Blood on the Floor
Outside the laundromt on Clearwater Beach, a big white on red sign says "Coin Laundry." Just above the entrance a red on white sign bids "Welcome" in smaller letters. Inside are two rows of washing machines in the middle, flanked by dryers along the walls. To the left as you face inside the washing machines are stainless steel, German made and expensive. A wash costs $3.50 but it only takes 14 minutes.
To the right are old-fashioned white washing machines that take longer, 40 minutes or so, but only cost $2 per wash. Facing forward are two kings of washers--they can handle 50 pounds of laundry and cost $5.
On the wall near the entrance there is a coin machine. When it works, it spews out four quarters for every George Washington. You need quarters for every machine, so it gets quite a workout.
The laundromat is in a small strip mall, flanked by a beachware store on one side and a recently
converted-to-condos small building on the other. Across the street is a Hess gas station, then
a small hotel, then the endless beach.
Usually it's pretty quiet at the laundromat--a tourist or two, maybe one of the scruffier, usually male, locals. The other night, though, someone got his throat slashed, and blood soaked the floor in front of one of the fancy German machines.
Two ambulances arrived, and one man was taken away to hospital. The other was arrested,
placed in handcuffs and carted off. The story I heard was that the attacker was a mentally ill man who had "gone off" for some reason and attacked the other man with a knife.
At least that was the story I heard. I was across the street to the south , and saw the ambulances arriving. I was taking a tennis lesson so couldn't go and investigate. But one of the other students happned to be passing the laundromat en route to the lesson, and that was what he reported.
I haven't heard what happened to either victim or perpetrator. This is a resort town and stories likely to scare away tourists don't usually make the papers here.
But since that night, I never approach the laundromat without a glance over my shoulder.