Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bad Laundry: Part 1

A three-part spooky story in time for Halloween
By Lucianne Poole

Sometimes it's safer to be outside rather than inside a laundromat.

“So you go to the gross one.” 

“It’s closer to my apartment, and it’s cheaper,” I replied defensively.

“All the weirdoes go to that laundromat.”

My friend was right. The place was the worst one I’d ever been to. It was filthy, the washers and dryers constantly broke down, and it was full of stray socks and suspicious characters. It was a blight on the scrubbed face of Ottawa.

I knew I was asking for trouble when I went to the bad laundromat on a full moon. Everyone knows all the crazies come out on the full moon, but I had no choice; I was out of underwear.

Armed with a fearsome bag of laundry, which – I realized with dismay – could only be used as a weapon when full, I made the 20-minute walk to my probable doom. The birds were singing and the daisies were nodding in the late afternoon sun. I was soon lulled into a false sense of security.

I swung open the door of the laundromat and was enveloped by a humid sub-tropical climate created by 10 washers, five industrialized dryers and no ventilation. I proceeded with care along the eight-foot-lint-covered black mat; it had been thrown down the previous month to cover a small crater in front of the first washer.

During months of rinse cycles and spin dries, I had watched in fascination as this pit formed. Like some geological phenomenon, the end of a ridge stretching from the door had slowly collapsed into a 30-centimetre wide gap. Once I peered down the hole, expecting to find an ancient crypt, but it was only a shallow hole full of rubble and used fabric softener sheets.

Other litter – empty chip bags, candy wrappers, and used fabric softening sheets –  was strewn across the floor.

Despite its state of disrepair and lack of air circulation – which depended on if the door was open or closed – the laundromat always smelled pretty good in a downy fresh way.

I threw down my duffle bag and separated my whites from darks. With the speed of a pro, I crammed three loads of laundry into the two best washers – they didn’t break down as often as the others.

I was almost finished overloading – tossing in my last pair of underwear – when the laundromat door flew open.

To be continued next week. . .

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