“Hey, Baby,” a creepy, little man in a light-brown trench coat with large, tan hat that covered his face said.
April stared, giving the ‘get away from me freak!’ look. He didn’t get it. April sighed. This is exactly why she didn’t like doing her laundry on a Thursday afternoon. All the desperate freaks were out in full force. She returned to sorting her laundry into three different washing machines.
Most people did lights, darks, and colors, but April liked her system of socks, shirts and unmentionables, and pants, because it meant that everything got rinsed and they dried faster too.
The man’s hat covered her sock washer as he peered in. “Excuse you!” April said as her face contorted with disgust.
“Nice socks,” the man said, drooling. He licked his lips and made smacking noises as if he was gnawing on gum, but his mouth was empty…hopefully.
April continued putting in her laundry, keeping an eye on the little freak who was now not even trying to hide his drool. He stood there, wringing his hands, licking his chops. She considered calling the police, but aside from being a freak, he hadn’t paid any attention to her since he spotted her socks. Probably a freshman from the college down the street with a foot fetish and doesn’t want to get caught on campus.
Thirty minutes passed without a sound from the man until the sock washer buzzed. He ran there first, opened the lid, and started drooling even more over the clean socks. April put the other two loads into their dryers and walked back to the sock washer where he was now leaning over the machine with his shoes dangling off the ground. Definitely too short for a college kid, freshman or not. April walked over behind him and cleared her throat. He backed up and let her take out the socks.
For the next hour, he sat in front of the sock dryer on the ground watching them spin this way and that way, and rise to the top only to flop to the bottom midway across. He reminded April of a little kid watching Saturday morning cartoons. Just like with the washers, once the buzzer went off on the sock dryer, he jumped up and opened the door before April could even get out of her seat.
Then the weirdest thing happened…he threw off his hat and coat and looked just like Gollum, saying, “My precious!” as he started grabbing the socks and stuffing them in his mouth.
“Hey!” April yelled. “Those are my socks! Stop it!”
His eyes grew large, and he started snarling. “You want my socks? You stole them from me, and now you want my socks again? I just found them.”
“Um…they’re my socks. I bought some of them last week, Dude. Now, put them down and leave or I will call the police.”
“No! My socks! My precious children!”
“You need help!”
Before April could pull her cell phone out of her pants pocket, he lunged at her, sending her flying into an open dryer. She hit her head on the way in and lay in the drum unconscious.
Sounds of people chattering and laughing woke her up. Hours must have passed because the place was now packed with people. People all staring and laughing at her. Startled, scared, embarrassed, and confused, April grabbed her clothes and ran out of laundromat. On her way out, she heard a sea of words including, drunk, crazy, loony, high, and addict. She was none of the above, but she didn’t want to argue. This was the first time and last time she used this place! She threw everything into her car and as she sat in the driver’s seat she noticed the name of the place for the first time. Gollum’s Laundromat. There was also a handwritten sign under it that read, “Wash or dry socks at your own risk. Management is not responsible for loss of socks, limbs, or life.”
This was written for the Worth A Thousand Words # 3 daily photo prompt.