If you’re really done and finished and don’t know where to go you can hope to end in the “Laundrette Nausikaa”. By all appearances a quite normal vintage laundrette, but people going in there come out quite different. There are many rumours about it too.
Wasn’t there lately the shootout between Yugoslavs? Neighbours had called 911, but too late; on the place were only pools of blood, but no people.
Most clients there carry a bundle of clothes as an alibi, but in fact they want to enjoy the warmth, the blueish light and the stringent smell of ironed laundry, the narcotic sounds of the washing machines for some hours.
From the street one goes down some steps and enters the low entrance rather crouched. Earlier, in the vestibule painted in white one notices a patchwork of notes, announcements, magic spells, cries for help, they scarcely reach one’s consciousness and barely touch one’s eyes: Used violoncello to let, Demeter-articles always fresh, who saw Manfred with my daughter? No ironing from 21st Sept. onto. I translate texts and poems for a small Obolus, I have already gone to sleep.
Your hair shall be all silver curls
Your face all covered with raven’s shit
Your shoulders shine from Harvest Moon
I pet your breasts with bitches weed
Adorn your feet with snake’s skin
To make this spell you stay with me
For every night, for every day
On the door frame you notice a cranny sketch. You should know it.
You are welcomed now by half a dozen of washing-machines, the regular customers say: each one has its favourite program! Additionally there are wooden banks, darkened by age. Strange statures sit there. Three more doors are at the rear wall. A grumpy work supervisor sits in a tiny room behind the first one, his place is at a small table where a collecting box in the shape of the sea rescue cruiser “Jan Flindt” is to be seen.
The second one leads to the air-conditioning system. The third one is called “Nobody’s door” because nobody knows something exact about it. For myself: last summer I had an adventure there “that has washed itself”!
That day passed while I hid at the outer Alster in a shrubbery. Randomly I strolled through the quarter then until I came to this place. At once coming in here I saw that the Nobody’s door was ajar on this evening. I had the crazy idea to wash all my things because except a spooning couple I was the only one here. I undressed and threw all my stuff, even the espadrilles, in the machine. If only there would be a shower here! Having that thought I suddenly was aware of my bad smell, my unhealthy white skin, my cracky toes and my big belly hanging down nearly onto my thighs! And the mordant pains at my wrist joints started again.
But now they wouldn’t catch me!
All at once I was alarmed by noise and indeed! I saw the most beautiful lady in strapless ball gown enter the room! Where to hide now? At once I dashed through Nobody’s door and slammed it behind me. Shame, confusion and darkness welcomed me.
I listened at the door panel. A silvery laughing and a happy argument behind the wood fibres. A faint fear thrills through my veins and I feel a chilly breeze. I grope my way but I find neither a door handle nor a keyhole.
Yes, I saw her bending sorrowful over me! But I’d already turned away and groped first hesitating, but then more sure, the steps down into the dark. Around me white noise, murmur, rippling and babbling. Was it really going further down? I felt like a feather. A round table with many people. Did they float? Young ones, old ones, women and men emerged: BUT THEY ALL LOOKED LIKE ME! How affected that one there was talking, this tone of importance! Disgusting. Compliments, hypocrisies and goldfish swam near my face, some transparent jellyfishes too. That one there in the green mud fears getting ill and always listens inwards. Near him that other one only talks about himself and his great accomplishments. Condescension hits me with poisonous needles. Burning shame keeps me looking at them, though I would like to turn away. Even the unkemptness of the semi-cripple there turns to coquetry.
I’m sitting in the Tattersall, right in front near the arena. But instead of white Lippizan horses there are lions romping about. Some of them jump up the balustrade, I want to retreat, but the crowd holds me a prisoner.
Look at yourself! a strong voice’s saying.
Fucking Jesus, how do I look! Come on, put the mask on, smile, smile! Bad breath and my collar full of scales, fuck! I’ll have to train for a more casual walk. Eau de Tamanarivo. Alas, a nice bath on the day off, to caress oneself, to rub my back with the towel, aah! To explore the face with the finger. A fever blister here, a pimple there. To scrutinize the mirror without ever seeing the face.
You’ll not get anywhere like this, the strong voice says, come on, where do you come from?
Everything began with that flipping seafaring, the youngest one responds. I wanted to be carried all over the world by the gulf stream.
Go on, go on!
At the military academy I finally got that feeling to be among other people, to be among people I deserved. Elite, medals, better women. The young man says it. The 30-year-old continues: To care about me, to manage everything, be aware of guys trying to overtake me, to progress oneself. A career at the expense of one’s friends. From stress to alcohol. They needed me in the executive floor, the greyish man whispers, his hands trembling. To move a load of weapons. Make cargoes disappear. Talk the Filipinos into illegal working. Fake bookings in Dakar. To bribe the port authorities in Mombasa and elsewhere. To smuggle some girls from Thailand via Wilhelmshaven. And on and on.
No, I didn’t have a fit of delirium!
No, I didn’t care when Penny left me!
No, I haven’t been fired without notice!
No, I didn’t steer an armed car into the inner courtyard of a bank!
No, I didn’t spend all my money in no time!
Why should I hide? No, no, no!
Yes, I did…
I am cold, shivering…I’m jumping through another door into the dark, but it’s enlightened, I see myself sitting inside a laundrette and I remember having entered that blueish light coming downstairs…
On a huge square just in front of a golden flickering cathedral, weeping. To feel the asphalt surging at the soles, to mount across ankles, calves and thighs up to hips and belly, pressing a strange cry for help out of the lungs.
Like a sheet in the wind. Inside hangs outside. Hair at the lime twig. To walk head over heels in the clouds. The clouds are made of glancing, of laughing and the smell of orange blossoms.
It sounds sweet it sounds soft. I hear a soft sound it sounds me I ring green the spring the grass it purrs it hums and warms me over there the little clouds and there the pebbles and a flower it’s me too or not or am I awake or sleeping but who dreams me?
I woke up in the near hospital. And the pretty woman from Nausikaa came to see me! Who are you? we both asked at the same time and then I told her this here and she told me how she found me on the wooden bank, all naked and clasping a plank like a castaway. She’d been at the ball in the neighbouring Hotel Atlantic. The banquet room there is gigantic, at least ten times bigger than the dormitory here, one could barely see through the sea of dancers and how to get to the other end? All these greedy and horny men here made her so sick, that she left into the night and soon found that scrapped laundrette “Nausikaa”. She just saw a glimmer through the milk glass, hesitating but nevertheless curious she’d stepped down into the blue, Oh, fuck, nobody will find me here if something happens! she’d thought. But then she saw me, naked and all wrecked…
Then she fell silent and after a while meant she’d nevertheless found something beautiful in me…
I was embarrassed, ashamed, believe me. She further helped me and I believe in soon coming home now.