In print

1:28 PM Posted by James Owens

A story in Mount Zion Speculative Fiction Review

Meeting the Bagman

The janitor had found a dead body outside the office building and was calling someone to come for the corpse. No, she wasn’t. The plastic sack bulging with trash slumped at her feet and her mop’s hairy shock of string had looked like someone, as if one of the vague, disheveled homeless people wandering the city had drifted onto campus and expired there during the night. Wallace had thought the janitor was using one of the blue, “help phones” mounted on the wall outside the office building to call security and report the death. She was old and round in her uniform, her own hair as gray as the mop.

As Wallace passed her on the way to the relative security of his office, she rolled her eyes at him furtively, uneasy about being overheard, turning her whole body to keep him in sight as he passed, as if she suspected him of something, of being there without authorization, of eavesdropping.

“...again this morning ... the same one, I think ... a baggy man ... no, not a student. He might be living in the building, or one of the other buildings ... okay, I’ll keep an eye out....”

She was still talking, giving more details of a description Wallace could not hear, when he got on the elevator....