Monday, May 18, 2009

Late Night Laundry Acid


There's a lot of movement, energy and liveliness. Everybody likes to say the word "bustling." But it's for good reason. It's a satisfying word to utter. "Bustling." Go ahead, try it. "Bustling."

Unfortunately, the only time people seem to use the word in a sentence is when they need an easy adjective for busy downtown streets. "The streets are bustling." they always say. It's become a cliche of a sentence.

Downtown may bustle during the daytime, but there's nothing quite like a bustling, city laundromat at midnight. This is a completely different kind of bustle. This is where long walls of dryers spin socks and shirts around. The clothes even bustle. It's a hypnotizing bustle, especially with the looming twilight and eerily silent customers are in contrast. A late night city laundromat is a magical place, where neither nightmares nor good dreams are cultivated or remembered.

Outside on the corner, an old, dirty, bearded man on a bicycle is veering all over the road. He is yelling, "tomorrow's my birthday! But I'm getting drunk today!" He has balloons tied to his handles. He's talking to everyone he sees, asking if they want to celebrate his birthday with him. Most people avoid eye contact, and quicken their pace. Immediately they'll turn a corner. Like a laser beam they head into the el station. But nothing deters the old kook. He is celebrating his birthday tonight.

Across at the other corner, a middle aged bald man is screaming at pedestrians, "capitalists are pigs!" He holds up a sign that reads the same. He looks like he could have been laid off earlier this afternoon. With a polo shirt tucked into dad jeans, he isn't a veteran in the homeless league. But he's working towards 'rookie of the year.' "Capitalists are pigs! Sir, could you spare some change?" He has as much luck as his street corner colleague.

Eventually, the bald socialist and bearded bicyclist meet at another corner with a dreadlocked young man. A skinny skateboarder, apparently associated with these two scummy baby-boomers somehow. He has a ring in his nose like a bull, and it looks like there's dirt on his face. The bald one speaks loudly, "Hey, let's get some drugs! I got a few more bucks!" The young fella seems to be their source of nightly medicine. "All we can get right now is acid," he replies. "Acid!" the bald man is louder than the train above his head, "What about coke!"

"Nah man, acid."

"How about booze!"

"Acid."

"Coffee!"

"Nah, just acid."

And at the fourth corner, what looks like an old Vietnam veteran is wearing large headphones. He must be over six feet tall, and his shoulders are broad like a worn out theatre curtain. He's leaning forward against a newspaper box, playing a harmonica. Whether he's playing along with a song in his headphones, or just trying to pass time, he's blowing out the perfect soundtrack for this night. The clothes are spinning behind him, warming as they go. Another train above his head, drowning out his harp. The homeless acid trippers are still yelling, something about Hugo Chavez. And headlights meld with streetlights until nothing remains but a dancing darkness.

It's a magical night. Our minds are bustling.

1 comment:

david w. aubrey said...

that's a nice piece.