The half-broken neon announced the laundromat in the shitty, forgotten small town.
The parking lot was reprehensible frozen slush and mud.
Some once-proud upstate New York Village. Former home of industrial prosperity, its grand homes now stood decaying like the skeletons of the dilapidated textile mills on the edge of town near the laundromat.
Once the townspeople, a community, cheered on the local high school football team on Friday nights, they sat in the Park for Fourth of July Fireworks 💥, went to the air-conditioned movie theatre 🎭 now a home for rats 🐀 and junkies.
The lost, bastardized children of this town sat around the laundromat at nine in the evening on a filthy winter night, roaking their filterless generic squares, waiting for 75 cent washers and dryers.
They were mostly broken people, sitting on broken fiberglass seats, watching shitty third-rate porn on broken android burner phones 📱.
Ruined souls, addicts, pushers, punks, hookers, dopers, meth-heads, ex-cons, con men, divorcées, crippled spaced-out War Veterans, pot-heads, gambling retirees, pimple-faced punks, losers and other played-out shit-covered discards of a rotting way of life that ceased to exist decades ago.
Their hopes evaporated like rancid water in a shitty cur-dog’s filthy dish, and then me: Lieutenant Colonel Otsego, in the acrid twilight of a mediocre career stopping off to wash piss-soaked, shit-covered clothes on my way to Ft. Drum 🥁
I took a long roak on my shitty filterless Camel 🐪. I felt better after bathing in the lobby bathroom of the cheap motel. They always let servicemen use the bathroom. I just checked in and bathed, I just dropped my things in the room and I headed into the gloaming across the street to the laundromat.
Bathroom baths are the best. Setting your clean stuff out and throwing your filthy stuff into a large trash bag. Using the sink as a bath bowl 🍲.
I sat on the dirty green fiberglass seat 💺 drank my iced coffee drink. I tried to avoid eye contact with the smelly, dirty single moms in their discolored sweatsuits, with massive wet cameltoes showing through their too-tight sweat-pants.
Little dirty kids ran uncontrolled down the middle of the aisle. Immigrants eyed me suspiciously in my fatigues as they jabbered their savage foreign gibberish into their cheap knock-off cellphones.
”You aren’t from around here are you.”
Said a voice.
It was a woman about my age.
”I was from around here. Two towns up. I am a child of the Empire State and I always will be. My soul is Excelsior.”
I replied. I offered her a Camel. I lit it for her. She had sad eyes. But she looked good for our age.
”Excelsior, she said, shaking her cigarette at me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in life bad decisions, so here I am at the laundromat. Every stupid loser and pathetic fuckup ends up at the laundromat, plus criminals and killers. You’re a killer, it’s not just your uniform 🥋. I see it in your eyes 👀.”
I sipped from my coffee can. She had a nice body this old broad, she looked like a played-out small town whore with a fucked up life who gave ten dollar blow jobs to 18 year old Yayo-slingers for a cheap score of sweet-hot cocaine.
She was like my military career. Thirty wasted years. Now I was old and burned-out like this shitty town and like this broad.
“Where are you headed for soldier boy?”
”I’m headed to Drum.”
”Where are you staying?”
”Do you want some company? I’m not a whore if that’s what you’re thinking. I know I must look like an old whore, but I’m not a fucking whore. Just a small-town broad. It’s just that I could use some adult company from someone who isn’t a complete scum bag.”
”Truth? You’re beautiful. I was looking at you since I got in here. You stand out. I’m no fun though. People think I’m weird and creepy. I’m just me. I’m awkward. I’m a big dude. People fear me. People hate me at first sight. I just got back from the War. Five days ago I got off the plane ✈️. My buddy Botendaddy drove me from Ft. Riley all the way to Erie. Then he disappeared like he always does. I rented a car there.”
“Daughter. She’s in school at John Jay in the City 🌃 She stays at Boerum Heights.”
I lit her another filterless square and she inhaled the hypnotic sweet-hot nicotine deep into her yielding lungs. She moved closer to me in the bench. She liked sitting next to me, I thought, maybe she figured it gave her status to have a man with her in face of the gritty laundromat audience.
“I have two sons. One’s in Texas, the other I don’t know. He’s out west somewhere doing construction. I don’t hear from him. I don’t hear from either.”
The smell of dryer sheets, detergent and cigarette smoke blended in with the occasional blast of dirty winter air. She continued with a hand on my thigh.
”You’re from an old family, a good family I’ll bet. You look smart, rich, but you act like a regular guy. I can see through you. You don’t fit in here.”
I put my arm on the chair behind her.
Rinse Cycle, I noticed.
”The Family is destroyed. Now only two of us left. The house in Otsego is empty except for the caretaker. He worked for my grandfather.”
I said, trying to match her for grittiness.
I moved my clothes to a dryer. She started folding. I stared at her still marvelous, tight ass. We sat and chatted.
She bitched about having to get more quarters, but the change machine was always broken. I handed her a roll of quarters. She tried to refuse, but she admitted she lost money in the dryer sheet-detergent machine.
”It’s ten bucks, not ten thousand, I said.”
We collected our laundry. We then miserably went our separate ways. She looked back at me as she carried her basket through the grime.
My god, I wanted to fuck her. I went back to the Mohawk hotel. I thought about her as I lay on the bed looking up at the dead, shitty cockroach smashed on the cobwebbed ceiling, reflecting my pose immediately below.
At eleven, there was a knock on the door. Odd. But it was the lady, thank god. I wasn’t expecting her.
“I’m so glad you’re here.”
I said, greeting her with a warm hug. She laid her head, with a sense of complete relief, on my shoulder.
I had wine 🍷 I bought from the Leavenworth PX a few days ago. I sat it on the table. I opened the bottle and we shared a couple of glasses.
”I just finished folding my laundry. I do it really slow. I don’t know why.”
I told her.
”I fold mine as it comes out of the dryer. It’s warm in here. My apartment is cold. It’s pathetic to say that. I never do this. Go see a man like this, but I couldn’t let the moment pass. Do you understand? You make me feel human again.”
She inquired. She looked sad for a moment and she looked away.
”I understand. I feel the same way. I really wanted you here. There are no bad decisions. Only bad results, I think. I made a lot of decisions in the war and people died from it. Young people. I was supposed to be providing the highest level of care. But I get back and I’m a hero… I should’ve paid attention to my wife when she was alive. Maybe everyone in my family. But it’s too late now. I am a killer. I kill people’s souls, I guess.”
I took off my Army ACU shirt and I sat back down in the chair.
She took off her sweater. She had remarkably firm breasts for a woman of about 55. We were both in t-shirts.
”I’ve fucked up a lot. My husband died when we was 28. Died in a work accident. Electrocuted. He was a lineman. Regular guy. Hard to raise the boys. They never had faith in anything I ever did for them. What are you going to do? It’s life, right?”
She stood up.
”To two fuck-ups. Excelsior!”
I said raising my glass 🍷 .
She came over and curled up in my lap. She raised her glass.
Peace be the Botendaddy