It is summer, but the morning air is cool in those hours right before the sun decides to rise. This is Chester’s favorite time of day since he retired. He has the city to himself, sharing it only with the underpaid, overworked men thrown a pittance to clean up after the college kids once the bars have closed for their day. He did that once, crawling out of bed at an ungodly hour to sweep sidewalks, hose them down, and hopefully not slip in some punk’s puke.
That was long ago, when the kids were young, when he needed the extra money to feed six mouths, not counting his own. Some time between his first job unloading trucks, and that illusive retirement, one job became not enough anymore. When the warehouse hired him, back when Junior was watching Howdy Doody, it paid enough for them all. Then the new machines came, requiring fewer and fewer workers, and eventually, they did not have a job for him anymore. Those were the breaks.
So he cleaned toilets, worked in mail rooms, dish rooms, security gigs, and what seemed like a thousand other so called careers. Finally, after twenty years of bouncing around, he passed the civil service exam, and got hired by the department of social services as a janitor. That lasted a whole ten years of good pay again, all on its own. He only had to work one part time job in addition to keep a roof over their heads. Then they privatized.
He kept the job, thank God and all His mercy. It was just for a private company. The pay was rotten, and he lost his benefits, but he got the consistency of staying in the same building for the next ten years, working two other jobs, sometimes three, where he could get them to pay for community college and weddings, and graduation parties. Lord those kids needed so much. He sees them now, more than when Loretta was still around. Since she passed, they all got to check in on Dad. He does not complain. It never did good before, what good would it do now?