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Chapter 5 of "The Cleaners - An Adventure in Filth"

‘You don’t really know someone until you’ve helped clean up their shit.’ The Cleaners

I arrived at the TXU building and was greeted by Rick. I wanted to ask him about the cleaning day and what to expect, but he simply ushered me to follow him.

We went to the first floor which opened out to a large space. About ten chairs we arranged in a circle with equal numbers of people standing silently around them. It was eerie. I didn’t know what to make of it, but followed along.

Within a few moments my Samaritan had entered the room. The quiet respect he earned was palpable. There was a feline grace as he walked towards one of the chairs and sat down. Everyone else did likewise.

The apprehension was visceral. My body was vibrating - agitated. Breathing was labored and my heart pounded. It was disturbing. I wanted someone to tell me what was going on before bursting at the seams.

There was a welcome relief when he commenced, if only to escape this heightened sense of self-consciousness. I was to be disappointed.

“Here we are together,” he said with a deep, abiding tone. “Not knowing why is a beginning perhaps….” There was a lengthy pause and he continued, “Today is a special day… We have the opportunity to be in conditions that can support our work. The work of cleaning is not just for us, not just for me…It has greater significance. What we do here reverberates, and is needed now more than ever.”

I was struck by these words and what they meant, but the weight of the moment inhibited me from asking anything. Everyone else remained silent.

After another long pause, he guided the group through a ‘sensing exercise’ to prepare for the day as he put it.

It is difficult to explain the exercise but the act of paying attention to the organic sensations of the body produced an almost joyous feeling. Not just feeling good but feeling ‘whole.’ The experience was strong and infused me with an energy I wished I could sustain.

Self-consciousness increased however, and I became even more aware of all the little fidgets, tensions and erratic thoughts bubbling way inside. It became almost unbearable. What a two-edged sword!

I was glad when the session ended. It concluded with a call to ‘remember oneself’ throughout the day with an exercise I couldn’t remember. I gently rose from my seat, filled with a sense of satisfaction I had never known. It was odd.

Rick approached and suggested I work with him. I accepted.

A young woman was also asked to accompany us and, together, we set off to clean.

To my shock and awe, we arrived at the toilet block on the ground floor. In a look of disappointment, I asked if this was our cleaning task.

Rick cheekily said, “Yes, this is a great honor.”

There are too many vivid details about our cleaning efforts that day, but one stands out.

Rick encouraged us to keep contact with the body while cleaning— that is, to pay attention to our bodily sensations while working. I found this exercise almost impossible. But as I had finished cleaning one of the toilet bowels, an unexpected feeling arose. It stimulated a question as to why I found toilets so unclean, so filthy?

It might sound dumb to ask, but this had never occurred to me. Logically, the act of excretion is just as important as the act of ingestion, with digestion somewhere in the middle. Even the fitting out of bathrooms is similar to kitchens, and we spend just as much time in both. So why was my attitude to one diametrically opposite to the other?

I didn’t know. But in that state of ‘unknowingness,’ there was an immense inner freedom. Somehow, a genuine question— not one in which I already knew the answer— suspended judgement. Something different was allowed to enter. It was life giving.

The day was intense. There was an opportunity to have a short rest and found myself walking outside for fresh air. The young woman who was cleaning with us, Kel, found herself there as well.

“I saw you the other night you know,” Kel said first. “You looked bewildered.”

It took a moment or two before I realised what she said, and I replied, “Ah, you were at the TXU cleaning with the others?”

“Yes,” she smiled. “I’ve been with them for a while now.”

“What’s it like?” I asked. “You know, cleaning with them?”

She looked away, far off into the distance before turning back.

“They saved me.”

“How?” I asked quickly, captured by her reply.

She hesitated a little. Maybe she wasn’t sure whether to tell me or maybe she wasn’t sure what to say. Something must’ve given way as she explained the circumstances that brought her to them.

“I grew up in well-to-do family. There was never a need to want for anything. I was groomed in social climbing and political maneuvering, went to the finest schools and mingled with pre-chosen friends. My life was planned out. There was nothing else to do but live it.

“But little by little I felt the remoteness from them. Not that they were bad people. But I only saw our relationship as based on mutual advantage. Always competing for each other’s affections. Striving for constant recognition and reward. Every day seemed like a business transaction. It was a merry-go-round I couldn’t get off.

“One day, I simply walked out of school, went home, laid in bed, and there I stayed. I couldn’t get up— even when I tried. Drained in a lifeless body, all I could do was think.

“I eventually recovered enough to move again, but all I wanted was to escape—like a prisoner.

“My family, with the best of intentions, tried to support me. Personal trainers, counsellors, nutritionists, therapists, you name it, I was given it. All in the pursuit of helping me ‘get on with life.’ It was just a ‘tough patch’ they said. All this was a ‘learning curve’— you know, good for me.

“But I knew it was deeper than that. I wasn’t just going to ‘get through it.’ All the so called help only made things worse— it was oppressive. The shackles and chains were tightening. The cell was getting smaller and darker.

“During long periods away from school, I started stealing bottles of liquor from our cabinet at home. My room— my sanctuary— and my daily drinking ritual became sacrosanct. My skills in toasting improved dramatically and, at least for a while every day, I felt more myself.

“However, each plunge back into the world was steadily killing me. I looked for something more potent. Marajuana, then cocaine, and whatever else I could get my hands on.

“I became desperate. My only wish was escape. Everything reminded me of prison.

“My family soon found out, and the ‘help’ they prescribed intensified. I wanted to scream.

“Luckily, I managed to survive school and went off to University. I tried again to get back on my feet. Desperation turned to fear. I needed more money for my rituals. By stroke of luck I became a ‘lady of the night.’

“I found money and an objective sense of affection. I knew what they wanted and freely gave it. No strings attached. I fell into the business willingly.

“But this wasn’t enough. My hole got bigger each time I tried to scratch my way of it.

“After servicing some guy in his office, I dragged myself into a nearby bathroom. I don’t know if I meant it or it was an accident, but when the needle entered my vein I pushed hard.

“When I regained consciousness, I found myself in the emergency department. An old lady had been waiting by my bed all night. I didn’t know who she was, but after talking for a long time I was drawn to her. From there, as they say, the rest is history.

I was left stunned. She wasn’t upset. The sincerity and impartiality of her story was remarkable. I felt that anything I could have said would have diluted it, so I shut up. Something in me gravitated to her. We left together and continued cleaning with Rick.

The day ended with a group sensing exercise again. Though my body was tired, the aliveness coursing through it brought so many questions. I was eager to speak to Rick, who, fortunately, was available.

“How did you find the day?” asked Rick.

“There’s so much I want to know, I…” but before I could say another word, Rick simply invited me to ‘let it go.’

“Everything in its proper time. Now, how did you find working with Kel?”

My thoughts were arrested. Why did he ask this? There was something loaded is his question, but I began to trust him so answered as best I could.

“She’s remarkable, such a quiet presence. I felt very comfortable with her. She’s had a challenging life.”

“Yes,” said Rick. “Quite remarkable. In ancient times she would have been revered.”

“Revered for what?” I asked.

“For her abilities,” replied Rick. “She doesn’t know it yet— well, not fully— but she is a Pythoness.”

“A Pythoness?” I enquired.

“One who is open to higher energies, who can be a bridge of sorts between different orders of existence. Most women have this ability, its innate as the carriers of the receptive principle. Unfortunately, without cultivation it remains in a primordial state, a faint intuition at best. At worst, it becomes destructive as the inevitable perceptions that flow from such an ability become overwhelming.”

“You must be joking… right?” I exclaimed.

“Why would I joke? You have experienced this yourself— when you’ve been open to it. It is what brought you here. It can be very useful. Ponder this,” Rick affirmed.

There was a long pause as I searched for something to say.


“That’s better,” Rick murmured.

“Why do you think things like this are relegated as non-sense or pseudo-science? Why is there so much interest but so little search undertaken?”

“I don’t know,” I answered.

“Think. You’re intelligent, business savvy. Suspend judgement. Analyse the facts. Come to you own conclusions,” Rick intimated.

I had to admit that the experiences over the last few weeks and Rick’s insistence did make me think. I reasoned that if there was only an ounce of truth in so-called paranormal or psychic abilities, concerted R&D would well be warranted. The return on investment would be significant. Why has so little been done compared to such other areas of enquiry like defence or medicine?

There is an old saying in business and government, ‘always find a problem for your solution.’ If there was any truth to these abilities, it would pose a considerable threat to the establishment. Its the ultimate espionage tool. Undetectable, low cost, producing information retrieval on anything at anytime—let alone the potential for information influencing and manipulation. There is equal merit in possessing or suppressing it.

“So why is it useful for cleaning?” I asked Rick.

“That’s an entirely different question,” he replied.

“It has many applications. The work of cleaning has significance vastly beyond what we do. In a sense, any genuine work of this kind is a work of spiritual engineering.”

He left his words ‘…spiritual engineering…’ hanging, as if testing me. It shed a new light on the Cleaners— though I didn’t really understand what it meant.

I obviously had a mystified look on my face, so Rick suggested we conclude and get some rest.

Before I left, I had a sense of urgency about keeping contact with the Cleaners. I asked Rick whether there was another ‘Cleaning Day’ organized or a way to stay connected.

“We hold regular meetings,” he explained. “I’ll contact you shortly with the details and, if you wish, you can participate.”


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