THE FOOL

Ezra had nervous exhaustion. Well that’s what he called it anyway. He walked into the laundromat with two weeks’ worth of clothes, threw the bags on the folding table and felt around in his pockets for some change. He pulled out a few quarters and some singles and made way over to make more change. There were only a couple of other people in the place which was good. He hated doing laundry and certainly didn’t want to have to wait and navigate his way down crowded aisles full of laundromat “types”, you know. But this morning when he woke up and had no choice but to put on dirty underwear and socks, he knew he’d best get it done.

This on top of everything else.

“How are you?” said a voice from across the room. “Hey you, aren’t you that guy from last night at O’Malley’s?”

Ezra turned his head to a rickety, little old man, sitting with a pen and suduko book in his lap. Is this guy talking to me?

“You’re the one that was going on and on about Donald Trump actually being in cahoots with Obama and they’re all the same and all that Illuminati crazy talk right? Yeh you. Man you were really on a roll!” The old man was snorting and laughing.

Ezra turned crimson. “Well maybe. Hey listen, after I get more than three beers in me, forget it. I don’t know what I’m talking about.” He turned his attention to loading up his whites. “I’ve been pushing the envelope lately and things have been unraveling, so nothing would surprise me.”

Why was I explaining this to him?

“Well you think you’ve got troubles you wouldn’t BELIEVE all the things I’ve gone through,” said the man.

Ezra rolled his eyes. Gosh, do I really have to listen to this? He added his laundry detergent, shut the door and inserted his dollar twenty-five.

“Yeh I lost my job at Novo Nordisk a few years back. And this with a year left til retirement too, can you stand it? And everything’s gone downhill since. It’s a conspiracy you may be right. Trying to keep a good man down I’m tellin ya. Don’t you think it’s a conspiracy?”

Ezra felt sweat forming on his forehead. He grabbed an outdated Time magazine from the shelf and sat down, his back to the old man. But the old man kept on talking.

“I think you may be right. A conspiracy I mean. Hey, are you listening?”

The emptiness of the laundromat was broken by the chimes on the front door and what Ezra presumed was a young mother with her three little kids in tow, all carrying laundry. The kids dropped the bags and started yelling and running around and Ezra only wished for an extra strength Motrin. The old man was laughing and started egging on the kids, who weren’t shy or embarrassed in the least. The mother let them run rampant.

Oh no.

A Taste Of Honey was coming out of the radio. Do you remember that song? Ezra did from when he was little. He and his brother and sister would dance and spin around the living room while his mother hummed along and his Dad sat at the kitchen table with his eyes over his bifocals reading his paper. Dad never played much. Well at least that’s how Ezra remembered it. He tried to block it all out, shut down his mind. Shut down the memories but more so the current ruckus around him. He stared at the laundry spinning around in the machines, taking its sweet old time the way things do when you’re waiting and need to be rescued from an unpleasant moment. He tried to escape in his magazine.

It won’t be long now.

The old man had gotten up and was joking with and encouraging the kids, making random comments to the mother and other laundromat people and having a general good time. Ezra picked up his head and watched. The man was genuinely enjoying himself, huffing and puffing some but with enjoyment nonetheless. Ezra thought he looked quite the fool. But there was something in the way that he moved and carried on. He suddenly wasn’t old anymore. Herb Albert was blowing his trumpet. The old man had become one with the kids.

Ezra stood up and pulled out his wet clothes and transferred them to the dryer. He started to inch closer to the old man and kids. For some reason he couldn’t take his eyes off them. Then he started to laugh.

And sway.

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6 thoughts on “THE FOOL

  1. ‘Love the conclusion of this post, &, the Herb Albert video!! (20 Years or so ago, I was told, by a mental health worker, that I was ‘out-dated’ because I chose Herb Alpert as my favorite type of music –  Just maybe He was ‘The Fool’)!

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