No Gold Watch

Written for Flash! Friday vol 3-6. This week’s prompt is to include a janitor, along with the photo prompt by Vlad.

“You one of the good ones, Princ’pal.” He rolled the mop bucket into the corner one last time, then scratched his white neckbeard thoughtfully. “Janitors is underappreciated, but they’s the heart of society.”

Principal Julian clutched the plastic Lifetime Appreciation plaque, awaiting his chance to present it.

“Rome…” He tapped the tattered publicity photo of the Colosseum, one of a dozen faded tourism posters on the wall. “Not conquered. Just fell apart. Warn’t nobody cleanin’ it up. They lost their janitors, and everything collapsed.”

None of the faculty remembered a time before Janitor Dave, his threadbare overalls and patent leather shoes. Legend told that he dropped out in the 60s but never left.

“I done lots of good here,” he reminisced while removing posters of places never visited. “Sawdusting after the cafeteria food poisoning of ’83… Dryin’ Elise Welker’s tears, icepacking her knuckles after she caught her boyfriend cheatin’…” So that explained Thom Davis’s broken nose at prom! “But them days is all past now.”

Janitor Dave shook the Principal’s hand and accepted his plastic trinket with humility. “You one of the good ones, Princ’pal.” Then Principal Julian watched the heart of Palatine County High School walk out its doors for the last time.


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