So let’s say I’m dead now, or I open a self-service laundromat, the first one in Israel. I rent a small place, a little rundown, on the south side, and paint everything blue. At first, there are only four machines and a special dispenser that sells tokens. Then I put in a TV and even a pinball machine. Or else I’m on my bathroom floor with a bullet in my head. My father finds me. At first he doesn’t notice the blood. He thinks I’m dozing or playing one of my stupid games. It’s only when he touches the back of my neck and feels something hot and sticky oozing from his fingers toward his arm that he realizes something’s wrong. People who come to do their washing in a self-service laundromat are lonely people. You don’t have to be a genius to figure that out. And me, I’m really no genius, and I did. That’s why I always try to create an atmosphere in the laundromat that will make people feel less lonely. Lots of TVs. Dispensers that say thank you in a human voice for buying the tokens, pictures of mass rallies on the walls. The tables for folding laundry are set up so that lots of people have to use them at the same time. Not because I’m stingy; it’s on purpose. Lots of couples met at my place because of those tables. People who used to be lonely and now they have someone, maybe more than one, who lies next to them at night, shoves them in their sleep. The first thing my father does is wash his hands. Only then does he call for an ambulance. That hand washing is going to cost him dearly. He won’t forgive himself til his dying day. He’ll even be ashamed to tell people. How his son is lying there next to him, dying, and him, instead of feeling grief or compassion or fear, something, all he can feel is revulsion. That laundromat will turn into a chain. A chain that’ll be big, especially in Tel Aviv, but it’ll do well in the suburbs too. The logic behind its success will be simple—wherever there are lonely people and dirty laundry, they’ll always come to me. After my mother dies, even my father will come into one of those branches to do his laundry. He’ll never meet a woman or make a friend there, but the chance that he might will drive him there every single time, will give him a tiny sliver of hope.
Dirt | Etgar Keret