2334 Castillon Drive
Nothing like a house cleaning to turn an otherwise beautiful Spring day into a bloody mess. That is, if you were Tony Mass, a crime scene cleaner. Talk about someone doing a job no one wants, that’s Tony’s. Someone had to do it. And that someone was a special person. Tony approached this unhygienic, nauseous, foul job as if it were just another job. He was the best in the business. He divorced himself from any curiosity about what had happened.
He arrived at 2334 Castillon Drive early not knowing how bad the crime scene was. He soon found out that having your brains blown out by a shotgun, painted a wall with a disgusting mosaic of squalor untoward for the squeamish. The smell alone was still rancid through the air. He donned all his PPE and started the meticulous task of returning this customer’s dining room to its original state.
As a child, Tony made his mom extremely proud by his propensity for cleanliness. No one had to coerce him to clean his room, wash his clothes, even iron his shirts. So, in his later years, any job that tapped into his hygiene skills was tailor-made for him to perform at excellence level.
This house would be especially challenging because of the snow white color of the walls, the trim around the door where the majority of this person’s remains had landed and the galaxy of blood stars that speckled the ceiling. Tony preferred to work alone. That way he could insure that the most meticulous cleaning would take place and that at the end of the job no one, and I mean no one, would ever be able to even ponder that a crime had been committed here.
Out of Darkness
Emerges the Light
They say that after we die we see a bright white light. If that light was anything like the walls Tony had just rejuvenated, then it would be a welcoming sight indeed. This job was done at the four hour mark but Tony was into hour eight. He passed over each stained area four times before going even deeper to weed out any remaining remnants of a human’s last minutes on this earth. This crime scene hinted at a rather sudden death but a messy one nonetheless.
Clean himself up, remove the tarps, repackage his chemicals, put his tools away and lock the door and Tony would make it home just in time for dinner. Don’t ask- how could anyone be even remotely hungry and be able to eat after a day doing this? This was no ordinary way to put in a full day’s work.
“How was your day hon?” Kathy asked Tony, knowing full well what his stock answer would be.
“Same old, same old. But today’s job should easily make it possible for us to go away for a nice weekend. How does a weekend in Vegas sound, under the brightest lights on the universe?”
Normally Tony gets a ticket and a housekey from Jake, his boss at the shop, but since this was a rush job, according to Jake, Jake just left the key in an envelope for Tony last week. There was no ticket like all the times before. Tony was on the jobsite, the crime scene house, within an hour. Responsible employees like Tony were few and far between. Jake was lucky to have him and their business relationship was thus one of the best.
“Morning Mary, has Jake been in yet? I need my check for that rush job last week.”
“He had to leave town for his cousin’s illness. Evidently Bobbie, even though he’s only 32, has tested positive for the virus. As much as he can, he offered to help and will not be back for two weeks. You can always text him.”
“Damn, I wanted to ask for a weekend off and go to Vegas with that money. I’ll text him.”
Tony liked to get things out of the way immediately. His To Do list was always full of cross outs as he accomplished items in the works rapidly. Better early than procrastinate. That way if there were any glitches he would still be ahead of the game and could respond to life’s small challenges in a proactive manner. So Tony reached for his phone and texted Jake.
“Jake, so sorry to hear about Bobbie. Hopefully his youth and the fact that he’s in great shape will work in his favor. I’m sure he’ll be fine. Very good of you to go to help out… Hey, that job on Castillon that I did last week, I put in 8 hours and wanted to see if you could have Mary cut me a check for that. Thanks.”
The problem with being as efficient and on-time as people like Tony were, they expected the same out of the rest of the world. Sadly, that’s not how it works. We are many times delayed by other’s laziness, lack of similar urgency or just having more on their plates than we have on our’s. So Jake not responding to Tony’s text by the end of the day was frustrating. He knew that Jake’s mind was on his cousin so he allowed him some time. But the next morning when he called Jake and it went to voicemail, Tony was getting a bit mad. He would not be insincere but it only would take seconds for him to give Mary the green light to cut a check for the $800 he was owed.
“Morning Mary. Mary, has Jake contacted you about my check yet?”
“Nothing yet Jake.”
“Any tickets today?” While Tony was getting peeved at Jake’s absence or his even responding to Tony’s request, he was a good employee, he trusted Jake, and he was ready for his next job.
“There’s a job tomorrow after the police finish with the crime scene today. You know how meticulous they are- takes time. As soon as we are clear I’ll give you the ticket.”
“Sounds good.” Tony would spend the day cleaning his van, replenishing his chemicals and stocking new supplies that had come in.
Unfortunately for Mary, Tony who was rarely in the office, would pester her all day long after every call, “Was that Jake? Was that him? If he calls I want to speak to him…” She wondered if he was doing an “office day” to monitor the switchboard or to really clean out his van. He usually did that in an hour. He had parked himself in the office all day. It was almost closing time.
The phone rang when Tony was outside for just a minute but Mary was finally contacted by Jake. He was quick, told her that Bobbie was doing better and then he had to go.
Tony came back in and of course asked “Did the phone ring a minute ago? I swear I heard it? Was it him?”
“Yes Tony he just called. Said Bobbie was doing better.”
“What about my check?”
“He said he knew nothing about a Castillon, asked if you had the ticket, asked if you had a housekey.”
It Never Happened
When you make employees mad they either let you control them or they fight back. But wrong an excellent employee who has a personal level of responsibility that separates them from the rest of your staff and you’ve got a major fight on your hands. Tony was the model of professionalism but the notion that Jake would not pay him for a job was unfathomable.
Forget texting, now was the time to blow up Jake’s voicemail. Tony had no ticket and as with every job he left the key inside the house, but he still knew he had cleaned a crime scene. Like every job he had done, there was no evidence of a crime scene, after he completed the cleaning job, but there sure was evidence when he arrived on the scene. He even had photos.
“Jake, what the hell. I did a job, please pay me. So unlike you to all of a sudden now refuse to pay me. You know you just left me a key, there was no ticket. And your behavior throughout all this, me having to bug you for payment, is very unusual of you. I will not be insincere at this time of your family illness but damn Jake, all I want is what I am due. Please get back to me today!”
“Tony, sorry about the confusion but I swear I have never heard of any job on Castillon Drive. We have more business than we can handle but Castillon Drive was not one of them.” Shockingly, Jake finally texted Tony back. First communication with him in three days.
“Jake what are you doing! I’ll sue you if I have to…And how did you know it was Castillon Drive? I never said it was Drive.”
“Tony I have to have proof. We’ll discuss when I get back. No one’s suing anyone.” Jake’s behavior was 180 degrees differently than it had ever been in his formerly very productive relationship with Tony.
“Jake I have photos. I’ll contact the police and they will confirm my job. I’m not crazy. Jake seriously, what the hell is up, why are you doing this?”
The texting stopped. Jake went silent again.
What’s Reality, Your Version or Mine?
Tony somehow got to sleep after his altercation with Jake. He couldn’t believe he might actually have to sue him. He knew how expensive it was to sue someone. Even if you won, which he felt like he would, then you had to get them to pay. No victory in the courts made them pay. So the whole suing process was a mirage, much like Jake was trying to convince Tony that his last job was. But he planned on going to the police in the morning.
“Morning hon, sorry for all the drunk venting last night. This is such a mess. But I can’t let it go. If Jake does this I’m looking for a new job.”
“I’m here for you sweetheart. This is so strange. We’ll get through this.”
“What you mailing out?”
“I see that the little red flag is up on the mailbox.”
“I didn’t do that.”
Tony walks out to the mailbox on the way to picking up the paper. He opens it and inside is an envelope. Nothing on it though. He opens the envelope and is shocked to find $5,000 in cash rubber banded with a typed note that simply says, “Enjoy Vegas.”