(2018-09-03) Bonding Over Laundry
While doing laundry, Katherine and Ashlea strike up a conversation and a quick friendship forms.

Suds n Duds

Glass, double doors allow entry and machines almost as old as the building itself line the outer walls, mustard yellow whether with time or that's the color they started out no one knows quite for sure. The dryers are industrial sized and have a slot for quarters on the top by the knob and the red start button.

In a row in the center of the room, back to back are somewhat newer washing machines, off-white in color, with eight slots open for quarters. In two corners of the room are scarred wooden tables for folding clothes and three rolling baskets are haphazardly around the room for the transferring of the clothing from one machine to the other.

Overhead, fluorescent lights line the ceiling, a few here and there flickering in the ballast creating an almost eerie effect in the evening. Underfoot, the floor is an industrial gray concrete with small divots chunked out here and there that sometimes almost overturn the rolling baskets.

In the back corner is a room that holds vending machines. A dispenser selling soap, stain remover, fabric softener and color safe bleach. Along with a bulletin board with different business cards tacked on as well as other small advertisements from individuals. Adjacent to it are a quarter machine, snack machine and drink machine. Yellow metal chairs are connected and line every blank space of wall.

Katherine is standing in front of one of the large washing mashines, loading it with several large white sheets. She exhales out a huff, blowing her hair away from her face as she adds the pillow slips. She turns to grab her soap, pouring it into the machine before she shoves the quarters back to start the washer. Frowning at the machine she turns and walks to one of the metal chairs, sinking into it with a sigh.

Laundry Day! Oh what fun it is. Since it was a holiday, Ashlea had the day off and she was trying to catch up on housework. With a mesh bag over her shoulder she strolls into the Suds and Duds and over to a certain pair of washers. Both lids are already opened, a sign they are not in use currently. Also no lights on. So she dumps colors in one, whites in another and then reaches down to the bottom of the bag for single use items. Soap. Two of those, she puts one Tide Pod in each. Then there is color safe bleach dropped in the colors and Clorox bleach for whites put in the other. Quarters, a push in, closing the lids and she's free for the duration. Turning back, she catches sight of the other woman and walks on over to have a seat somewhere nearby. "Hey," a nod of greeting. "Great minds think alike, yeah?" She's somewhat new to town. Four months or so.

Katherine looks up from one of the old magazines she's flipping through and grins at Ashlea. "Great minds." She repeats, tossing the magazine aside. "Thank goodness it's quiet here today, I've got enough sheets to turn half the town into cheap ghosts." She brushes her slender fingers through her hair, shrugging a slender shoulder. "Katherine Stone, I own the B&B up in Oak Ridge." She holds out a hand for Ashlea to shake. "I'm finally empty so I can catch up on the laundry instead of driving people all over town." There is a tilt of her head as she studies the woman seated near her. "You grow up here? You don't look familiar to me."

"Aha, low thread count huh?" Ashlea laughs in return to lessen her usually serious demeanor, the thread count a reference to the cheap part of the ghosts comment. "Katherine Stone, it's nice to meet you. I'm Ashlea Anderson. Just moved into town about four months ago. It's a great place, as far as I am concerned. Sounds like you've been busy with guests. Always good for income I guess."

"People come and go for a day or two." Katherine says, laughing along with Ashlea. "I think we're a waystop sometimes between here and there." She nods, letting her head bob twice before she smirks. "My last few guests have had some odd allergies and requests. I'm getting close to just tossing my hands up in the air when it comes to cooking." Her face lights up and she turns more to face Ashlea, clapping her hands briefly. "New to town, well sort of, so tell me what you think of the place. You've other places to compare it to."

"I can guess it's never lonely then, with company coming and going. I don't cook. Oh God, I'd be helpless if I tried something like that. I have tried. All I can do is admire your abilities. Do you ever just open and serve lunches or anything even when you don't have guests?" Ashlea glances over when the washer makes a noise. It's filled and is now washing, the agitator going back and forth. With a look back to Katherine, she grins. "I like it here very much. The people are friendly and there's absolutely so much to do here. I'm considering taking the train for the scenic route over a weekend just to see what it's like. Do you have any recommendations of places to go or things to do?"

"It's lonely sometimes, when I don't have any customers in it's just me and my little sister - and she's at that age where she has a life and doesn't want me in her business." Katherine says, chuckling softly before she leans in, eyebrows raised. "Sixteen. Insanity." She leans back in her chair and looks thoughtful for a moment, shaking her head. "I haven't opened to serve lunch, I wouldn't even begin to know how to advertise that. I would love to have people over sometime though. I mostly make salads and lunchmeat sandwiches for lunch." She flashes a smile towards Ashlea and nods happily. "There is a lot to do here, so many things to see. If you're looking for places to go or things to check out..uhmm.." Her brow furrows as she thinks. "Fortunate Finds is a must if you like to read, Powell Park or the Blackwell Vineyard if you want something fun do." She looks dreamy for a second and lets her gaze slide back to the woman sitting near her. "They make the best new wine. You can get it after it's been fermented for …thirty days I think. Not very dry, but quite fruity."

"That sounds really nice to me. Or it used to. When I moved here, I did everything alone, even bought a house a block or so from here to enjoy the peace and quiet. Damned if I didn't meet a mechanic who changed my outlook on solitude." Ashlea can't hide the smile and she doesn't even try to. "I bet it's fun having a little sister though. You're responsible for her?" THen here comes a question that may be pressing. "Where are your parents?" That asked, she smiles, "I think maybe just word of mouth or even if you wanted a smaller grouping for lunch just advertise with a flyer in a few places. City buildings downtown if you wanted a place to start. Soups, salads and sandwiches would be good for the officers. Most of them eat at the Corner Cafe. Heavy meals loaded with calories." After listening to the options, she nods, "That all sounds fun, I need to explore more."

"Solitude is nice for a while, but it's better to have company, I think." Katherine finds herself smiling along with Ashlea until she asks about parents. Her face falls, and she manages to keep a bit of a smile, but it's bitter at the edges. "My parents passed away last year. Drunk driver." Her eyes shift towards the machines as she nods slowly. "So it's just me and my two sisters now, and I do everything I can to keep things together for them." She makes an effort to perk up, forcing a smile as she nods towards Ashlea. "I should do that, another way to make a few extra dollars doing something I normally do everyday anyways. It would also be a great way to make some new friends." She chuckles softly and nods her agreement. "Every so often I buy a few bottles from the Vineyard, put them out for guests or offer them for purchase. They're so good that I usually sell out quickly."

Ashlea winces, sympathy there in her features when she looks back to her. "I'm glad your sisters have you. And that you have them so you all have someone to lean on. That's got to be rough." Taking her cue from Katherine, she smiles in response too and goes along with the subject further. "I know I'd go there for lunches. The Corner Cafe is already getting old. I'm a detective with the CPD." Calaveras Police Department. "I'm sure I could drag a few coworkers along with me." A nod about the Vineyard. "Maybe you could set up some deals with some of the other businesses. Small welcome gifts with their products to your guests, that way you both get exposure and their names get out to new arrivals in town."

Katherine responds to the sympathy with a nod, making sure to smile as she speaks. "We're all pretty close now, as close as we can be while Lynn is away at college." She raises her eyebrows and chuckles softly. "Well I'll give it some thought, but it sounds like a rather excellent idea. I love having people in, even if they're not staying and I do enjoy cooking." She perks up, sitting up a little straighter. "If you give me your phone number, I'll give you a call when I get things together to give it a try. There shouldn't be any harm in that, surely." Her washer dings and she gets to her feet, walking across the room to pull sheets from inside the machine. She stuffs them into an empty dryer, stuffing a few scented sheets in as well. "Local businesses might also benefit from a boost. I should do that." She strolls back to the chairs after she inserts some coins and powers it on, moving to sink back into her seat.

"Does she go to college far from here? I know when I was young, I couldn't get away from home fast enough, so I can sympathize with both you and her." Ashlea reaches into a pocket for her business card that has her cell phone on it and comes up empty. "Guess my card is in my truck. I'll get it." So while Katherine switches clothes over from machine to machine, she goes to her red pickup and gets one from the glove box, getting back in and continuing conversation as if she'd never left. "I could see it being a win/win with you and the businesses. Your guests are happy with the personal touch and the businesses are happy with the cheap advertisement." She moves to do the same now, the colors and whites, moving them to dryers with scented static cling free sheets in both dryers. When she returns, she offers the card over. "I'd love to be a guinea pig on the meals."

Katherine grins at Ashlea. "She managed to get a scholarship in Pennsylvania, of all places." She responds when Ashlea returns, taking the card and tucking it away in her bag. "I think my youngest sister might want to get far away as well. I think most of it has to do with forgetting. I get it, and if it makes them happy then I am happy for them." She gazes at her bag for a few moments, looing at the card sticking out of it. "What is it like, your job? I don't hear a lot about crime around here so you all must be doing a good job." She teases gently, crossing her legs. "Well I'll be happy to have a guinea pig, and I'll send you home with leftovers as well, because I always cook too much. You'd think I'd learn, but I never seem to."

"Oh yeah I completely understand that. That's what I did. Dramatic, angsty past, I came here and got away from it, put it behind me and now effectively moving on. It seems to be working great for me. I'm glad you're giving them the opportunity to do the same." Ashlea considers her job with a crooked smile. "It's not so bad here, we're low crime it seems, but with the Rodeo in town, there's been news about thefts of the locals from what likely may be one of those from the rodeo passing through. The chief informed us of it, now we're looking for the prime suspect. It's going fairly well." Her lips quirk with laughter. "I live of leftovers from my lunches as my dinners. I'd always, always accept leftovers. Sometimes they are breakfast too."

"I can't keep them here if they don't want to be. I wish I could run away but I have to keep things normal here for the girls." Katherine winces at the talk of the Rodeo. "Yes, there are new people in town, and I imagine some unsavory sorts have found there way here too." She sighs and shakes her head slowly, chuckling. "Most of the time though it seems idyll here, with little crime. You mostly hear about misunderstandings or car accidents rather than thefts or the like." She nods at Ashlea and flashes a brilliant smile. "I'm making lasagna tonight, I can send you some if you'd like. I'll be making about two pans of it, and freezing some for when we get a guest. If they're not a vegetarian or something else like that."

"It does seem the ideal place to live. I'm happy to have found it. All because of a help wanted I found on the internet. For the Police department. I am enjoying it here so much." Ashlea leans back against the chair, an anticipatory smile at the thought of lasagna. "Vegetarian isn't normal." She's sort of serious, sort of joking. "I always play that phrase in my head when I meet them. My food eats your food for dinner." Cows eating grass, etc. "Lasagna sounds divine. I would absolutely love that."

Katherine glances around at the machines, and out at the street before she nods to Ashlea. "It is ideal, a beautiful place with a lot of interesting and beautiful people. I quite enjoy it. I'm trying to get back out into the world, make new friends and ..try to move on." She gestures towards Ashlea and quirks a brow. "Perhaps you can be one of my first new friends, bonding over lasagna, with lots of meat between the noddle sheets mind you." She laughs softly and makes a funny face. "Yes, I never understood people who didn't eat meat. I wouldn't know what to do without it. All of the recipies that I learned growing up have some sort of meat. My mother might turn over in her grave if any of her children tried to wave off a good serving of beef, pork or poultry." She rolls her eyes and laughs softly. "I'll send some down to you then, or drop it off myself. You can see if I've got a good hand at cooking before you agree to lunch."

"It is a good place. I think we're already bonding over dirty laundry," Ashlea laughs in a good natured manner. She lifts her eyes and rests them on Katherine with a warm smile. "I think I'd like that very much. I have no friends here yet, not really. A few acquaintances maybe. And if you wouldn't mind I'd come over and eat with you, that way we're both not lonely. Or you're welcome at my place. I just may have a hungry guy come over if he's not working too late, if he finds out I have lasagna there." A light laugh as she imagines the recipes of old without meat. "It sounds like you had wonderful parents."

"They were amazing. They would have done anything for us. They made a lot of sacrifices to make us happy. I'll never forget that." Katherine grimaces slightly, trying to smile and she exhales softly. "I miss them every day." She brightens and nods at Ashlea. "I'll come to your place, if you don't mind. I've been trying to get out and about. I'll bring you two enough lasagna for tonight and maybe even tomorrow as well." She claps her hands and looks pleased, almost vibrating with emotion. "Even if he is working late, you can have something nice for him when he comes home." She holds out her hand towards Ashlea to shake. "To new friendships, over good Italian food."

Her hand is given over and Ashlea shakes with a friendly smile. "New friendships and good food. Joseph will certainly be surprised for a home cooked meal that isn't awful and that he didn't have to cook himself. Oh he's a mechanic, owns Joey's Garage. If you ever need any work down, I do recommend him." Releasing her hand, she glances over to see the dryer is still spinning round and round. "I live at 110 Willow. He lives across the street at 109. His business is the garage beside his house." She doesn't torture her futher by speaking about her parents for now, but mentally notes to look up the accident later. "I'm happy having you as a friend, Katherine. This is great."

Her machine beeps and makes her jump, and when Katherine looks back at Ashlea, she laughs off the nervousness. "Well, if you'd like, I can give you some cooking lessons. There are some really simple meals one can make right in the crock pot. It's rather amazing." Her face lights up and she nods again, smiling. "I'll remember that, I have an old minivan and sometimes it gets a bit silly and won't start. Usually in the winter." She pulls a slip of paper from her bag and writes down the address. "I'll see you with some lasagne in a few hours then. I'm going to head home and make some empty beds just in case someone slips in before the night gets on." She pushes to her feet and picks up her bag, slinging it across her body. She jots down her number on a slip of paper and hands it to Ashlea. "Here is my number, I'll give you a call before I head your way!"

The sound only has her looking towards the dryers but she smiles in reassurance to Katherine. "I'll look out for you." A quiet spoken word from cop to friend. "Maybe lessons at some point, but right now I'm kind of enjoying the excuse for Joseph to cook for me." Laughing at her own excuse and blatant abuse of it. "I will see you in a few hours and I'm very much looking forward to it. Definitely stay and enjoy it with me if you would? I'd like the company." Taking the number, she programs it into her phone right then. "See you soon." About that time her own dryer's stop and she smiles. "As if on cue.."

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