I entered a Furious Fiction contest earlier in the month - 500 words, in 55 hours, for $500. The results are now up, here, so I can publish my entry. I didn't win, but it was a fun challenge. I actually found out about it half way through, so really had to push myself. We were to use the laundromat picture as a setting, and a theme of 'curiosity'. The contest runs the first weekend of every month.
I peered in the door—nice place but a little sketchy. The staff at the youth hostel had mentioned two laundromats, with this one being much cheaper, but apparently you took your chances on the machines. I’d hoped there might be some interesting locals here, too. Unfortunately, it was empty, the only inhabitants a row of plants in the window, wilting in the summer sun. 50s decor, a scuffed floor, and a row of battered machines added to the charm.
I was wearing nylon shorts and a t-shirt, still damp from a quick rinse in my room, and flip-flops.
I loaded my machine, added detergent, and slid a dollar in the slot. With a click, the water started. Just as I turned away, it stopped again. Lights on, but nothing. I whacked the top with the flat of my hand, and voila.
There was only one other machine in use, but it had been quiet since I came in. Lights on though.
I wandered over, glanced at the empty doorway, and lifted the lid.
It was filled with clothes, clothes covered in red splashes of what looked a lot like blood. Just my luck -one other customer and he’s an ax murderer. The water was pink, with a smell of soap and bleach. Well, that would help.
Now what? Grab my wet clothes and head to the other laundromat? Not easy to do unseen, but I couldn’t really stay and play dumb. Before I could decide the lid slipped, banged down, and the washer started.
I’d just scurried around to my machine, ready to unload, when a very large man squeezed through the doorway, clomped over to the machine, and lifted the lid. "Still washing, good." He smiled through his bushy beard and lifted a container. "Forgot the fabric softener."
I stifled a nervous giggle. Of course. You’d want those blood-stained clothes to be nice and soft.
"You new here?" he said.
"Ah, yes, just passing through. Hitching to BC to look for a summer job. Doing laundry then I’m off."
He laughed. "Did that trip a few years ago. Then came back here and got a job at the slaughterhouse."
Ah, the slaughterhouse. My shoulders relaxed.
He glared at me. "Then the bastards fired me, so I had to teach them a lesson." He slapped the washer top with a bang. "A good lesson."
Oh oh, tense again. What kind of lesson? He didn't look like the type to be happy with a firm scolding. And he was heading for me.
He held out a huge hand. "My name’s Mark. I really need to move on before work reopens Monday, but I can give you a lift, once our laundry is done. I’m only heading about four hours west, but I’d be glad to share my tips and tricks about the road to the west."
Well, I had been wondering about that.
I nodded and shook his hand. "I’m Dan. Sure, why not?"