I put on the hazmat suit, with its thick yellow rubbery material sticking to my skin. Donning the mask is easy, my foreman says, pressing his palm up to the exhaust valve as I adjust the straps on the back of my neck. I smell his cigarette. Breathe out, he says. I breathe out, but the air pressures against his palm on the exhale valve.

He says am good to go, spins me around by the shoulder using his cigarette hand, and shoves me forward. I wonder if I should have been smelling his cigarette smoke, but he is already walking to his car. The foreman opens his dingy car door with a rotten rusty hole at the bottom. The air conditioning escapes and creates waves against the summer heat outside.

My mouth feels a bit dry, while ironically my suit is already rubbing against the sweat of my arm hair. I search for shade, but the foreman senses my wandering eyes and gently curses me out to put my hood over my head and get to work.

I put on dishwashing gloves, along with matching neon green neoprene boots. I waddle over to the other two men, already in their very large suits. They say something, in some sort of language foreign to mine, but regardless, all I can hear is muffling voices. I mumble something back asking what I have to do now. Both men nod and give me a thumbs up.

We walk over to a circular hole in the concrete with a man cover halfway over the hole. A hole that is pitch black and narrow. Lemon color mist floats to the top of the hole.

I peer into the hole as the two other men stare blankly at me.

I need the money. They know I need the money.

I kneel down and can make out a fiberglass ladder, thin and bleach white. I face the ladder and, one foot at a time, dip deeper into the abyss.

I can no longer see the other two climbing down the hole, as their faces are missing in the haze above my head. My boot splashes into a puddle, signaling the bottom of the hole. The walls are coat with a spongy yellow cake resembling frosting.

A water hose with no nozzle appears as the two men above lower it down to me. The foreman, when he hired me, said I would be cleaning underground tanks. I figure it would be oil, but this isn’t oil for sure. Something is down here that someone wants gone.

So here I am waiting to hose the walls and sludge from the floor. The walls have more space at the bottom than I realize, no longer pressing against my chest. I reach my hands out and feel the walls of the tank.

As my hands are against the wall, the hose starts dancing feverishly, spurting water from its end, slapping me across the face before I can get a handle of it.

I stumble backwards, smacking my back against the wall. My respirator is no longer sealing my face and I start to try and get my mask back on properly. My dripping gloves rub into my eyes and instantly, the burn is so vicious I fall to the ground. My tears only contributing to the burning.

The tank starts to feel warm, then, very quickly, the puddles start to raise from the water coming out of the hose. A reaction is taking place, chemically and spontaneously. The heat of this reaction fills the atmosphere with such volatility.

I look up to scream, taking in a big gulp of the yellow air. It flows through my windpipe, bursting away my voice. I start to choke.

I know the two men above cannot tell what is happening, and even if they did, they have no way of pulling me up from this confine space. When the mist clears, and they see me, it will be too late.

I stretch my legs out as the water slowly raises, creeping over my chin now.

My last thought before I submerge under this toxic brew: I wish I got paid first.