The Jumper

The crumbling economy affected us all differently. A “recession,” they called it. Well I’ll tell you one thing. Their RE-cession was a helluva lot more like a DE-pression, if you ask me. So there I was, a grown ass man at 54 years old and lookin’ through the God damn classifieds like a school kid lookin’ for a paper route. Forty years since the first day I started workin’ and I was tired. Damn tired. Too damn tired to be lookin’ for a job at 54, I’ll tell ya that much. But what more could I do? I thought I was smart. I thought I had saved enough of my precious pennies for a rainy day like the damn bankers always told me to do, only someone forgot to tell them that it was possible for the market to come tumblin’ down some day. I guess I can’t blame ‘em. If you had told me that the economy was gonna collapse back then, I’da knocked your damn head off and called ya crazy.

So there I was, lookin’ in the wanted ads. Pickens were slim and this beggar couldn’t afford to be too damn choosey. I circled the ad for a night custodian and gave them a call. When I retired, I sure as hell didn’t think I’d be comin’ out of retirement to be wipin’ up piss off the floor, but it was a job and they couldn’t fill the position. Knowing that, that shoulda been my first clue to keep on lookin’. I panicked and when they offered me the job, I pounced on it. The pay was good. Too good. That shoulda been my second clue to keep on lookin’ for another job, but I was blinded by all them damn dollar signs. I knew it wasn’t gonna be the proudest work a man like myself could get, but at that price, I wasn’t sure I was gonna be carin’ all that much about my pride.

These folks didn’t tell me much about their company and I wasn’t too keen on the askin’. If I just kept my nose, and them floors clean, then the paychecks would keep on comin’. The lady that hired me told me that they were some type of non-profit organization and did some type of charity work, but beyond that, I wasn’t askin’. And I was fine not askin’ questions. That was until my first night on the job when I met the day custodian during our shift change. He seemed like a decent fella. I asked him if he had any words of advice and he simply said, “don’t piss him off and you’ll be fine.” Before I could ask just what in the hell that was supposed to mean, he was off like a flash.

My first night on the job was memorable and that’s underselling it. I was told to only clean the bottom floor and under no circumstance was I ever to go upstairs at night. That probably shoulda been my third and final clue to start packin’, but I couldn’t seem to listen to my own common sense. The only thought ever in my damn mind was that pile of bills next to the night stand that wasn’t gonna be gettin’ any smaller by me not workin’. The lady told me to bring headphones and that listenin’ to music was gonna make the job a little easier to swallow. I’m too old to be carryin’ my record player around town and I’m sure as hell too old for one of them damn fancy music gadgets that all the kids are wearin’.

After moppin’ floors for a couple of hours, I started to hear voices. Ain’t that some shit? First I was goin’ poor, then following that up with goin’ crazy. I was alone in the building, but I know I was hearin’ someone talkin’. I called out and said “hello,” but I never did hear nothin’ back and that was fine by me. I went back to work, but after a while, I started hearin’ them damn voices again. They were coming from upstairs. Now when someone tells me there’s somewhere I ain’t supposed to be, I’m gonna listen, but if there was someone that had done snuck into the building, they sure as hell weren’t gonna catch this fella with his pants down. I may be old, but I ain’t goin’ down without swingin’.

I climbed up them stairs to the second floor and it seemed normal enough. That’s when I saw him for the first time. It was just a corner of my eye kinda thing, but these eyes hadn’t done failed me yet, so I know what I saw. I began walkin’ towards where I’d seen him, but there was no one there. I could smell this horrible stench that I could only best describe as the smell of someone pissing on freshly poured bleach. It was so potent that I almost passed out. It seemed to be comin’ from the bathroom. Against my better judgment, with my t-shirt pulled up from under my uniform to cover my mouth, I stumbled into the bathroom and it was filthy. It was like a gas station bathroom, only makin’ that gas station bathroom look clean enough to eat off the floor. It was so damn nasty that I emptied my dinner into the sink and then got out of there as fast I could.

When I got out of the bathroom, I walked into the lobby and there he was. He looked like just your average teenage white boy in need of his father’s belt and a damn haircut. Now I ain’t no coward, but this white boy done stare at me in a way that made my skin scrawl with all kinds of goosebumps. It was like he was starin’ at my soul, or maybe through it, I don’t know which. Before I could say a word, he smiled at me with the creepiest damn smile you did ever seen, then turned and ran towards the open window before jumping out of it. I yelled for him to stop, but he didn’t respond. I ran to the window expectin’ to see this poor kid splattered on the pavement, but there wasn’t a damn thing on the ground below. I knew that was some damn freaky shit I just seen and was so startled that I backed away from the window until I made contact with something behind me. I turned to look and it was him. He was covered in blood from head to toe and was still starin’ at me with that same creepy ass smile as before. He let out a scream and lunged towards me. I thought this was the end of ole’ R.C. for sure, so I closed my eyes tight and braced myself to meet my maker.

Then there was silence. I opened my eyes and I was all alone again in the room. The smell was gone and the window was closed up. No sooner than I cried out “fuck this” was all the time it took me to drop my mop, punch my time card and get the hell out of that freak show… but I’d be back. No sir, my story doesn’t end there. Not by a long shot…

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