Saturday, April 17, 2021

The Night Cleaner by Darren Arthurs

 Working as the night cleaner in the last remaining department store in town may not be everyone’s idea of a dream job but Eve liked it. It allowed her time away from her nagging parents and the peace and quiet was quickly becoming addictive. At first it was spooky; quietly moving around the large spaces, vacuuming, polishing, straightening and buffing, but after a week or so, she began to enjoy it. Caitlyn, her cleaning buddy, had recently given up working on Tuesdays, leaving Eve the run of the shop and the once tempting thought of trying on clothes and wearing the taster make up turned into a weekly fashion parade for her. Wearing clothes was one thing, but her application of makeup left a lot to be desired, she was improving but she still resembled one of the shops’ mannequins.

It was while she was heavily made up and standing near a display doll, dressed in that week’s new clothes that she heard men walking up the stairs.

“Jewellery and leather” one said as if requesting bread and milk from Tesco around the corner.

“I know, I know!” the other replied.

Eve froze. What should she do? She was going to witness a robbery but making her presence known could mean trouble for her. She flung her arm around the nearest mannequin and stood stock still while the men went shopping, each filling a bag with watches, handbags, shoes and jewels, all under the frightened eye of the night cleaner.

“Let’s go!” the first one called, heading to the stairs.

But the second hesitated and stared at Eve, squinting, mouth open.

“Come on!” came the order and the man hurried away, leaving Eve to breathe easier.

“The mannequin”, he began, “She winked at me.”

© Darren Arthurs

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