The cleaner

Phillip had been a medical student, he had passed all his qualifications with ease, he was very academic. His problems started during his two years spent as a foundation officer in a large city hospital. No matter how well he could do the job he had trained for, the hours were killing him, he felt. Just twelve months in, he was caught out on a random drug test. There was no warning, he could have easily sourced cleanish urine from hospital patients, depending on the ailment of course. He would be busted if the urine was to show he was pregnant or under heavy sedation, but no warning had been given. He had been hammering cocaine to keep him awake enough to work, trailing off to speed towards the end of the month as his funds dwindled towards payday. It was exhausting, no matter how much he had mentally prepared himself during his five years at university, an eighteen hour shift was a killer, some points on call twenty four hours a day, the more exhausted he became the more fuzzy his brain got. Two weeks before he drugs test, he had mistakenly injected some pharmaceutical concoction in to his own hand, rather than the hand of the patient he was dealing with. This was with the aid of the Colombian marching powder, he hated to think how he would be doing with out the upper in his system. He had attended a meeting of the medical board to decide his fate, and after an hours deliberation, he was struck off. That was that, no matter how much he pleaded his case, pointed out the hard hours, minimal down time, they would not be budged, and his career was over before it had a chance to start.

With a failed medical career behind him he found it tough to find a job, the recession was not helping matters either. He did not come from a rich family, and had to make the most of scholarships and part time jobs, and while training in the hospital he was living from paycheque to paycheque. One afternoon while at his dealers house, they got in to a conversation on life, as stoners tend to do,
“I cant believe how quick my life fell apart” Phillip said, hanging his head,
“Employers don’t like illegal narcotics, haha, and no warning, that’s harsh man” Dominic said exhaling a trail of his favourite bud filled smoke,
“All that learning, practical experience, a degree, A-levels, and I cant get a job sweeping floors in MacDonalds, fucking recession” Philip barked as he began to get angry,
“Times are hard bud, I am lucky to be in a recession proof business, stoners will always find the cash for their favourite sin. I have a number of contacts in the shadows of illegality, I will ask around see if any can use your skills, it’s a line of work that thrives in the harder times, organised crime always profits regardless of the economic state of the world” Dominic informed his friend,
“What kind of work is on offer?” Philip asked, getting worried about this line of enquiry,
“I don’t want to say too much, I have an idea who I will call, but if that does not materialise I am sure I can source other offers, and you don’t have to take it, it is just an option” Dominic finished, passing the joint to Phillip. This was where they left the conversation, and begun to play FIFA19 on the PlayStation. By the following week, Phillip had forgotten all about it.

Three weeks later, just as Philip was about to call Dominic for a refill on his illegal substance prescription, his phone rang and vibrated just as he had picked it up off the table, it scared him to almost dropping the phone in reflex,
“Go figure, its weird when that happens” Philip said to an empty room, the call coming in to his phone was from Dominic,
“Haha, I was just going to ring you about a purchase” Philip said as he answers his phone,
“Haha, well in that case pop over and we can kill two birds with one stoner mate” Dominic said cryptically in reply.
“Ok bud, give me twenty and I will be with you” Philip replied picking up his coat and heading for the door. He fumbled in his mind for the reason Dominic had called him, then it dawned on him, it was most likely to be about the ‘job’. He drove up the long gravel drive to the mansion Dominic lived in, he had inherited this from his parents after their private jet crashed, killing them both. Before this he lived in a glorious apartment in Manhattan and lived off an allowance from his father, and the cash from selling drugs and making introductions of the less that kosher kind. He now he splits his time between the UK and USA, he was the black sheep of the family, its rumoured that he was under investigation by the NYPD, so he came here to let the heat die down, but it was just gossip. He had always had all his sticky little fingers in all the sticky little pies on both sides of the Atlantic, he had been kicked out of school for drug offences, and been tied up in the sinking of a private yacht or something like that, and even after the fate of his parents, he had jumped in to another family aircraft and fled to the UK. Philip was greeted at the door by Hobson, the house steward, and shown through to the large sitting room.

Here was Dominic, sitting on a massive bean bag, he had pushed all the priceless antique furniture to the edges of the room, to give him space to redesign the room to his needs. Dominic raises his free right hand to welcome his friend and followed up with a dozy,
“Phiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiillllliiiippppppppp AAAHHHHH!” His usual greeting from Dom,
“Ddddddoooooooooooommmmmmonnnnniiiicccccccaaaaaaaaaaaa” was the standard reply from Phillip,
Hobson, coffee for my guest and myself, please” Dom instructed his man,
“Right away sir” Hobson replied and left the room. Ten minutes later he returned with the coffee, and then left them to their conversation.
“Right Phillip, me old china” Dom said in his best cockney accent,
“I have a lead for you, do you know what a cleaner is?, and I don’t mean the daft old woman you get in to do the housework” Dominic asked as he rolled the first of two monster joints, he hands one to Phillip,
“Cheesy Dick, it’s a new strain of cheese, obviously, I bought it just to offer people my cheesy dick, it just cracks me up every time, hahahahaha” Dom added with a chuckle, Phillip could not help joining in the laughter, and if Dom’s joints were anything to go by he reckoned on hysteria setting in about half way through the smoke, he was not wrong.
“So, before we get too stoned, because we will, I have a contact looking for a cleaner, in his line of work it is a person who cleans up a dead body, leaving no evidence at the crime scene” Dom began,
“Right, okay, go on” Phillip hastened him,
“With your medical background, your grasp of chemistry, biology and skill as a would be surgeon, I thought this job would be perfect for you, I thought anyway.” Dom finished and reclined back in his bean bag,
“Oh, oh, yeah, it pays fantastic money, you could get back on the cocaine train” added an eager Dom,
“Well, I certainly could dispose of a body without too much mental strain, chemicals can do it, enzymes, it is not that hard, when do you need to know by?” Phillip mused on the offer, and the thought of the cocaine train made him laugh,
“Yeah, it is time sensitive, so now, ish” Dom said getting serious momentarily,
“Ok, yeah, got nothing else on offer, so whats next?” Phillip said, followed by a long draw on his smoke,
“Cool, well, I will set up a meeting here, between you and my contact, you can hammer out the details and come up with something you both benefit from” and Dominic left it at that, just as the buzz took hold of the pair, quickly followed by the forecasted hysteria.

The meeting was held in a private room at a local mid-range strip joint, the kind of place frequented by drunken stag do’s when the pubs have closed, and because they are too pissed to dance, but still feel the need to drink even more. The man with no name sat there smoking a massive cigar, and oddly in this dimly lit side room, was wearing sunglasses through the whole meeting. Phillip was feeling slightly uncomfortable, the man sat opposite had killed many people, and more than likely more able to handle themselves than Phillip could. This man explained how it would work, how much it paid. It all seemed straight forward, and there was, behind the gangster façade was a quite likeable man. Once the business was concluded, he rose from his seat, shook Phillips hand, and said,
“Got a job later this week, I will contact you when I am ready for you, give you the address and stuff, then you will be paid within twenty four hours, god night and may we make a shit ton of cash together, hahaha” he walked out the door, and after a few minutes he too vacated the room, passing by the heavy breathers and gyrating naked female bodies. He had never seen the point of watching strippers, all that erotica and nowhere to release your frustrations, although he had not used the toilets, and the carpet was a little sticky below his feet. The smell of this place was beginning catch at the back of his throat, causing him to gag a little, below the heavy scent’s of female perfume, was a more primal odour of male musk, testosterone filled the air, cigarette smoke and other sour hints he could not quite place. Outside in the street he took half a dozen lung fulls of air, just to flush out the strip club, turned up the faux fur collar on his jacket and wandered off in to the night.

That was ten years ago, over the years he had proved more and more proficient at his new trade. He would be given an address, usually a hand delivered note, which he would then memorise and burn, and head off to complete his task. There would normally be a shoe box that contained his payment at the address or if not, hand delivered, and of course a dead body. He had only met his employer once, in that dark club in Soho, he could not have given an accurate description of him once he had left the club, now a decade on, he could pass the man in the street and not recognise him. He realised that the thing that kept him alive was his proficiency at the art of disposal, and most of his employers victims were still officially missing. Due to the lack of contact with his boss socially, he had no idea wether taking jobs from other bad men was ok, but they all knew his boss, and he must have known, so, took on jobs for other bad men in need, this had been the case for seven years now, and he had not yet received a reprimand from his employer. He had not been kept on by retainer, and saw no reason he should not build his new business, and it was, as Dom had said, recession proof, no matter how well or how bad the economic climate was, he was always kept employed, and it was also very lucrative. He had created his own recipe for the solution to basically dissolve human matter, bones, teeth, hair and flesh, although, he had quickly learnt that this solution had to be sieved upon disposal. The best bit was he could quote his own freelance price, well above the rate he was paid by the shadowy boss.

One of his first jobs had involved an ex-footballer, like many he had fallen in to gambling, and had built up a rather large, unpayable debt, to a rather unpleasant bookie, who had employed Phillips boss to finish this mans gambling addiction, permanently. His boss had removed the jewellery from the corpse to give to the bookie as payment towards the debt. Phillip had cut the body down in to smaller pieces to hasten the process, and taken the barrel to a derelict part of town and emptied the contents in to a storm drain, but he had failed to see the collection of surgical pins that held this mans lower leg together, and old injury from a rather strong tackle that had ended the players career. These had been found by a group of children playing hooky from school, and shown to their parents who in turn passed them on to the police. This had been proof that the recipient of these pins was no longer walking the face of the earth, and the serial numbers confirmed the identity of the victim. It was not enough evidence to investigate any one in particular, and the case went cold, and was then replaced by a bigger news story in a new cycle of worldly woe. The only reason, Phillip guessed, that he remained alive himself, because he had got word to his boss through Dom, an apology and promise to be more careful in the future, a stern warning had come back to him to make sure that there were no clues left behind, next time will be more than a rap on the knuckles. Reading the note, Phillip felt the grip of fear, and a few sleepless nights in the following weeks, but that was eight years ago now, and he was still here.

He stood in the latest address, in an expensive part of town looking at his latest client, badly beaten and partially dismembered, golden blonde hair matted with blood, she sat there tied to the chair from her dressing table, naked, he could tell through all the mess it was a woman, in her late thirty’s he guessed. In the pictures that hung from walls and adorned cabinet surfaces, he could tell she was once an attractive woman, he felt, for the first time ever an pang of pity hit the bottom of his stomach. In the bedside bin were a collection of fingers and a hand, roughly fragmented at the cuts indicated it had been done with a tool less than sharp, to inflict more pain than a sharper tool. He recognised the man in the pictures around the room, Dean Simmonds, which he guessed made this his wife, and due to size of the body downstairs, he guessed it was Deans second, Harry Cross, he had been beaten and stabbed to a point where he was no longer recognisable by eye. He had placed the two barrels downstairs, he would dissect the female body up here and carry it down piece by piece, easier than dragging the whole body down or the barrels up, he laid out a sheet of heavy duty plastic on the floor, laid the body on top and began cutting. He had done a course on butchery to complement his medical knowledge, to be able to make the job more efficient and very quick, by cutting at the joints, it was easy to cut through cartilage, than it was to cut through bone. Once done he carried her down bit by bit, and deposited them in the barrel, wrapped the final piece in the sheet of plastic and dumped that in to the barrel, he then began on the large male victim.

Just at that moment a team of house cleaners came in to sanitise everything else in the house, the leader of the group, Gert, was a small ferocious woman from East Germany, and the heavy rimmed black framed glasses she wore were less than flattering. She had escaped the soviet control about eighteen month before the wall came down. Her trade craft had been learnt doing similar work for the Stasi before she escaped, a quick hello was exchanged between Phillip and Gert, they were familiar with each other, but never said more than, hello, for ten years, never another word shared. Phillip often laughed at the thought of one day substituting, ‘hello’, with a, ‘hiya’, or, ‘watchya’, or some other different type of acknowledgement just to see if it would freak her out, but he was not brave enough, she look like she knew a thousand ways to kill without leaving a trace. There was never a mutter or eye contact with any of her charges, they just moved quickly, but quietly to there tasks. Once finished Phillip he loaded both barrels in to the rear of his van and securing them in place, he drove at the speed limit of the roads he traveled, it would take several hours for his concoction to finish doing its job, and to be caught speeding with that in the back, would not go down well with the local plod. He pulled in to a services just off the motorway for a coffee and a burger, he was only about twenty miles from his destination, but needed to kill time. It was always the same process, there was a gravel pit not far off the motorway, it had been exhausted, filled with water and fish, and sold as a fishing location. This was closed season, so there would be no chance of meeting a night fisherman, during the fishing season there is a gravel pit still being dug, another quiet spot to empty his cargo.

Sitting down in his apartment an hour or so later he sat back on his reclining chair, savoured his drink, and enjoyed a smoke. He tried to justify to himself as usual, he never killed anyone, or did the fact that he help his boss to kill make him just as bad? In the eyes of the law he was just as guilty, oh well, best not get caught, he sniggered to himself. He had another job booked for the weekend, this was a personal job, revenge for the unlawful killing of his grandmother, he was looking forward to that. He must have a word with Gert, get a good price on the use of her services. He was going to make sure his radical support group were not implicated in the horror they were about to perform.

For now he was happy to just enjoy his new life, more money, less hours, and back on the cocaine train, life was good. There was plenty of work out there for him, he didn’t charged his dark mysterious ‘boss’, an envelope would arrive within twenty four hours, always the same amount, and increased when there are multiple bodies. He had no quibble with this fee, and had to admit to himself it was just pure greed to freelance for others. He had a large figure in his head that he wanted to reach before he disappeared, he had been talking to a mate who had been a hitman for a number of years, his dream was to sail in to the sunset on his own super yacht and never be seen again. He felt the only way to avoid being dragged back in to the life was to be unreachable, which had made Phillip think. He had worried that giving his boss a months notice may just give him four weeks to find time to kill him off and guarantee his employees silence.

He felt the way to avoid a premature death would be to disappear, he had spent a few years stock piling various items, pharmaceuticals, ambient foods, illegal narcotics, clothes, electrical’s and anything else that takes his fancy. He owned a warehouse near a marina where he kept his stock, he had been taken by the idea of sailing away. He was, however, not keen on living from port to port, and had been keeping an eye on islands in the South Pacific, get some local builders in, build a house and just live in the pleasant surroundings, with himself for company, maybe a dog or four. His ideal figure was quite a way off, plenty more bodies needed to disappear before that would happen. He flicked the TV on, and as he looked around the room he saw every available space was filled by the spirits of his passed jobs,
“Everyone ok with a Sifi movie tonight, not in the mood for horror” he said to them all, and each one nodded in agreement,
“How could I ever be lonely with all you apparitions to keep me entertained” he finished with a chuckle.

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