"You see the thing is." He stopped, opened his mouth, and gulped some air. "The thing about these little suckers is they're mainly attracted to human Carbon Dioxide. That's C-O-2, ya know?" The casual nature of his speech, matched his shirt, shoes, face and demeanor. A little bit scummed-up.
"What do you mean human Carbon Dioxide? Isn't it just all Carbon Dioxide?" I asked. The situation was getting the better of me. I was tired, and taking on a tone.
"Yeah, I know, you'd think so; but you see here?" He said as he lifted a lumpy pillow to my face, and began pointing out a variety of specs. "You see how all a these little spots kind of form a circle here?" I could now tell that he was really loving his job now. His body language had become as sparkly and crisp as a cup of soda water, and his eyes and smile yawned and woke up.
"Yah, I guess I see that. Sure,” I responded.
"See those are the blood spots from when you were turnin' over in your sleep and squashin' the little guys that were feeding up on ya. They're just eatin, suckin, havin a good ol’ time, an then they get greedy an full…"
"Of my blood,” I interrupted. I was getting as snarky, as he was remaining dense.
“Now you’re getting it, then SPLATTO!” He slapped his palms together and chuckled for a moment to himself. I waited for him to stop to speak.
"That's a lot of blood," I said.
"Well, some of its feces, ya see. After awhile your head just kind of mashes it all together in your sleep; but, right here," he pointed to a spot, "that's blood. And right here," he pointed to an identical spot, "that's dookie."
"That's great," I responded. "So, it's official - I have bedbugs."
"Hell yeah you do! Big-time! I’d say a good four on a scale a one ta ten.”
“That’s a lot?” I asked.
“That’s a lot.” He thrust a metal clipboard up into my chest.
"What's this?" I asked.
"You gotta sign this, so we can come back and kill the little bastards." He was beaming at this prospect.
"Come back?" I was shocked. "Aren't you gonna take care of it now?"
"Oh no, we gotta lot more jobs ahead a this one, I'm sorry to tell ya." He was scrolling through a dirty electric calendar, he’d unclipped from his ragged waist-belt. Actually, as I looked at him, everything on or around him was either dirty, ragged, or both. Could it be that my perception was now colored by the realization of the existence of bugs attracted to my breathing; nightly sucking on my face, chest and head? Was I looking down upon this man? Why? Why, because he's blue-collar? A dirty-jobs guy? No, certainly not. I've washed dishes at an Applebee's - I know what it is, to work in the business of filth.
"It looks like we can be back in about two and a half weeks, to freeze these little scumbags." He chortled. I'm not kidding. He chortled. O, that's what it was. I had thought myself, somehow capable of being socially pretentious, but that wasn't really true at all. I wasn't disgusted by this man, because of what he did for a living. I was disgusted by this man; because, he was pretty disgusting.
He slammed his clipboard down on my entry-hall bureau. "Now just gimme your ol' sig-ne-ture, here,.. And here." He held his pen out to me. He held his pen out to me with his hands that were still gloved in the blue medical grade latex that he had been wearing since he arrived. Since he arrived! Oh, my god, I just realized that he had been wearing those gloves since he arrived! Where was he before he was here? He had no problem picking up and pushing around my bloody, dumpy pillow. But who's pillow was on my pillow now? I was feeling faint. I was feeling a real heavy throat-gag coming on. I felt my knees were giving out.
"Hey you still with me buddy?" He looked concerned (how sweet.).
"Um, yah I'm fine, just a little warm I guess." I was gaining back some footing.
"Yah well, it's only gonna get hotter, believe you me. May in the city is a picnic compared t' August. So if you could just sign that bad-boy there, I'll be on my way. Lotta jobs I still got today. Pests don't sleep, so neither do I." He held the pen out again.
"You don't sleep?" I inquired.
"Well, It's just a thing I say, or you know, it's a thing people say,” He replied.
"Oh, I see." I said.
Then he leaned into me deep, the bleachy smell of chemicals filling and stinging my nostrils. His voice got deep and quiet. "But you wouldn't sleep either, if you'd seen the things I'd seen." He slowly lifted the pen up to my face, and the dark cloud that had just formed over him dissipated. "Sign please." He toothy-smiled.
I reached into my pocket, producing a pen of my own, and scribbled my messy initials in two places.
"All right, well that's gonna do it. And we'll see ya then." He patted my back (gloved hand), and left, reminding me that in the City there is no clean or dirty, but rather a battle between both filth and denial dancing in constant around us.