In a continuation of my “spooky” and “creepy” October theme, I’d like to tell you about a very scary place I had to clean. It’s a different scary then when I found all the little cat coffins in the Cat Lady’s house (you can read about it here). Don’t get me wrong, most cleaning is scary, and sometimes just plain frightening. If you’ve seen what I’ve seen, you would have given up the occupation long ago. But I am a professional.
Like, have you ever looked under your kitchen faucet, where the water comes out. If not, you’re in for a treat. Yup, you wash your dishes with that grossness. How about underneath a shower door that swings open and closed? If the frame is metal, and you’ve never cleaned it, I bet you could make enough penicillin for a small country. Go ahead and check. I’ll wait…
Now that you’ve bleached your whole house and made sure the kids are up-to-date on all their shots, I’ll get back to my story. I had an offer a few years back to clean an office building in the downtown area where I live. It was around Halloween. I live in a very historic town which dates back to the 1700s. Ghosts and haunted houses abound, so much so that during this time of year, they have ghost tours, right around the very spot I was supposed to clean. And mind you, when I say office building, this wasn’t a shiny windowed sky scraper. This was an old two story house.
So I had to get there at 7 pm, after all the office people had left. It was already dark by then when I pulled up. It was that deep, winter darkness where it could have been midnight save for what the clock said.
The street itself was a charming downtown side street with nicely kept residences on either side. Except for this place. This place looked like progress had skipped over it like a tornado skips over a one house and hits the next. The house itself looked like it was leaning to one side, with paint-chipped, pane windows in front straining from the weight of it. It looked like an old movie poster I saw with a lonely, leaning house on the hill, with one arm coming out of it beckoning you to come in. Maybe that was in a dream I had.
The instructions were to go in the back door, so I walked around and opened the wrought iron side gate. It made a wretched squeal that sent chills up my spine. Then a black cat ran out in front of me. Oh great! Bad omen anyone? I wouldn’t except anything else at that point.
I walked down the weed-covered path and found the back door. Even the key they gave me looked ancient. I unlocked the door and opened it. Of course the solid wooden door screeched on it’s hinges. I thought about just turning around and leaving, but I am a professional. Maybe not a smart one at this point, but a professional nonetheless.
Thankfully, the light switch was right inside and I hit it. I was expecting to see Dracula jumping out of his coffin, but instead, it looked like a regular office. The room I entered had three desks lined up along the tan-painted walls. Computer monitors and phones adorned the desks with house plants lining the window sills. Nothing scary at all. I sighed in relief and laughed at myself for getting so jumpy.
So I put all my supplies down and survey the place. All the bedrooms were used as offices. The kitchen had been upgraded with new appliances and used as a break room and the floors had all the original wood, but redone. Modern upstairs and downstairs bath. Piece of cake, I thought.
So I got to work. About a half an hour in, I heard a rumbling noise. It felt like it shook the whole house. Probably just the furnace, I thought. At the same time, the light above my head started to flicker. I felt myself get a little anxious. It’s nothing, I thought. Old wiring. So I went about my business, remembering my professionalism.
I got to the kitchen and started cleaning it. I turned on the sink faucet. Nothing. No water. I turned it off and on again. Huh? Then all of a sudden brown sludge shot out of the faucet and I screamed. Then the water ran clear. I felt my heart pounding and I sat down at the dining room table and composed myself. Old plumbing?
I finished the kitchen and it was time to go upstairs. The dark stairwell was eerily illuminated by the red “Exit” sign at the top. I hit the light switch at the bottom and nothing happened. I hit it again. Nothing. You’re kidding me. I took a deep breath and slowly ascended the creaky stairs, repeating to myself “It’s all in your head. There’s no such thing as ghosts.” I got to the top of the stairs and thankfully the light worked. Again, it was a regular office, the same as downstairs. I let out the breath I was holding and continued my work. I even chuckled at myself at how easily I scare.
So I’m going about my business and dusting the upstairs when I hear a thump in one of the office closets. I immediately froze. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. Old closet? Brushing it off, I continued dusting. Then I heard it again. Come on Cleaning Lady! Professionalism!
I walked over to the closet and threw open the door! A broom fell out and hit me square in the head. I fell backwards onto the floor screaming. If a witch was riding the broom I wouldn’t have been more shocked. I lay on the floor for a second and started laughing hysterically. Then a mouse ran straight across my chest. Then I started screaming hysterically. I flew downstairs and out of the house, swatting myself like a swarm of bees was attacking me. If there were any ghosts in the house, I scared them away with my hysterical banshee screams.
I got to my car and realized I left all my cleaning supplies inside. “Forget it,” I said. “I’ll get more.” Guess I’m just not cut out for night work and perhaps I’m not as professional as I thought I was. Things that go bump in the night are not my strong suite.