Funny Fiction

It was Daniel’s first night working as a janitor at the local museum. He was nervous, so nervous he had already changed shirts twice and had brought an extra one with him just in case. He had spent the day practicing sweeping, mopping, and dusting everything in his apartment. He wanted to make a good impression on his boss. It was now the cleanest that it had ever been. He was sure to get his deposit back. 

Daniel needed this job. It was his fourth one in the last six months. It wasn’t that he wasn’t good at his other jobs, it was just that he was extremely clumsy and broke nearly everything he touched. His last job before this one was at a fast food place. He was lucky that the fire department arrived before the entire restaurant burned down. How was he supposed to know you didn’t put water on a grease fire?  Luckily, they didn’t press charges. The restaurant manager just shoved a twenty-dollar bill in his hand and told him to never show his face there again.

Daniel entered the museum a few minutes before closing time. He stood awkwardly at the information desk and waited, tapping his fingers absentmindedly on the counter. Just as he was getting a good beat going, he managed to knock over a coffee mug full of ice-cold coffee. The coffee streamed along the counter and onto the floor. Daniel grabbed the nearest thing he could find and started trying to clean up the mess. 

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THOSE INVOICES!!!!” a voice screeched from the right.

Daniel looked up, holding the coffee mug in one hand and a crumpled stack of coffee-stained papers in the other. Before him stood an older woman with a fierce jawline and a hairstyle that went out with poodle skirts and horn-rimmed glasses. The latter of which were perched upon her long pointy nose. There was probably a chance that the old woman flew here on her broomstick. Daniel quickly pushed that image out of his mind and answered her as best he could under the circumstances.

“I…I-I’m sorry. I was just trying to clean up the mess I made and grabbed the nearest thing that I could find.” Daniel stammered in reply. He hadn’t even started the job yet and already he was in danger of being fired.

The old woman ripped the papers from his hand with such force that he received three paper cuts. He longed to scream out in pain, but he was in enough trouble already and didn’t want to make things worse than they already were. 

“I’m going to assume that since it’s closing time you either have poor time management or are our new janitor.” The old woman continued to glare at Daniel. “Or possibly both.” Daniel wanted to look away, but her glare pierced him right down into his soul.“My name is Amelia Ambrose. You will address me as Mrs. Ambrose, Not Mrs. Amelia or Amelia. Do I make myself clear?” 

            “Yes, sir, oh sorry, Ma'am,” Daniel replied. Her eyes narrowed and he thought about saluting as well, but her continued glare kept him silent. He hoped that his meetings between himself and Mrs. Ambrose were few and far between. 

            “You will report to me every evening before your shift to receive your list of duties.” Mrs. Ambrose continued. “I expect you to be on time, not early or late, but on time.” Daniel nodded his head yes.

             “A mere nod of the head will not suffice young man.” Mrs. Ambrose. “Please speak when you are asked a question.”

            “Yes, ma’am, Mrs. Ambrose.” Daniel was anxious to get started and put some distance between him and Mrs. Ambrose. Talking with her made him feel like he was back in school again. He was sure she must have a chalkboard hidden somewhere with his name written and check marks added when he messed up.

Mrs. Ambrose walked behind the information desk and retrieved a piece of paper. She then turned and handed it to Daniel. Daniel looked down and saw a page filled with  single-spaced text from  page top to bottom, including tasks like dusting, mopping, and sweeping. As he glanced through the list he came upon something strange near the bottom. It was a warning that said UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES ARE YOU TO ENTER THE ROOM 43B! 

“What’s in room 43B?” Daniel said, looking into Mrs. Ambrose's stormy eyes.

“Nothing that concerns you.” Mrs. Ambrose answered in a clipped tone. “I expect everything on that list to be completed when I return tomorrow morning at eight o’clock.” Without so much as a good luck or see you later, Mrs. Ambrose turned and walked away. Her high-heeled shoes made clippity-clops like a horse down the steps and out the door. 

As she left the museum (and was far enough away not to notice) Daniel brought his hands up like hooves and neighed after her. There was going to have to be some levity in this job if he was going to deal with Mrs. Ambrose every night. Before he began cleaning the museum, Daniel decided to familiarize himself with the museum. He had  spent too much of his time looking for a new job to spend time enriching himself. Maybe now, he might learn a thing or two in between the extensive cleaning required by Mrs. Ambrose.

While wandering the halls and rooms of the museum, he noticed a nondescript door that intrigued him. He reached for the handle and opened the door. Daniel was greeted by a large mass of ropey tendrils rushing toward him. He threw up his hands and caught a mop before it smashed into his face. Glancing around, he realized he had found his “office.” Laughing at himself, he set the mop aside and took in the room’s contents. It was the standard assortment of cleaning supplies, implements, and warning signs. Daniel noticed a large broom hanging on the wall and wondered if that was how Mrs. Ambrose arrived at work each day. 

Daniel began cleaning. He worked his way through the exhibits taking care to mark off each task on the list that Mrs. Ambrose left him. While the list was indeed extensive, the tasks themselves were fairly straightforward. Daniel managed to complete his tasks without too many spills and no fires at all. He was already doing better at this job than the restaurant one.

He was nearly finished with his list when he came upon the door to room 43B. It was an ordinary door with no extra embellishments of any kind. What was behind the door? He glanced over his shoulder to make sure Mrs. Ambrose had not appeared suddenly. That woman had to have supernatural powers of some kind, possibly used for evil, but who was Daniel to judge? Daniel tried looking through the keyhole but was unable to see anything. He eased himself to the floor and tried looking through the crack between the floor and the door. There was a gap, but it wasn’t big enough to discern what was inside the room. He pushed himself off the floor and pulled the list from his pocket.It was probably time to get back to work.

 Just then the air conditioner clicked on and startled him, causing the list to fall from his hand. As he reached down to pick it up, he kicked the list and it slid under the door to room 43B.

Daniel immediately felt his heart drop as panic mode latched onto his brain. He had to get the list back, but how? He was forbidden to go in the room, but if he didn’t go in the room and get the list, Mrs. Ambrose would find the list and assume that he went into the room. On top of all that he still needed to complete the ridiculously long list left by Mrs. Ambrose. He was in a pickle and there wasn’t a jar in sight. 

He took several deep breaths to calm down. He was sure the door was locked, but like every other human being, he tried the handle anyway. Daniel was shocked when the door slowly creaked open. If he wasn’t allowed into the room then why wasn’t it locked? He pushed the door all the way open and peered inside. There was a large object in the room covered by a sheet. He just needed to get the list, not investigate the mystery of room 43B. The list was just a few feet away so he scrambled over to pick it up. What happened next was something that would only happen in a sitcom with a lame laugh track. While trying to pick up the list, he didn’t notice the velvet rope surrounding the object until it was too late!

           Down he went in a thunderous heap, legs tangled up in the rope. He tried extricating himself from the hostage situation, but the more he tried the worse he made it. When he  managed to free one foot, one of his hands became entrapped. It was like wrestling an anaconda. If his friends could see him now…well let's just say he would be the next internet sensation, for fifteen minutes anyway. He managed to stand up all the while kicking at the rope. 

Finally, he freed himself from the stupid rope. He stood jubilantly and thrust his hands up in celebration. That's when his hand hit the sheet covering the object with such force that down it came with a huge crash. Just when he thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did. 

        Daniel looked on in horror at the mess he had made. He was done, finished, kaput. He thought he might sneak out and no one would notice. That’s when the alarm blew…

        The ear splitting wail of the alarm was like nails scrapped down a chalkboard or teeth scraped across a fork. Daniel was sure Mrs. Ambrose chose the most annoying alarm because it reminded her of her. He covered his ears hoping to dull the sound, but it was no use. He was going to have to find where the alarm system was and try to shut it off.

        He sprinted out of the room toward what he thought was the main entrance. The noise was not helping his concentration at all. He was so distracted by it that he didn't see Mrs. Ambrose until it was too late. 

        He crashed into her with such force that they both went plunging to the floor. Mrs. Ambrose’s glasses went skittering across the floor. Miraculously, her hair stayed in place.

        “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING!” Mrs. Ambrose screeched as she untangled herself from Daniel.

        “I…was..I..was…” Daniel tried getting the words out, but Mrs. Ambrose's cold stare prevented him from stringing together a coherent sentence. If he didn't know any better he would have sworn Mrs. Ambrose was descended from Medusa. 

         Daniel noticed that papers were scattered around him and Mrs. Ambrose. The least he could do was help her pick them up before he was fired once again. He managed to see the word insurance and the number 43 before Mrs. Ambrose snatched them back from him.

       “These papers are none of your concern, young man,” she hissed and Daniel waited for her hair to join in.

       The seconds crawled by as Mrs. Ambrose stared at him. Daniel wished a black hole would open up and swallow him whole. At least the black hole wouldn't be his fault.

       “Your services are no longer required.” Mrs. Ambrose snapped. “Gather your things and leave immediately.”

        “I'm sorry. I can do better.” Daniel begged. “I need this job, please give me another chance.”

        “Not only have you entered the one room I told you not to, but you also broke the museum's most valuable artifact. Leave now while I handle the alarm company and the police.” 

         Daniel turned to go, shoulders slumped. He had lost another job. At this rate, he was going to be in the record books for the most jobs lost in the smallest amount of time. As he headed home, he decided that he would go back to the museum and beg for his job back. He could do this job, he knew it. He just needed another chance.

The next morning Daniel woke up early and headed back toward the museum. He stopped by a coffee shop and bought a cup of coffee for Mrs. Ambrose. He had his apology tucked in his shirt pocket. He'd written it out in case Mrs. Ambrose's stare caused him to freeze.

        As Daniel got closer to the museum he noticed a police presence. There was crime scene tape across the front door and a police officer stood in front of it. 

       “Excuse me, officer, what happened here?” Daniel felt a knot in his stomach beginning to form. He had been fired from plenty of jobs but had never been arrested because of something that happened. Daniel wished Murphy's Law would just leave him alone already. He had suffered enough, it was time for someone else.

      “Are you the night janitor?” The policeman asked.

      “I was…I managed to get fired on my first night here by entering a forbidden room and knocking over an expensive museum piece. Mrs. Ambrose, the assistant museum director, fired me before I could apologize properly. That's why I’m here now, I’m going to beg for my job back  like a character from a Dickens novel.”

“I don’t think that you will be seeing Mrs. Ambrose for a while.” The police officer said, looking grim. “She was arrested last night for intent to commit insurance fraud. If it wasn’t for some papers that she dropped we never would have known what was going on. She kept ranting and raving about some guy named Daniel and how this was all his fault.”

        “I guess that was me. I ran into her last night and knocked papers out of her hand,” said Daniel with a hint of satisfaction.

“You see, she knew of your past experiences with employment and knew you would be an unknowing patsy to complete her insurance fraud.” The officer stared at Daniel with a mixture of pity and admiration.

Daniel was stunned. Getting his boss arrested topped burning down the restaurant by a large margin. 

“You’ll need to give a statement and then you are free to go.” The police officer pointed Daniel to another officer standing a few feet away. As Daniel turned to head in that direction, the first officer stopped him.

 “Have you ever thought of applying to the police academy? We could use a good man like yourself on the force.”

Daniel smiled, “You know I’ve never considered that and you probably don’t want me too.” Then Daniel turned and walked away, he had another job to find.

The End

March 22, 2024 20:11

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Arlen Lockhart
08:48 Mar 29, 2024

The story made me laugh. Plus, the dialogue had me involved and the story read smoothly. Good job.


Bethany Walters
14:01 Mar 29, 2024

Thank you!


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Show 1 reply
22:16 Mar 27, 2024

Hahahahaha! This comedic roller coaster combines elements of slapstick humor, unexpected plot twists, and a lesson in serendipity. An enjoyable read.


Bethany Walters
22:52 Mar 27, 2024

Thank you so much!


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