Fifth Avenue apartments were the plum cleaning jobs. All on one level, lift accessible, and no one about to get in the way. So why had Marita been given this assignment? The slip said the owner was Red Ballantyne. She was to deep clean the kitchen and bathroom, remake the beds, dust the living room and then walk the family pet.
She stepped into the apartment and stopped. The floors were covered with sand, the hat stand a many-armed cactus and the automatic lighting reminded her of sunrises over her native desert.
She smiled. No vacuuming then.
Her first shock was the kitchen: no state-of-the-art stove, but rather a proper wood range. The coffee pot steamed and the blackened cooking pots were crusted with beans and stew. A bucket and hand pump replaced a conventional sink.
Curious now, she checked the bathroom. No power shower for Red; instead he had a tin bath above which hung an old can, stippled with holes. She looked for the toilet and spied a trench in he floor with a pine bench in front. Leaning over, the water automatically flowed disappearing heaven knew where.
The sitting room furniture was minimal and set to look like wagons circling an open fire in the middle. The master bedroom lacked a traditional bed; in its place were a series of straw mattresses. On rails to one side hung assorted cowboy and girl gear: jeans, checked shirts fancy buckled belts and leather chaps.
It was the second bedroom that decided her. A palomino pony stood, tied to a rail, chewing on a bag of oats. Next to the pony hung the largest pooper scooper she’d seen.
Marita sighed and pulled on her rubber gloves. The money was good and this was New York. Why should she be surprised?