The Room


The state of my son's room has always irked me. He didn't put the sign on his door that reads 'Danger: Enter at Your Own Risk!' I did.

I count all the cats and make sure the dog is present before I go to work. I am always anxious that one of them will disappear into 'the room' never to be seen again.

The door to his room is always kept closed. It gives me a false sense of security.door.jpg (118K)

I love my son, but his ideas about what constitutes a clean room astound me. For example, here is a conversation between my son and I on the state of his room.

ME: Son, don't you think you should clean your room?

SON: I did.

ME: You did? When?

SON: Um, last week I think.

ME: I didn't see you clean it.

SON: You weren't here. I think you were at work or something.

ME: Okay, how many trash bags of trash did you take out?

SON: Trash?

Right here I know he did not clean his room. I have cleaned his room before. I know roughly how many trash bags of trash you can expect to get out of his room. And I am not talking tall kitchen trash bags. I am talking thirty-gallon lawn and leaf trash bags. At least seven to eight bags of trash. I remember one year I was only able to get five trash bags of trash. He had visited relatives in another state for a couple of months that summer.

I insist that the children keep their own rooms clean. They must throw their trash out, put dirty clothes in the hamper, and dispose of all hazardous materials, bio or otherwise, in the appropriate containers. Once every one to two years I must take matters into my own hands when it comes to my son's room. Either that or continue to buy new towels and dishes. I can't afford that so I gird my loins and go forth into the lair of my son.

This is the one and only time I ever go into his room. I don't concern myself with drugs or alcohol. Other contraband. Missing people. Things of that nature. If you ever get the opportunity to see his room, and if there is a God you won't, you will understand. It is a place that a horror writer could not imagine.

It takes me at least a week to psyche myself out. I have to prepare myself mentally for the task ahead. I buy an extra box of trash bags and paper towels. I check the vacuum cleaner to make sure that the belt is strong and the bag is new. I get the snow shovel out of the garage and keep it by the back door in the kitchen to remind me of the hideous task ahead. I will need this to assist in the removal of unidentifiable and/or broken, torn, stained items.

I put on sweat pants and an old shirt, my hair in a pony tail, and don some old sneakers. I gather up my shovel and the clothes hamper. Getting some old rags for unexpected spillages and my box of trash bags, I approach cautiously. The cats have to be shut up in another room for their safety. I know those two. They'd be in there in a flash and I can't take any chances. The dog on the other hand stays downstairs and refuses to come anywhere near the room. I should have suspected something then.

Holding my breath I open the door slowly. The room is gloomy from the closed black curtains on the two windows. Even though it is a nice warm Saturday afternoon, the room is another world entirely. There is a slight chill in the air and a smell of sour sweat and testosterone. The piles of clothes and paper start two feet from the door and cover every inch of the rug. At least I think there is a rug. There was the last time I cleaned the room a year and a half ago.

There is feeling like I am not alone in the room as soon as I step in on the one clear space right inside the open door. I feel like I am being watched. Shaking off the feeling I begin my work.

I start at the doorway because I can't enter the room unless I walk on the things on the floor. I would rather not as I do not know what is under there. I pick up one item after the other and either toss in the hamper or a trash bag depending on what it is. Or at least what I think it is. If I can't decide for sure what it is I toss it in the bag.

The hamper is beside the door in the hallway.
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I have the lid up so all I have to do is throw any clothes and towels that are redeemable into it. I have become quite good at shooting baskets. I can shoot into the hamper from across the room without touching the edges

My towels and washcloths I toss in the hamper where most of them make a 'thump' noise. They are heavy and stiff and I don't want to know why. The smell is horrendous as it is.

I slowly make my way over to the bed. I strip the linens, which smell awful. I put all loose paper in the trash can whether there is writing on it or not. If it is important it shouldn't have been on the floor. From past experience I know that he won't say a word about some things being gone. As long as I leave the Lego's and the comic books alone he is happy.

I reach his desk and start to clear it of junk. There are dishes with spoons permanently stuck on them. What ever he used for cement is stronger than anything on the market. Or in some secret lab somewhere! If I knew how he did it I could make a million.

I am almost over to the other side of the room when I smell it. I have no idea what it is and am almost afraid to find out. I pick up trash and clothes one piece at a time until I reach the corner of the room. The smell is stronger here. There is an old army jacket on the floor. I haven't seen him wear that thing in a long time. I reach for it and it shifts. I jump back in surprise emitting an oath and watch the jacket. Nothing happens. It doesn't move again. I reach for it the second time and raise it up. A carcass! I drop the jacket again and go back to the desk. There is a carcass under that jacket. A dead carcass! The question is what kind of animal had it been.

I go back after gathering my nerve again. What ever it was, it has to be dealt with. I, again, pick up the jacket and look. There in a pile of papers dated last year, is the mummified carcass of some animal. I am not sure what kind because of the condition of the body.

The eye sockets are empty but the long snout and the mouth is stretched permanently in a grimace of fear. There are incisor teeth and a lot of little teeth. Could be a possum but the fur is gone and there is no tail so I can't be sure. I just hope it wasn't some ambassador of a foreign planet lost on its voyage. This could cause interstellar war.

Using the shovel, I pick the alien carcass up and put it in a bag all by itself. It feels light but still has a stench to it. I take the bag through the living room to the kitchen to place it outside. The dog sees me and goes to hide behind the sofa whimpering in fear. I will send the body to a biologist friend of mine at the local college. He will be able to tell me what it is. I hope!

I go back and clean the rest of the room. I get three baskets of his clothes and one of my towels. The dishes I found will take two sinks of water to clean. I also remove eight bags of trash. As usual! I sweep and dust and put clean sheets on the bed. While the washer is running, I wipe the cobwebs off the walls and out of the corners of the ceiling.

I am finally done and stand back. Though my son is sixteen I put Sgt. Bear on his pillow. It was a gift from his father. It is a Teddy bear wearing fatigues complete with combat boots. He will end up in the closet again but for now he puts the finishing touches on a clean room.

I stand at the door and look at the room. It is clean again. Sunlight shining through the window! Hopefully it will be clean for a while. Sighing, I know I am dreaming but they say hope springs eternal. Who knows? He might actually like a clean room one day. Laughing, I suddenly realize whom I am thinking about and go back downstairs shaking my head. Must be the fumes from the furniture polish making me think such silly things.

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