Saturday, December 7, 2013

Story #30

Dear Readers,

This is the 30th in a series of 52 weekly very short stories I am posting to this site. Thank you for reading.

Matthew Sharpe

P.S. Akashic Press has published a new very short story of mine here

Story #30

This was Sheldon’s first time bringing his clothes to a laundromat. He had never before lived in an apartment that had no washer and dryer. He had never before lived in an apartment. He’d gone straight from the suburban home of his childhood to college—he must have washed and dried his clothes in college but had no recollection of it—to the suburban home of his marriage to Julia. Now that marriage was over and some other man and woman were living in that house, and Sheldon was on the threshold of a below-street-level laundromat holding a black plastic garbage bag containing a month’s worth of dirty shirts, pants, underwear, and socks, many of them worn several times. He stood there for a while looking around at the white rectangular machines, each one gyrating internally and emitting a gurgle or a whine. A man approached Sheldon. “You look confused, buddy. You need some help?” Sheldon nodded. “I’m Edmund.” “Sheldon.” Edmund showed him how to separate his white and colored items, what temperature of water to use for each, and so on. “Did you bring detergent?” “No.” “Here, use mine. Don’t ever buy those little detergent packets they sell here—they’re a rip-off.” Sheldon’s clothes all locked away and embarked on their circular journey to cleanliness, Edmund said, “We’ve got some time, let’s take a stroll.” They walked into a nearby park. Edmund removed a joint from his pocket, lit it, took a few puffs, and passed it to Sheldon. “I don’t smoke pot. I’m an accountant.” “Come on, it’s Saturday morning, and you just got divorced.” “How did you know?” “Please.” Sheldon smoked and coughed. “Thatta boy.” Edmund took some more, passed it back to Sheldon, and back and forth till they finished the joint. Sheldon laughed uncontrollably and had to sit down and felt sick. “You ever ride a motorcycle?” Edmund asked. “No.” “Let’s go ride mine.” “I don’t think I can stand up.” Edmund helped Sheldon off the bench, they walked out of the park, and a few blocks past the laundromat they arrived at Edmund’s big red motorcycle. “Sheldon, there are certain machines you’re going to have to learn how to operate as a single man.” Edmund gave Sheldon a tutorial on the bike and then demonstrated up and down the block a few times with Sheldon riding behind him and awkwardly holding Edmund’s muscular shoulders. “Now you try,” Edmund said when they came to a stop. “I’m really feeling dizzy and disoriented.” “You’ll be fine.” Sheldon rode half a block and tipped over onto the street. The bike landed hard on his leg. Sheldon stood up and found long, bloody scrapes on his forearm and knee. His pants and shirt had been torn. Edmund approached him and said, “Jesus Christ!” He picked up his motorcycle and helped Sheldon to the curb. “You all right?” “A little banged up.” Edmund punched Sheldon in the nose and Sheldon fell back against a parked car. “What’d you do that for?” “You crashed my bike!” “I told you I couldn’t ride.” “Tough shit.” Sheldon’s nose was bleeding and his whole face hurt like hell. He hit Edmund hard with an uppercut to the tip of his chin, something he’d learned in high school boxing class. Edmund crumpled to the sidewalk, unconscious. Sheldon squatted over him. When Edmund eventually opened his eyes he looked up at Sheldon, laughed, and said, “This is fun, right?” “I guess it’s not bad. I’m in a lot of pain, and also hungry.” “Let’s go get lunch, you’re the accountant, you’re buying, and I may need to borrow some money from you later.” “What do you do?” Sheldon asked. “Kindergarten teacher.” A bicycle was coming toward them on the sidewalk and Sheldon shoved Edmund into its path. Edmund regained his balance and leapt out of the way at the last second. The cyclist cursed them. Edmund said, “Nice one!”


  1. Came back to read this one again. I love those last six sentences.