I woke this morning to a phone call. The ringer was off, so it was a rude “Bzzz” by my head, and not a weird noise that passes for a ring that woke me up. My greeting was something along the lines of “hrrnruh?”
“Did I wake you up?” This would be my boss.
“Eh, I'll call back later…”
“I'm awake now,” I say. “What is thing?”
Clearly with that kind of phrasing I am not nearly as awake as I thought I was.
“Well…I talked to the district manager.”
“We're going to have to suspend you until the problem in your apartment is taken care of. I know there's nothing you can do about the rest of the building, but this one thing at least—”
“Again, thank you for letting us know so fast about the issue so that things didn't get any worse here than they could have.”
By the end of the phone call my nerves have gotten my hives blowing up again. I pop an antihistamine on an empty stomach, not caring that the uncoated pill would wreck my stomach. Such GREAT news, that.
I roll over for a bit more of a nap. I have work to do later on. After a run for my prescriptions, that is.
The apartment is a logical temperature when I get there. I take an appraising whiff of the room: there is not yet the scent of syrup and carrion. The place is not too far gone.
A plastic cap goes on my head, and the Hot Shot branded pesticide goes on the counter as I move those goddamn totes.Each one goes into a black bag, and each one of those goes into the bath tub, for lack of a better location. Then the linens that I can get to go into black plastic bags, and those go into the bath tub. That thing has been the isolation tank more than once before, and it will be the isolation tank again as I work to get this place debugged once again.
The third tub is the hardest to get to. I pull that muscle in my gut on the attempt to un-jam it from a spot, then finally cave and move the bed slightly—this rewards me with a pulled groin muscle. The tote can be moved now, its unbalanced load causing me to stumble, and the ill-matched lid to slide off.
Trip. Stumble. Stagger-trip-stagger. “JESUSGODDAMNFUCK.”
It's a pillow from Pestilence Couch.
(In case you're late to the party, Pestilence Couch was a sofa sleeper that I got in the summer of 2014 that, as it turned out, was one of the first things to enter the building with a surprise set of hitchhikers: Cimex lectularius, aka the red flat, aka the common bed bug, aka PESTILENCE. Though every major source will tell you they're mostly harmless, these things have recently become vectors for lyme disease in infrequent cases. There have also been isolated cases of them carrying that thing the assassin bug does [don't look up the image of either of these bugs if you're squeamish.] and 28 human human pathogens in all (with no study on how or if they transfer or not, since priority is so low), but the big deal with these things for me is that I am wildly allergic to the bite, and even contact with, these things. I get a wild rash that resembles a poison plant in the beginning, and turns into a blistering mess towards the end.
(I am going to bring back the demand for styptic pencils, let me tell you.
(The bugs will also literally drive you nuts. No, seriously. They can cause or exacerbate anxiety levels up to a PTSD severity. Those of us who have been hit half-jokingly call it 'bedbug psychosis.' Bedbug psychosis presents with a fear of the bug, paranoia, irrational fear that anything small is one of them, flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety…sounds like PTSD, doesn't it? Well, I can CONFIRM that one.
(Pestilence Couch was WRITHING with the little bastards, I would discover.)
I hold Pestilence Pillow far away from my body as I throw it into one of the Hefty bags, tie it three different ways closed, and throw it down the laundry chute. Sorry, floors 7-2, but I gotta get it out of there.
Next order of business: this can of bug spray.
I grab the can and start spraying every inch of unfinished wood, making sure that it's saturated. I'm treating this thing like it's a can of spray varnish and I'm finishing the wood off. It takes two laps around the bed and one full can to saturate the wood. At one point it's suffocating in the apartment, and a window is opened in a futile quest for a cross breeze.
I wouldn't even be in this mess if the landlords were doing their jobs, I mutter as I make the second round on the bug spray sweep. I see a few scrawny bastards wriggle out of their holes, trying to live, but I've soaked that wood through. They have no chance. And neither do I, I think as I try to open a window and get some damn air. I've moved things, I've isolated things, I see things trying to escape, I throw things into bags, I drown things. Half the job is done.
I have a nose full of bug spray.
It takes several hours before I can smell anything besides bug spray.
And I still have to actually DO all the laundry I quarantined.