On a Tuesday
After introducing himself officially (and shaking a few sweaty hands), the health inspector’s first order of business had been to request a round of drinks. He was sipping on each of them thoughtfully, examining the bottles and glasses, and taking notes. Behind the bar, Mac, Dee, and Dennis were staring at him, tense.
“How long is he going to be here?” whispered Dee.
“Keep your voice down, Dee. I don’t know,” said Mac.
“There is a nest of rats we just found in those heating ducts yesterday, dude, 'I don't know' isn't going to cut it,” said Dennis, a little too loudly. The other two shushed him; he gave them an offended look.
“Charlie is taking care of it,” said Mac.
“If Charlie didn’t eat old cheese up there, we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place,” said Dennis. He glared at the door of the back office, as if he could smite Charlie from a distance using only his eyes.
“You told him to stay up in the vents until this was all over, right?” asked Dee.
“What? No. This guy is going to want to meet our janitor. I told him to come back when he was done,” said Mac.
“Do you have any brains in your head? Charlie is a walking health hazard!” cried Dennis.
“Pull your walkie talkie out of your pocket and tell Charlie to stay put,” said Dee, her voice shrill.
“Who is going to be the janitor when this asshole asks to see one? Because I’m certainly not going to pretend that I’m a garbageman. I am the proud muscle of this bar,” said Mac. He rubbed his bicep self-consciously.
“I don’t care. We will say the janitor has taken a week-long vacation, just call Charlie now,” said Dennis.
Mac sighed, and pulled his walkie-talkie out of his pocket.
“10-4 good buddy, do you read? Where are you?”
Only silence answered him. He pressed the button again.
“Charlie 1-2. Call coming for Charlie. Report back to headquarters.”
“Is he not answering?” asked Dennis, nervously.
“Why isn’t he answering?” said Dee.
“I don’t know, dude, I don’t know!” said Mac. He sent out a call on the walkie-talkie a third time. “Charlie, goddamn it, answer!”
As if on cue, Charlie waltzed out of the back office with a grim look on his face. He was covered in rat guts, feces and grime. Surrounding his nose was a blot of grey paint, an obvious remnant of huffing. His enormous, nail covered rat bashing stick trailed behind him, making horrible scraping sounds and leaving a trail of muck in its wake.
The health inspector looked up from his work, and met eyes with Charlie. His jaw dropped a little bit.
“Shit,” muttered Dennis.
Charlie pointed to the health inspector with the hand that did not contain a rat-bashing stick. “Who’s this dick?” he slurred.
“That’s the health inspector, Charlie,” said Mac.
Charlie’s face broke into a demented smile.
“A man of my trade,” he said. He held out his hand to the health inspector as an invitation to shake it, but the health inspector did not respond.
“Who are you?” he asked, looking slightly nauseous.
Charlie put his free hand on his hip, swaying in place as he did so.
“I’m the janitor of this fine establishment. As you can see,” he said, gesturing to his disheveled appearance, “I’m very passionate about my work. Killed about hundred rats just this morning.”
The health inspector swiveled in his chair, disturbed.
“Let me get this straight. You had a hundred rats in your bar this morning and your janitor bashed them to death with a stick while he was high on paint?”
Mac rubbed the back of his neck. “Well. . .”
“When you put it that way it sounds so bad.” said Dee.
The health inspector stood up, and put his notebook under his arm.
“I’ve seen all I need to see. This place needs to be shut down immediately. I will send an email by tomorrow alerting you of all the changes that need to be made to your bar before you can open again.”
The room erupted in violent protestations as the health inspector began to walk out.
“How could you do-“
“Who gave you the right-“
“YOU SHOULD SEE THE OTHER BARS ON THE STREET-“
While Mac, Dee, and Dennis yelled over each other, Charlie’s face contorted into pure, feral rage. He trailed after the health inspector with his rat-bashing stick like a hungry caveman on a hunt.
The health inspector turned around to face him. “If you follow me home, I’m calling the cops. I will press charges if anything happens to me like what happened to that newspaper-“
His sentence was cut off by a smack to the head with the stick. The health inspector collapsed to the floor. The room went silent immediately, except for Charlie’s heavy, steady breathing.
The rest of the gang inched over to the body.
“He’s going to wake up, right?” said Dee in a small voice.
“Sure he will. Otherwise that would be really. . .really dark,” said Dennis. His hand found her upper arm, and his nails dug into it.
Mac tapped his foot against the body. It did not respond.
“I’m sure his eyes will open right back up any minute now. Any. . .minute. . . “