Andrew Hilbert, comes through yet again! Check out this brief but awesome piece from one of our most prolific members!
by Andrew Hilbert
“It’s a miracle.” I sprayed the solution on the lady’s doorknob and scrubbed it until it was shining, brand new looking, and clean. “With nothing more than a paper towel and some elbow grease. It’s so easy,” I said, “a dog could do it.”
“Dog’s don’t have hands,” the lady said. She rolled her eyes. “My mom’s not home. We use Windex. And we probably don’t care if our doorknobs are as reflective as mirrors.” She slammed the door.
It was hot. The sun beat down on my bald head so hard I could feel it peeling.
“Johnny!” I yelled. My partner, Johnny, came scurrying out of the bushes and stubbed his cigarette on a parked black Mercedes. “It doesn’t work without a sidekick. Good door-to-door salesmanship requires a one-two punch. A good cop and a better cop.”
“Sorry, boss,” he said. “I just needed a break.”
His teeth were black and rotted behind his smile. He was probably 18 years old, wore clothes two sizes too big, and a backwards black cap.
“Every fucking house we stop at, you disappear for a break. How many breaks do you need?”
“Miguel, man, don’t take up smoking,” he tells me.
I shook my head.
“No break at this next one.”
“Last house seemed to have some good shit we could sell on Craigslist.”
“We’re no thieves. We’re salesmen making a good, clean, honest living selling watered down Windex.”
He nodded and put his hands in his pockets. We went to the next house. Same story. I said my spiel, the lady nodded her head and smiled as she slammed the door on our faces.
“You take the next few,” I said. “I need a break. Give me a smoke.”
“I only have five left.”
“I’ll get you back, I’m just asking for one.”
“Fine.” He dug into his pockets and pulled out a soft pack of Marlboro menthols. I grabbed one and lit up.
“You smoke this shit? What are you, black?”
“I’ve got a sore throat. This menthol is like sucking on a hot cough drop.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I said and motioned him onto the next house.
First thing he did was peek through the window. The blinds were drawn so he couldn’t get a good look. He turned to me for approval.
“Knock, knock,” I said. “Nobody buys shit from a guy who’s creeping on their front window.”
He nodded but instead of knocking he grabbed the doorknob. I put out my cigarette and ran for him.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
“Chill, man. Why do you wanna sell this watered down bullshit for five dollars when we can be making a hundred or more at pawn shops? Nobody’s fucking home and the door’s unlocked.”
He opened the door and walked in.
“No guts, no fucking money,” he said and tip-toed in.
The house was dark. Every window was covered in a black trash bag. The walls were bare at the entrance but as soon as we entered the kitchen, shit got weird.
“I’m hungry as fuck, man.”
Johnny opened the fridge. Inside there were only jars of yellow liquid labeled with women’s names and dates.
“Maybe they’re picklers. Maybe they’re aging brine. I don’t know. It looks like piss,” I said, shaking my head. I was getting the sweats. “We should get out of here.”
Johnny uncapped one of the mason jars and put his nose to it.
“It’s piss, man.” He put the cap back on. “Yuck. Let’s check a bedroom. There’s gotta be a TV or a VCR or a PlayStation or something that can catch us a few bucks.”
I started to back away.
“No. No. I’ve got a bad feeling. We should move on to the next house. This cleaning solution doesn’t sell itself.”
“We don’t sell it, either,” Johnny said and walked into the hallway. He opened the first door to the right. He stood there, shocked and stupid looking. Frozen at the entrance.
“What is it?”
“You gotta see this.”
As I walked toward him, I noticed the musty scent in the hallway. It smelled like sweat and dried blood. It wasn’t right at all.
“Holy shit,” I said.
Inside the room were shelves and shelves of locks of hair in little mason jars, all labeled with women’s names and dates.
“Shit’s weird, huh?” Johnny walked in. “I’ll take this room, you take the next. We’ll find something valuable.”
I was in too deep to turn back. We’d already been in for five minutes and, truth be told, I wanted to follow this yellow brick road to its end. Curiosity is a damn thing, isn’t it? I went into the next room. I was jittery and shaking, my palms were clammed up with sweat, my wet fingerprints were all over the damn place. This room was full of handcuffs hanging from the ceiling. It didn’t look like the fun, pink fuzzy handcuff, sex stuff.
“Fucking freaks,” I said under my breath and made the sign of the cross. “Jesus protect me.” I hadn’t spoken to Jesus for years.
“Don’t hurt…” a voice said. “Please, please, let me go.”
A woman, naked in the corner, was shaking. She was a blonde. Pretty tall, too. As soon as I looked at her, she looked away. I pulled the cleaning solution that hung by its nozzle on my back pocket out.
“Miss, you misunderstand me. I’ve got a miracle cleaning solution here. What do you use currently? Windex?”
“Please… let me go.”
“Windex is full of harmful chemicals. This here is fully organic, made with all natural ingredients. You’ll love it. Just watch.”
I looked around the room for a shiny surface to clean. There wasn’t much but the handcuffs. I grabbed them and sprayed two shots of watered down Windex onto it. It was crusted over with dried blood and what looked like snot. “What the fuck?”
The woman stood up and ran for the door, screaming. She tripped over a trap door and went flying for the wall. I heard her neck crack and her body, thick as a plank, hit the floor. She didn’t have any shakes, there was no breathing.
“Shit, shit, shit, shit,” I said. “Johnny! Johnny! We gotta get outta here!”
“Yo,” he called from the other room. “They got a fucking Nintendo 64! I’m taking it.”
“No, no, we gotta go.”
I opened the trap door. The smell of mold and rot hit my nose. There were photographs of blonde women smiling, all framed plastered all over the four walls of the crawlspace.
“Holy shit,” I said. “We could’ve saved her.”
“Hey, Miguel! Somebody’s home, man! I’m crashing out the fucking window. You gotta get outta here. I’ll meet you at McDonalds or something. You owe me a cigarette. Call me!”
Not long after, I heard the window break and him scream fuck.
“Shit, shit, shit,” I grabbed my bottle of cleaning solution. I couldn’t bust through a window. I had to take my chances and walk right out the front door. The footsteps came closer. As soon as I turned out of the room, my face met the sweaty bare chested motherfucker that owned this fucking dungeon. I could taste his chest hair in my mouth.
“What the fuck are you doing here?”
“No, sir, you misunderstand me. See, your wife let me in. She’s a real beauty. I was just demonstrating this wonderful cleaning solution. What do you normally use? Windex? Windex, man. Welcome to the global chemical conspiracy. This here,” I sprayed two shots into the air and breathed it in – always a good salesman, even in the face of death, “this here is 100% organic. I won’t have to worry about any nostril cancer. Now,” I said, shaking but in the heat of the moment I was on a roll, “you look like a man that has to clean up stains often. I know the kind of man. The kind of man who eats microwaveable cheeseburgers and adds ketchup. Ketchup spills, gets in the carpet, and your wife gives you a real hard time. With this cleaning solution, keep it in your back pocket, no worries. You make a mess? Let the cleaning solution do the rest!”
“No deal? Get two for ten dollars. A special only for you, friend,” I pulled a fresh bottle out of my backpack. “What do you say?”
“My wife still here?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “She’s here. Yep.”
He pulled twenty dollars out of his khakis.
“Leave the bottles on the table, keep the change, and show yourself out.”
“Thank you, sir!” I saluted him and smiled and power-walked out of the house. I left the whole fucking backpack on the table and slammed the door on the way out.
“I need a fucking shower,” I said to myself. I pulled out my cellphone and called Johnny. “First sale of the day, brother!”