Part – II
I like routine. Regulation. So, I begin as I always do. The before pics. I stick to the same sequence. Overview. Walls. Counter tops. Sink. Mirror. Toilet. And lastly, floors.
Having completed task one, I reach down and unfasten my trunk and click the timer fitted into its lid. The affect that the tone of metal sliding free from its home coupled with the minute click of the timer’s button has one me is visceral. I come alive at this marriage of sounds. From the moment I hear that metallic click and digital beep I slip into a zone from which only a clean and tidy room can awaken me.
I unfurl the black tarp located on the top of the trunk with a sharp snap and rest it just outside of the room. I lay out my tools from left to right quickly, but in precise order. Brushes: toilet, grout, all purpose. Cloths: dry, wet, dust, antibacterial. Cleansers: liquid, powder, paste. Tools: mask, gloves, spray bottles, steam cleaner, mop, broom. The latter two are fitted with collapsible handles. Bought specially to fit into my kit.
Mask on. Pants tucked into socks. Gloves snapped up over sleeves. I tip five, and only five, drops of my liquid cleaning concoction into each spray bottle and fill with hot water. Well, this piss warm tap water that advertises itself as hot. Thus protected and prepared, I begin.
Walls. With two handed spraying action, I begin applying a coat of my perfectly engineered solution at the ceiling line, going around the entire perimeter of the room. A secondary round is conducted halfway between the ceiling and floor.
Counter tops. Sink. A coating of solution is applied to all surfaces. Over this, a layering of powdered cleaner is sprinkled. Ending with a bit of paste cleaner applied with extra care around the taps.
Toilet. A very generous spritzing from my bottles. Top, back, sides, underneath. A dusting of powder inside and under the rim. I swap the bottles and cleansers for my steam cleaner.
Steam. Is. God.
Once filled, I crank it to 10, this place requires nothing less, and begin to follow the path I set earlier. I feel a shiver down my spine as the grime is vaporized and cleanliness is left behind. I steam the sink and outer planes of the toilet before attacking the interior with my brush. I scrub, disinfect and buff dry in a, tightly controlled, frenzy. It all fairly gleams when I am done.
This gleaming signals the beginning of the end. When the moisture begins to dry on the walls. When the grime that has slid from these surfaces coat the floor as it slides towards the drain at its center. My breath becomes irregular as I carefully direct the path of filth. I encourage it to go where it belongs. Down. Under. Beneath.
When at last the floor beams as brightly as the naked overhead bulb, my gasps slow and my chest begins to rise and fall at an even pace. I carefully remove several sheets of folded newspaper before returning my arsenal to its home. Tools: mask, gloves, spray bottles, steam cleaner, mop, broom. Cleansers: liquid, powder, paste. Cloths: dry, wet, dust, antibacterial. Brushes: toilet, grout, all purpose. Tarp: refolded and replaced.
Gloves come off with a snap. Pants come out from boots. Hat off. Slicker slides down my arms. I take my time placing them into the trunk. Newspaper in hand, I move to the sink.
I observe myself in the fog coated mirror. I decided long ago that I like myself best reflected this way. I hesitate to wipe this last surface. This is the last turn to scurry around to get out the maze.
Who is the mouse when it’s not hunting the cheese?
I love the hunt. I love it for what it is and what it cannot be. One of those things is infinite. A hunt is finite. And this is the end of mine. I touch the paper to the mirror. There is nothing quite as effective as it for this job. Steam is God? Perhaps not of all realms.
I shut my eyes as my hand begins to move. I take care to swipe every inch. With the task complete, I clutch and twist the paper between my fingers. And my heart begins to race. I cannot open my eyes. But I must. It’s how I get out of the zone. I must survey the cleanliness. The order. The gleam. I must open my eyes.
I do. I awaken. My heart slows.
I am no longer reflected as I prefer. Fogged. Blurred. I am clear. Crystal. Every detail of my face. Precisely mirrored.
I lower my head. Wetness leaks from my eyes, rushes to the center of the flat plane that is my face and slides to the tip of the disturbance of it that is my nose. I raise my hand just in time to catch the merged drops. I place the twisted,wet lump of newspaper in the trash can. The final action that signals the end. I hit the timer. I shut the lid.
Click. Metal. Slides. Home.