I am not an educated man. I knew from a young age that I was not destined to become one of the great men of our generation. Therefore, my time as a youth was often not spent in classrooms but instead with friends who, like me, strive for more engaging activities than staring into bland textbooks.
This of course had its downsides. I finished my “education” from one of the worst schools in the country. The type of school that accepted the kids who were not welcome anywhere else. I am not bitter about this, it was my own doing, and no one is stopping me from bettering myself as an adult. I just choose not to.
With that said, the rising housing costs and taxes has put me into a financially unfeasible situation. Luckily, I surrounded myself with people who shared the same history as me. Men who are not intelligent, but compensate this with their unrivaled craftiness. Pete, one of my oldest accomplices, has offered me weekend work with his removal company. I consider no line of work to be beneath me, as many others in my situation do. As long as I am able to pay my bills and have enough for a few days down the pub each week, then I am content.
Pete’s business was successful, as far as removal companies are concerned. They held exclusive contracts with the local council to remove the furniture and possessions of tenants who have either died and not passed on their belongings to family, or those who have had their homes reclaimed due to lack of payment. Their possessions would then be sold at auction to reclaim the losses on behalf of the council.
Now, you might expect me to proclaim my shame and guilt for performing these acts, but I feel none. Some of these people are far better off than I ever have been, yet I have always grafted until my body ached to make sure I could provide food and shelter for myself. I had no sympathy for the lazy louts whose homes we were reclaiming.
The jobs went as you would expect, we keep the valuables to sell, any large furniture, electronics etc. Then we toss everything else such as personal knickknacks, kitchenware and any other useless junk we might find. Most homes we enter are left in a similar state. They are run-down and damp. The type of people who have their homes foreclosed aren’t generally the most home-proud people.
Today we were sent to a nicer part of town, very unusual, but every nice part of town has to have its gutters. This wasn’t the case. We pulled up outside, what people like me would call, a mansion, but is probably an average habitat for the people of the upper class. The previous tenant was a wealthy and highly respected man, and his house reflected his status. This thing was huge.
“This is going to take fucking weeks!” I exclaimed.
Pete just laughed, he’d been doing this for years, nothing was new to him anymore. The man had metaphorically “seen it all” by now.
We enter the house and despite the lavish staircases, the high quality marble flooring and the huge stained glass windows, the place was empty. This is what Pete referred to as a jackpot. The company receives the cash for the days work, yet no work actually had to be performed. I sighed a breath of relief and was instructed to check every room to ensure we don’t leave anything behind.
Pete took the downstairs and I slowly climbed the staircase, gawking at the beauty of building. I went to church once as a child, decided to give religion a try, didn’t work out for me, yet this building was replicating the intimidation I felt that day. A building so grand and lavish you feel inferior and worthless just being there.
As I reached the top of the stairs, I wandered around aimlessly looking for any sign that somebody had actually lived here. There was none. The spacious rooms echoed the sounds of my footsteps as I strolled around leisurely. As I made my way back to the stairs, I noticed a small side table residing next to what I could only assume was a small storage closet.
“Maybe this is where he’s stashed his hoard of gold and jewels!” I jested.
As I got closer to the door, I noticed a small book sitting on the side table. It was leather-bound and the felt weighty and expensive in my hands. I opened the front page but nothing was written. I did the next sensible thing I could think of. I opened the back page to see if anything had been doodled, nothing. Even the pages of this thing felt incredible. the edge of the pages looked like they were made from gold and they glistened against the sun coming through the windows. I gave the book one last looking before giving up and thumbed through it like I was reading a flip-book cartoon.
About half way through the book, black ink caught my eye. Something had been written.
“Find anything?” Pete shouted up, his voice echoing.
“Just a book” I shouted back
“Better take it to someone who can actually read then” he remarked.
I just exhaled air through my nose briefly, the same way you would do if you had seen a funny picture on the internet.
I flicked back through the pages one by one until I found the one that was written on. The passage read:
I am the Tooth Fairy, but I’m not what you’ve heard,
Hero or villain, the line’s become blurred.
I sit and I wait, on my throne made of teeth,
Until your head meets your pillow, with a tooth underneath.
I do not fly. I skip and I leap,
Then stand at your door, until you’re asleep.
I watch and I ponder, which tooth will it be?
No matter the outcome, it’s priceless to me.
I creep to your bed, without sound or a noise,
Press my face against yours, with such grace and much poise.
I look in your mouth to view jewels yet to come,
And see rows of white gold, attached to your gum.
I smile and I grin as it fills me with glee,
Knowing that one day, they’ll belong to me.
My hand then slips under your cotton laced pillow,
Our breath masqueraded by the wind as it billows.
I pull out the treasure and inspect it with thrill,
Then reach in my pocket to pay you your bill.
The coin is worth nothing in exchange for the joy,
I receive when collecting from a girl or a boy.
I edge away slowly into the veil of night,
before you wake up and receive such a fright.
And now I must wait until you next call again,
But I assure you my friend, I’ll be seeing you then.
I slammed the book shut and felt a guilt wash over me for the first time at this job. This old guy must have been completely out of his mind. He had died alone with only his insanity to keep him company, and I must be the only person to know what was going on inside his head.
I decided to keep the book for myself, although frowned upon, we regularly keep items we like that are recovered from these homes, as long as they hold no exceptional value. And after storing the book in my backpack, I proceeded to lift the table with the goal of returning the only piece of furniture in the house to the van. As I spun around to the stairs, my eyes locked once again on the small storage cupboard. I felt a strong “pull” from the handle and decided I needed to investigate before leaving the house.
I drew closer to the handle, gripped it with a strong hand and yanked it towards me…
Credit: Alex Woodman