Reflections of a crime scene cleaner
The thoughts of an ordinary man in a not-so-ordinary business.
I walked through the door of that dimly lit ground-level one-bedroom apartment on a cold December Christmas day, peering into the living room. I saw a couple of family pictures on the wall, an old La-Z-Boy recliner, an old CRT tv from the 80s, maybe, and a big stain on the carpet from the discharge of bodily fluids after death. He died while sitting in that La-Z-boy, natural causes. It was an 82-year-old man who had passed away. You might be asking, why are you here? Well, I work in the business of clean up, but not your standard everyday cleanup. We clean up crimes scenes and deaths.
Now this one wasn’t a challenging cleanup at all. It was just another typical job, in and out thirty minutes flat. This one got to me because it was Christmas day, and this was an 82-year-old man. He was left alone on Christmas day with nothing, no food, no Christmas tree, and no family, seemingly forgotten. I’ve seen a lot of shit in 15 years in this business, but this one hit me. Will this be me one day? Will my kids leave me to die alone like this man because I’m not always around for them?
I work a lot because, in this business, you’re always on call. Not everyone dies between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm. I’ve been married to my wife for 15 years now, and we have two kids, a son, and a daughter. My son Thomas is 12, and my daughter Sarah is 8. My son is slowly starting to understand what his father does. With him getting older, it’s getting harder to hide it. “How was work, dad?” he’ll ask. I hate having to lie, but you’re not going to tell a 12-year-old, ‘Oh, it was fine, son, just some young man like yourself decided he would blow his head off, so I ended up having to clean up brain matter off the walls.
For that reason, I have always felt disconnected. In this business, you don’t just come home and tell everyone what you had done that day. It tends to bring people down or gross them out. Working this job, you seem to disconnect from almost everything. It makes you question life sometimes. Why do people do some of the things they do, and why are we all here. I feel we aren’t here to feel so lonely and depressed until we put a bullet in our head or overdose on drugs one day, and I don’t think we are here to go and murder someone in their own house for no reason at all. Unfortunately, this is what happens in our world, and these are the situations I see every day. And yes, you start to become numb to it all and start questioning your own life.
Even though I sometimes feel disconnected, I live a relatively ordinary life. I have a good job and a loving family. It does worry me sometimes, though. How do I go to work and see what I see and live the ordinary life I do. Am I a psychopath? Have I lost my damn mind? Or have I just become so numb to everything I see daily? To me, there is no difference between cleaning up blood and brain matter and taking out the trash. Is that ok? Every day I ask the same question, and every day there is no difference. I always wonder what I would be or what I would do in another life. Would I be on the other side of these homicides I clean up daily? I guess I’ll never know.
Now I told you about the older man earlier now I’m going to tell you about the worst day I had on the job, which just happened about six months ago, as long as I been working here I’ve never really felt as connected to a clean up as I did this one. The person in this one was a young boy around my son’s age. A group of kids had bullied him for a while, a couple of years. The parents didn’t know about this until after it happened. He got tired of it and found his way into his father’s gun cabinet, grabbed his loaded Smith & Wesson revolver, put it to his head. The end. The school had known about what was going on but didn’t do much to stop it. He never once thought to go to talk about it to his parents. Still to this day, I wonder why he never did.
I felt connected to this one because it makes me think of my children. It could be my boy. The amount of suffering this kid went through and never considered telling his parents. Would my son tell me if this was happening? With me not being around a lot, would he talk to me? I want to say yes, but that would be a lie because I’m not sure to tell you the truth.
A world where we feel we have no one to turn to, so we end it. A world where a kid who hasn’t even started life was tormented, so he would instead end it than tell someone — a world where we die alone with nothing. It’s the truth. It’s sad, yes, but to me, it makes no difference. That’s the world in which we live. We can’t stop anything; we clean up all the nasty shit in an attempt to hide ourselves from it.
As much as I’m around death, I try not to think about it too much. It tends to drag you into this dark hole that is sometimes hard to get yourself out of. I try and live my life like any other average man, and some days are more challenging than others. I try not to think about it much because the questions you ask yourself cant be answered, and you start to overthink. It all becomes one big loop in your head playing over and over again like a broken record, which can cause paranoia, anxiety, and depression. I try and look at it like any other job. It supports my family and me, so I can’t complain. I go to work, come home, and get paid. And in the business of death, business is booming.