Everybody Hates Their Job, Some More Than Others, by Swindle

You quietly shut the door to your Bronco and adjust the holster on your hip. A soccer mom loading her children into a minivan gives you a startled look, then notices your pest control uniform and relaxes; in your state, it’s not legal to carry a handgun openly unless you’re law enforcement or have a business license that allows it. Concealed carry is legal with a license, which you’ve obtained just to be on the safe side. You retrieve a small canvas duffel bag from the back of the truck and happen to glance up as the van full of children and their stereotypical suburban mom drive past. She waves and cheerfully says, “Have a good day, officer!”

Geez, people are so oblivious! She sees a gun and some sort of uniform and assumes you’re a cop, even though you have no badge or other accroutrements of law enforcement, your pistol is clearly not standard issue for police, and you’re driving around in a rusted-out Ford Bronco with a distinct lack of lights and sirens. You shake your head and walk up to the front of the house and ring the doorbell.

“Hello, ma’am? I’m Bill, we spoke on the phone?”

“Oh yes, the exterminator! You certainly got here fast!”

“I happened to be in the area, and you sounded concerned, so I made sure to stop by here next.”

Bullshit. Next implies you were at a different job earlier and have another lined up after this one. And you didn’t just happen to be in the area, you broke every traffic law in the book to get here because you were desperate and needed the money.

“Well, I’m glad you have such prompt service. Oh, where are my manners! Please, come in!”

She obviously doesn’t want you in her house, knowing what you do for a living, seeing your battered, rusting truck, and assuming you’re probably dirty, but she’s too stuck on social etiquette to keep you standing on her porch. Social programming is an amazing thing. See a gun and uniform, assume the guy’s a cop; see a pest control guy, invite him inside even though you assume he’s unsanitary and don’t want him there. It’s amazing how people just do what they’re trained to do by society; you idly wonder how different we are, psychologically, from the fluffies we call pests as you step inside.

Wow. Nice house. Not much bigger than a typical suburban household, but definitely upscale. A glance around the living room and its furniture, designed to be appreciated for its looks more than its usefulness, and the Lexus in the driveway informs me that these people have money, but not nearly as much as they want the neighbors to think they have. They’re not rich, but they think they’re in a higher class than you, so they can safely hold you in contempt even as you do their dirty work for them. Typical surbubanites, basically.

“It sounded pretty important over the phone, ma’am. So what’s the exact nature of your problem?”

“Fluffies have been getting into my yard! They’ve utterly destroyed my flower garden, they’re ruining my saint augustine, and they’re…” She hesitated, obviously about to say something foul-mouthed and choosing to censor herself. “They’re DEFECATING all over my yard! It’s horrendous! I can’t even let my daughter into the backyard, I’m afraid she’ll get… feces, on herself, or she’ll see one of those horrid vermin and get attached to it!”

“All right, how long has this been going on?”

“About a week, they devastated my flower bed first, and now they’re ruining my lawn!”

You nod, then ask if she had seen the fluffies in question.

“Yes.”

You wait for her to continue and after several awkward seconds she realizes you expect more information than that.

“I’ve seen them twice, in the backyard.”

“How many, and how big?”

“Two of them, a green one and a cream-colored one with purple. About the size of my Snookums.”

Snookums was either the morbidly obese cat ignoring you on the couch, or the undersized chihuahua pissing itself under the kitchen table and vibrating in mortal terror at the stranger in its house. Either was on the extreme end of the fluffy scale, and it didn’t matter which was which.

“Do you happen to know how they got into your yard?”

“No, but I think they’re hiding under my rose bush. The second time I saw them destroying my yard, I ran out there with a broom and yelled at them, and they ran under the roses.” She sniffed indignantly and continued, “They shat the entire way. I had to throw away a brand new pair of pumps.”

“All right, I can handle them, ma’am, no problem. I may have to damage or remove some of the roses to get to them though, you understand.”

“It’s all right, I was going to have them removed and plant some tulips there next spring. Just don’t leave a mess.”

That simplified things. You ask her to open the front gate for you so you could haul the dead fluffies directly to my truck without taking them through her house, and she immediately became less tense than she had been. Just as you open the back door, she sternly warns you not to disturb any bird nests you find in the roses; she’s heard baby birds peeping there.

Greeeaaaaat. You enter the backyard and examine it.

Yep, fluffies all right. The piles of shit everywhere confirm it, as do the patches of close-cropped grass and the utterly denuded flower garden. The entire yard was fenced in with a six foot high red brick wall; how the hell had fluffies gotten in here? Through the gate?

You spot the rose bushes along the back wall of the garden and crouch down; yep, they were nesting under there, all right. Looked like they had dug a small den under the protection of the thorny bushes. You ponder for a moment why an artificially-created, genetically-engineered horse would exhibit behavior similar to a rabbit, such as hiding under thorn bushes and digging dens in the ground, and that thought led to wondering how such clumsy creatures managed to dig out dens with their little hooves. Or how they managed to survive in the wild at all, considering how stupid, naive, fragile, and apparently delicious they were. The side of the road always had at least one dead fluffy being eaten by vultures. Clearly, they procreated very, very quickly. So had the ones invading this yard, by the sound of it; you can hear chirping coming from the small hole in the ground, and faintly make out the spoken word, “miwkies”.

Setting aside the extraneous thoughts, you reach into a side pocket on the duffel bag and pull out a small can of cheap spaghetti. Opening it, you reach under the rose bush and pour a little out just outside the entrance to the den, then back up and pour a little more on the ground just at the edge of the shelter provided by the thorns, then a little more out in the open. Then you set the can aside and step back, drawing your Ruger Mk.II .22 pistol and pointing it at the base of the bush. Now to wait…

“Nummies?”

You hear loud sniffing coming from just inside the burrow and a little green head, topped with a slightly lighter green mane, pops out of the hole.

“Sketties!”

The fluffy immediately gobbles down the cheap, canned spaghetti with obvious relish. From within the den, you hear a muffled, high-pitched voice say, “Sketties? Sketties make bestest miwkies for babbehs! Mummah nee sketties fow make miwkies fow babbehs!”

“Otay! I yook for mowe sketties!”

The little green stallion emerges completely from the den, makes a noise of joy and amazement as it spots the little glop of spaghetti at the edge of the bush, and starts to eat it. Then it pauses, thinks carefully for a moment, and stuffs its cheeks with spaghetti, to bring back to the mare and her foals. His eyes grow wide as he spots another glob of spaghetti and waddles into the open, caution to the breeze, and begins stuffing his mouth with his new-found bounty.

Your prey in the open, you line up the front sight with his forehead, let the rear sight become blurry, release the safety, and take up the slack in the trigger. The snap of the safety disengaging startles the fluffy and he jerks his head up, large, emerald eyes growing larger as he realizes you’re there and he has made a grievous tactical error.

The first time you did this, you tried to befriend the fluffy so you could coax it and the others out from hiding so you could kill them all. You felt like shit afterward. You had no problem lying to the stuck up bitch about why you got here so fast, but for some reason you felt guilty after luring the innocent, though destructive, fluffies to their deaths with promises of kindness. The green fluffy stares at you for a second, then, with a mouth full of spaghetti, hopefully askes, “Fwend?”

You don’t have the heart to lie. The pistol pops and fluffy blood and cheap spaghetti splatter onto the soil in front of the roses.

“Spechow fwend? Wha da noise?”

You kneel down by the roses again, examining the burrow the mare and her cheeping foals are hiding in. You could reach in there to fish them out, but the mare will struggle and possibly escape. You’ve been bitten before, and sometimes it leaves a bruise or even breaks the skin. Not gonna happen. You pull your sleeve down to cover your entire arm, slide on a pair of mechanic’s gloves, and pull the spray can out of the hip pocket of your uniform.

It’s a can of highly-concentrated pepper spray and CS tear gas, the same brand the police use. It’s overkill on a fluffy, but you’ve had to fend off aggressive dogs and a mentally-disturbed panhandler and want the best. You flip the nozzle from SAFE to… not safe, you assume, since SAFE is the only setting labeled on the canister, stick the nozzle into the entrance of the fluffy den, and squeeze.

“AAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! OWIES! BA HUWT! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! FWUFFY’S EYES MEWTING!”

Ok, you’ve been pepper sprayed before and it really, REALLY sucks, and fluffy’s are quite a bit more delicate than humans, but you know for a fact that her eyes are not actually melting.

It just feels that way.

Setting the canister aside, you reach in and feel around until your gloved hand comes in contact with something soft and pull it out.

A unicorn foal, maybe two days old, squirming and gasping for breath; it was originally dark blue or purple, but now it’s covered in dripping, orange liquid that burns everywhere it touches and writhing in agony. Heart suddenly racing, you cringe, set it aside and reach in again.

There, the thing thrashing against your hand has to be the mother. You grab it by what feels like a leg and drag it out of the hole.

“NUUUUUU! HUU HUU HUU! OWIES! BA HUWT! WOWSTEST OWIES! NU HUWT FWUFFY! AAAAAAAAAHHHH!”

It breaks down in sobs, squeezing its eyes shut and trying to shake the burning pepper spray off its face. You grimace, pick up your pistol, and silence it with a point-blank shot to the forehead. Blood trickles out of both ears and you suddenly regret eating greasy fastfood for lunch. Then you reach into the hole and retrieve two more chirping foals, crying in pain. You feel around inside the den, but don’t find any more fluffies. You squirt in more pepper spray, squinting as your sinuses start burning when you get a whiff of the stuff, but there’s no sound down there. You think you got them all.

Heart jackhammering in your chest, you pick up the three tiny foals, one still in too much pain to even cry out for mummah, and carry them over to the water faucet on the wall. Setting them down, you fill a small bucket you brought with you from the faucet, then drop all three foals inside and close your eyes. There’s a second or two of burbling noises, and you cover your ears and count to one hundred. When you open your eyes again, all three foals are floating face-down in the bucket. You pour the bucket out and drop the drowned foals and their parents’ corpses into the duffel bag and search the yard again.

The den under the rose bush is the only one, but you’ve discovered how they got in. There’s a small drainage gate set in the brick wall surrounding the yard, to prevent the yard from flooding every time it rains. The grate has been knocked aside and you see tiny hoof prints, several days old, all around the hole in the fence. You set the grate back in place and make sure it’s secure before depositing the duffel bag in the back of your Bronco and knocking on the lady’s door again.

“All done, ma’am. I found two adult fluffies and three babies and disposed of them for you. I found where they got in and fixed the hole in your fence, so you shouldn’t have any more problems with fluffies in your yard.”

“Oh, thank you so much! I can’t tell you how much this means to me! So how much do I owe you?”

“Well, with the repairs, two adults, and three foals, that comes to $120. I don’t charge for clean up like the big guys do.”

“That’s an awfully reasonable price! Let me get my purse.”

Thirty pieces of silver in hand, you get back in your Bronco and rest your head on the steering wheel for a long moment. Finally, you sit up, hoping none of the horribly sheltered soccer moms have called the police about a grown man in a ratty old truck crying and being weird (“I think he has a gun! He might hurt muh babbehs! Send the police, hurry!”), start the engine, and wipe your watering eyes.

Everyone hates their job at least some of the time, but some hate their job more than others.

At least now you can afford this week’s rent and a fresh bag of fluffy chow. And spaghetti. Good spaghetti. Not the cheap stuff you use for bait. You have to make up for what you did today to pay the rent. You put the truck in gear and drive away, refusing to look in the mirror at the lumpy, misshapen bag in the back seat.

19 Likes

Bill has issues.

2 Likes

Weekly rent? Budgeting technique or holy crap rough way to live…

1 Like

Both Bill and me hate our jobs but at least I only work retail

FWUFFIE’S EYES MEWTING! is one of my favorite lines in the story.

I have another story where that’s literally true. She Blinded Me With Science. I’ll have to see if I can dig it up.