I am a janitor at an evaporated milk factory in Winnipeg. I have a bucket and a mop and a bunch of keys. Sometimes I carry a screwdriver or a wrench or a hammer. My soul glows with a tremendous, overwhelming love of Christ.
As I patrol the corridors with my bucket and mop and keys, I often find myself importuned by wannabe janitors. They dart from nooks and buttonhole me, jabbering questions about janitordom. I display excessive, some might say inhuman, patience with these intemperate pleading nitwits. Only very rarely do I smite one with my hammer.
It is often cold, cold, oh! bitterly cold in Winnipeg. In the factory, the radiators need regular bleeding. When I carry out this duty, I try to concentrate my mind on the blood of Christ, which was shed for me, and for all sinners, even for the wannabe janitors, though they know it not.
Sometimes I have to wipe the blood of a wannabe janitor from my hammer. I use an old frayed much-stained rag, which I then rinse out under a spigot and peg up to dry. I have seen the face of Christ in this rag, many times.
Though I have been the janitor for untold years, I have never actually tasted the evaporated milk made in the factory. I have a horror of semi-sweetened evaporated dairy products, by dint of a childhood trauma. There was a picnic in the Blue Forgotten Hills, and a swarm of wasps, but more than that I cannot bring myself to say.
Every now and then I might come upon a wasp when patrolling the corridors. I sink to my knees and take out my pocket catechism and I comfort myself with the sacred words. Sometimes, in spite of my prayers, I am so fearful of the wasp that I piddle in my pants. I rinse them under the spigot and peg them up alongside the blood-soaked rag. I hide in a broom cupboard to conceal my semi-nakedness until my pants are dry. On these occasions, I usually take off the rest of my clothing, so I can more readily imagine myself Adam in Eden. There is a painting of a serpent on the wall of the broom cupboard.
A cautionary tale. Perhaps the protagonist – let’s call him ‘John’ for the sake of argument – is gender conflicted, rebelling against the strict stereotyping in the ‘Janet & John’ books he read as a nipper in the 1960s. Janitor John, yes, but maybe also a classic case of Janet or John?