There was nothing for it. Angel was simply going to have to face probably the worst clean up she’d ever encountered.
She knew it would be bad from what her daughter told them last week over the phone, but she didn’t expect what she saw when she entered the room.
The air was hot and humid, and it had a heavy mustiness to it, sharply spiked with an offensive acrid smell. Two cats startled her as they darted out from under the mess, their fur feeling like some sort of slimy slick as they brushed past her ankles. It was 80 or 90 degrees if it was anything. She saw the thermostat next to her and turned it down.
From what she could see in the gloom, there were piles and piles of stuff everywhere, heaped a couple of feet high. She carefully picked up the first thing on top of the pile closest to her, touching as little of the surface as she could manage. As she brought it closer to her face to inspect, the intensity of the smell suddenly made her gag and she immediately dropped it back where she found it.
“Steve!” she yelled, but got no reply. She listened for movement, but heard nothing. He must have gone back out to the car, she thought.
Not able to stand the smell in the room any longer, she pulled the collar of her shirt up over her nose. She’d brought all her cleaning supplies, but it simply did not occur to her to bring a mask.
She moved through the piles of clutter as best she could, squinting in the dark, across the room to the drapes, finally having to feel her way along a wet, dank wall dripping from what she hoped was condensation, given the high heat, the humidity outside and what she could only assume was accumulated bodily moisture. She found a drapery cord and gave it a pull. She frantically wiped the hand she used to feel along the wall on her pants as a thick cloud of dust from the drapes billowed out into the room. It was so thick it penetrated her make-shift collar mask and she began to cough.
“Holy crap!” Steve was standing in the door.
Angel kept coughing as she made her way back through the room to the door. “Did you go back out to the car? I was calling for you,” she asked.
“Jesus Christ,” Steve exclaimed again, “What the hell, this is…and I thought the kitchen was bad. You’ve gotta see the kitchen!” He retraced his wife’s steps to the window and opened it. “Let’s get some goddamned air in here, or something.”
The daylight had revealed a grotesque scene of dirty laundry piled everywhere. In the middle of the room was a mattress with no frame or box spring, covered with only a pad, a pillow with no case, and no sheets or covers. Discarded fast-food containers were everywhere, along with stacks of books, computer and electronic equipment, papers, and a un-emptied litter box in a corner, just next to the mattress. The dust was an inch thick on whatever open surface there was.
Just then Steve and Angel heard the front door open.
“Mom? Dad? You here? You’re early!” their son called out. “I got pizza! And beer!
“Oh, hey cats, how’s it hangin little buddies, huh? You want pizza? There’ya go!
“Mom? Dad? I’m in the kitchen…OH! Hey! There you are,” seeing his parents standing in the hallway. “Oh, geez…sorry if you had to use the bathroom. I haven’t cleaned in there yet.” Their son flashed them a huge, warm smile and then walked into the kitchen . “So, totally make yourselves at home or whatever. I’ll just be a sec!”
Angel and Steve watched in utter disbelief as the two mangy looking cats viciously tore into the piece of pizza their son had dropped on the floor for them, taking turns swatting and hissing at each other. They could hear their son humming nonchalantly in the kitchen, and what sounded like plates and silverware being set out on the table.
“Oh, my God. The bathroom. I can’t even…” Angel said in a half whisper to Steve, and then waved the unbearable thought off.
“Hey, kiddo?” Steve said as he gave Angel a reassuring squeeze on her arm and then made his way into the kitchen. “Mom and I thought we’d all go out for dinner…”
The Blog Propellant: Unthinkable and unbearable, but sort-of funny