A Trip to the Laundromat
It was Sunday morning, time for my weekly trip to the laundromat. Usually this was a kind of lonely occasion. I was just another single guy doing his laundry. But this trip was special. Joanna, whom I had only known for about a month, had agreed to move in with me. She lived in an apartment, I owned a house, small, but big enough for two.
I had to clean the place up. She had never seen the place ‘in the light’ before. I had spent all of yesterday doing what I could to make it presentable, not just the crash pad of a single man in his forties.
Today, it was time to get the sheets washed. Joanna had once said that she thought she saw the outline of my body on the sheets. “Just kidding”, she said. But I don’t completely trust those words. She was sending me a message.
My Fellow Laundromatees
As usual, my fellow laudromatees were men, two of them. They couldn’t have looked more different. The most noticeable was the Black guy. He was big. He stood about six foot and a half by my informal calculation, and probably weighed well over 250 pounds. His t-shirt showed him to be quite muscular in his biceps, pecs and stomach muscles, and he wore a gold chain around his neck, and his ears were adorned with gold ear-rings. He nodded his head slightly when I walked in,
He was an unusual sight in my very white northern town. If he was new to our fair community, I would hear about it soon enough through the gossip channels (and men DO gossip) that flowed through the bars and fast food place in town.
The other guy could not have been more different. He was white, and quite small, and he was dressed rather formally for the occasion. He took no visible notice or recognition of my arrival in this den of bachelorhood.
Getting Down to Business
Getting down to business, I put my body-imprinted light-coloured sheets into the big washer, fed is with coins and laundry detergent, and sat down with a book. Joanna had lent me the book. She said that it was a psychological thriller. It was definitely quite scary. In the first chapter two guys were murdered quite brutally, both killed by drug dealers. That was enough for me for the moment, so I put the book down.
I looked in the washers on the second level that contained the clothing of the two other men. I often did that, and I have no idea why. Then I spotted something. The clothes in one of the washers had blotches of red on them, the colour of blood. After what I had just read, I found this worrying.
I turned my eyes to the two other men. The big Black guy was seated and turned away from us. I could not see what he was doing. The little White guy had his eyes swallowed up by his cell phone. I suspected that he might be looking at the stock market statistics, but I could be wrong.
So which one of the two had blood on his clothing? Responding to pure stereotyping, I first thought that the clothes must belong to the big Black guy. The words “drug deal gone wrong” flashed into my mind.
I was afraid, but couldn’t leave. My sheets were in the washer. I would just have to tough it out. I figured that time would pass slowly until they were washed and dried.
Then I thought for a second. I don’t consider myself prejudiced, and I am not usually one to be guided by prejudice. What if the clothes belonged to the White guy? Maybe he was bookie. Maybe he had killed someone in a stock market or real estate deal gone wrong. It could happen.
I had to stop staring at the clothes, the guilty party might notice what I was doing, and decide to ‘take me out.” I figured I should get up and get some smokes. Following Joanna’s strong suggestions, I had cut down quite a bit on my smoking, but here was a good way to avoid tension by smoking outside the laundromat.
I got up, and as I walked past the Black guy, I noticed what he was doing. To my surprise, he was drawing on a small pad of paper. He was an artist. Admiring people who have gifts that were never given to me a birth, I walked over to him.
Asking the first stupid question that came to mind, I asked him “What are you drawing?” It was obvious from my first glance what it was.
“I am drawing the washing machines. I had long thought to do that, so I brought my pencils with me this time, after forgetting many times before. I am an artist, and I like to draw the not usually drawn.”
Seeing that he had a cell-phone in pocket, I asked him if he had any samples of his work that I could look at. I wanted to put some pictures up on the bland coloured walls of my house. Joanna would like that.
He showed me some beautiful pictures. I asked him whether the two that I particularly liked were for sale, and he nodded his head. He gave me his card.
I then thought for a moment. I noticed that most of his pictures had a great deal of red in them. So I had to ask him.
“So the clothes in the washer with the blotches of red on them are yours then?”
“Yes, the stains never completely go away, but I try.”
Then he smiled. “Did you think that they were blood stains? That would fit with my being a big Black dude – drug deal gone wrong.”
I looked down at my shoes and nodded my head.
“Don’t worry about it. I liked that you came over when you saw me drawing. Few people do that.”