I’m So Sorry My Panic Room Is Such a Mess, by Ben Hargrave

SafeOh, wow, this is quite embarrassing. I’m so sorry about all the clutter. Of course, I obviously knew you, Dom, and the kids were coming over for dinner – that’s why I made sure the house was spotless – but how could I know that these burglars would break into my home and kill your youngest, thereby forcing us to hide in this trash-filled panic room? What a mess.

If you could just give me a few moments to tidy up, it would make me feel much better. For the record, the state of this panic room is merely a reflection of who I used to be – an absolute slob – and not who I am now – a complete clean-freak. Um, I hate to be pushy, but could everyone take their shoes off? I just did a quick Swiffer on the hardwood and I don’t want to waste another Swiffer Pad. The new me is also environmentally conscious.

Will you promise that you aren’t going to think less of me because of this? Monique – we’ve been besties since grade school and I consider your family mine, which is why I’m just as shook as everyone here that Bradley is no longer with us, both in spirit and physically, as his lifeless body lies in the common room beyond these five-inch-thick steel-reinforced walls. No parents should have to bury their children, and no one should be tasked with removing bloodstains from Saxony carpet. That’s going to be a real chore later.

No cell phones, please. I’d appreciate it if everyone respected my privacy. I’ve already activated my GM20 military signal jammer, so all attempted outbound calls have been caught. Wow, the audit log says Alexander was trying to dial 911. How rude. Don’t blame yourselves, especially you, Dom. You’re a great father. We only have drugs, Facebook, and YouTube pranksters to blame for the surge of cruelty in children these days. I can’t believe he wanted to phone the police to “report” how dirty this place is. I don’t mean to tell you how to discipline your kids, but you might want to tighten the reins up on him a bit, just saying.

With that in mind, could you tell Bethany to stop hollering so much? I understand where she’s coming from: the filth level here is so uncomfortable it would make any of us want to shout. I imagine we’re all screaming internally about how unkempt this protective chamber is, and I certainly don’t need a pre-teen to remind me by wailing on and on about it an indecipherable gibberish. I already feel like a horrible host as it is, and now I’m being punished by a seven-year-old for apologizing. Kindly cease using the tissues, Beth. Those are for emergencies only.

Look, everything is going to be completely fine. In ten minutes I’ll have this place good as new. Just put on a Bill LaBounty record and play cribbage while you wait. Or, you know, you could offer to help me clean. That would end this drama so much faster. As they say, many hands make light work, but that’s not going to happen unless you all quit sobbing and sweating and holding each other like it will be the last time any of you will see a clean abode again. Is this situation really so morbid?

Great, now those goons are outside pounding on the walls because of the racket. The point of the panic room is that it’s supposed to be a secret, so that’s ruined. Ugh, now that we’ve been found out I just know they’re going to want to break in, and when they do, they’ll see this pigsty in all its nasty glory. It’s bad enough that my loving friends have to deal with this eyesore – but complete strangers? I shudder to think about what they’d say if they stepped foot in here. First impressions are everything! 

Fantastic, they’re drilling through the door now; there’s sawdust and steel dust everywhere. And right when I had finished cleaning, no less. Unbelievable. Ransacking my residence in a bid to steal the $640 million worth of bearer bonds held safe in this panic room is one thing, but littering in my home is unforgivable.

You know what? I’m going to deactivate the security lock so I can give them a piece of my mind in person. I can’t wait to see the shocked on their faces when I tell them how much work goes into making my place look so immaculate.

They’re going to be sooo sorry.

Ben Hargrave is a comedian, writer, and actor in New York whose writing has appeared on McSweeney’s, The Hard Times, The Tusk, Janice, The Higgs Weldon, Points In Case, Funny or Die, and Above Average. He also makes his own peanut butter and excels at farting around.

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