Sunday 14 November 2021

Bill, Steve and The Launderette.

Bill drives a taxi, Steve does not; they live next door to each other on the western side of the city.


Their front doors are a few feet apart, separated by a low iron rail; sometimes they pass each other, nod a greeting, say hello.


Neither has ever thought to invite the other for tea.


Bill works early so is in bed before 10 most nights; Steve is usually waking up around then.


Bill has an old black cab that he parks across the street, Steve has an old van that he parks outside; he has run a cable from the kitchen window down to the street so that he can power the drill he is using to fix wooden panelling to the van’s interior. He is making a home.


Bill already has one; he knocks on the van doors at 9pm.

“Give it a break mate, it’s night time.”


Steve apologises, he is unaware of the passage of time; he is younger than Bill who sees it too clearly.


Train tracks run through the western side of the city, the houses shake every time; one day they will fall. At the end of Steve and Bill’s street, which neither of them own, a bridge crosses the train tracks; on the corner is a launderette.


Steve uses the launderette, Bill does not.


Bill is clean, fastidiously so in fact, but he has a washing machine beneath the draining board in his kitchen; he can see the trains pass as he waits for his t-shirts to finish tumbling in the drier. In the launderette, Steve is reading a book.


The book is ‘All Things Tidy – A Life Revisited’, by the French Author whose name he forgets but thinks is Pierre Pascale; it isn’t. The book was a gift from his girlfriend who lives far away in another city and another time; he is working on the van to take himself there; perhaps to stay forever.


He won’t.


Life is never so simple.


This night Bill will drop dead as he waits for the spin cycle to finish. There will be no pain and no real explanation except that his heart decided to stop.


Steve will go to bed, unaware that Bill is no more and that his girlfriend has just met someone else.


And is no more.



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