The washers and dryers were humming noisily when John walked into the Laundromat. It was easy to see that he wasn’t accustomed to using a laudromat by the furtive way he was acting. He picked out a washer after much searching, loaded his clothes and then discovered that he did not have any detergent and had to search for the machine that dispensed it. Everyone in the place could have cared less whether he knew his way around or not, they were all wrapped up in their own thoughts. After a few trips there though he became a regular and knew his way around as well as everyone else.
It was on one of these trips as he was gaining confidence in himself that John had a strange thing happen. John always liked children and there was certainly enough of them running around. A little blonde girl of three years old came up to him smiling and started a conversation. “Hi, I’m Sandy,” she said. “Hello Sandy, my name is John, what do you do for a living?” Sandy just giggled and proceeded to tell him her age, her mother’s name and anything else he wanted to know.
John was beginning to enjoy himself when a blonde woman rushed up and grabbed Sandy, gave him a dirty look and rushed the child away. Her admonishment to the child could be heard throughout the laundromat, “I told you not to talk to strangers especially old men.” John was startled and a little sad. After hearing that, he wasn’t as friendly to children unless of course he knew their parents.
John was a tall man in his early sixties and his hair was mostly gray but he had a thick and lustrous head of it. He had green eyes that sparkled when he was happy which wasn’t very often now that Janet was gone. He had a slim build, belying his usually hearty appetite which had also diminished lately. Since Janet had died a year ago, he was in a transition period. They had planned to vacation in the mountains this year. Renting a cabin and fishing was his idea of heaven, but Janet’s illness had come on suddenly and now his life was dramatically different.
He had thought himself a strong man but lately he began to doubt that strength. He had not planned on being alone and it was a strange, new experience for him. The house loomed before him like some vast unknown expanse. The days were endless. Then one day at the Laundromat, as he was loading his clothes into a dryer, a young woman next to him was struggling with a large basket of clothes as she tried to lift it onto one of the shelves. It slipped out of her hands and the clothes went flying onto the floor. The girl looked embarrassed as she stooped to retrieve her laundry. John went to her aid and after the clothes were picked up and placed in the right machine, she sat down beside him. He offered her a cigarette and after accepting she thanked him profusely for his help.
“I’m new in the area,” she said. “Is that so?” John was never much of a conversationalist.
She was so young and pretty, he was wondering why she even bothered talking to him.
“Can you tell me which market has the lowest prices? I’m kind of new in town and down on my luck right now.” She seemed to be embarrassed to admit this.
“Medina’s Market is only a few blocks from here and has the best buys and good quality, I can show you where it is.”
“Oh thanks, that’s very kind of you but I wouldn’t want to put you out.” she retorted.
“No trouble at all. After we are done here I’ll take you there. By the way what’s your name, mine’s John.”
“Gloria.” was the answer.
“That’s a pretty name, it suits you.”
To be continued