Thanks to Cathy

Maid Service
K Hanna Korossy

"They finally gone?" Sally asked as she pushed her cart past.

Myra glanced up at her, then at the door she was about to open. "Mr. Hannity said they left in the middle of the night. Stuck the keys through the mail slot."

Sally snorted. "Left as weird as they stayed. Good luck with that one—two young hellraisers like that for a week with no service? You're gonna be working on that room all day, girl."

Myra cocked an eyebrow. "Are you offering to help?"

Sally's laugh was her only answer as she disappeared down the hall.

Myra sighed. Sally was probably right. Myra hadn't seen the two young men staying in 109, although Angela had said they were lookers, and polite. But they'd kept strange hours, driven a hooligan car, and left as secretly as they'd stayed, after not wanting maid service all week. Myra didn't have high hopes for the room as she pushed the door open.

Well. It wasn't as bad as she'd feared, anyway. They hadn't stripped the room, like some did, nor broken furniture like the occasional hoodlums. Place was a mess but, well, they were two young men. Myra rolled her cart to the door, grabbed a handful of linens, and started with the beds.

Actually, no, she was starting with the heat. It was hot as the Devil's own oven in there—why on earth would they have the heat cranked up like that in early October? Shaking her head, Myra turned the thermostat down, then tackled the beds.

The far one was really mussed, sheets half pulled off the mattress and all the extra blankets from the closet heaped messily on it. She stripped the old bedding and put on new, pausing at the stiff spot on one of the pillows. Tears: she knew the signs. Probably had a nightmare, poor thing. Myra clucked and changed the pillowcase.

One of the chairs was shoved up to the end of the bed and had to be returned to its place. Angela had said something about the young men being tall, but the beds weren't that short. One of them must've been a giant to need the extra room.

The bed closer to the door was less messy, although it smelled of sweat. The whole room did—of course, young men and all—but the bed especially. There was also a spot of what looked like oil at the far end, and Myra frowned at it. Didn't smell like any oil she'd smelled before. Strange. Maybe it was some newfangled men's thing. Toby might know; she'd ask him that evening.

The trashcans were next, and Myra grimaced at the overflow piled up around the small bin. Mostly empty beer bottles, and while Toby and the boys regularly knocked back a few, this was excessive even for a week. Alcoholics both, or just one of them? That would explain the rumpled bed and probably even the tears. Maybe the oil stain on the sheet was some kind of homemade headache remedy.

Myra carefully collected the cans and bottles into the recycling bag—Mr. Hannity didn't bother with recycling, the old cheapskate, but she thought saving the planet was kind of important—and picked through the rest. A lot of crumpled pieces of paper, mostly photocopies. She smoothed one out against her apron. Looked like something about the history of the town. Another paper yielded local folklore. Maybe they were historians? Or working on a book? There'd been that man who'd stayed down the hall a few years back that Imelda still swore was Mr. Stephen King himself.

Myra stuffed the trash down into the bag hanging off her cart, raising an eyebrow at all the coffee cups mixed in with it. Self-medication for all those hangovers, no doubt. Shaking her head, she put a fresh bag in the trashcan and plopped it back by the door.

Something caught her eye as she started to straighten up, and Myra bent down, then slowly folded to her knees. Was that…sugar? The line of it against the doorjamb was too heavy and neat to have been spilled there by accident. Were they trying to bring in every ant and bee in the county? Although… She sniffed lightly. No, not sugar; maybe salt. Which made a little more sense. Sherese was always complaining about the snails eating her garden; maybe a few of them had been wandering into the rooms, too. Myra would have to ask the other girls. Odd that the young men had bothered to put down salt to repel the things, but perhaps they had some sort of aversion to slugs. Wouldn't be the weirdest phobia Myra had ever seen. That young lady who covered up everything yellow in her room won that prize, or the family that had asked for a room without westward facing beds. There were definitely some oddballs out there.

It didn't take long to sweep up the salt, but to her chagrin, Myra found some lining the windowsills, too. Probably meant the bathroom had been similarly fortified, but she'd cross that bridge then. For now she just sighed and went to get the vacuum cleaner.

The floor wasn't too bad. The carpet was dark, a deliberate choice of management, which Myra thought more than a little wise if misleading. There were several pizza boxes piled by the TV, and Myra made a face as she gathered them: boys and their diets! Cholesterol would kill those two before the alcohol did at this rate. They just weren't very good at looking after themselves, and Myra wondered passingly if they'd been raised by a woman. Little of their room thus far struck her as well-brought-up young men, no matter what Angela said.

Well, the bathroom was the real test. She glanced over the bedroom one more time as she wound up the vacuum's cord and, nodding with satisfaction, pushed the washroom door open.

And blanched.

Myra reached out tentatively to pick up one of the rusty towels with two fingers. She was a mother; she'd cleaned up blood aplenty before. She knew the difference between ax-murderer pools of blood and household-accident blood splatters. This wasn't the former…but it wasn't just the latter. A more serious accident, perhaps a drunken one. In all, three towels had soaked up a fair amount of blood. At least they were piled in the sink instead of all over the floor, but… Shivering, Myra went to get the rubber gloves Mr. Hannity wanted them to wear but that they rarely bothered with. No telling what diseases people had these days.

She dumped the towels in the laundry bag, making sure no wet parts stained the bag, but the towels all seemed stiff and dry. The trashcan came next, and Myra looked curiously at the red-soaked dental floss in it. A mouth injury? They did bleed quite a bit. Sighing, she dumped the trash and went on to scrub the sink.

The shower was surprisingly clean, although there were several longer brown hairs in the drain trap and the little bottles of conditioner had been used up. Myra tsked under her breath as she cleaned out the trap; seems like those two young men weren't alone the full week, after all. Women often went with wine, after all.

But there was also…blood? A clot of blood in the trap, it looked like, and Myra winced again. If the sheriff hadn't sworn those attacks outside town were a wild animal, Myra would be a little suspicious. As it was, though, drunken, clumsy, wild young men were a far likelier explanation. And while that was no crime, well, she had her opinions on her matter.

The salt, and she was pretty sure now it was salt—perhaps the excessive drinking had created a little snail paranoia?—cleaned off the windowsill, Myra gave the room a quick mop and then opened the window to let it air. By the time the next occupants came, there'd be no sign of the shenanigans that had gone on there.

It was sheer coincidence as Myra moved back into the bedroom that she glanced up—they didn't usually clean the ceilings, too—and froze.

Good Lord, those two must have been completely off their gourds to paint graffiti like that on the ceiling! Almost looked Satanic, except Toby had told her once those devil worshippers preferred altars and drew their evil scratchings on the floor in blood, not on the ceilings in…was that spray paint? Well, Mr. Hannity would love that. At least it wasn't her responsibility; she'd have to tell Hank to add it to his fix-it list.

One more look around the room, and Myra was satisfied it was as clean as she could leave it. She backed the vacuum out and locked the door carefully behind her. Honestly, why couldn't more of their visitors be like that nice man down in 308 who never even seemed to use the bed and had left without a peep the day before? He'd forgotten his suitcase, but still, such a quiet, pleasant guest.

Well, Myra thought as she pushed the cart down the hall, those two young men would learn their lesson. Mr. Hannity would doubtless have their credit card on file; they would end up paying for the damages their drunken, accident-prone stay had left behind. That would teach them.

Myra unlocked the door to 107, mind already moving on to the job that lay ahead in the next room.

The End