In Time: Laundry Woes
This picks up immediately where Modern Day left off.
Roderick pushed Jeffrey behind the counter. “Get a key,” he instructed. Jeffrey touched several of the keys before choosing one with the number six on it.
“Six,” Jeffrey said aloud.
“That’s down the hall on the right.” The clerk hit a small red button on the counter and a wall slid open revealing a hallway with a less tattered red carpet running the course of the hall. Brown doors ran down either side of the hall. “Hey, you have to pay before my shift is over or the manager will lock you out!” The words met Roderick’s back and he did not bother to acknowledge them. It made no difference to him whether the manager locked him out or not. He would not be here long. He hoped his next assignment required no assistance. Jeffrey was already becoming suffocating.
Roderick turned the key and opened the door, mildly surprised to find the room neat and tidy despite it’s worn appearance. A strange, stale odor lingered in the room that he found distasteful. It clung to the rust colored curtains, the goldenrod bedspread, and even to the walls themselves. The walls appeared to be painted a soft cream color, but all of them had yellow stains on them, particularly around the single window. One double bed, a long brown dresser, and a light brown nightstand furnished the room. Another door hid a small bathroom from the rest of the room. It was Roderick’s first experience with an indoor outhouse but he refused to let Jeffrey know that. No one needed to know that Roderick was not from this day, this century even. He would have to find out exactly where and when he was so he could carry out the plan as necessary. He believed it was bad luck to return to the same place and had no plans to do so. He pointed to Jeffrey.
“You, Jeffrey, in there, now. Get cleaned up.” He ordered.
“And what will I wear?” Jeffrey asked, putting as much innocence in his voice as he could muster.
“I see you are not above taking advantage of my need for your assistance to better your plight. Tell me then, where one would get more clothes here.”
“There’s a laundromat next door. If you go around the back of the building, it’s down the steps. You can usually find some pretty nice stuff no one is paying attention to there.”
Roderick wondered to himself what a laundromat was and decided it was the name of a store. “The Laundromat, you say? Fine. I shall return. I expect you cleaned and scrubbed when I do.”
“Yessir,” Jeffrey answered, his voice muffled by the door he closed behind himself.
Roderick followed Jeffrey’s direction and had no trouble locating the laundromat. It was the strangest store he had ever seen. Machines lined every wall. Some had suds on their doors while others had a filmy covering of steam on theirs. Clothing tumbled around within the machines, making it difficult to see what items were available. Humidity made the air in the store heavy. A small row of chairs lined up along one wall next to a small window. Colorful newsletters spread across a small table set between them. He went to these little books first. They reminded him of the newsletters they had in his era only filled with glossy pictures instead of black and white. He found the date on the cover of one and smiled. 2014. This is the furthest he had ever traveled forward in time. Funny how the world had changed yet the people were still the same. Now, he needed clothes. The store seemed empty save one man. He leaned against a beveled table looking at one of those newsletters, paying no attention to Roderick.
Roderick went up to one of the machines with a filmy covering and opened the door. The clothes that were tumbling around inside of it stopped and he grabbed a handful. Still the man paid him no attention. He cleared his throat.
“No prob,” the man said without looking up from the page.
“Shouldn’t you be paying more attention to me? I could just walk out with these clothes and you would never know.” Roderick dumped the armload on the table behind the man. This got the man’s attention.
“Why should I care if you did?” The man shifted his weight and went back to reading the magazine.
“You don’t care to make a profit from them?”
This made the man laugh. “A profit from them? Haha. Yeah, right. Read the labels, man. They don’t even belong to me.”
Roderick did as the man said. He lifted the clothes up and read the labels. Tommy Hilfiger, Hurley, Tony Hawk, Jordache, Levi. All the names were different. “Well what IS your name then?”
“I’m Allen. Who are you?”
Roderick ignored Allen’s question and turned back to the clothes. “Yes, these will do. Thank you, Allen.” He bundled them up under his arm and prepared to leave.
“Wait, man,” Allen said. “Are those your clothes?”
“You just told me to read the label. There are no ‘Allen’ clothing here, so yes, they belong to me.”
“Oh okay. It just seems like…” his voice trailed off as he got a better look at his companion.
“Nothing is ever as it seems. Is there a problem?” Roderick asked, even as his hand found its way around Allen’s neck. He lifted Allen up by his chin until Allen’s feet no longer touched the floor.
“N…n…n…nooo!” Allen shrieked. “Dude, take all the clothes you want, even mine! Please!”
Roderick’s favorite moment was when fear hit them square in the eye. A sinister smile crawled across his face slowly, revealing more of the metal cheek than before. “I don’t need your permission. I need no one’s permission!” He raised Allen higher than was humanly possible. “I also need no witnesses to my existence!” He released Allen with enough force to send him flying into the machines along the back wall. Allen crumbled to the floor broken. Roderick picked him up, stuffed him inside one of the machines, and closed the door. He pulled a coin from his pocket and inserted it in the small slot to the left of the door and pressed the red button. Within seconds the machine locked the door and started tumbling. Satisfied, Roderick gathered up the clothes that had been scattered during the tussle and carried them back to Room 6 where he waited.
To be continued…
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