It could not be said that he had ever aspired to the position of custodian. He had never said as a child to his father, "when I grow up I want to be a janitor." He had never explored the option of a vocational degree in custodial science when he had made his brief foray into the community college system.
It was something he had settled into like the dust he wipes from behind the curtains or vacuums from the heavy hair dryers in the beauty salons. He had started the cleaning business in desperation between jobs. He had hawked his expensive stereo and his TV for an industrial strength vacuum cleaner, two mops, a broom, some rags, and a bucket. He had arranged to rent a buffer when needed and set out to find some jobs. It was meant to be a stop gap to keep him fed and housed until he found some "real work," something where he sat behind a desk and had two trays, one marked IN and the other OUT. But that was 25 years ago. Cleaning jobs came easy. He had always had plenty of customers and the money hadn't been all that bad. . .
He had even come to enjoy it. There was something pleasurable in working the odd hours that others didn't work, the late nights, the early mornings in the predawn or at dawn when the gold light would melt the cold glass of the window into a warm honey. There was something pleasurable in working alone, in seeing places of business when no business was taking place, in noting the traces of the people who had worked in this place or that, but who were not here now, who were a palpable absence.