1. I remember feeling comfort in the violent and rhythmic pounding of unbalanced washing machines. Though remembering isn’t quite a feat, having felt this way no more than two nights ago. This phenomenon can be explained: bitter winters tend to drag time until it seems to have lost it’s identity as a commodity that can run out. It is stretched like a child’s grimy security blanket, eternally pulled behind him, eternally held for one month too long.
2. Our sheets spun endlessly behind glass, weaving a spool of cheap cotton and chunks of bile-soaked food from a romantic pizza dinner the night before. Woven also were microscopic threads of semen and spittle and sweat that didn’t exist to the delicate eye, but could be easily spotted by way of a clunky UV light. In this way, I feel fallible: a twenty-watt light bulb can see things that I cannot.
3. Puke and bedding became one, never quite coming clean. It goes without saying that puke-stained sheets are a metaphor of life that you might find scribbled in the margins of a high-school chemistry textbook. If you were to check the table of contents, it would be listed as the page preceding page eighteen [page eighteen being the page with “Guillermo luvs juicy cock” written along the shaft of a poorly drawn penis]. The sheets remain unsaved by my own grace, or that of the quarters that clinked twenty-four times before I was allowed to push start though I have spent my life pushing the start button first, hoping that by some luck of the draw I’d catch a free ride. This has yet to work.
4. If stained sheets are life, then the coin-op laundry, by default, is purgatory. Having been unable to remove the stains with your own hand, you must then be sentenced to wait with little hope as a little rumbling Maytag decides whether your best t-shirt is saved from the brown-syrupy marks of sin left by day old Pepsi-Cola. Only by the grace of clorox are we are saved, and it is our doing, if only we should have enough loose change. Amen.
5. Purgatory, however, is not the same as hell. The difference being hope; hope that somewhere, a buzzer would buzz to announce the end of your stay- then you would know that you could remove your laundry and yourself from the appropriately scaled glass prisons in which you were contained. But I have mentioned that existence outside of coin-op purgatory is suspended in a relentless, unending cold [so painful that the sun god Ra had sentenced HIMSELF to purgatory, albeit it a less fluorescent-lit one]. And so it became that waiting was inescapable both inside and out, and I stayed because coin-op purgatory just so happened to be heated.
6. It should be noted that technically, you aren’t allowed to remain in limbo between the outside and inside. I knew this when I stayed, but I suppose I have a tendency to press my luck with public buildings. But, as it was, I had nowhere to go and I wanted to test the oppressive Force that might try and push me out of those eternally dirty glass doors [though if it were to actually push, it might notice the sign that says ‘pull’ and the Force and I would share laughter if only for a second].
7. The time for persecution was here, as signaled by cackling laughter recorded in a loop- though only slightly audible behind the sloshing in metal drums, it was an unavoidable presence. Ordinarily one would expect such a sound to vent itself from a television, and ordinarily it would. There was, in fact, a television hung from the wall just in front of me. It bent downward ever so slightly; a pixel crucifix to serve as a reminder of our salvation via department store appliances. Again the studio audience laughter rumbled around me. I watched the screen carefully, keeping my eye [ever-vigilant] upon the snapping jaws of the twenty-something actors. To my horror, of course, I found no such noise to radiate from the speaker holes. In fact, there was no sound at all. The actors made desperate movements, flailing their arms and yelling at each other, or sometimes smiling [obviously hysteria had taken hold] and bumbling around inside the glass. They strained their throats to move sound beyond the plastic and wires but to no avail. The studio audience laughed, and because I stayed seated in my little plastic chair, I became an accomplice to the mockery-crime committed by these snickering, snapping jaws. Such guilt was unbearable, so I turned my chair to face the walls of my own glass prison.
8. As luck would have it, DEATH sat in the corner across from mine. His long unshaven face was lain upon crossed arms, and for once he seemed frail, all swallowed up in that oversized black hoodie and Levi jeans. His death-robe tumbled in a Maytag, never quite rinsing clean of blood. Thus he should be doomed to move on unforgiven, inescapably waiting like myself. And unlike merciless Maytag washers that rumbled for eternity, DEATH slept away his exhaustion.
Photograph by myself, taken in purgatory.