Mike Andrelczyk ~ The Laundry Room

It was a slow day at the hotel. I kept check­ing my walkie-talkie to make sure it was on. I went down to the laun­dry room.

What’s up Mr. Moneybags,” Olivia said. She thought it was fucked up I got tips for doing a job that was much eas­i­er than hers. She was right, I guess. I made up for it by get­ting piz­za and sodas for the laun­dry staff when I had a par­tic­u­lar­ly good day.

Shit,” I said. “Nothing at all.”

Help me fold this,” she said.

We did a fold­ing-the-sheet dance. Pretending it was like a tan­go. She laughed.

Want a soda?”

Sprite, please,” she said.

Alice, soda?” I liked Alice. She told me once how she stabbed her ex-hus­band in the arm once when he was drunk and beat­ing on her.

I’ll take a Coke please, hon, thank you,” she said.

I felt good when Alice called me hon.

I bought the sodas and hand­ed them out. I sat by the fan.

It’s hot as shit in here,” I said. “Fuck.”

Olivia looked at me and smiled. I’d tak­en her out a few times. Ice cream. Stuff like that. I went to a dance club with her and her friends and then we sat on the beach for a while kiss­ing and screw­ing around.

Alice was always teas­ing her about me, she told me.

Alice what are you doing tonight?” I said.

I told you I’m too old for you,” she said and laughed. “’Besides I got­ta study for my mor­tu­ary school test.”

She said dying was a good busi­ness to get into. She didn’t mind work­ing with the dead. “They just bod­ies,” she said. She said some­times dead bod­ies would sigh or fart or make oth­er nois­es to expel excess air while they were on the slab. She told me she got so scared the first time it hap­pened to her she almost shit her­self. Then she laughed. Her laugh made you want to laugh too. I thought how it would be good if the dead could at least laugh.

What’s the test on?”

Olivia’s friend Jolene stopped by the door and waved and Olivia went out on a break with her.

Different iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tech­niques, ways of deter­minin’ cause of death and stuff,” Alice said.

Like what kind of techniques?”

Like for instance, if you dis­cov­er a body decom­pos­ing in the for­est and you wan­na know how long it’s been out there, well, one of the ways is to find the biggest mag­got feed­ing on it. You can tell how old the mag­got is then you can have a good idea about how long the body’s been out there.”

Damn,” I said. “That’s smart.”

Help me fold this moth­er­fuck­er,” Alice said hold­ing a sheet up. “You gonna dance with me too?”

I smiled. We danced. Like danc­ing skeletons.


The wed­ding par­ty had reached the state of untucked shirts, bare­foot danc­ing, stained white dress­es and the rounds and rounds of sticky neon-col­ored shots. The guests were either sleepy or gid­dy either fight­ing or scream­ing with joy. The staff was dressed in all black and we all spoke to the guests in the most excit­ed and hap­py tones while we held back the hate in our eyes. Knowing that this was all huge a mess to be cleaned up lat­er. The bride was in the cen­ter of a cir­cle of danc­ing girls. The groom was doing shots. I was pick­ing up emp­ty glass­es and putting them on a tray. I was feel­ing in a sort of trance from some Percocet the bar­tender had giv­en me ear­li­er and dur­ing a lull in the action I’d snuck up to the roof to take a lit­tle puff.

I saw some­thing shin­ing in the red light at the edge of the dance floor. I walked over and bent down and picked it up. It was a small dia­mond. Nobody was look­ing at me. Nobody ever real­ly saw the staff. I bent down, picked it up and put it in my pock­et. It was a dia­mond. A rare jew­el among the scuffed shoes and bare, dirty feet.

I won­dered how much a lit­tle dia­mond was worth. Maybe a cou­ple thou­sand dollars?

The song changed to one of those big chore­o­graphed wed­ding dance songs and sud­den­ly every­one was rush­ing to the floor drag­ging some­one else behind them and arrang­ing them­selves in rows.

I decid­ed to take the trash out. Maybe I’d nev­er come back. Take my dia­mond to a pawn bro­ker and quit.

I had grabbed two big bags full of beer bot­tles and took them down the stairs. You could hear the hap­py screams and music boom­ing from the ball­room. On the last flight of stairs, a woman wear­ing a flower print dress and no shoes was talk­ing and cry­ing into her phone.

There was no way around her.

Excuse me,” I said. “I need to get to the trash. All these bottles.”

She kept talk­ing / crying.

I con­sid­ered the gen­tlest pos­si­ble kick to the back. Just a nudge real­ly. The bot­tles were heavy and the cheap plas­tic trash bags the hotel used were noto­ri­ous for breaking.

Hey, excuse me, sor­ry, I need to get by,” I tried again, a lit­tle louder.

She turned her head.

FUCK YOU!” she screamed at me.

An impasse. A stand­off. Stalemate.

Hey, I have all these bot­tles, I got­ta take em to the trash,” I said. “Just need to get by.”

Where am I sup­posed to go?” she cried.

It sound­ed like a big­ger, exis­ten­tial ques­tion – much MORE than just one of relo­cat­ing her posi­tion down a few stairs to the landing.

Just please move,” I said.

She glared at me. Then spoke into her phone.

Hang on, some ASSHOLE needs to throw some stu­pid BOTTLES away.”

She moved.

I moved by.

Yet anoth­er one of the pleas­ant guests of the world famous Palms Resort.

Enjoy your stay,” I said.

FUCK OFF,” she kind­ly replied.

I went out into the warm night air and lift­ed the dump­ster lid and tossed the bags in and enjoyed the explo­sion of break­ing glass. Sharp shards smash­ing as the moon­lit waves broke over onto the shore.

A roman­tic evening of smashing.

I took the dia­mond out of my pock­et. The moon­light and neon lights of the hotel sparkled and shot off the diamond’s frac­tal-like facets. It did some­thing to me. Made me feel romantic.

I went down to the laun­dry room.

Olivia was there fold­ing towels.

Hey,” I said.

Hey, hey,” she said. “How’s the wed­ding upstairs? I love weddings.”

Fucking stu­pid. The cou­ple actu­al­ly had a big fight before the vows and the groom stormed off so the bride mar­ried his broth­er instead,” I said. “Nah, it’s ok. Everybody’s drunk. Let’s go in the oth­er room for a sec.”

She smiled at me.

Bad,” she said. But she led the way into the room where the wash­er and dri­ers rum­bled and a smell of fresh, steamy laun­dry was in the air.

We kissed. And then I took out the diamond.

Look I found this. You can have it.”

I dropped it into her hand.

She looked at it and smiled.

It’s plas­tic,” she said. “You’re so stupid.”

She laughed. And smiled at me with a smile worth more than any stu­pid diamond.

Then we kissed some more. Tongues rolling around like wet clothes in the warm washers.


Mike Andrelczyk is the author of three poet­ry col­lec­tions includ­ing Gateway 2000 & Other Poems. He is work­ing on his first novel.