Sunday, October 30, 2016

Rainbow Clothes

He only became aware of the problem when the washing machine didn’t fill up with water.

“What the-” he swore. “No water? Really? And I thought this town couldn’t get any worse.” The only other water sources were Rainbow River and the fishing pond, and he was not about to wash - no, soil - his clothes in such dirty water. Then, it clicked. The gas station. It sells bottled water. He left his clothes in the machine and sprinted out the door, hoping no one else had had the same idea.

A soft ringing signaled his entrance into the Exxon gas station. Dashing to the back where the drinks were sold, he was confronted with the sad image of a refrigerator stripped of its contents. Just like the town, there wasn’t a single drop of clean water.

There were only the river and pond left. A simple coin flip decided his fate. Rainbow River it is. After a couple minutes of searching, he found a bucket. Bucket in hand, he sprinted out of the gas station, eyes fixed on the chaos unfolding around him. People were rushing in all directions, either hauling full buckets of water back to their residences or trying to take back the water that had been stolen from them. Clothes were scattered everywhere from when people had dropped them. It was worse than when the power went out.

Despite the cool fall breeze, his shirt was already drenched in sweat. He’d have to wash that too. When he finally arrived at the river, he began scouting out a spot with the least amount of oil slick.

“Hey, can you help me?”

He turned around sharply. It was someone he had never seen before, although that honestly didn’t surprise him. “Who are you and what do you want?” he quipped.

“I’m Henry Johnson. I dropped my book in the river. It’s really important to me, but I can’t afford to get my clothes dirty.” He pointed to a small book floating amidst the sludge.

Who does this guy think he is? Asking me to retrieve his book for him like that. Lucien was about to say no and walk off, but Henry’s simultaneously distressed and hopeful expression made him consider otherwise.

Ugh, alright. I need to wash these clothes anyway, what’s the big deal. “Fine. I will. But you owe me one.” Wading into the murky water, he gingerly picked up the book. He could barely make out the title, it was so ruined.

“Here’s your book,” Lucien said, handing it to Henry.

“Oh my gosh, thank you!” he said, putting the book back into his pocket. “I’m so sorry about your clothes.”

Lucien looked down. His pants and shoes were soiled beyond repair, but no matter. “It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”

When he arrived back at the Victorian, full bucket in hand, he went straight to the public washing machines to wash his clothes.

Except they weren’t there.

1 comment:

  1. I thanked Lucien again, before heading back home gingerly holding my mutilated copy of Slaughterhouse Five. How clumsy could I be? I was returning home after a long walk I had set out on without any certain destination. It was quite nice to escape the chaos of the city. I had found a nice park just east of the Rainbow River, sat down under a huge oak, and read. At least it was a Saturday, I thought to myself, so people wouldn't have to juggle work and a water crisis. When I reached The Victorian, the clamor that had erupted in the morning had died down significantly. I walked up to my room, unlocked my door, and sat down in my chair. I had no intent of getting up in the next 10 minutes, but then I remembered something. The words "you owe me one" resurfaced and lingered in my brain before I remembered that Lucien truly needed help.
    I am an early riser. This morning when I turned on my faucet, only to hear a dry pumping sound, I quickly booked it to the Exxon station to get some water. Evidently, there were other early risers in this town, but I was fortunate enough to grab one of the last 5 gallon jugs.
    I hurried down to the concierge, and, knowing Ellen and the state of the town at the moment, gently asked her where I could find Lucien. "He lives in 404, but he could be anywhere", she replied. I was glad she didn't release her fury on me. She had most likely had her cathartic moment earlier in the day.
    I said thanks, and headed up to 404. I knocked, and he opened the door almost immediately.
    "What do you want"?, Lucien hissed.
    "It's Henry Johnson", I muttered almost apologetically. "I have some water for you".
    He realized that I was the guy at the river earlier today.
    I had already used about half of my jug, so I gave the rest to him. He took it without hesitation, but I saw the semblance of a smile form on his face.