TAKING OUT THE TRASH - KEITH RAWSON
Previously seen at Bloody Knuckles, Callused Fingertips as part of the Sweet Dreams Challenge issued by Patti Abbott
I stand in the garbage strewn kitchen gagging, tasting yellow bile bubble up my throat, I keep thinking I should’ve worn a gas mask. The house just plain stinks. Rotting food, moldering, overflowing bags of garbage; I imagine the way the trailer smells is how a body rotting under a hundred degree sun must stink.
Amid all the trash and ruin of the place, maybe the guy who used to live here is buried underneath a couple thousand pounds of garbage. I’m hoping it ain’t the case. I’m hoping he just couldn’t take his own filth anymore and decided to hit the road.
I gag again, acid burn shoots up my nostrils. Fuck, I should’ve gone to the Army surplus store and bought a gas mask, or maybe one of those full body suits they wore for chemical attacks during the first Gulf War.
The trailer belongs to my Uncle Tim. Old Timmy is a great big fat lump of human shit who hasn’t left his house in ten plus years. His days are spent lying around his 4000 square foot McMansion in Chandler, sucking back a case of Bud a day and topping it off with a ten gallon tub of Costco brand chocolate ice cream. Nobody in the family can stand the sight of the fat bastard, not even my mom, who used to make an effort of seeing him back when I was a kid. I don’t think they’ve spoken to one another in four or five years. Neither one of them speaks an ill word about the other, but whenever I bring up the idea of maybe getting together for Sunday dinner or some such shit, the subject’s changed without so much as a word of acknowledgment.
I still hang around old Tim, though. He may be a disgusting pig of a man (and I’m pretty sure he’s got a hard-on for kiddy porn, which is why I make sure never to bring the boys along with me when I come over) but the dude has done pretty good for himself over the years because of owning flops like the polluted shithole I’m standing in right now and old Timmy, he don’t have no kids of his own, so the way I figure it, once the fat fuck’s heart finally explodes from his high fat diet, everything the dude owns is going straight into my pocket, but occasionally I have to do shit like what I’m doing today.
Not that I mind helping Tim out here and there. Usually he only has me do simple stuff like go and pull some weeds for one of the old couples he rents to, or replace a refrigerator compressor, easy stuff. A few times, he’s had me go to some of his properties to throw eviction notices in tenant faces. Most of Tim’s renters are retirees; folks who're just scratching by on Social Security, so they usually don’t give me any shit, just hangdog looks and maybe a few muttered curses.
The rusted-out single-wide out in the middle of the desert started out as an eviction gig. He asked me to make the drive out to Apache Junction last week and hand over the papers and scat. I banged on the door for close to fifteen minutes, thinking the shitheel was hiding out, knowing what was coming. Finally I got pissed enough to head back to the truck, snatched a crowbar out of the bed and yanked the door open and nearly had my ankle busted by a hundred pounds of newspaper. Standing in front of the door, squinting into the muggy darkness, I tried seeing if there was any movement inside.
Nothing but the buzzing of ten thousand flies.
I headed back out to the truck, grabbed my cell and called Tim to let him know what was going on. He told me to lock up the best I could and come back next week and start cleaning up the mess for the next tenant. I nearly started cussing him out, tellin’ him there weren’t no way in hell I’d be tackling that fucking mess. ’Course, that changed the minute he offered me a couple of grand plus gas. How the hell could I say no to that kind of cash?
The stink of the kitchen finally gets to me and I have to step outside and toss my cookies.
I spit the taste of puke out and head back to the truck to get myself a drink of water and maybe something to cover my mouth and nose with. I gulp down a whole bottle of arrowhead and find a sweaty old blue bandana in the glove compartment. It’s crusted up with boogers but it’s still gonna smell a hell of lot better than the single-wide. I also grab my .38 in case there any rats or snakes in there that want to get feisty and my iPod. I slip in the ear buds, hit shuffle and that old song from the Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams, fills my head. I always liked those guys even though both of ’em were queerer than a three dollar bill.
I get my ass in gear, wad of 30 gallon trash bags in my back pocket, sweeping up as much garbage as I can with a push broom before I have to get down and dirty with my hands when I see something out the corner of my eye moving in the back bedroom. I freak and spin, dropping my broom and pulling my piece and I come face-to-face with a filthy little old man with thick glasses and wearing a short cut, blue spangled evening gown, like something a seventeen year-old girl might wear to prom.
The old man’s got his hands up in front of his face, fingers spread and trembling as I draw down on him. I hesitate for a second, remembering that I still got the eviction papers out in the truck. I can go home and let the county deal with all this shit. Then I think about the big fat check waiting for me at Tim’s house once I clean up the mess.
I flip a coin, money wins, thunder fills the room.
BIO: Keith Rawson is a little known pulp writer who lives in the alkaline desert wastelands of southern Arizona with his wife and very energetic three-year-old daughter. His stories have appeared in such publications as Plots with Guns, Pulp Pusher, CrimeWav.com, Bad Things, Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Needle Magazine and many others. Keith is a frequent contributor to BSCreview, a staff writer with Spinetingler Magazine and, along with Cameron Ashley and Liam Jose, he edits and publishes Crimefactory Magazine. You can also find him stroking his overinflated ego at his blog, Bloody Knuckles, Callused Fingertips.