Silent humming filled the room as the one washing machine I was using did its job. It was late at night, about half past eleven. I was lucky the Laundromat was open twenty-four hours a day so I didn’t have to waste daylight on doing laundry. Nobody else was in the building aside from me and the old lady who was sitting at a counter in the other room, at the entrance. I could hear the silent murmuring of the small television she was watching. I just yawned, staring at my laundry through the glass of the washing machine as I was sitting on the bench in front of it.
Through the silent noises I could hear the front door being opened as someone entered the building. Some words were exchanged at the counter, but I was not paying any attention. Only when someone entered the room did I look up.
The newcomer was wearing a baggy, black robe. It had a hood on it, which was pulled into his face in a way that I couldn’t see below it. The robe was long enough that it touched the floor, so the only thing visible of the man were the two white, skeletal hands sticking out from under the folds of his sleeves. In one hand he was carrying a huge scythe, and in the other a plastic bag filled with black robes.
I immediately turned the other way. I’ve never seen this person in my life, but if he was who I thought he was, then I didn’t want anything to do with him. I didn’t really believe it could really be him, though. Maybe it was just some weirdo. Either way I tried not to pay attention to him.
The newcomer stopped in front of a nearby washing machine and put his scythe on top of it. He then threw the content of his bag into it, did the necessary preparations and inserted a coin so the machine would whirr and start up. He then grabbed up his scythe and sat down near me. I was looking the other way.
For long minutes there was only silence. The pair of machines were buzzing, doing their job relentlessly. Eventually I noticed the man sliding closer to me.
“Slow night, eh?” he said. His voice was raspy and deep, almost withered. He creeped me out so I didn’t answer, still trying to ignore him. He waited a few seconds for an answer, then gave up and turned towards his washing machine. After a minute or so, he spoke again.
“You’re being very rude right now, y’know?”
I was shaking ever so slightly, but kept staring at my laundry. It was spinning in the machine right now. The hooded person shook his head.
“Hey, if you don’t want me to talk, just say so, but your silence is offending me. This is not how your grandpa would act.”
I couldn’t pretend that he’s not there anymore, and turned towards him. I could see nothing below the hood so I just looked at where I guessed his eyes could be.
“You knew my grandfather?” I asked.
“Not personally, but I did have business with him that one time.” he creaked. “He was a tough fellow, wasn’t even shaking when we met, heh.”
I tilted my head, still feeling doubtful. “Who ARE you? What do you want from me?”
“My friends just call me Grim.” he cackled. “Actually, my customers call me that too. And I want nothing from you. I’m just here with laundry, you see?”
I looked at his washing machine. The black robes were spinning around inside it.
“Why do you have laundry?” I blurted out. “Aren’t you… you know…” I motioned at his skeletal hands.
“It’s a tiring job you know. I sweat less since I lost all this weight, but still. People just aren’t as cooperative as they used to be.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know. They just see me as we float in limbo, and instead of accepting what happened they start running, screaming like a maniac that they’re still alive! People these days.”
I looked at the scythe. “Aren’t you supposed to be out there right now…?”
“What, you think I work alone?” he asked, and let out a raspy laugh. “Are you crazy? Millions of people die every day, how do you think I’d manage all by myself?”
He only stopped laughing after a few seconds. He adjusted his hood so it kept hiding his face, then continued. “I got the night off so I can do my laundry. Sweat and blood are no laughing matter, but I’m provided with the uniform and they pay for the cleaning so it’s fine.”
“They, huh? Your job must have quite a few perks.” I said, deciding to play along.
“It sure does. Aside from the clothes, the elderly tends to be nice to me more often than not. Like that lady outside, she’s one reason I frequent this place. I guess they want to get on my good side while they still can, heh.” he leaned back against the wall as he was sitting. “Also I get free dental service, it’s great. I would show you, but one glimpse into my eye sockets would probably kill you.”
I nodded. “Yes, I’d prefer that didn’t happen.”
Long minutes passed again, and then my washing machine beeped. I stood up and started taking my clothes out so I can put them up to dry.
“Make sure you don’t leave any clothes in there.” he said, leaning forward. “I hate it when people do that. One time someone forgot their pink underwear and I didn’t notice. You can guess what happened.”
I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle as I imagined the Grim Reaper himself sporting hot pink robes. “I guess that wouldn’t help your grim aura, would it?”
I put my clothes on the clothesline and sat back down. I usually don’t dry them here, just put them up a little, then take them home.
Soon after, the other machine beeped as well, and the hooded man stood up to get his robes. Whenever he touched one, it seemed to immediately dry; he just folded them up and put them back into his plastic bag.
“That’s useful.” I said.
“Yeah.” he replied as he finished packing. “My touch seems to have this effect on people too. Anyway, see you soon!” he said and walked out of the room, leaving the Laundromat. I was alone yet again, and there was just one question running through my mind.
Did I really just have a leisurely chat in the Laundromat with Death?
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