The Curious Case of the Endless Linen

We would arrive at the same time. Opening time. 7:30am.

I’d see him standing at the door, five or six laundry bags at his feet. A small wizened man, the classic caretaker from central casting.

Behind the double glass doors, I saw the proprietor waiting. A grey man worn down by time and with little time left.

With no eye contact between them,  the doors would be unlocked. Working as one, the two men would drag the bags to the back of the laundromat. Next to the washing machines.

I would glance briefly and continue walking. After all I had a train to catch.

But my curiosity once aroused could not be sated.
Perhaps a large family? Perhaps a washing machine broken down for weeks?

I set my queries aside until the following day.  I’m a minute or so early for the train. There he is again.

Parking his car, opening the boot and dragging the bags to the front of the laundromat.

And yesterday is the same as today. The doors opened, they drag the bags inside. Clearly two men united in an unspoken understanding.

And I have questions. Perhaps there were still clothes remaining? None of my business but I though it odd.

The next day it happened again. And continued all the rest of that week. And the following weeks. Every day (except Tuesday) for some reason.

My imagination by then wanted to break all restraint.

Perhaps I was witness to some ongoing illegality. Perhaps there is a logical explanation.

Each day I would slow down as I drew near. I didn’t want to arouse suspicion. Perhaps today I would find out. But each day (except Tuesday) was the same.

Maybe they were body bags. Don’t be so stupid, I admonished myself. Said laundry bags are too lumpy and flaccid for that. Besides there were far too many for an ongoing mass murder.

Perhaps its something more obvious. Maybe I’m watching a drug swap.  

My rational mind bit back. Seriously Andrew? A drug deal at 7:30every morning on a busy suburban street with regular police patrols? And never on Tuesdays?

Perhaps it must be a boarding house. Maybe a private school.

Again the lash back. They have their own laundries Andrew. And never on a Tuesday?

A week later, I’d missed my regular train. Which meant that when I walked past, the laundromat was open.

I heard the far away purr of the washing machines. That familiar smell : part crisp white clean and part wet-dog.

I walked ever more slowly. I quickly glanced inside.

There he was. Opening a washing machine, reaching inside and pulling out its contents. Flaccid sheets, lumpy towels all piled into a basket.

He turned. I averted his eye. But I saw enough.

One opened laundry bag. And another. And another. Sheets and towels spread out on the wooden floor.

All the same colour. A lurid, garish yet seductive red.

My curiosity satisfied I never noticed him again.

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