Come Uppance
Beverly Vines-Haines
Hayward Fault Line Winner

I am a janitor at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.† Kind of a clichť, I know.† Half the men who work around here have this vision of themselves as some sort of working stiff hero.† And like most of them, Iíve had my night where I started running for the top, planning to shout my value to the world, raise my fists and proclaim that I was somebody.† Trouble is I started to puke three quarters of the way up and just sort of slunk off into the night, leaving the mess for some other janitor.

Maybe thatís why I could never get Ellie McPheaster to admit she loves me back.† She was polite, no doubt.† We went to six movies, three Philly sandwich dates, and one picnic in the park.† Iím not saying she was all wrong.† I take some of the blame.† I was late to pick her up on most occasions and I did have some sort of lipstick stain on my collar that one time.† But a man is a man.† Or at least he is in Philly.† And this pretty little waitress had her eye on me for weeks before I really kissed her.†

And I did arrive as promised, know what I mean?† I showed, took her to the movies and even bought the drinks.† She didnít complain.† Not really.† But I could tell she was growing disenchanted.† Ellie wasnít like the rest.† Usually a few honeyed words, a flower snitched from some yard, were enough to do the trick.† Not so with her.

I decided to play tough.† Told her I was working.† Said I had the flu.† Even made up a trip to bury granny.† Bad luck that time.† Ran right into her outside the mall theater and I was with Tony and these twin girls we know.

So Ellie stopped taking my calls.† Who does that, know what I mean?† Girls they play that game, ignore you for a day or two and then hold you up for jewelry or something.†

Two weeks go by. †I buy this diamond-like pendant at Herschelís and go to her house.† She comes to the door, REFUSES my gift and goes back inside.

I know her kind.† Itís been close to ten years and I am betting you she still cries over her bad judgment.† Janitors can make serious money.† Sometimes I stand by her house, sheís married now and has a kid, and I just wait for her to come to her senses.† †

First published: February, 2008
comments to the writer: