Monthly Archives: July 2012

C’est a ton tour

[See the Requests section on the lefthand sidebar to see your request immortalised!]

Hi everyone-

Since three weeks ago I have been posting every two to three days- usually two. The result is eleven posts, plus this one. I have a few more stockpiled, ready to be released into your universe from mine- but I think I’d like to step back for a moment instead.

I’m going to stop posting for something like a week. In that time, I hope you will go back over what I’ve shared so far, and let me know what you think. What do you want to see more of- what would you rather see less? What did you particularly enjoy- and what would you like to have included in the future? Am I posting too frequently, or should I really just let down the floodgates?

This blog is for you, reader. I write for my own pleasure, sure, but if it was just for me I would write it in a diary. I want to give you a good time- give you something you want to come back for. So, tell me, what do you come back for?

Comment away, loved ones, friends and strangers. Or send me a note: parrington.d at gmail.com. Until I hear from a few of you, consider me lost and uncertain. This is your big chance- turn this blog into what you want!

Cheers- Dan

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Between Dreams

Part of the risk and reward of hitchhiking for me was the time spent on the road between destinations. How many times and for how many hours I held out my thumb, waiting in the wet or the cold for someone to come and take me for a ride, I don’t know. Every driver who pulled over and gave me a ride holds a special corner of my heart. I want to share those corners with you now.

The first ride I ever hitched was on my way out of Calgary, headed East. There’s not much to tell about it- an older fellow in a nice car picked me up and took me to the nearest major on-ramp. The experience was pleasant, easy, and altogether unrepresentative.

My second ride was with a middle aged Indian who spoke next to no English. Our communication was made poorer by the interference of the man’s car radio, which blasted an Indian talk radio programme for the duration of our time together. Our body language was sufficient for a while- and then he took an exit. This was not my exit. I tried to tell him what was happening, but he only smiled and said things to me that I was unable to interpret. He drove on. My consternation rose. He was taking me into the unknown, and I was powerless. I began to understand just how unpredictable hitchhiking could be.

That did turn out alright. After a while I was able to gesture my way to freedom, and then it was time to hitch back to the highway. My next ride, however, was one of the most bizarre I was going to catch.

I had to walk back to the highway- it took me the better part of an hour. Thankfully, my next ride was prompt and took me right to my next stop, some four or five hours East. A white van pulled over ahead of me- the sort of vehicle whose anonymity should always send a warning signal. I hopped in and mentioned my destination, which at that time was Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

My journal from that first round of hitchhiking is missing. I left it somewhere between Portland, Oregon and North California. My friend Mitchell looked after it for a while, but I think at this point it’s been lost to the passage of time. As a result, I don’t remember my driver’s name.

He was about sixty, maybe as much as sixty five. He was on a cross-country drive to visit family and had come from somewhere in B.C. He was headed to Ontario, and he was ready to talk the whole way. What else he had in mind, I can only imagine.

My driver began by telling me that he had been a promising amateur boxer, and that his career had been cut short after a lethal bar fight. He described the fight to me in great detail, down to the shattering tables and punches thrown. Apparently he spent some time in prison after that for manslaughter, or something along those lines. This part of our little chat was not the startling part for me, though.

He told me that he’d spent some time hitchhiking when he was a young man. He did his travelling in Quebec. One cold winter day- so he told me- a car pulled in and the door opened up. A man all in pink waited within. My driver, then an innocent, hopped right in and caught his ride. But then- and my driver looked at me carefully as he said this- “I should have known when I saw his pink clothes,” he told me. “But sometimes you just do what you have to do, you know?”

So there I sat, my burly and intense host staring me down after having dropped a load of innuendos into my lap. I really didn’t know what to say- or to do, for that matter. This was the textbook scenario for the hitchhiker at risk. Well, you know me. I made quiet and desperate conversation for the next four hours, and kept the man satisfied with good company. I really think that my willingness to be a friend, for a while, was what kept me safe that day. I didn’t find much in common with him, but, boy, you wouldn’t have known that.

Truckers made up a major demographic in the rides I took. One drove me back from Moose Jaw area to Calgary. It was a terrible cold day when I left Saskatchewan. It was February and the wind was whipping across the flatlands, all of it hurtling directly into my face. I had nothing more on me than a t-shirt and a hoodie, travelling light as I was. I kept a backpack with me full of books and a change of pants, but not a jacket.

This trucker was just one of the many kind and somewhat lonely gentlemen who shared their cabs with me. This one in particular, though, had a very small terrier who refused to give up his seat to me. We did reach a compromise, eventually: I sat on his seat, and he sat on me. He was very quiet while we rode.

On my way out from Calgary, going West, I listened to Sly and the Family Stone on full blast with a sort of neo-hippie girl. I ended up leaving my precious smokes in her car. She took a little ways, and after a brief venture in a beater full of partygoers, I ended up in company with a middle aged bureaucrat of some kind. He took me halfway to Vancouver in his SUV- just the two of us crossing kilometer after dark kilometer on the invisible Alberta roads. He was a nice guy, but he was obviously more used to the radio as company; I may have been the first hitchhiker he ever stopped for. We listened to a special programme on shark attacks- their history, the misconceptions, the modern situation. They included dramatic re-enactments, and one of the strangest moments I recall was flying along the nighttime highway with John Businessman, a desperate gurgling and splashing erupting at us from the dashboard.

I was stranded for a few hours that night. I never wear a watch, so I don’t truly know how long it was, but I finally found my way into a truck stop and did my exhausted best to chatter with the nighttime clientele. They gave me free coffee and a grizzled older man offered me a seat, going West. This trucker was quieter than some, but had a very pronounced interest in water. Yes, water: the rivers, lakes and swamps that we passed by and over. I probably wrote it all down, but again I must mourn the passing of that particular journal.

My route to the American border from Vancouver was split between a Hell’s Angels pickup and a police cruiser. The pickup driver was long-haired, bearded and tattooed and must have smoked half a pack in the hour I rode with him. I recall thick eyebrows and a wide and frequent smile. He told me about his longstanding relationship with the Angels doing custom work on their motorcycles. He told me that he made good money doing it, and in a rough sort of way, it seemed true. He had bought and remade a convertible for his daughter on her eighteenth birthday, and a motorcycle for his son’s. He did paint and chrome and parts and accessories. I enjoyed that ride.

The cruiser picked me up as I approached the border, taking me to within half a kilometer. He warned me not to hitch on the freeway South of the border- advice I did little to regard, for which I eventually suffered.


Dan & Aura

Aura Lynn Delorme was born on July 2, 1976. When she was halfway through grade six- on December 26, 1988- Daniel William Parrington made his own appearance. At the time, she was not aware of the allure he would later cast over her, entwining her in his sweet and fragrant meshes. Nor did he know about the girl who would eventually annihilate his defenses and utterly rule his heart.

Quite an age gap, as some of you have noticed. Well, let’s get that out there right from the start. Look at it this way: I get the benefit of being married to a woman, a real woman. Never have I had such an understanding or self-assured partner- never have I been with someone so wise to my devious nature. She keeps me accountable, and she bathes me in a warm and worldly love.

Aura, of course, has the dubious privilege of sharing her life with me. She seems to enjoy herself, though.

Well, that little girl did eventually grow up. She got to spend her childhood in the eighties, and her teen years in the nineties- the extent to which I envy her is monumental. Half the music I listen to is from before I was old enough to be listening- or in some cases, before I was ever imagined into existence by my folks. And yes, I know it takes more than imagination to form a child; I don’t dwell on these things.

I grew up, too, although I haven’t been able to quite catch up with Aura. Many of you have been with me through those growing up years, and what you don’t know already, sooner or later I will write about. But right now we need to skip ahead to my nineteenth birthday- December 26, 2008. I was in the midst of my time at Chapters, and I had met Aura very briefly upon her return from maternity leave. She was preparing a family for us, you see.

Not much need be said about the situation within which Aura existed before we finally got together. There was a miserable fellow who shared his misery with anyone who would listen, and he helped to provide us with the makings of a beautiful family. At one point, I suppose, he had had charm to exert; but the charm had long given way to a black cloud. Aura was, in a word, unhappy.

Now, some of you may feel uncomfortable with what happened next. May I assure you, if it helps, that my intentions were always good- and so were Aura’s. Everything was aboveboard, believe it or not, and no irrevocable action was taken by either of us until after Aura had left and severed emotional ties with her then partner.

With the passing of time in a shared workplace, my interest was sparked and burst into flames. This girl had eyes like bottomless pools, a heart as tender as that of a child, and a mind as sharp as the Cutco knives I used to sell. It didn’t hurt that she was prettier than sunrise in the foothills of Alberta. I asked her to lunch, coffee, a staring match- whatever- until she said yes. She needed a friend, I needed a friend, and we found each other.

We saw a lot of each other over the next several months, and it came out that Aura was planning to leave her partner. She was tired of the lousy match, and ready to go her own way. I begged her to let me join her in that journey, and it didn’t take a whole lot of begging before we had come up with a course of action. She moved into 839 Talwood Dr. on April 18th, 2009- and so did I.

Over the next year, I found my life transformed from that of a single working guy to a committed relationship with two kids. It was hard. It was really hard, believe me. But I was happy, too- I was beginning to see that I had found a security and responsibility that I had been craving very deeply without even knowing just how much I wanted it. We helped each other through some hard times, in those early days, and dealt with a lot of drama. Adaptation took time, and Carol had been diagnosed with cancer within weeks of our moving in. Still, we were in love, and the process of becoming family had begun.

A year or so after our getting together, the boys started to see me as a second father. I was getting very attached to them as well, and began to understand that I had two boys. This was by far the most beautiful and difficult process that had taken place yet. Relinquishing sole parenthood, for Aura, must have been tremendously hard- and as she did, I came to see just how total she trusted me. These were her babies, her only children- and she chose to share them with me.

On November 12, 2011, we were made man, wife, and sons. A number of you were there- it is a precious day in our memories, Thank you, by the way, for being there and making it all it was. To those of you who were not with us: your friendship, near and far, past and present, has nevertheless helped us in getting to where we have. And we do apologise for the inexcusably extreme lateness of our Thank You cards! They will show up at some point, as absurd as that might seem now.

That’s about the whole story. My relationship with Aura continues to grow in mutual understanding and affection, and we are making plans to enrich and expand our experience for years to come. With the involvement of our immediate and extended families, and the support and fun provided us by our friends, we have great hopes for a long and happy existence as a family unit.

So again, thanks for the role you’ve played in our story so far. I hope you’ve enjoyed my primer on Dan and Aura. I’ll do a write up specifically on the boys sometime, too. And actually, I plan on writing about a few of you pretty soon. Stay tuned and I’ll see you there-

Cheers, Dan


Fifth Business

This post may be the most intense and essentially personal thing I have written yet. What I want to do today is explore the impact of a particular book- Fifth Business– on the course of my life. To some of you this will come as no surprise; to others, it may be a bit of a shock. Robertson Davies’ first novel in the Deptford Trilogy radically altered my outlook, paving the way to lifestyle changes that have remained with me to the present. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a fan, not an expert. No, sir. What I have to say is rooted in my own experience- we’re not looking for universal truths here, even if we find some.

Do you remember when I mentioned that Davies was my favorite Canadian author? I found him in the jaws of high school education about six years ago. A good and very engaging woman, Ms. Beverley Haun, was teaching that class. Cam was there with me and would probably attest to the intensity with which I discovered Davies, under Beverley’s direction.

Fifth Business is a theatrical term; it indicates a character in a play who exists mainly to interact with the leading roles- a spectator who also carries a secret. He simply rides parallel to the sequence of action, ready to spill his guts with the secret dormant within him, ready to radically alter the plot at the drop of a dime. No one acknowledges his significance until his one vital act, and even then he is swiftly passed by as the protagonists and antagonists struggle to cope with the change.

All throughout my childhood and young adulthood I fantasised about that radical action, and found myself relegated to a sort of psychological spectator’s sideline as I waited to make my mark. Scene after scene rolled out before me, and in each one I strove to observe- and to intervene only when the moment was right. Sometimes I felt as though I missed my cue, and sometimes I felt entirely satisfied. Most of all, though, I watched- like I used to in the tree on my parents’ front lawn- and tried to understand. I wanted to know secrets so desperately, secrets that would give me the power to transform my own perspective, if nothing else- the key to my social context, the shadow-self of a friend, the hidden dynamic in language that would unlock communication.

You can see, dear reader, from whence my fascination with this book might have stemmed. The main character- a fifth business himself- is one of any number of personalities in the book that explore fundamental divisions in psychology. C. G. Jung’s Self and Shadow self are present everywhere, exploring the possibility that deep within us, hidden from ourselves, is an opposite personal dynamic. Some of our actions and opinions are said to be guided by this Shadow self; the suppressed aspects of our personalities exert themselves through our unconscious, and also in our dreams. I imagine that if you put a little consideration into this, you will find some real truth to it. I certainly did.

At the time I picked up this book and proceeded through its pages, I was deeply involved in a Christian lifestyle- an avid churchgoer and leader in my own right. A further thematic element in Fifth Business- the juxtaposition of spirituality with the material world- troubled me. As I explored the ideas of Self and Shadow, of spirit and body, of male and female, I came into contact with the concept that finally led me astray: the Persona.

The Persona can be roughly equated to a mask. This is the aspect of our psyche that we gradually build up in order to shield our Ego- a mediator between our sense of Self and the vast potentialities that exist around us. This is our defining construction, the device we use to protect ourselves from things that don’t jive or fit with how we view ourselves. This is how we present to the world.

I began to wonder just what had gone into the development of my own Persona. How did I view myself consciously- and was I fact in protecting myself from a Shadow that slavered on the other side of the door? In the Christian paradigm, I had been taught that the Shadow was only my sinful self, my old and unredeemed self. Now I began to wonder if it was, in fact, simply another side to my whole psyche. The sense that there was here in this book a whole new way of understanding life and my place in it began to eat away at me. I could articulate questions, where before I had only blind thirst.

Unfortunately for the stability of the life I led at that time, the questions found terrifyingly few answers. It’s no surprise, looking back- these were searching concerns, and not passing worries that could be reduced to simple terms. One of my heroes, the previously mentioned C. G. Jung, spent his life investigating these mysteries- and this brilliant pioneer admitted loudly that he had not nearly found the end of the shroud.

Today I am still exploring. I value my Christian heritage, but I am no longer constrained by its interpretations- my mind speeds across the wide dark waters of human thought and tradition, seeking new wonders and taking joy in the limitless expanse.

You may not have a book like this, a book that changed everything for you. I don’t think that’s especially important- everyone has their own path toward realising themselves. I do hope, though, that you’re enjoying this strange and difficult world as much as I am.

Until next time, folks!


House of Words

After graduating high school, as you know, I went West. I attended the University of Toronto after that experience, and then went West again. But a number of you will know me specifically from the next portion of my life: Chapters Peterborough.

I’d been looking for work for a few months when I received a callback from Chapters. My morale was at an all-time low, and I really had no inkling that this new possibility would pan out. I remember arriving in my parents’ car, literally trembling with apprehension- can you imagine that? I have some of Dad’s working blood in me, I guess, and was feeling pretty deprived and discouraged by then.

In any case, I went in and sat down with Barb. Now here’s a funny thing about Chapters- we all know that bosses are a real drag, am I right? They exist to ruin the fun and drag our feelings over the coals. This was a general belief I was happy to go along with, anyways, until I began to get a sense of how this new job was going to shape up. Barb was compassionate in my time of misery, and for that I never forgot to thank her on a regular basis. She saw through the deer in the headlights and saw a capable employee, and, possibly, a good sort of guy.

So I got my second interview. This time it was with Tom, a man whose love of the Beatles was equalled only by his apparently equal love for humanity in general. Either that, or he made an awful good show of pretending. I was given a psych evaluation- the first time I’d done anything like that for a job. The results indicated that while I was certainly a borderline sociopath, I was also a very promising salesperson. So that was that.

Tom always wore a set of keys on his belt. They jingled like a cheerful but businesslike elf wherever he went, and I always had time to put down whatever book I was reading before he came around the corner. I loved that about the job, by the way- yes, Tom, of course, but also the books. Selling books means a good working knowledge of them is valuable indeed. I read constantly in any case, but never had I felt so externally motivated to pursue my interest.

In this workplace I enjoyed working with customers as I never have anywhere else. I took full advantage of my specific preferences to push the product in a way that made sense to me. I had some customers who would come back month after month, seeking me out to follow up on the last computer help book I’d recommended, or to get a new set of recommendations. On a less honorable note, I loved to mess with the poor unwitting fools coming in for an easy book report read. “It’s a pretty simple read,” I would say as I handed them Crime and Punishment. “Don’t be fooled by its size. It’s about growing up and dealing with guilt.”

I worked mostly in Fiction, and also sometimes in Kids- where my future wife was queen. I did Magazines for a while, and tried my hand at Receiving. There wasn’t one area I didn’t enjoy in its own capacity. I was always trying to improve and expand, bringing in my own personal material resources to guarantee the best result. I applied Arnold’s action-oriented ideology every day, although I regret that I may have stepped on a few brittle toes in the process.

Bookselling is a rewarding and slightly frightening business. Rewarding, because you get to play a vital role in the heart the North American tradition of literacy. Frightening, because you see just what people like to read. I mean, there’s as much trash on a given shelf as there is worthy print- but it’s the grime that a scary number of people prefer. Who am I to judge?- obviously- but I’d be surprised if very many people would adamantly disagree with me on this point.

Books will be around for a while. I know there’s a lot of hype surrounding e-readers- and I don’t mind. I’m all about technological innovation. But as far as collectible items, as far as aesthetics, as far as tradition, books have a staying power we shouldn’t underestimate.

As you well know, and as I alluded, this was also the place from which my new and current romance blossomed. More on that another time, naturally! In the meantime, though, here are some of the highlights of what I read while or soon after being employed at the House of Words–

Sartoris, Faulkner. Beautiful ironies, dusky romances, tender portraits of men and women laden with the futile motivations common to mankind.

The Once and Future King, White. An experience in altered perspective. As the characters grow up, so does the content and presentation. From innocence to a more textured- and darker- tone, it all comes crashing to a terribly modern, but not devastating, point.

Chronopolis, Ballard. A fine cross-section of a very distinctive body of work. Ballard’s fascinations with time and evolution are mine also- and his imaginative explorations of these and lesser themes are far reaching and colorful.

The Devils of Loudun, Huxley. Massive breadth, satisfying depth, and a staggering collection of historical, psychological and philosophical adjuncts. Huxley makes the most of his impressive ability with language and sense of placement.

Man and His Symbols, Jung. Several contributors worked closely in conjunction with one another, a great situation for dealing with material of this density. Each is an expert in the field, each from a differing angle, and each with personal ties of some nature. Lots of personality.

The Beautiful and Damned, Fitzgerald. A creature totally distinct from Gatsby. Crippling satire in almost cartoon color, but do I detect a stronger note of emotional autobiography? Razor-fine line between realism and romance.


Quebec

Today we are driving to the Eastern Townships of Quebec. By the time you read this, we may even be there. It’s a summer holiday, sure, but it’s also just loaded with significance to me. It’s not just a place where I go to get lost and then struggle to get directions in French. It’s not only fields of cows chewing cud, rivers through rural towns, hills or forests or hay bales. It’s home.

We used to go to Quebec every summer, and some Christmases- me, Julianne and Michael, Mom and Dad. It’s an eight hour drive, with stops, from Peterborough to Sherbrooke, the nearest real city to my grandparents’. As kids, it might as well have been a week in that car. As parents to three busy and impatient kids, it must have been closer to a month.

I can see the road now. Down to the 401 and East for the longest leg of the trip, but the easiest. In the pilot’s seat, now, I practise for Quebec’s drivers by attempting to aggressively cut off every other vehicle on the way there. By the time I reach Montreal, the fantasy has become a reality, and we struggle to remain on track and in one piece, horns going off like the voices of angry herd animals all around us. It’s survival of the Frenchest, and I only took it at school.

Of course it was Dad driving. After the concrete madness of Montreal, our station wagon proceeded yet further East, seeking refuge in the long green roadways of the Townships. Mountains- Orford the greatest among them- would rise and fall before us, and the tall trees of Quebec would rise to greet us as we approached our goal. Steadily the towns grew smaller- Sherbrooke, East Angus, Cookshire, Sawyerville.

An abandoned sugar camp lies outside Sawyerville on the way to Chemin Riviere du Nord. Closed in on two sides and overhead by the darkest old trees, the fabled Wolf House- a tree fort built by who knows what now-elderly Quebecois children- came and went on our left. Now we were close, so very close- road weariness fell away and blossomed into anticipation.

Now, as I take my kids to my grandparents’ place for the second time in their lives, I once again feel the old familiar flush. My heart rises in my chest and I know that after crossing over six hundred fifty kilometers, I am nevertheless back home.

Gordon and Audrey Bowker are my grandpa and grandma. For the boys, they are great-grandpa and grandma. It is my intense pleasure to be able to share this. Aura has no living grandparents, so I love that I can provide her with a couple as well.

Grandma- whose middle name is Mabel, which she despises- rules the kitchen. From it come forth the fruit of flour, sugar and oil; it flowers with pea soup and boiled beans and homemade mayonnaise. Cookies dance behind Grandma’s eyes and on her counters.

It’s Grandpa, however, who works the earth. His gardens spill out across the enormous back yard. A greenhouse sits well back, full of tomatoes. Potatoes wait silently in their places beneath the surface, and blueberries climb skyward in their wide bushes.

We used to go hunting for pyrite in a shale deposit nearby. I don’t think the deposit is there anymore, although I have yet to revisit the site. I’ll have to have a look this time. There was an endless supply of those deceptive treasures- Fool’s Gold- when we went out with our hammers in years gone by.

The neighbors are nice folks, too. As a matter of fact, Grandpa and Grandma’s youngest child never moved away, and Jeff lives there now with his family- his wife Carolyn and his boys James, Tim and Josh. I am waiting to find out when James starts going by Jim- that will mark the ultimate exit from childhood for me. My little cousins are so big now- not boys, but young men. We all do that sooner or later, though.

The old house is built on the site of its corresponding farm. Jeff runs the farm, now, and the grandfolks have moved next door to watch. Cows come to the edge of their field, just across the road, to mooch apples from suckers like us city folk. The boys had a ball last year, feeding these big goofy-looking animals. You just have to be careful not to lean onto the electric fence, something that drove me nuts as a kid.

When I was a boy I would bury myself in the basement for hours, losing all track of time in the pages of a vast trove of Reader’s Digests that reside there. These magazines date back to the seventies, if I remember correctly, and I never got tired of the feature pages of jokes and anecdotes. I used to devour the thriller contributions- stories about plane crash survivors, mountain climbers, encounters of the bloody variety with nature’s denizens. I still check on the collection whenever I stop by.

There are so many aspects of this visit I value. Sugar on snow in the middle of summer, thanks to snow kept in a freezer for months on end. Rows on rows of canned food, pickles and sauces from Grandma’s kitchen. Grandpa slaving away over his geneology research. Doing small jobs around the farm with Jeff.

What I really want to draw your attention to, though, is the tradition of love and the security of persistence that exists in this material dream. Violence can move down through the generations, spreading its rot through hearts that did nothing to instigate it. We hear about that sort of perpetuation all the time. But the propagation of love across time is also real, and my grandparents embody that. The reason I’m so happy to take my boys there is not just a nostalgic thing, but one that stems from my desire to continue this precious tradition.

Grandpa and Grandma are living much closer to the triple digit years than to their youth. Sooner or later, I will not have the substance of this dream to cling to. I want to be ready, when the time comes, to provide the same environment of affection and dependability to my own. Eight hours away is my second home- but I don’t need to go that far to feel the love.

My family rocks.


Faster

[This is a short story I wrote some time ago. I have revised it and shared it with you in the hope that you will enjoy it. I’ll get back to reality on Monday!]

He wore one of his several pairs of basic blue jeans and a blue t-shirt bearing testimony to some mid-level corporate bid for publicity. Summer breezes fllled his lungs and coated his back with thin moisture as he covered the distance between his indistinguishable car and the coin wash. His hair was dark and messy, his eyes blurred and dilated. Laundry obscured his vision almost as much as the heat.

With the new arrival washed in a fresh supply of workload for the dehumidifier, if there was one. Fans twisted noisily over the drooping heads of a few lounging customers, and his blood pumped through his vessels at a similar pace. Through the aorta and out to his head, his digestive tract, his respiratory organs, and back into the vena cava. He could feel it flowing sluggishly the length of its route.

Row on row the washing units churned and hummed and vibrated. A quick scan located a free machine in a scuffed yellow corner of the low-ceilinged room, and he began to weave his way toward it, skirting one or two readers and a napper in the process.

Upon reaching the object of his muted interest he noticed with a slight jolt that she was installed four stations down from him. She was sitting in one of the cheap plastic chairs so graciously granted by the facility, and she was reading some worn out Harlequin. He turned and began to push his clothing into the square receptacle confronting him.

The fans had almost certainly gained speed. While he carried on the charade of focus on the distribution of cleaning powder from a sticky measuring cup, she remained very much his fixation. In his peripheral vision, she took up most of the room.

A tangle of blonde hair covered her angular face and tenderly brushed across the arm she was using to hold up her book. The time on her load was nearly up. He was sweating like a boxer.

With a low grinding and a buzz, someone’s washing came to an end. She looked up tiredly, and in that moment their eyes met. She froze, his knees gave out, and he vomited on the slick floor.

The fans had picked up enough momentum that in no time the coin wash had lifted off from its long-settled resting place. His car went unnoticed in the recently deserted lot, and dust and detergent settled on the windshield.


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