Friday, June 23, 2006

Hot Night at The Laundromat

It had been awhile since we had done the laundry.
So we decided to do it last night.

We do not have our own washer and drier.
We do not want to spend the money because we may be moving.
Sometimes we see a used washer or drier for sale.
Maybe an ad in the paper.
Maybe a flyer on a bulletin board.
Sometimes a washer or drier is on a front porch.
Sometimes one is sitting outside of a secondhand store.
We do not want to pay too much.
Over on 19th street there is a washer drier combo
on the front porch of a duplex.
It has the color of creamed coffee.
It has been sitting there for over a year.
I have knocked on the door several times.
I have called the telephone number
that is on the paper that is duct taped to the machine.
They never answer the phone.
They want one hundred twenty five dollars for it.
Maybe the machine does not want to be sold.
It is slowly rusting.
The wooden porch it is sitting on is slowly rotting.

And we have four loads of laundry to do.
We have whites.
We have blacks.
We have mixed colors.

So we put it all into two laundry baskets and a plastic bag.
We grab the detergent.
We grab the bleach.
We grab some books to read.
I have a detective novel.
La Nina de La Calle has a spiritual book.
So we put everything in the red car.
We roll down the windows.
We listen to Billie Stewart's "Sitting in the Park"
We drive off to the laundromat.
That one near the Pierce Street Coffee Works.
My friend John just bought the laundromat.
He put a new green rug on the floor.
He painted the walls yellow.
He put some new washers and driers in.
On Saturdays people use to fight over the big driers.
But now that he has added some more big ones,
everything should be OK.

So we park the red car on the curb in front of the laundromat.
The door to the laundromat is open.
It is seven o'clock on a Thursday night.
Hardly anybody is there.
The night attendant is there.
His name is Andy.
He is the friendly guy with spiked hair.
This is his second job.
You need two jobs just to get by.
The rich guys in Congress
voted last week to give other rich guys a tax break.
Yesterday they stopped a raise in the minimum wage.
Well anyway you need two jobs to get by.

So we loaded up three of the medium washers
and one of the small ones.
That earned us four punches on our frequent washer card.

Then we sat down to read our books.
We did not get to read much.
A family sat down near us.
The little girl was complaining
that her pappi was always doing laundry
and never took her to the park.
I said that it was not true and she laughed.
So we all started talking.
They were from Guatemala.
Been here eight years.
They have five kids
Four here and one back home.
They can't cross the frontera
so they have not seen the oldest in eight years.
But she lives with her tia down there.

It was getting hot in the laundromat.
La Nina de la Calle went outside to read.
She rolled the windows down in the red car.
Turned on the cd player and listened to some Brook Benton tunes.
I stayed inside and moved the clothes to the driers.
I used the new big ones.

Just then Jimmie walked in.
Jimmie is a barrell chested Lakota from Rosebud.
The attendant, Andy, asked him where Mary was.
Mary is Jimmie's wife.
Jimmie said she was up in Rosebud for the Sundance.
A big spiritual gathering.

Andy asked him about the Sundance.
Jimmie told him about it.
How you dance around the pole till
a leather thong tied to a piercing in your chest breaks.
How you have a bone whistle in your mouth.
How you cannot eat for four days before you dance.
How you grow from this.
Mary would be back next week.
Jimmie left.

Our clothes were dry.
It took us a half hour to fold them all.
We will not wait so long next time.
I am going to call the phone number
on the paper that is duct taped
on the slowly rusting washer drier combo
on the slowly rotting porch.

We went home.
We drank some water and ate some cherries.


Blogger Patry Francis said...

I think I've been to that laundromat...I was the one hiding behind her poetry book.

10:12 PM, June 25, 2006  
Blogger Fred Garber said...

That was you! Why were you holding the book upside down?

11:25 AM, June 26, 2006  

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