Prompt: Clean


Marvin Haye felt unappreciated. People didn’t realize just how much he was committed to his job, how time-consuming it was, how difficult it was for him to navigate. It’s true he inherited it in a way, when his wife died, but he expected some recognition and respect, not a sour blend of hard work and ridicule.

It was 4:45 am last Tuesday when Latoya Unger called him because her toilet backed up. She said she called the water department but no one answered. Well hell, of course no one answered. They were home in bed. Why didn’t she call a plumber? She thought it was a town issue, she said. Well hell, he was awake anyway, so, armed with his sturdiest plunger, he made his way through the sleety streets to the Unger home, where, as it happened, Geoffrey Unger was sleeping soundly in his own bed.

It’s true Geoffrey liked to linger at the Pumphouse Pub and drink a few too many pints of ale and stout, but you would think the smell alone would have awakened him. But no, Marvin could hear him snoring all the way down the hall in the bathroom.

It was a mess, and then a bigger mess, and then Marvin helped clean up some of the worst mess, before he got into his Dodge pickup and went home. He showered and had just enough time to drive Patricia to school before his breakfast meeting with a development group, who wanted to establish a relationship with the Mayor of Bartlett, since they had great vision for the town, they said.

His wife had been much better at the social side of politics than Marvin would ever be. She was naturally somewhat quiet, and her reticence was often mistaken for poise and confidence. He tended to feel awkward and inexplicably at a disadvantage, no matter what the situation. The mechanics of town politics were less of a problem; in fact he was secretly proud of how much assistance he was able to render Helen with regard to the nuts and bolts of council meetings, grants, budgets, infrastructure, and planning.

When she died, a quickly-called election installed Marvin in her place. He knew it was temporary, but he wanted to run again and win properly, despite constituents like Latoya Unger. But the respect, where was the respect?

After the breakfast meeting he met with his election committee, a small group of semi-dedicated volunteers, who looked that morning both amused and despondent. Why? Because Gloria was officially on the ballot too.

“How?” said Marvin.

Calvin giggled. Marvin hated when Calvin giggled. If he wasn’t his brother-in-law and if being on the committee didn’t help keep him out of trouble, he’d be out in a heartbeat.

“Some loophole or other,” said Susan Banes. “The thing is, we can’t really react too strongly, or people will think we have no sense of humour.”

“One of their slogans is ‘The Bitch is Back’,” said Calvin. He caught Marvin’s eye and suppressed a chuckle.

“It’ll be good for tourism,” said Randy Ptarmigan. “She’s a bonnie dog, Marvin.”

Marvin sighed. Well hell, it would be good for tourism, and in all the papers and on TV, and Marvin would look like a fool, and it just wasn’t right that he wasn’t appreciated. Not right at all.