By: Steve Carr
The trash compactor in the rear of the garbage truck scooped in Celia's garbage. A small ball of dust blew out from Celia's garbage and caught by a breeze it was deposited back onto Celia's lawn.
Celia woke up. She lifted the cover and sheet hanging over the edge of the mattress and box springs, then leaned over and peered under the bed. Squinting, she tried to focus on what lay in the darkness. Certain of what she saw she rolled onto her back, sat up, then leapt from the bed and grabbed the Swiffer mop leaning against the nightstand. Shoving the mop head under the bed she swept the entire length and width of the floor. She pulled the mop out and looked at the clean pad.
"You got away this time," she said. "But I'm onto your tricks."
A small piece of yellow paper was held onto the refrigerator door by a small magnet. Randall put the paper in his shirt pocket. As he grabbed the car keys from the hook next to the door he called out "I'm leaving for work now."
Getting no reply, he shrugged and went out the door and got in his car and recklessly sped off down the street.
Going into the kitchen Celia saw that the note she had left for her husband was no longer on the refrigerator. She grabbed the mop and went into the living room. A dust bunny drifted across the floor.
"Now I've got you, you son of a bitch." she said as she chased after it with the mop.
It escaped beneath the sofa and try as she might using the mop, she couldn't reach it. She sat in a chair and with the mop held between her legs and watched and waited.
The wheels on Randall's car screeched as he made the hairpin turns on the winding road. With his hands firmly grasping the steering wheel, Randall tried to keep his mind on the road and avoided looking at the dry canyon scenery.
Celia awoke, startled. The mop had fallen against the glass top of the coffee table in front of the sofa. She sat up in the chair and wondered when she had dozed off. She scanned the floor then seeing one of them scurrying across the floor she jumped up to grab the mop.
"Ouch," she said aloud. She bent down and removed a small piece of glass from the bottom of her foot. She sat back on the chair and looked at the small cut. The glass had barely entered the skin and there was no blood. The sole of her foot was scaly and calloused. She stood back up and grabbed the handle of the broom and noticed there was a chip in the tabletop.
Looking at the floor about the room she saw nothing moving.
"Very clever," she said. "You can cover the floor with glass but I'm still going to get you."
She carried the mop into the bedroom and after looking under the bed, laid it on the bed. After taking off the bathrobe she sat on the stool in front of the dresser and riffled through the dozen bottles of lotions and skin moisturizers until she found what she was looking for. She liberally squeezed the moisturizer on both forearms and rubbed it into her skin then did the same thing to her lower legs. She then held the bottle of moisturizer up in the air and squeezed the contents over her body. She began to frantically rub it in then suddenly turned around.
"You didn't think I'd see you with my back turned, did you?" She said as she grabbed the mop and dropped to her knees. She repeatedly jabbed the mop head under the bed. "I'll kill you little fuckers," she screamed.
After downing his third cup of water at the water cooler, Randall wadded the paper cup and tossed it into the waste basket. Sitting at his desk inside his cubicle he put his mouth to the crack under the window and sucked in the dusty breeze being blown in from the parking lot. He started to cough, then couldn't stop.
His co-worker in the next cubicle yelled over the partition separating them. "You okay over there?"
"Just got something stuck in my throat," Randall said with a final hack. He got up and went back to the water cooler.
Randall's car came speeding into the cul de sac. He pulled into the driveway; his car came to a screeching stop just inches from crashing into their garage door. He got out of the car and slammed the car door shut and opened the trunk and lifted out several large brown paper bags, then closed the trunk with his elbow and went in the house, slamming that door also.
Celia removed the boxes of Swiffer pads from the bags and stacked them in the cupboard already jammed with boxes of the pads. After folding the empty bags and putting them under the sink she took two small steaks from the refrigerator and put them in a skillet sitting on a burning flame, doused them with olive oil and stood back and watched the steaks as the heat caused the oil to sizzle, pop, smoke, and burn until the steaks were blackened. She placed one steak on a plate with a microwaved baked potato on the table for Randall, then did the same for herself. After placing a large pitcher of tap water and a glass by Randall's plate she called for him to come eat.
"Thanks for getting the pads," she said as he sat down. "I was afraid you would miss my note this morning."
"I never miss your notes," he said, sitting down and poking at the steak with his fork. He pushed the plate aside and filled the glass with water and drank it down, then filled another and guzzled it down also. "Did you catch any today?" he asked.
"They're on to me," she said.
Celia stared into the darkness and listened to the rustling of dust bunnies beneath the bed. Unable to take a minute more of being taunted by them, she got out of bed, made her way to the closet, and fumbled around in the darkness until she found the rifle. She poked the barrel of it under the bed and pulled the trigger.
The gun blast made Randall leap from the bed. "Goddammit, Celia, do your hunting during the daytime," he said.
Randall came out of his house and got in his car and sped off. On the hairpin turn Randall took his hands off the steering wheel allowing the car to careen off the road and down into the canyon, killing him instantly.
The vases at the front of the small chapel were filled with cacti. Dressed all in black, Celia sat in the front pew. Celia held a wadded white handkerchief in her gloved hand and dabbed at her eyes, although she was shedding no tears. She frequently cleared her dry, scratchy throat.
The minister came out of a door at the side of the small stage and stood behind the altar. He placed his hand on the bright blue urn holding Randall's ashes.
"Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust," he intoned.
Celia sat up in bed and grabbed the handle of the Swiffer mop she had laid on the side of the bed where Randall had slept. She leaned over the bed and looked beneath it.
"Ah ha got you at last," she said gleefully.
She jumped from the bed and got on her knees on her side of the bed and shoved the mop head under the bed. An army of dust bunnies ran out the other side and out of the bedroom. She ran after them. In the living room she watched them scatter across the floor and go beneath the furniture. Wildly she chased after them with the mop, trying unsuccessfully to dislodge them from their hiding places.
She ran back into the bedroom and tossed the mop on the bed and took the rifle out of the closet. Going back into the living room she began firing shots under the furniture. As the bunnies ran out from under the furniture and leapt into the air, Celia took aim, missing them but hitting Randall's urn that had been sitting on the mantel above the faux fireplace. The urn shattered and his ashes formed a dusty cloud that covered her face.
"I've never seen anything like it," the paramedic said as they put Celia's covered body in the back of the ambulance.
"Choking to death on dust and a husband's ashes is a new one on me too," the other paramedic said.