Park Street Coin Laundry

by Tim Gilmore, 6/18/2012

“Late Saturday night at the Park Street Coin Laundry, I thought I was alone with the tired metal machines on the tired concrete floor, but a faded yellow doorknob in the peeling green of a door in the back I had not noticed turned, a gristle-boned custodian stepped out and importantly fished the right key from a busy key ring, hurried outside into the hot dark, intensely smoked a cigarette, urgently returned with the large key ring and its many keys, bent over the doorknob, wisped like cigarette fumes back into the back room.

“In 30 minutes, he did this three times. He never looked at me.

“I wanted to think this place the first coin laundry in the world, the smoking man some Maytag-metal-and-concrete-laundry-soap-dryer-sheet fata morgana, clearly engaged in matters of some importance impertinent to me, not an unhappy man, not a third-shift coin-laundry watchman, not a wiry man who needed to smoke a cigarette in the late night heat as though some desperate wager might be determined every ten minutes.”