An exposed fluorescent bulb flickered slowly then rapidly before making the connection. Final spin illuminated the 2 minute warning. I passed the time playing with the coin slider on the machine, counted dead moths in the corner and studied the dead palmetto bug at my foot; odd and creepy creatures when alive, odder still when nothing more than a carcass.
The machine came to a screeching halt with a thud and a chassis shake. The ‘final spin’ light went out, good to go. I pulled my damp clothes out, turned and “Oh! Craptastic!” 3 of the 4 dryers were out-of-order, again.
I looked down at my shoes over the damp bundle in my arms and sighed deeply. #4 was full but a hand against the door and I felt warmth – it’d just finished; nothing to do but pull my neighbor’s clothes out and leave them on the folding table.
They were toasty-warm. A light fragrance wafted – a meadow, laundry blowing on a line in summer, sunshine and bunnies. Mix morning chill with warm, soft bunny-scented laundry – I brought them close to my chest and hugged them, I didn’t want to let go.
Then I realized they weren’t mine. There was something not quite right about enjoying the warmth and fluffiness of a stranger’s laundry and I lunged forward to the folding table. Half the load escaped my arms and dropped to the floor… on top of the Palmetto carcass.
Everything was up from the floor and onto the table with a single hand sweep. Stepping back to my laundry, I realized the Palmetto carcass had vanished. Where was it? I looked from the floor to the table and back to the floor. Under the table? Behind the machine? I spun around but he was gone. I shivered.
He had to be in the neighbor’s clothing but it didn’t seem right to fondle a stranger’s laundry – not more than I had already. Self-consciousness kicked in. I looked over my shoulder checking no one was in the doorway, no one was watching. Looking at the top layer that was of course, underwear, I gingerly picked a few items off the top of the pile. Earlier, I had to touch them, now it seemed invasive. I thought of the Palmetto carcass, I pictured some poor unsuspecting soul finding it as they fluffed and folded, I imagined the extreme distaste such a find would bring, I looked at the panties, dropped three quarters in #4 and left.
40 minutes later I returned. Still no bug carcass and now the sunshine-bunny-fragranced bundle had disappeared. I fluffed, folded and exited but while passing my neighbor’s door I heard a shriek followed by, “There’s a roach in my clothes! WTF Michael?!? Where’d you wash these?”