“I’m trying to escape the Roadhouse,” she said, holding two mops in one hand and an upright vacuum cleaner in the other.
I’d opened my door to a 30-ish woman with blond braids and a low-cut T-shirt. A cleaning agency sent her. “Is that a restaurant?” I asked.
“Sort of,” she replied. “I left a year ago; I hope I don’t have to go back.” She hoisted a shopping bag full of supplies onto her shoulder and entered my bedroom. “Vac the rug…fold the laundry…dust…got it,” she said.
“You don’t need to write it down?” I asked.
“Nope,” she answered; “And no need for you to come in here. Just relax.”
I heard the door close. Then I began to smell the housekeeper’s floral cleaner, roses, I think. It wafted into the living room, where I decided to sit and read a book on my brown tweed couch. I imagined the fragrance turning the air pink and flowers floating throughout the rooms. Then I heard a portable CD player and a thump thump thump sound like she was jumping. “ARE YOU ALRIGHT?” I asked.
“Yes, I just leaped over the cord.”
Bang, bang, scrape, thump. “I never knew folding laundry was so noisy,” I thought. Then I picked up where I left off in my book. I’d look up every now and then at the thumping behind the closed door. Finally, I shut, The Traveler’s Guide to Maine and swung the bedroom door open. She snapped off her CD player, wide-eyed; “Ally, I only paid you for three hours, and it’s already 4:00.”
“Oh, I’m detail-oriented,” she said. “I can’t leave a room until it’s finished.”
“What took you so long in that ONE room?” I asked when she finally came out after I made up a story about company coming.
“Oh, I deep-cleaned and also scrubbed the baseboard heaters.”
After she left, I opened the windows to eliminate the odor of her disinfectant, which made me worry about dying from chemical contamination. Although undoing the window latch that had been locked all winter was brutal, sliding the window open and closed was effortless. Then I got down on the smooth wooden floor to check my baseboard heaters. I felt the floor cool on my legs; my new shorts stopped at my knees. The dust ruffle on my bed was a curtained backdrop. I leaned over and peered inside the heaters she said she cleaned and saw dust balls and long strands of spider webs lying across the metal fins. The da da da dum of her CD played in my head. Finally, I sat up and said, “Roadhouse.”
Cyndi Cresswell Cook is a writer and photographer. A fox lives in her backyard.