“Laundromat” – Fiction by Smith Smith

Lace and Ghosts - Victor Hugo, 1856
Lace and Ghosts – Victor Hugo, 1856

Laundromats, like bus stations and West Virginia motels, are weird freaking places. The kinds of places haunted by parasitic ghost-men, where thoughts echo and sentences often end without periods– just like in “Laundromat,” Smith Smith‘s piece from our Fall 2014 issue

{ X }

THE LAUNDROMAT LOOKED NO DIFFERENT ON THE OUTSIDE. It was bulbous and tar-black, rising from the concrete at the intersection of Garden Street and a pile of rusted bicycles, where it had stood for ninety nine years.

But what I found inside was a ghost-man, a functional yet parasitic half-being. As I entered, my thoughts blended with his as if we were light and shadow, as if one of us could only exist as a function of the other. He drank from a mug. He wore dark jeans and faced with tired eyes the spinning, noisy chambers that washed the traces of a town’s life from its clothes.

He spoke first, “You’re early”

“Don’t be silly. I have never seen you before”

He rolled his eyes. The ease of our interaction was uncanny, our words and thoughts like echoes.

“Go home. I’m working” he told me before taking a sip of his drink, his sagging eyes in a trance, following the cycling of the chambers.

“Oh please, nobody knows you exist”

He grunted and said something absurd.

His tone suggested omnipotence and I decided to call him out, “Yeah like hell you are, and I’m the devil.”

He turned to face me and I could no longer see him. I laughed and spit on the floor, wiping blood from my brow. The roar of the spinning chambers rose in volume until we were both part of the crescendo. I felt airless, lungless.

Yet I spoke, “sorry I just expected –” then he spoke from nowhere, “don’t expect things”

my

mind began to fill with static, with hallucinations of threadbare roads

my

mother’s withered screams overlaid with finger-mist drowning us in His brightness

I

felt shadows and an unworldly heat beneath my eyes I lost

autonomy

And our voices erupted.

“the consciousness of man is a fucking fallacy”

Our eyes softened. We were fading and we knew it.

“trust me you need me you’re lost let me inside you”

“you feed on the young, the hopeless”

“take me inside you”

“I couldn’t care less about your metaphysical cock”

Yet we

rambled for years about giving and taking, unable to distinguish us from us

We

decided to stop expecting sensation

We

fell in a sort of exhausted love, the ghost-man and I

We

spent nights dying together on that tile floor, unclothed, unbodied, listening to the roar of the walls, wondering silently

if we

were platonic

{ X }

SMITH SMITH lives and ruminates in the Midwest.

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