Benny is a tough cookie and everyone knows it. He’s six feet tall with fifteen percent body fat and an impressive amount of solid muscles. He works as an exterminator. He likes the fact that he has the authority over life and death. But ironically, his livelihood depends on the survival and resilience of those squish creature that he kills on a daily basis.
The privilege of entering strangers’ homes had opened Benny’s eyes to the hidden fascinations of humanity. Most of the time, working at an apartment building felt like taking a rollercoaster ride between heaven and hell. Some units were beautiful and lofty like the Garden of Eden and some others were dirty and chaotic like a satanic bloodbath. FYI, twenty percent of the population are hoarders.
This would be another one of those days --- at least that was what Benny thought.
Benny went up to the fourteenth floor of this apartment building. He saw a beautiful brunette walking out of the end unit. She was wearing a red dress. It was so tight that Benny could vaguely see the outline of her belly button ring. She was curvy and sexy reminding him of his celebrity crush Kim Kardashian. Benny could smell the woman from where he was. Instantly, he was intoxicated by the sweet aroma of her perfume. As the woman was approaching Benny, he became really nervous. His heart started to drum and his face began to burn. Benny could not put a label on his feeling. He refused to believe that he would fall in love this easily and quickly. Benny wanted to say hi, but the woman was texting on her phone. She did not even lift up her head to acknowledge his existence. Benny’s heart sank as he saw her disappear into the elevator. Originally Benny was going to start off with the first unit on this floor, but instead he decided to go to that woman’s unit first. He was thrilled.
After Benny opened the door with his master key, he took a little step back. Two pillars of cardboard boxes were stacked on the left and right side of the entrance. There was a narrow passageway leading into the unit. An eerie odor blew toward Benny that made him reach for his gas mask. This was not how he had imagined. “Hello! Anybody’s home?” Benny asked a few times and was convinced that no one was home. He took out his work order and found that a bed bug treatment and a roach treatment were requested for this unit. He tightened his mask, put on his gloves and took his tank of pesticide with him. His little buggy was too big to go through the narrow tunnel, thus, he left it outside.
After squeezing through that little passageway, Benny found himself in the midst of an “Amazon jungle”. His jaw dropped. There was stuff everywhere! The entire floor was covered by shirts, dresses, bras, dirty laundry, food containers, leftovers, toys and things that were hard to tell what they actually were. It seemed like an F5 tornado had just blown through this place. With all the crumbs and flakes of food on the floor, are you sure you are not intentionally feeding the roaches? From experience, no amount of treatment would be effective on units like this.
Benny picked up a pair of pants on the floor to clear himself a path. Nah! Why bother? He put the pants back down and stepped on them as he explored further into the living room. He was shocked to find an oasis in the middle of this desolated land. There was a beautiful vanity right beside the window. All kinds of makeup and hair products were sitting elegantly on the table. The most eye catching item was a fur coat. It was lying on the chair like a Persian cat. Benny glanced at the label, “Sha-nelle.” Benny felt proud that he knew the proper pronunciation.
Curiosity drove Benny to the bedroom. As he entered this room, his eyes popped out of their sockets. There was more stuff piling up here. A mattress was sagging in the middle of the room. An altar was set up in one of the corners. A green-faced idol with seven arms was positioned at the centre and five plates of rotten fruits and moldy bread were placed in front of the idol. Benny suddenly felt a chill penetrating his body. He prayed the Lord’s prayer, drew a cross before mouthing his most sincere Amen.
Benny had enough. Just when he was about to leave, he saw two rats coming out from behind the altar. Benny locked eyes with these plague-infested animals. Over the years, Benny had seen cockroaches pouring out of an open cabinet like bees zooming out of a hive; he had dethroned dozens of queens while destroying dozens of wasp's nests; he had dealt with people of all kinds of icky and creepy personalities. Therefore, no one would believe that Benny the exterminator had a phobia of rats. After years of practice, he no longer had problems with picking up dead rats. But the live and jumpy ones would still scare the bejesus out of him. “Ahhhhh!” Benny screamed like a “Belieber”. The two rats fully came out of their hiding. Benny quickly turned around and wanted to run for his life. Yet his legs had a slower reaction time compared to his upper body. They intertwined and locked into a knot. Benny fell face first onto the ground. He didn’t just go down by himself. Along the way, he knocked down a lamp stand. All of the sudden, everything around him began to collapse like dominoes. Kenny’s blood pressure jumped higher and higher as he heard things break and shatter one after another. The world paused for five seconds before all kinds of organisms emerged out of the darkness: rats, roaches, spiders and who-knows-what. Benny wanted to die right there, right now. Before he could stand up, his hand touched a bony object buried under a blanket. As he uncovered the blanket, he already had a good guess of what it was --- a skull. After another top-of-the-lung scream, he realized that the skull was only a Halloween decoration.
Benny stumbled out of the room, stormed out of the unit not caring how many more items he broke along the way. He was panting like a dog. It was definitely a soul-crashing humbling experience. Just when he thought that everything was over, he realized that his buggy had been stolen. It dawned on him that Khloe had just become his favorite Kardashian.