The following is an embellished account based on a real experience. Inspired by the poem “the 12 hour night” by Charlies Bukowski from his book “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire.”
Christopher Titus Save Me!
By Shannon Laws
“…our bodies were worn, our spirits whipped. there was a sense of unreality.” the 12 hour night, Charles Bukowski
I found myself in middle age working the graveyard shift as a deep cleaner at a casino, and somehow there seemed to be no way out.
I was smothered by
in high heels
butts in the ashtrays
butts in the seats
baseball hats on empty heads
guts spilling over large buckles
Work boots, flip flops
bring in an endless
amount of pine needles
and waffle-mud cakes
Everything looks too tight
especially the Tuesday Tweakers.
I am drained here
my life is ending
but Christopher Titus is coming
in February. He smiles at me from the poster’s place on each side of each four-sided pillar and near the door. “As seen on Comedy Central!” “Get your tickets now!”
Christopher is coming! His spiky blonde hair and blue eyes hold life. He is my savior in an ash covered world. As I sweep up pieces of paper, fingernails, toothpicks, squeezed out limes from the casino’s clown colored floor, I imagine sweet Christopher busting through the main entrance on a white steed
he is shining
glowing with a bright future
a future he offers me if only
I wash off my Cinderella ashes
take his hand and leave this place
Oh, how he glows!
He talks to me—
Why are you here? Common, you can do better
You’re wiping up blood and vomit from slot machines. Your new skill is how to reach into the bathroom garbage to avoid a hidden syringe,
-and the SHRIMP on Friday Fish Day! All that half-chewed shrimp clogging up your vacuum! Common!
look at ME
look how happy I am
join me in this happiness
I was so tired, so dazed, my anguished mixed with hopelessness. I saw myself fifteen years from now, hunched over the sweeper, being called darlin’ and sugar, taking empty glasses once full of spirits, offering clean ashtrays.
I talked sense to my Titan
This isn’t so bad.
I’ve learned much more than biohazard clean up.
I’ve studied this species of human
that gambles. You can learn a lot from the way they put out their cigarettes. Like footprints in the snow, you know what animal walked by
The Texan—punches the butt straight down, it stands erect
The Cowboy— rolled and smashed, falls to the side
The Camper—sits at the same machine for hours, same butt brand overfills ashtray
The Britney— pink lipstick on the butt, usually a camper
Ladybird— smokes the very thin lady cigarette, flutters around from machine to machine
Still, my Titan smiles
Then one night I stood up for myself and left
My last day is this Friday, I told my shift manager on Thursday.
You found something else?
yes, I did.
Fresh air and dignity
It pays nothing
On my last day I hand in my badge, I returned my uniforms, left my locker unlocked,
Christopher Titus had come and gone
A new act was plastered on the pillars
I turned and walked away
into the night
and my life was touched by
and it still
Want to learn more about Christopher Titus? Of course, you do.