him before extending his right arm to shake the younger man's hand: a nice, firm grip. His new acquaintance smiled back at him with the kind of grin that usually has to be forced out of you, the kind that screams formality with a hint of pain.  

"My name's Elijah. And yours?"

"Russell Taylor. It's nice to meet you."

The handshake ended and the silence began; the two awkwardly stood there in place, unable to say or do anything else. Frozen in place, one waited for the other to make the first move. For a while, the only kinetic movement came from the ever patient dog that wagged its tail every now and then. Eventually, it was the janitor that spoke again.

"What time is your buddy supposed to be here for you?"

"He told me about fifteen minutes, but the rush hour traffic though... God it's bad around this time."

Elijah nodded, even though it was midnight and he knew that the townspeople would be nestled in their homes. He's not from around here, he thought. These city slickers don't really understand the small town life. 

"What's your dog's name," Elijah asked, quickly desiring a change in subject. The man now recognized as Russell looked down at his loyal pooch, who licked his nose and looked up at his owner expectantly. "This little fart is called Jessie," answered the groom. "Her and I have been together for four years and I wouldn't change it for anything in the world." The small dog barked and peered up at her human lovingly before yawning and placing her head back down on the floor. "She's pretty lazy," Russell said. "Cute little fart." 

A bright light shined its way into the room, alerting all three of the occupants simultaneously. Three long beeps filled the quiet space with an almost ear-shattering noise. "Well," Russell said. "I'll be off, man. It was nice talking to you."

"I'll walk you out," Elijah said, almost sad to see him go. The groom's face lit up and smiled big, showing off his pearly white teeth. "You're a great guy," he exclaimed. "I'm definitely going to come back and see you again." All together, the three of them walked out of the break room and towards the back entrance of the main office. Elijah held the door as Russell and his dog rushed out into the cold, fall night, fading away with an unexpected breeze.

The janitor sighed heavily, pressing his hand against his chest. "That went better than last time," he whispered. He turned around and walked back into the building - turning off all of the lights - before finally heading home to dream about something he'd forget in the morning. 

Submitted: September 28, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Ellis Walker V. All rights reserved.

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