“Office Cleaning,” by Klaus Nannestad

Dec 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

Jason was a charming and attractive lawyer working at one of the biggest firms in America. He was almost everything a man could wish to be, except for one thing, he was dead. Rick, meanwhile, was a cleaner who was plump, socially awkward and who had just discovered a corpse in the kitchen while mopping the third floor of the office.

For a brief moment after seeing the corpse Rick just stood gawking. The biggest disturbance to his work since he started had involved a large pot of tomato soup, but this was rather more drastic. After some deliberation Rick decided the best thing to do was to check for a pulse. Rick knelt down beside Jason’s rigid body and pressed his pointer and middle finger against Jason’s wrist. There was nothing. Rick scratched the stubble on his chin, now he thought about it, the fact the body was missing a head should probably have indicated to him that it was dead.

The grotesque sight made Rick think back to a murder mystery he had once watched with his grandma. They had to identify the victim using his fingerprints because being decapitated in a similar, albeit more gruesome manner, they had no head to identify the body with. Fingerprints, shit. Rick stood up abruptly. Could they get fingerprints off someone’s skin? Rick wasn’t sure, but if they could he knew they would find his fingerprints on this corpse.

There was only one thing to do. Rick searched through the draws of the kitchen and soon found a large butchers knife. This will do nicely he thought to himself smugly. He then walked back over to the corpse and began to saw at the man’s arm, just above where he’d pressed his fingers to check for a pulse. After 10 minutes of hacking and sawing, Rick finally broke through bone and severed the man’s hand. Triumphantly he dropped the hand and the knife in his mop bucket only to look up and see a security camera pointed above him. Rick decided this probably wouldn’t look good, and he didn’t feel he had the composure to explain his actions to the authorities. What Rick did decide, was that he needed to pull down that security camera. He was pretty sure pulling down the camera would ensure there would be no footage of his deed for anyone to find, or at least as sure as he was that the police could get fingerprints off a victim’s skin.

The problem was that with the offices high ceilings, the security camera was quite far off the ground, far higher than Rick could reach. Standing on a chair wouldn’t suffice either, but standing on a chair that was placed upon a desk, that might work.

Rick ran over to the nearest office. It had a desk perfect for the job. It looked like it would be light enough to move without any great hassle, but sturdy enough to hold the weight of both Rick and a chair. Rick grabbed one end of it and tugged heavily. It didn’t budge. Rick tried again, trying with all his might to pull it towards him. But even as beads of sweat began to form on his forehead, the desk wouldn’t move. Rick then tried a different approach, walking around to the back of the desk and attempting to push it. But the result was the same. Rick looked down and kicked the desk in frustration, and in doing so realised it was nailed to the floor.

Quickly, Rick rushed back to his mop bucket and grabbed the large knife out of it. He then returned to the desk and began to use it as a makeshift screwdriver, with which he could loosen the bolts. It was arduous work. Not quite comparative to hacking off a man’s hand, but still fairly trying.

Eventually, however, Rick had all the bolts free and began to drag the desk to the door with relative ease. Yet as Rick reached the door he saw a problem. The desk was too wide to fit through. Examining the desk, Rick realised it was the type you assemble manually. He considered pulling it apart, and then putting it back together once he had carried the parts out the door, but he knew this would be time consuming, particularly with his lack of skill in assembling furniture. Rick remembered one time when he had bought a bedside table from IKEA. His mother had complimented him on the abstract sculpture he had built, but its practicality was limited.

Instead, Rick set off to find another, more cooperative desk. He soon found a dozen foldup tables in a conference room that had been position together in a horseshoe formation. They didn’t look particularly sturdy, but Rick decided that one of them would have to do. He folded up the nearest one and carried it back to the kitchen, setting it up under the security table. Rick then returned to the conference room to grab a chair, as all the chairs in the other rooms were desk chairs, and therefore posed a problem with their wheels. Rick placed it upon the table and smiled admiringly at his wonderful construction. He’d always wanted to be an architect.

The next task for Rick was to scale his monument to ingenuity. He placed one foot atop of the table and then pause as he heard his pants begin tear. Rick cursed again, but decided not to kick the table this time in fear of knocking the chair off it. Despite them being stained and faded, Rick really liked his pants and didn’t fancy tearing them any further. Subsequently, he stepped back down and removed his pants, folding them neatly and putting them next to the mop bucket.

Rick then commenced his second attempt at climbing the makeshift structure. Without his pants, getting on the table was easy. Yet getting on the chair was less simple, but Rick still managed to do so with minimal fuss. Slowly standing up to his full height on the chair, Rick gingerly reached up to seize the cables of the security camera, only to find it was just out of reach. If only my arm was a little longer Rick thought. Then Rick had wonderful epiphany, something comparable to when Archimedes overflowed his bathtub by pissing in it, or whatever he did.

Rick cautiously climbed down from the chair and table and pulled the severed hand out of the mop bucket. Having become largely desensitised to it, he proceeded to stuff it in his jumper pocket and then began his ascent back up.

Having managed to once again balance himself atop of the chair, Rick pulled the severed hand out of his pocket and reached up with it to try and use it to grab the cables of the security camera. Rick stretched himself as much as he was game, and then a little further. The fingertips of the hand brushed the cable, but he still needed more height. Rick went up on his tippy toes and reached for the cables once more. This time the fingers gripped the cables. Now Rick just had to apply some force to pull them out. He slowly but surely tugged at the cables harder and harder with the severed hand. Then just as he thought he was about to pull them out, the cables slipped from the hands rigid grip. This took Rick by surprise, and he stumbled atop the chair with all the grace of a drunken giraffe, and then chair began to tip backwards.

Time seemed to float frozen for Rick as he fell. Yet all he could think about was how his brilliant planning had possibly failed him. His head than smacked against the hard floor and Rick lost consciousness.

Rick awoke to see two police officers standing above him with perplexed expressions on their faces, and several more officers walking around the office kitchens.

“Oh, you’re awake,” Said one of the two officers, not seemingly particularly concerned for Rick.

“Where’s the head?” The other officer asked him, hands on hips.

Rick reached his hands up to feel his throbbing head. It was still where it normally was.

“No, I mean the head of the man next to you.”

Rick turned to his left to see the corpse right where he had found it, now just a few inches from him.

“How would I know?” Rick exclaimed, not yet trusting himself to stand.

“Well,” The officer tilted his head to one side “You did cut the man’s hand off.”

The officer pointed to Rick’s right. Rick rolled his head over to the other side to see the severed hand almost touching his nose.

“It was like that when I got here.” Rick replied unconvincingly.

“Then how come we have security footage of you sawing the man’s hand off, and then building some structure with a table and chair so you could swat at the camera with it?”

Rick didn’t answer, he didn’t really know how he could.

“We’d be very interested to know the answer to that,” The other officer was now speaking, his tone similarly patronising “But what I really want to know is why you’re not wearing any pants.”

Rick now looked down at his bare legs, and then over to his folded pants near the mop bucket.

“I didn’t want to rip my pants and have to walk home with a massive tear in them.”

“Yes,” The officer said thoughtfully “that would have made you look silly.”


Klaus Nannestad was born in Wagga Wagga, Australia, and it’s really been downhill since then. Now living in Bendigo, he is currently studying a Bachelor of Media and Communications through the University of New England. Klaus is a frequent contributor to online sports site The Roar and enjoys writing strange and unusual stories that are really just a cry for help. Klaus has also won many prestigious writing awards, but is simply too modest to say so.

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