By Jeff Parker
I knew we were in for trouble the moment the locals, who call resort workers “spank tourists”, showed. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a crowd of Carhartt flannels. We couldn’t figure who invited them. It was me and Patsy and a few others who have jobs like vacuuming moose heads in the main lodge.
I tried to make them feel welcomed. Patsy was the only woman and loving it. I offered them some detergent. We did bumps in the bathroom in case management descended. We got off-kilter and imprecise, and the detergent flew, dusting the floor and toilet seat.
Then I taught them all how to dryer-ride. I programmed thirty-second spins in the Vapour Electro-Heat Roller Dryer, which beat them up good. I gave instruction and advice: Roll at precisely nine o’clock. Land frog push-ups.
All the while I kept my arm locked around Patsy’s, knowing how she gets with men like this around. At one point she broke away, saying that she had to go to toilet. She always says this: “go to toilet.” I don’t know where the “the” goes.
About then the locals suggested that it was my turn in the dryer, that I should show them how it’s done. I said, “Nah, fellas. I get into this all the time. It’s you all’s moment.” Brick, the biggest one, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Really, I would like to see what you can do.”
You do not go this far, all of the locals dizzy and warm to the touch, without taking your fair shake. I glanced around and noted that all the moose head vacuumers had left already. It was just me, Patsy, and the Carhartt flannels. I climbed in and at that moment Patsy returned from the bathroom. She wore the feather roach clip in her hair. She switched on the boom box and I heard muffled country reverberating through the dryer drum. I remembered her telling me at the start of the trip, “One thing you’ve got to realize, Scoma, I am the type of girl who eats her pudding with a fork.” She was sceptical about how a winter spent washing rich people’s come out of sheets was going to fix us.
Brick hooked his arm around her elbow and spun her into the open floor. One of the other locals tapped on the dryer control pad, and I could tell from the three beeps he didn’t program me the same thirty-second joyride I programmed them.
I had a perfect view of Brick and Patsy out of the dryer glass, and I simply employed my technique, turned at nine o’clock, landed frog push-ups. Simple. Just like I told them it’d be. They applauded for me. Patsy gyrated on Brick’s leg. Brick spun his arm above his head like a lasso. It’s nothing I hadn’t seen before, used to recline with a BLT while she wiggled it on some creampuff ‘s haunch.
I dryer-ride these days better than I skate vert. But when I saw the whole group of them through the glass, her and the locals heading out of what we might call the public area of the facility and into the back, I mistimed and came down hard. The metal drum knobs slamboed me. I got caught in the revolutions and couldn’t get out. I could feel the blood racing to the contours of every future bruise.
Patsy danced her way out of what we might call the public area of the facility, finger-tip-feeling the underside of Brick’s chin, not her slinky stripper dance but kind of Indiana, slithering ledges. She walked them right out there with those ledges, one of which Brick tried to tame. She fired it at him.
They didn’t take her. She left with them.
Everyone told me. “Damn, Scoma,” they said, “that girl lives in a necklace.” I thought that if I could get her away from the place where she shed her clothes while folks mowed the breakfast buffet, we’d be all right.
When the dryer cycle stopped, I pushed the door open and flopped out. I lay on the floor and the wooden trusses cutting across the middle of the ceiling spun like helicopter blades for a long time. When they finally slowed, I stumbled to the back. The locals were all passed out in the dirty sheets, our neglected responsibility. Wrapped together tightly in sheets, were Brick and Patsy.
I toppled one of the laundry carts for commotion.
Brick’s eyes popped open. He tried to roll away from Patsy but he was tangled in the sheets. I punched his face a few times before he got up. Patsy didn’t wake. She lay there nude, curled on her side like a letter S. And he was facing me, fists up.
Now I took some boxing. I threw a few jabs, missed. He ducked, bobbed. His dick and balls smacked around, distracting me. He didn’t even try to cover himself. I remembered hearing somewhere that naked men don’t fight good.
The trickle of blood from his nose got me overconfident, and I threw a knockout, a real Popeye. I missed again, over extended, still dizzy. I have this habit of sticking my tongue out during physical activity. He got underneath me with the uppercut, a nice one.
What I remember last is the tip of my tongue sailing away from me.
Excerpted from The Taste of Penny