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“After her expertise assessment, with every step carefully planned in advance, intrepid explorer Janice Bookface crosses the dangerous terrain of Laundria.”

I hopped over piles of clothing like it was the most dangerous round of hopscotch in the history of mankind. Almost better than “Tthe Ffloor Iis Llava,” I was partaking inof my favorite game, “Tthe Llaundry Iis Ttoxic.”

“Dangerous buildup of poisonous flora consumes the landscape,” I said, stepping between organized piles of clothing on the floor.

“Dense clumps of dark denim crag jut upward, while smaller, random pockets of white detritus, giving off a heinous scent of sweaty feet, threaten our heroic anthropologist with horrid, nose-blistering fumes.”

What the hell is wrong with my feet to make these socks smell so bad?

“Using her warrior’s sense of balance, she perilously dances across the dangerous unbalanced terrain on the balls of her feet. If she can safely make her way toward the red and purple rocks of cotton, Bookface can begin cleansing the landscape as she…”

I grunted with dramatic effort as I bounded over a bundled olive oil-stained tablecloth toward the pile of reds closest to the machine…

“…scoops them up and tosses them into the front-facing rock tumbler… followed by the all-natural, scent-free cleaning mixture.”

Another Sunday of getting things done. The work week was so painfully stressful that household chores stood out as highlights of the weekend. Pathetic for sure, but at least I’ll begin the week with clean clothes. So, what’s next?


“With unprecedented casualties strewn across the land, the last human remaining on Earth, epidemiologist and toxic waste expert Dr. Janice Bookface has finally arrived at the epicenter of humanity’s demise, the horrid waste spill of the ancient volcano, Toi Let.”

I have no idea to this day how the toilet of one person can get so dirty and disgusting.

Is my body leaking lethal fluids, or am I shedding? Ugh, I don’t wanna know.

<ba-DING> Text message alert. It’s Robert, the ex.

Robert: Happy Sunday, JBookman.

Me: Thnx

Robert: Lunch?

Lunch? It’s 11:00 and he’s dropping a food invite? Now?

Me: Today?

Robert: Yes. We r mtg at Clives.

Crap. This was my number one annoyance with Robert: his people.

Me: We?

Robert: Me, Jerry, Barbara, Steve, Deb,… u?

How quickly he managed to forget how much I hated Jerry and Deb. Steve is harmless. Barbara is a fashionista loon who judged me with her eyes and her condescending “Mmmm, interesting,” every time I showed up with a new outfit.

Me: Pass

“Dr. Janice Bookface looked down at the toilet bowl through her HAZMAT face protection window, and documented little versions of Barbara’s head floating around the bowl.”

Robert revels in our amicable breakup of last year and he’s an okay guy, but his misperception of what I liked and disliked from our dating won’t help our “friendship.”

“Lacking motivation from dated communications from a distant planet, Dr. Bookface spritzed and wiped the surface clean. As quickly as she worked, she removed herself from the volcanic spill site. No matter what adept skill set she applied, there was no more she could accomplish in the toxic wasteland. It will remain a dumping ground for centuries and beyond.”

Time for the kitchen.


“With a ticking clock headed downward toward antimatter doom and devastation, IED defuser, Sergeant Janice Bookface must disassemble the complex roadside explosive, or face mortal peril. Buried beneath three days worth of dishes, cheese-crusted pots, half-full coffee mugs—one of which has a white film growing on it, gross. Gross—lies the incendiary device that will likely decimate a ten-square block area of the city. Sergeant Bookface must first remove the cheesed—

<opening guitar riff to “Blister in the Sun”>

Arlene Bookman.

Mom’s calling me. I rinse the soap off of my purple gloved finger and tap the button on my ear pod.

“I hope you are out on this gorgeous day,” mom sings from across the country.

“Mom, it’s raining here.”

“My weather app says it’s sunny where you are.”

“Does it say Cupertino again?”

“Oh… why does it say that?”

“That’s the headquarters for Apple. It’s always sunny where Apple is, mom.”

For the next twenty minutes, she insisted on sharing her weekly diatribe about Marjorie from her museum group that doesn’t like Van Gogh, and how uncle Arnold’s eyesight is comically poor, and her unrequested opinions on Ccongress. Providing enough material to merely listen and get through the dishes with the occasional, “Uuh- huh,” and “Really?” I continue to imagine Sergeant Bookface saving the neighborhood one dirty dish at a time. The bomb scare was nothing more than my favorite saucepan coated with the sticky residue of cream of potato soup.

“I hope you’ll get back out there.”

“I’m fine, mom.”

“Robert wasn’t good for you.”

“No one disagrees, mom.”

“Will you try the dating apps again?”

“Gotta go, mom.”


I turned at the sink to reach for the dish soap and my hand bumped against one of the old coffee mugs on the counter’s edge. While Sergeant Bookface has the snappy reflexes of an apex predator, unfortunately, Janice Bookman has the wrist-flexing speed of a napping sloth, and the purple mug descended slowly, asking me “Why Janice? Why?” before hitting the tile floor and shattering into seventeen pieces and countless microshards.

That’s going to be a problem later on.

With a pensive sigh, I announced to the empty kitchen, “Sergeant Bookface swapped her Level A Personal Protective Equipment for Dr. Bookface’s HAZMAT suit in preparation for another dangerous cleanup.”

I stepped over the darkened abstract-shaped puddle at my feet to acquire the mop from the closet, making sure my Ccroc-protected feet touched neither liquid nor jagged-edged shard. Sergeant Bookface doesn’t need a trip to the emergency room to interrupt her exciting weekend of social avoidance. I pulled the yellow handled mop from the closet and…

“…Captain Janice Bookface, holding steady to her Space Projection Astro Zipline (or SPAZ to the layman) positions herself toward the threatening black hole. Never before has an astronaut come so close, yet avoided the negative gravitational pull from the space anomaly. Thanks to her SPAZ stick, Captain Bookface can eliminate the black hole with a single swipe…”

<opening guitar riff to “Blister in the Sun”>

Mom is calling again. Why? What inane story did she leave out?

“Yeah mom?”

“I forgot to tell you about my cousin Dorothy…”

“…but instead, she defines the edges of the space vortex, mopping errant singular holes, leaving the one solitary black hole in place, just big enough for Captain Bookface to travel where no human has gone before…”

Jay Heltzer

Jay Heltzer writes attention-challenged fiction, plays bass trombone, digs sloppy fountain pen sketches, and is in pursuit of the perfect cheeseburger.

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