Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta clean. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta clean. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 13 de septiembre de 2017

Claudia's new life

   Rain had fallen all night long, forming little ponds all around the house. As it was surrounded with dirt, the water had converted the landscape into a horrible mixture of mud and overgrown foliage. However, the weather had improved over the morning, which Claudia took as a permission to go outside and check on her beloved plants. Normally, she would have carried all the pots inside before the tempest but that storm had come in such a way, no one had predicted it to land just there, on Hownhall.

 The small town still preserved much of its architecture and every year one of them was chosen as the prettiest in the entire county. The contest was only a month away and Claudia had a lot to do to make her estate be at its most perfect. She had already won the prize for two consecutive years and she planned to do so for the remainder of her life. Being seventy six years of age, she knew that wasn’t much of a time window but it was something to put her mind into.

 Her husband Jim had died only two years prior and that same year she decided to enter the contest. She had loved the man for many years, but he wasn’t the type to like a lot of people in the house. They would spend entire days enclosed in there, reading and not talking. To Claudia, that was torture. She liked when the children visited and brought the kids but Jim had always dreaded those visits because he had never really being into children, which explained why their own had such a tense relationship with him.

 So when he died, Claudia decided to do something that made her feel alive and still willing to contribute something to society and to herself. She got the idea from the weekly newsletter written by several women of the county. They were a small group that gathered often in the town’s main square and discussed the many ways that they had at hand to improve their lives and the coziness of the region. They loved their part of the country and wanted everyone to know about it.

 So once she entered the contest, Claudia decided to simply be the best at it. She went out of her way to get the most beautiful flowers ever seen, which she bought from people that did walks on the remote mountains and in areas that were difficult to access. Practically no one else had all of that in front of their house, so it certainly gave her an edge. The other detail was that, when she was much younger, Claudia had learned a lot about design from her deceased brother Remus, who had been one of the top designers in the capital, a great artist in every way.

 As she prepared once again for the contest, stomping the mud and cleaning all the leaves and overgrown branches of the trees, Claudia heard some rumble in the house that was closest to her. As she lived in the outskirts of the small town, only one other house was close to hers and it hadn’t been inhabited since before Jim had died. An older couple had lived there for years but they had both died and no one had ever come to reclaim the property. However, that was about to change.

 Claudia continued to use her gardening tools but she moved slowly towards her fence, from where she could easily see the entrance of the other house. There was a moving van in front of the gate and two men dressed in couple carried boxes into the house. More voices came from there but Claudia couldn’t really hear much more than the typical noise people make when moving things around. Later, she was tired of not seeing anything and decided to leave work for the day.

 At night, the woman would always make herself a hot cup of chocolate, with some small marshmallows to enjoy in front of her favorite dramas. Jim had never really liked sweet foods or drinks, so now she enjoyed them continuously. Her doctor had told Claudia that she should measure her consumption of sugar a little bit but seeing she was and older person, he also told her it wouldn’t be wise to cut on any food. So she didn’t and decided to treat herself every night.

 A powerful revelation on her soap was obscured by a scream, a loud and powerful scream coming from the neighbor’s house. Claudia didn’t got up from her armchair. She clicked on the “mute” button of her remote and tried to hear something else. It was possible at her age to imagine noises, so it wasn’t really that scary. But then, a weaker scream was heard. She decided to stay still and think what the best response would be. Seconds later, she was calling the police.

 Granted, the police always took a while to arrive. Such a small town did not have a police force to help people in need. They came from another county, which made their trip around twenty minutes. Claudia did not hear another scream during that time. She didn’t stand up either. She didn’t want to get so involved in the matter. She just wanted to clarify what happened because maybe her neighbors were simply loud people and she wanted them to know early on that she was not going to stand up for that. She had learned to be like that from Jim.

 A young female officer and an older male officer arrived exactly twenty minutes after the call had been made. Apparently it was still raining in their part of the country because they were drenched. Claudia did not let them inside her house and simply repeated what she had heard that night. The officer looked at each other and they decided to investigate. She knew they had decided not to believe her but that didn’t matter. Anything to live at peace in her home.

 She entered the kitchen as they left, preparing them some tea. It was a nice custom to give a beverage to people that came to help. True, she wasn’t going to let them get the floor all wet, especially after seeing their boots live a trail of prints on her property. But she had to be gracious and look as if she was accepting of everyone. Claudia clearly wasn’t, as she had been prejudiced for a long time, in part because of her husband but also because of her very conservative upbringing.

 Actually, she had noticed that the policewoman was not from those parts, or at least her parents weren’t. According to what she saw on TV, she knew it was wrong to feel that way about people but she couldn’t help it. It was as if something manipulated her from inside her head. She tried to change her ways but, in the end, it didn’t work. So she simply did what she had done with her husband for so many years: she kept her mouth shut and didn’t get into “difficult” business.

 The police officers came back in a matter of minutes. However, the man ran to the police car, not saying a word to Claudia. The young woman entered the house without being properly invited, grabbed the phone on the living room and started dialing. As she waited for someone to answer, Claudia was livid: there was mud all over the entrance and on the beautiful white carpets. They were ruined. She looked outside and saw, in horror, that they had broken a pot with gorgeous roses when coming back to the house.

 Claudia did not hear when the policewoman alerted her precinct that a double murder had taken place. She didn’t hear the gruesome details, of how the wife had been decapitated and how the husband had been found without his genitalia.


 The older woman only cared about her contest, about her little world. And it was all thrown to the abyss because of that silly murder. She was so enraged at the matter that she decided to find out who had killed the couple by herself. It couldn’t be more difficult than her topsy-turvy life.

martes, 20 de diciembre de 2016

Christmas dinner

   As always for that time of the year, Adele had to out on her best clothes when working. It wasn’t really well seen if the hostess of a very prestigious restaurant dressed in any kind of clothing. She had to have some nice dresses for every single type of occasion, as she was the face of the hotel on the evening people had chosen to come. She represented everything for them and was the go to person if anything were to happen during one of the many dinners the hotel hosted all along the year. It was always vey busy, a successful business.

 Christmas time was especially hard on the hotel workers. For example, Adele had to wake up very early in the morning every single day leading to Christmas. For a week or so, she would have to put on her best coat to resist the fierceness of the weather and also because she really needed to get warm as soon as she arrived at the hotel as many things had to be checked. And in Christmas this was done in the most exact way, as everything had to be in line with perfection that night, as they always promised their guests the most lavish dinner ever.

 The kitchen staff consisted of several men and only a few women. There weren’t many women trying to breakout in the business and she was only closely related to everything they did on the actual restaurant. Adele was only a hostess and she would never be able to grow much more than that in her line of work. It all depended on very well paid jobs in certain events and parties, which he had hosted occasionally but not as prolifically as the events held on the hotel. There, she knew she was prepared to resist anything and everything.

 In the days leading to the Christmas dinner, the menu was checked several times and many testing lines were done. It was Adele’s job to taste everything and determine if she needed to change something in order to have some more time or make it a more successful menu. Two days before, she even thought it was going to be necessary to change the dessert because it wasn’t very well achieved but the person in charge of confectionery convinced her that he could make it more attractive with some superficial design.

 The day before Christmas he presented his corrections and he was lucky enough to be congratulated by Adele. The rest of the dishes were done and they only needed to cook them early on Christmas Eve in order for everything to be on point for the dinner. Many cases of wine were ordered from around the world, as well as many other alcoholic beverages. They also bought lots of cheese for after dinner and had to go to the market to buy the best and most fresh products in order to cook everything they needed for the menu.

 The night before the party, Adele was not able to sleep properly. She had gone to bed intentionally early but it didn’t work out at all. Not only was she worried about the dinner and the results the hotel was going to get with it but she also doubted her personal capacity to resist everything she was going to be held against. After all, the dinner was practically her show and if anything went wrong, it was her skill which had to come to work in order to fix whatever that needed to be fixed. All those thoughts did not let her sleep for a minute.

 When she arrived in the hotel, she checked every produce than had arrived and gathered the staff around her in order to tell them a few things before beginning. Not only the kitchen staff was present during the speech but also the rest of the hotel employees, as most guest were going to stay the night after dinner. Adele asked for everyone to do their best, to make it an experience that none of them could be able to replicate anywhere else. They needed to make that night one of the most special nights ever for every single guest.

 Rooms began to be cleaned and final details were being put on all over the hotel as flowers in every floor to make it smell divine. The kitchen went into full gear from very early in the morning, as they also had to cook for the rest of the guests in the hotel that were not going to participate in the dinner. It seemed to be chaos in the kitchens but the chef, and to a lesser extent Adele, knew how to make it all seem so peaceful, to always have a certain order that may not be obvious but with which every single person can work with to achieve the goals.

 Adele also had to check every single bedroom in order to personally see that the other workers had done a good job. She had to check first the ones where people had the intention to arrive earlier and then she moved on to the rest, checking for the bed to be perfectly done and for the furniture not to have a spec of dust. She also checked the bathroom, as that had always been very popular after dinner. People loved to have a bubble bath at some point so it was better to be prepared. Anything people wanted while staying had to become a reality.

 As she was checking the top floor, Adele received word that something had gone wrong with the dessert. Apparently the ingredients had been on a refrigerator that wasn’t working very well and they had become useless. Many melted and others were simply not the quality needed for the dessert. Adele ordered for all of that to be stored away and demanded the pastry chef and the confectionery guy to come up with something very fast as her customers couldn’t go without desert.

 Dinner was scheduled for nine o’clock at night. At seven, some of the guests begun to arrive and the desserts were not really done yet. Adele was very pleased to escort the first couple upstairs and tell them everything about the dinner, the usage of the bathroom and of the rest of the hotels features such as the swimming pool, the steam room and the spa, among others. She was lucky enough to check that room beforehand because she had discover dirty towels in the bathroom, so she changed that before anyone noticed.

 She didn’t join everyone to their room as, at eight o’clock, many more people started to arrive and she certainly didn’t have any time to waste. She used that moment to go back to the kitchen and see what they had come up with for dessert. As expected, they weren’t having many ideas. The people in charge were not as imaginative as they needed to be and they were really relaying on clichés to make a proper dessert. But the same old pastries and ice cream were not nearly goo enough for Christmas dinner. It would be an insult to the guests!

 Adele decided to come up herself with a new dessert. She knew they didn’t have much time, so she decided to reuse some of the ingredients they had from past parties. She decided to reuse the chocolate balls that melted when hot chocolate was poured on top of them. She decided to change the liquid chocolate for caramel and told the staff to come up with some sort of truffle at the center of the ball, in order for people to have a nice surprise when having their last dish. She put everyone to work and told them they had minutes to come up with a tasting plate.

 She decided to visit the lobby as they prepared, in order to let in the first guests. It was decided they should wait at the lounge bar, as she preferred to know first if the dessert was a go or no. She returned to the kitchen briefly to taste her idea and approved it when she realized it was good enough. Half of the kitchen staff had to help do all the desert plates needed for the evening. Adele left them again in order to open the restaurant and let everyone inside. The music had been carefully chosen as well as the design of the menus.


 The dinner started with applause when the guests saw their first plate, which was absolutely gorgeous. Then came the other dishes and finally the dessert. People didn’t say much about it but, when coming out of the restaurant, they praised the idea for being “simple but effective”. As some guests headed towards their beds and other towards the bar, Adele went to the kitchens and declared the night a complete success. She wasn’t going to sleep much that night either but at least she wasn’t going to be worried.

martes, 8 de noviembre de 2016

Home

   Some people refused to understand. They had an idea of family in their heads and they couldn’t be bothered to change it, even if the city they lived in was one of the most progressive in the world. They stared and sometimes even laughed. But the trick was not caring at all about what they said or did. Moving forward and just doing your thing was paramount in order to survive the horrible feast that was living in a suburban neighborhood like White Pines. There were things people had to do and one of them was having a thick skin.

 Diego and Liam had moved from another city two years ago and even after that time people still looked at them as if hey were the weirdest people in the world. Yes, they were married to each other and yes, they had a son called Duncan, but they often felt it that what people saw was so much more than that. Actually, it was Diego who had to endure most of the social pressure of the neighborhood because he was the one that stayed at home. Liam saw some of those things but he refused to acknowledge it was serious in any way.

 Mothers specially, were vicious against Diego. Well, at least most of them. From the first day he brought Duncan to school, he was a topic of conversation of the group of mothers that helped with several matters like organizing parties or fundraisers. After all, the school that Duncan went to was a very high achieving one and it was paramount that all the children and most of the parents got involved in some of the social crusades that parents loved to be involved with such as feeding the poor and organizing lavish parties to give a few bucks to a charity.

 Diego wasn’t used to that. In the city they lived in before, his life was kind of different. He had always tried to be a writer but never really realized how hard it was. Liam tried to help him but nothing ever worked. Then, they had the idea to adopt a child, so they did and that was how Duncan became a part of the family. Now, the boy was nine years old and Diego was what you would call a “house husband”, completely dedicated to Duncan and to the new house they lived in, which was substantially larger than their former apartment.

 They were all happy, in a general way. But Diego soon became frustrated with all the parents thing. He thought it was quite an old fashioned idea that only women would leave their kids at school and be the ones who helped for all the things that they needed there. He was the only man to do so and he had done it after Liam and him argued about the school and him not having a job and so on. He didn’t like to go to those meeting but he felt he had to because of his responsibilities towards his son and his husband. But even so, it was very annoying.

 Most of the meetings lasted for more than an hour and, for Diego that was excruciating. Not only because the women rarely stayed on topic (whatever it was that they were planning in the school) but because they always stared and asked the silliest question, just as if the last hundred years of social progress had never reached their homes. He got asked who was the woman in the relationship or if he felt emasculated for not having a job. They also looked at him constantly, as if he was some kind of strange creature walking around the downtown area.

 Sometimes he skipped sessions and he had to come up with excuses. There were times when he actually did have true excuses and other times he just came up with something. But that didn’t matter because they always would look at him as if he was lying and, even more annoying, as if they pitied him for some reason. It was as if they thought he was just a poor soul that they were helping, kind of one of those charities they loved to donate. One day he had enough of their nonsense and just stormed out of one of the meetings, with no explanation.

 When he arrived to the house, he realized two things: that he had to come back in a few hours for his son and that the place they were living in was too damn big. The house looked like one of those in which people live in commercials or something. It had a big backyard and a front garden too. The kitchen was enormous, as was every other room in that place. Diego didn’t like to say it but he missed his apartment from before. Not only because it had been something his family had passed on to him but because he felt really at home there.

 In that cavernous house, he only felt at home when Liam and Duncan were there. But Liam was always at work or busy doing something else and Duncan was at school or at some friend’s house on Saturdays. Only on Sundays they behave like an actual family and even then Liam was distracted by his phone every minute and Duncan was exactly the same thing. Diego didn’t really have any friends to distract him. He only had a couple and rarely spoke to them because their relationship was a bit different than normal.

 When he was alone at home, which was for several hours a day, he would clean the house by himself. He even refused to hire a maid because he argued that it would make him turn alcoholic in five days. So he scrubbed the floors, the toilets and trimmed the grass all by himself. It was very hard work but he enjoyed it because at least that way he was distracted doing something productive that maybe his family would acknowledge. They never really did.

 He decided not to return to the meetings. However, he was surprised to realize, one day, that they had called Liam and told him about that. And the fight that ensued was just ridiculous. He said it was his obligation to go to those meetings and help and Diego replied he wasn’t going to be their animal to look at anymore. He would rather feed the poor himself than helping in those ridiculous parties. Liam said the husbands of those women were the one doing business with them and Diego said he didn’t care. It wasn’t his problem.

 Liam said he would never understand how working and living a good life really worked, al the thing you had to do to make it work. Then the fight got uglier, with Diego telling Liam he knew he never really approved of his choice of not having a job but at least he was there every day of the week and not having meetings that took hours and not even looking at his eyes for several days. Liam couldn’t respond to that and Diego just turned around and left the house. He jumped into the car and drove off without much thinking about his destination.

 He used the car to think, to try and get an idea of what it was Liam wanted from him. But he just couldn’t be that submissive person he obviously wanted to have by his side. He wanted him to be like all those other women and there was no way Diego would go down that road. The fact that he wasn’t a working guy did not mean he had no integrity. When he realized it, he was driving to the city they lived in before. It was only three hours away so he pressed on, thinking it could be a nice idea to go back to his real roots in a place he loved.

 He arrived in the morning. Thank God, they kept the keys in the glove box of the car. When he opened the door, a cloud of dust escaped the apartment. They hadn’t been able to rent it, partly because of the chaos they had left in there. So, out of the blue, Diego started cleaning, opening windows and buying products to get the place in perfect condition. When he went to the supermarket, people greeted him. They remembered who he was from childhood and from living there with Liam. They asked for him but he didn’t say too much.


 After a week, the place was perfect. He let Liam know he was there and he announced to him he was going to stay there. He actually told him that if custody were not his, he would fight for his right to Duncan. And so it happened, months after. He got his son to live in his former house and he noticed how much better it was for both of them. As for Liam, he had been seeing some woman for many months, so he stayed with her in the other town. Diego didn’t mind. He had returned home and he would never leave again.

sábado, 5 de diciembre de 2015

Payback

   Jean was on highway six and she was doing great time. The road went through the mountains, using tunnels and bridges, to a place with a much nicer climate and where she could finally relax from an exhausting week. Work as a nurse could be very heavy and opportunities to have a few days for herself were pretty scarce. So she decided to grab the car and ask her parents for the keys of the summerhouse they had on that region.

 She had not been there for several years, since she had started her career, and her parents were not big fans of going to a house were the weather was warm but there was no ocean or anything to look forward to. There was a pool though and Jean knew she would have to clean it thoroughly before making use of it. Her parents now owned an apartment by the ocean, so this house had been deserted for quite some time. The plan had always been to sell but no one really seemed interested.

 Driving was making her back hurt a bit, so she decided to turn up the radio and sing along, in order to male a distraction from her pain. She would sing clumsily after the lyrics were sung but it worked as it made her laugh and enjoy the trip. On every curve, she would stop singing, instead humming the lyrics and looking at the dark road. It was the end of the afternoon and she had been driving for about an hour. She was only about thirty minutes away from her exit went the unthinkable happened: another car rammed her.

 The hit from the back make her bob like one of those taxi dolls but her arms kept straight and the car didn’t move so much. She tried to look who had done it. For a second, she thought that maybe someone was having problems and it had just been and accident. But some minutes later it happened again and in a curve. Jean’s heart felt right in her mouth and she decided it was best to speed up in order to loose that insane driver.

 She gained velocity quickly and in a couple of minutes she had lost the car, a red car that seemed to old to be still in circulation. Jean noticed the exit was nearby and was trying not to miss it when a police car appeared out of nowhere and she was asked to park further ahead. She stopped the car on a restaurant just off her exit. Stepping out of the car, she fixed her hair and waited for the police officer to come and talk to her.

 With that air of superiority many policemen have, he told her she had gone above the limit some kilometers ago and that she had violated the top speed she could be driving on the highway. Jean answered that it was all fine but that they should also give a ticket to the owner of the red car that rammed her twice. She went to the back of her car and showed him the marks of both attacks. The man checked it closely, then grabbed his radio and alerted other patrols to be on the lookout for the red car.

 After he had given the ticket to Jean, she was able to go. Her parent’s house was just fifteen minutes down the road on a small plateau between two mountains. The place in itself was very nice but it was obvious people always wanted more and better things so they were all selling these all old houses in favor of newer, more modern ones in places not very far from there.

 Jean stopped the car on the entrance and used the keys to release the lock on the main entrance. She opened the door manually (it wasn’t a electric one) and then drove the car into the lot. She stopped the car just by the pool, closed the door and then took out the only suitcase she had brought along.

The place was very dark and moist, the humidity was incredible. She turned on the lights and was amazed at how much work she had to do that night. She only had three full days for herself there and she was to clean to leave everything as it was. So after leaving her suitcase in her parent’s old bedroom, she decided to grab all the cleaning products available and start scrubbing the floor, mopping them, dust the furniture, vacuum and a number of other thing she would have forgotten to do if she hadn’t been a nurse.

 She had gotten there around seven and now it was almost eleven and her stomach asked her for food. In the house there was nothing to eat, as they had always disconnected the refrigerator before leaving, in order not to let any electric appliances on the long periods of time they were not there. She had forgotten all about eating when she had grabbed the car, so she went outside and decided to head down the road, where she remembered some stores were located.

 They were small family-owned stores, the kind that sells things kids would like on a road trip. No meat or anything raw. No lunches or any form of cooked meals or even microwave meals. Thankfully it was open and the lady that tended to it remembered her. They had a nice conversation as Jean grabbed some yogurts, orange juice, milk, cereal, bread, ham and butter. She also grabbed some candy and a big bottle of soda. The lady asked her if she wanted help to carry all that to her house but Jean refused and told her she could manage.

 After dropping the soda bottle five times, she finally arrived to her house and ate a pathetic sandwich before feeling to tired to go on. She feel asleep in no time.

 The following day, she put on her swimsuit and ran to the pull, only to realize she hadn’t cleaned that. Someone, according to her parents, took care of it when they were not around but still there were many leaves. She grabbed that long pole they use to catch leaves and she started doing so, sweating like crazy, feeling more and more humid by the minute. As she was halfway through the job, she heard a car coming. She wasn’t expecting anyone so she didn’t looked up to see that it was the red car coming slowly down the road. It stopped a few meters away, far from her sight.

 Jean finally looked at the pool: it was clean enough and she just wanted to swim. So she did, for several hours. After that, she decided to lay down in a plastic deck chair and just dry away the water of the pool. It was right then when the two men driving in the red car entered the house and she didn’t heard a thing. They hid behind lush plants and behind her car. She had closed her eyes, tired again from all the exercise. One of the men was holding a knife, the other a gun. This last one raised his hand.

 A shot was heard all over the road and many neighbors looked up and down the street for the source. But they could only see a red car parked there.

 And also, a patrol car.

 The policeman, not the same one that had stopped Jean on the road, had shot first, wounding the one that was holding a gun on the side. He fell to the ground by the pool and his pain had made him drop the gun into the water. The other one was still holding the knife and was pretty agile, grabbing Jean by the neck and trying to suffocate her with his skinny arm.

 She fought back but he was stronger and much more crazy. The policeman was pointing at him but the knife was already too close to the skin and Jean decided to do the only thing she could thing of doing: she bit the arm of her attacker, that got distracted for a second. The policeman got the message and shot two times, both to the chest.

 In a matter of minutes, neighbors had called the police and ambulances. Both men were alive, one on much worse condition that the other. Paramedics also attended Jean, as she was coughing too much and she had a deep cut on her neck.

 She went back home that day, on the ambulance. She would ask someone to go down there and grab her car for her. She only wanted to be home. Jean thought of the men every second of the short trip, their faces mad with anger, the weapons and the feeling when she had heard the gunshot and then the man grabbed her. She felt so helpless and useless. They cured her wounds in a hospital and then released her, late at night.

 Once home, she sat on her bed stroking her neck wound and remembering where she had seen those men before. They were family members of a woman that had recently died in her care. Her husband had attacked her and those men were her sons. Jean remembered they wanted her cured instantly, like by magic and they pressured the doctor not to mention their father in the report. But he did. And Jean was too slow the day the woman went into cardiac arrest and died. She had not believed their word, as the woman had been fine just hours before.


 Jean couldn’t fall asleep anymore. And traveling to relax was definitively out of the question.