the living with the living, the dead with the dead

The building had 60 stories
and he was 60 years old
Still cleaning it from bottom to top
for the past 35 years

one thing remained unchanged
as time passed

the coldness

Every surface he’d ever touch would
be as cold as the glass
of a window in the winter

And the people who
worked in the building were
pale and cold as vampires

He forgot how it was to be saluted
or how it was to salute
and get a reply

No one talked to the janitor
No one knew his name

No one cared

There were no souls in this isolated
that stood in the center
overlooking other monoliths

Hell is cold
and monotonous
and plays constant factory noises
or keyboard noises
and exudes smoke

Even the plants were made of
plastic and their flowers
and leaves had to be sprayed with alcohol
and wiped with a rag

Real plants wouldn’t
accept such treatment

They would punish you with their death
and that should be enough

But not for those pale vampires

The only thing alive
was him, the janitor
who imagined jazz music playing in
his mind as he scrubbed the tiles

and one mushroom that grew behind one of the
toilets in the women’s bathroom from
a used pad

He left it there for days
It was his little secret, his little friend
in this world of soulless beings

It was life sprouting against
impossible odds

Life in hell

It was something to look up to
every day

Something to kneel before and say
hello to and sing jazz to
and even pat gently with the finger

He promised himself that the day that
mushroom died
he would retire

So far it was still alive
Still sprouting spores that he
and tasted with his tongue after
rubbing it gently with his finger

Living beings
stick together
regardless of species

Just like the dead do

38 thoughts on “the living with the living, the dead with the dead

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      1. For some reason, Luke 9:59-60 came to mind when I read this:

        59 Then He said to another man, “Follow Me.” The man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You, however, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Totally agree. Have you heard of benign violation theory? Essentially, comedy helps us say “this is okay”, to ourselves and others. Lots of animals “laugh”, expand and contract their lungs, for communicating play fighting and such.

            Liked by 3 people

  1. I remember the mushroom, but not from what it grew.

    I couldn’t imagine being 60 years old. I was a janitor once when I was fifteen years old at a university. My uncle got me the job. It was cleaning a library. I tried to keep busy but it was summer, no students and no messes to clean. I had to leave the job because a week after I got it, I stayed out drinking all night with friends. I was only visiting my uncle for vacation. He sent me back home as punishment, to spend the rest of my summer in a tiny town, which was good punishment. I liked the big city I was visiting.

    Actually, it was another aunt who kicked me out, a different one from the sister my uncle was married to, but that doesn’t matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The spatial scene and the comparison with the coldness of hell have something Kafkaesque in them… The janitor reminds me of a fireman…
    You set up the spatial scene nicely so I had the impression that I found myself in a world of nightmares of ordinary sight.
    I notice – the impression of desperate loss and the space seems deserted, inanimate, and inhabited by uninhabited people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Big thank you for checking it out, Leila!

      Indeed, there are real life jobs that feel extremely similar to the one described here. But then again, any job can be soul-sucking for the worker who dreams of something more (been there, done that…)

      Liked by 1 person

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