Thursday, August 7, 2014


Genre: Horror

Note to readers: This is a revised version of an older story of mine titled "The Garbage Man". I retitled it and slightly revised it.

By Daniel Skye

     Like most hardworking Americans, Gerry Spradlin had grown to hate his job with a searing passion. At age thirty-two, Jerry was nothing more than a glorified janitor for the city. At least that’s how Gerry perceived himself.
     Five days a week he rode on back of that filthy truck and endured the harsh conditions; be it the blazing heat or the frigid cold.
     The smell of garbage would latch onto his clothes, seep into his wavy brown hair. He’d return home after a hard day’s work reeking like a landfill and would shower and scrub vigorously to erase the stench.
     Things weren’t always like this for Gerry. Hard to believe that at one point in his life he was premed. He grew up listening to all the pretty girls gab about how one day they would marry a rich handsome doctor or surgeon. And that was all the motivation Gerry needed. But after a brief stint in prison, this was the best job he could land.
     His younger sister had already accomplished more than he would in his lifetime. A straight A-Plus student, Jessica Spradlin missed a grand total of five school days during her four-year high school tenure. By eighteen, she was accepted to Harvard Law. And as Gerry had heard through his folks, Jessica was expected to graduate by the end of her next semester.
     Jessica’s only flaw was that she still hadn’t left behind that whole Goth phase she experimented with in high school. She still had a penchant for dark baggy clothing, and used black nail polish that Gerry found repulsive.
     His jealousy was palpable. His little sister was going to be a lawyer, and he hated this fact because it made him think of what could’ve been if he hadn’t been kicked out of med school.
     So he tried his best to concentrate on work and keep Jessica off his mind.
     As Gerry quickly discovered, you can learn a disturbing amount from collecting your neighbor’s trash. That was the only aspect of the job he savored.
     For instance, Gerry knew that John Bulzomi--the balding accountant who lived next-door to him--was using Viagra to give himself an extra boost in the bedroom. Every month, he’d find one discarded prescription bottle at the bottom of John’s pails.
     He knew his old English teacher, Mr. Federico, was behind on his car payments, and that his wife owed back taxes to the IRS.
     He knew this just as he knew that Blaine McCormick--the town doctor--had a mountain of credit card debt and was behind on his mortgage payments. And he knew this was all contributed to McCormick’s addiction to fetish porn websites, a fact Gerry ascertained by reading his credit card statements. Next time use a shredder, Gerry would think every time he snuck a peek at one of Blaine’s monthly statements.
     Gerry knew everything there was to know about the people from his neighborhood, not to mention all of the surrounding areas. If blackmail was Gerry’s game, he could’ve made a fortune.
Hell, he could’ve told you what the Henderson’s had for dinner last Friday. In case you were wondering, the answer is meatloaf.
What’s that saying, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Well, in Gerry’s case, the phrase undoubtedly applied.
* * *
Tuesday, April 24, 2012.
Spring Break.
Birds chirped and twittered their insipid tunes as a mellow breeze flowed through Gerry’s crimped brown hair. His gloved hand gripped the rear handle of a sanitation truck tightly. Gerry received a slight jolt when the truck ran over a bump and he almost lost his grip on the handle. But he was able to retain his grasp and soon, he felt the truck slowing down.
The brakes squealed as the garbage truck came to its first stop of the day. Gerry hopped off the back and went to work. He was riding solo that day; his partner was out with the flu.
Gerry fetched the Johnston’s bins, dumping the bags into the rear waste compactor, and then tossing the bins aside carelessly as most garbage men tend to do.
The truck inched forward and Gerry grabbed McCormick’s pails and dumped his garbage in back. He didn’t bother sifting through to take a gander at his credit card bills. It was nothing he hadn’t read before.
Then he moved on to his own house. Gerry’s neighborhood was always the first stop on Tuesday’s. He found the act of disposing his own trash to be degrading. It wasn’t bad enough that he had to bag it, take it outside, and drag the pails all the way to the curb. He also had to pick it up and haul it away.
Gerry flipped both of his pails and dumped all the trash into the waste compactor. In this mass of chicken bones, rotten fruit, Styrofoam cups, disposable utensils, and other half-eaten food, he gazed upon a sight that would’ve made anyone else recoil in horror.
It was a severed human foot, sealed in plastic and packing tape.
He could clearly make out the black nail polish through the lucid plastic.
Gerry paused for a moment and stared vacantly. His look was not an expression of guilt or sorrow. His face was a chilling mask of indifference.
Then he wandered casually to the left side of the truck and wrenched down hard on the lever that operates the hydraulically powered mechanism used to compress the garbage. The gears whined and screeched as the metal plate descended and the wall of the back end began to shift. The plate and the wall collided with a heavy metallic thud, compacting all of the waste, and squashing it down to virtually nothing.
He didn’t even blink. Not once did he blink.

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