Wanda has been the cleaning woman at the place where I work for close to six months. She typically comes in just after the store opens and remains for a good part of the morning. She’s a 40-something black woman whom I’m guessing is from Jamaica, Haiti or quite possibly Paramus, New Jersey. Wanda is over 6 feet tall with a long poker straight poorly done weave. She wears tight tee shirts with graphic devil-like images that pull tightly on her ample heaving chest. Her worn form-fitting jeans display wide hips and when she bends over to clean, her shocking pink underwear becomes quite overly exposed.
She also likes to wear necklaces made of rawhide strips that always seem to have some sort of feather concoction wrapped at the end of a thick knot. I’m assuming they are chicken feathers from some hapless headless foul that was unfortunate enough to be a part of some voodoo ceremony. I personally believe that Wanda has some sort of connection to the occult.
The Vacuum of Doom attacks.
Wanda likes to vacuum. I’ve watched her unobserved in the past. She cleans our store with a bright red industrial vacuum cleaner that I simply refer to as “Wanda’s Vacuum of Doom.” She handles it like a purposeful pet all morning and she will magically show up behind me out of nowhere when I least expect it trying to suck me from obscurity. Attached to the vacuum is a thick black cord like a jungle snake waiting to coil tightly around its next victim. The cord will stretch across half of the store’s floor and has tried to trip, then wrap me in its lung squeezing grip on more than one occasion.
One recent Monday morning as I was crossing the sales floor to put my meager lunch in the refrigerator at the back of the store, I passed Wanda and her vacuum as I attempted a slight smile to say good morning and tried to slip quickly by. Her glazed dark eyes went immediately to what I thought was my chest, but soon realized with horror that she was sizing up my heart for some sort of what would be a virginal white boy sacrifice ritual in front of hundreds of chanting voodoo-ites. I began to sweat.
Wanda Likes to Mumble.
She began to mumble as I passed. I am not clear what language she speaks, but it felt as though she was placing some sort of cryptic curse that would make me eventually succumb to zombie-like form and become mysteriously missing within a week. I realize that my hearing is minimal at best and she MAY be simply telling me to “get out of the way” so she can vacuum, but to me it’s all a strange chant of religious ritualistic fervor.
I watch Wanda from a distance as I pat my damp brow. She waves her arms frantically and mumbles curses at the ceiling. I try to time my presence around her to be as limited as the floor will allow. I consciously search for paths through the store that will not come within her circle of fear. When I think I’m clear of her clutches, the vacuum screams obscenities again and the python-like cord reaches out to drag me to my doom.
I’m never safe.
I’m not sure how to deal with this divergent dilemma as of yet, however, should I acquire new symptoms of pin pricks on my body or if I disappear unexpectedly for any length of time, it should be noted that I was warned. Don’t come looking for me, as I will more than likely be at the center of a circle of crazed chanters praising the queer white man, who is about to have his heart ripped from his chest to appease their god of evil.