The Custodian 4

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The Custodian 4

Custodians may save the world   from space/underworld invaders, recalcitrant teachers, and bossy bosses, but sometimes they have to deal with darker dangers, like humans. A good custodian is trusted by both faculty and students.

This is the last of the Custodian stories.

The Custodian 4

From a large family group gathered in a park across the street after school, a little girl, maybe eight years old, wearing blue shorts and a yellow top, wandered unnoticed onto the grounds of Grace Glass Elementary school.

The Custodian, wearing his usual khakis and well-filled out  T-shirt, had just begun his Friday afternoon rounds. He checked for trash in each classroom and emptied it into his roller trash cart. He noticed the girl as she casually walked down a narrow grass strip inspecting the flowers. For several classrooms he kept an eye on her. He also noticed that nobody else was around.

Leaving his cart in one of the rooms, he moved toward the girl. He stopped to take a call from the school principal on his radio.

“Would you come to my office, please. We have a minor emergency.”

The Custodian scanned the area. Still nobody around. He continued to walk toward the little girl.

 

An hour later a group of adults, – including The Custodian, the principal, a handsome Hispanic woman, two uniform cops, a detective, and several teachers, have an intense discussion outside the main office.

Not bothering to hide his skepticism, the detective, a solidly built man with some experience on him his face, said to the Custodian, “You say you sent the girl Sandra back to her family before you went to the principal’s office.”

The Custodian nodded.

“But nobody witnessed you doing that, did they?” The Custodian shook his head with slow, confident movements. “So you could have taken her.” The detective tried to stare down the taller Custodian, but had to turn away from the man’s intensely calm gaze.

“Detective,” the principle said. “If the Custodian says he sent her back and he didn’t take her, then he did and he didn’t.”

Between the casual intimidation of the Custodian’s steady gaze that came from his natural being, and the principal’s hard eyed total confidence in him, the detective didn’t stand a chance of taking that line of questioning anywhere. Not quite ready to accept the Custodian’s innocence, he said, “Okay, search the school. Look into every room, closet, cabinet, nook and cranny.

As the group dispersed, the Detective held back one of the uniformed officers. “Keep an eye on that custodian. I don’t trust him.”

As the group dispersed the Custodian looked like he was searching, but he really watched the other searchers. Seeing what he thought he’d see, he slipped into a door marked IDF. Inside he moved quietly past gray electric breaker boxes and computer equipment. In the back of the room, hidden behind a mass of blue computer network wiring he found a plywood sheet that appeared to be screwed to the wall. It wasn’t.

He entered a narrow space littered with dusty broken chairs and playground equipment. Water pipes ran along the rough block wall. A light switch did nothing. With a small flashlight the Custodian made his way to a rusty file cabinet. Behind the cabinet, more plumbing, and the girl.

Legs taped together, hands tied around a vertical pipe, mouth taped, Sandra whimpered, wide eyes filled with fear.

The Custodian knelt beside her, put a finger to his lips for quiet.

Five minutes later he brushed back a strand of blonde hair and gently caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers. She gave him a shaky smile and nodded. Freed from her bonds, flashlight and a bottle of water beside her, she hugged knees to chest and watched him go. Before he swung the file cabinet in place he gave her a one finger salute. She returned it as the dark closed in around her.

Sometime later Sandra heard footsteps crunch in the outer space. She wrapped the tape around her legs, pressed the piece of tape to her mouth and put her hands behind the pipe.  Heart pounding, barely able to breathe, with total trust in The Custodian, she waited.

The cabinet grated on the concrete as it opened. A flashlight blinded her. Behind the light a dark figure approached. A man knelt beside her. She jumped when he spoke.

“Come on, Sweetheart. I’m your daddy now and I’m going to take you home. It’s way past your bedtime.”

She jerked her hands free as he reached for her.

“Ah. I got here just in time, didn’t I. We’ll save your punishment until you’re home.”

He lifted her in his arms. Holding her tight, he carried her through the dark to the outside door. He paused, listened, slowly opened the door and peeked out, scanning the area. He stepped out. A fist smacked his jaw.

The Custodian caught Sandra as the man dropped. In his arms, she smiled, not afraid at all.

*                *               *

Two cops lead the man, one of the teachers, away in handcuffs.

Sandra’s father hugged her in his arms.

“Your daughter is very brave,” the principal told him.

“Yes she is,” he said. “But I don’t like that she had to wait in the dark so long.”

“We knew where she was, but not who put her there. We had to wait until he came for her.”

“It was okay, Daddy. The Custodian said I’d be alright.”

The father’s expression showed his skepticism, but he nodded his thanks and walked away.

Over his shoulder, Sandra, gave The Custodian a one finger wave.

He returned the wave and turned to finish his rounds.

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The Custodian 3

First, some Shameless Promotion —  Fear Killer, a psychological suspense novel is now available in ebook versions. Paperback to come.

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As you saw in the two previous posts custodians can deal with alien invasions and save recalcitrant teachers. But sometimes they have to deal with a more dangerous entity – a full-of-himself school board member.

The Custodian 3

The Custodian, somewhere around forty, wearing his usual khaki pants, dark T-shirt and capjanitor4 pulled low, locked the doors of the boys and girls bathrooms in a small building that stood alone at the edge of the playground across from the rest of Grace Glass Elementary School. He placed a large sign in front that read Restrooms Closed.

While he pushed his custodial cart away to continue on his nightly route a sleek man in a slick suit and his ten-year old son approached in a hurry.

Business_Man1“Hey, you’re the Custodian, aren’t you?”

The Custodian stopped. Nodded at the man. Nodded at the kid.

“Open the bathrooms, will you. We both have to go.”

He looked pointedly at the closed sign then pointedly at the father.Restroom-Closed-Out-of-Order-Sign

“Come on. My son is a student here. You can open it for a minute. We won’t make a mess.”

Lips tight, The Custodian shrugs – what can he do?

The boy said, “Dad, it’s okay. If the Custodian says they’re closed, they’re closed.”

“No, it’s not okay.” The Father raised his long face up to Custodian. He was so used to intimidating people, that when the Custodian’s steady eyes stared him down his face turned red to his shoulders. He almost poked him with a stubby finger, but thought better of it. “Look, I’m on the school board,” he blustered. “The ones you work for. I’m telling you to open that bathroom, right now.”

The Son tugged on his father’s suit jacket. “Dad, it’s closed. We can go in the bushes. Like camping.”

He slapped the boy’s hand away. “I’m going to piss in that bathroom. Are you going to let me in…, Custodian?”

A slow shake of the head was all he got for an answer.

“Then enjoy your last night as a janitor, Buddy.” He attempted to push the Custodian out of his way. That his “employee” didn’t budge and the Father was forced to go around, made him even madder. He jabbed a finger at his son. “You stay here,” he snarled and stalked off across the playground.

Hands in pockets, The custodian and the boy watch him go.

“I’m sorry,” the boy said. “You won’t get fired will you?”

The Custodian ruffled the boy’s hair, then tilted his head toward the bushes.

The boy went and pissed in the bushes.boy pissing A few minutes later the Father stalked back across the playground, chin leading the way. He shook a fistful of keys as he passed. “The Principle knows who she works for. Come on, son.”

“I already went, Dad. If the Custodian says–.”

“I don’t care what he says. He doesn’t work here anymore.”

The Father unlocked the door, threw it open and disappeared inside. The door thumped shut with solid finality.

“Will he be okay?” the Son asked.

The Custodian gave the boy’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

mexwoman1The Principal, a handsome Hispanic woman joined them. “I’m sorry. He said he wanted to open his son’s classroom.”

They stood together – The Custodian legs apart, arms crossed, head down. The Principal behind the boy, hands on his shoulders.

“He does think a bit much of himself, but he is on the board. Couldn’t you–?”

“Ahh. Aaahhhh! Hel–.”

The custodian drew a deep breath. From his cart he lifted out a worn machete and a gouged baseball bat. Spinning the bat and blade to loosen up, he strolled to the bathroom door, unlocked it, and entered.

From the bathroom, mixed with the Father’s cries, came an otherworldly screech of rage.

The Principal said, “Well, after this I hope your father will understand that when the custodian says it’s closed, it’s closed.

“Yes, Ma’am. I hope so, too.

End

Janitor3When dealing with a school custodian, especially at a school as special as Grace Glass Elementary, there’s one thing you should remember, The Custodian knows what’s going on. Best listen to him.