a trip to the laundromat


Johnny the monkey boy was very tired when he made it to the laundromat.  His head felt like it had wool in it.  And that sack of clothes he had carried there was heavy, heavy.

"Urg," he said as he put down the big, heavy bag.  It had been a long walk from his apartment.  Johnny wiped some sweat from his brow.  He was tired and hot.  And even though the laundromat doors were open to the cool night, the place was like an oven.  Johnny felt irate for a moment as he stood there in the heat, thinking about all the laundry he had to do.  But then a moment later he felt just tired again.

He wiped some more sweat from his brow.

Then the monkey boy dumped his dirty clothes on the ground.  The heap of clothing spilled out over the scuffed black and white tiles of the laundromat.

Johnny divided the big pile into two smaller piles.  One pile had his dark (and smelly) socks, shirts and jeans in it.  The other pile was smaller.  It had his white clothing in it.  Then, because he didn't have any change for the washing machines, he walked over to the laundromat counter to get some.

Johnny stood at the counter.  Behind the counter was an area for dry cleaning people's clothing.  Strange metal rails hung from the ceiling.  And hanging from the rails were dresses and shirts and suits all mummified in thin plastic.  It was like a labyrinth of people's important clothing behind the counter.  And way way back there Johnny saw a little man watching a small television set.  Johnny waited at the counter.  After a while the man noticed Johnny standing there.  The little man walked over to Johnny.  Johnny asked if he could please have ten dollars worth of quarters.  The man exchanged Johnny's ten dollar bill for forty quarters and he didn't say anything at all.  The little man returned to his television set behind the plastic-wrapped clothes.  The monkey boy returned to his two piles of dirty clothes.

Johnny put all of his white clothes into one machine.  Then he put all of his dark clothes into a very big washing machine.  The washing machine was so big, Johnny could have crawled into it.  The big machine needed a lot more quarters than the smaller one.  Johnny counted out the quarters and put eleven quarters on the big machine and four on the small one.  He wiped at more sweat on his brow.  Then he added powdered soap to both machines.  He put the quarters into the change slots of both machines.  The quarters made a deep clunk sound as they went in.  Then the machines made snapping sounds like they were surprised and they began to clean Johnny's dirty clothes.

Because he had twenty-two minutes to pass by and because he was very tired, Johnny decided to go for a coffee.  The monkey boy walked through the open laundromat doors.  The air was much cooler outside.  It felt good on Johnny's brow.

The laundromat was in a small minimall.  Over in the far corner of the minimall was a donut shop.  Johnny walked towards it.

There was a bum leaning against the wall outside the donut shop.  The bum had crazy blue eyes and a stained yellow beard.  "Give me a cigarette!" the bum said to Johnny.

"Ok," the monkey boy said.  He gave the homeless man a cigarette.

Johnny walked into the donut shop.  A motion detector at the door went beep to announce his arrival.  Johnny walked over to the counter.  Even though the motion detector had beeped to tell the donut shop worker that a new customer had come in, Johnny had to wait for a little while.  A bored-looking woman eventually came out from the back somewhere.

"I would like a coffee, please," Johnny said.  The donut shop worker poured a coffee for him.  Then Johnny paid her.

There was no one else in the donut shop, so he could sit anywhere he wanted.  Johnny took his coffee over to a table in the corner.  Someone had left a newspaper on the table beside Johnny's, so he picked it up.  Johnny read for a while about a giant asteroid the some federal scientists thought was going to smash into the Earth.  Then he read the part of the paper that shares with the public details of the lives of Summer City's famous and rich.

Then Johnny left to go back to the laundromat.

"Give me another cigarette!" the same bum said.

"No," said Johnny.

"Ok," said the homeless man.  "Have a nice night."

"You too," said the monkey boy.  Then he walked back to the laundromat.

It was really hot back in the laundromat.  Johnny removed his now wet clothes from the washing machines and put them all into a metal-wire frame cart.  The cart's wheels squeaked as he pushed it over to the dryers.  He grabbed armfuls of wet clothes and tossed them into two different dryers.  He put a whole lot of quarters into the machines.  The machines came to life and began to dry his clothes.  Johnny watched his clothes spin around for a while.  Then he picked up the paper coffee cup off of the washing machine he had put it on.  There was still a bit of coffee left in it.

The monkey boy sat down on the laundromat's only bench beside a sad-seeming girl.  He sipped his coffee and looked over at his spinning clothes.  After a while he realized that the girl beside him was crying.  She was trying to be quiet about it though.  She said "An asteroid is going to hit the Earth," to Johnny after a couple minutes.  She wiped at her tears.

"I know," said Johnny.  Inside the dryer he could see his underwear and socks spinning around.

The girl didn't say anything else.

After a while, the dryers Johnny was using beeped to let him know that they were done.  He went over to them and emptied his dry and clean laundry into his big sack.  He was soon sweating again.

Then he picked up his heavy bag of clothing and walked home.

Later that night the television told him that the federal scientists no longer thought that the asteroid was going to destroy the Earth.

"That's good," Johnny said.  Soon after that he went to sleep.


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