Getting the Stains Out

By Chris Hunter

©2011, Chris Hunter

This is a work of Fiction. It is based in part on the Alternate History World known as “Dies the Fire,” written and copyrighted by S.M. Stirling in 2004. The author agrees to abide by the Stirling Fan Fiction site disclaimer. This work is copyrighted by Chris Hunter in 2011, except for those parts derived from “Dies the Fire,” and its sequels, which are copyrighted by S. M. Stirling and used here by permission. All characters in this fiction are, in fact, fictional, and any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.

After the Change

It wasn’t the end of Civilization that was driving John crazy. Sure 90% of the human race dying sucked, so did the long march from Ft. Campbell to Duluth, but he and Tami lived through the worst and survived. So what if marauders were a problem every so often? And those crazy red robed priests were a real pain in the ass. Problems like that he could deal with; it was the laundry that was driving him nuts!

In fact life would be pretty good all things considered, except for the laundry. Or to be more specific Tami’s constant complaining about it. Every laundry day was the same, he had to listening to her constant whining and complaining about how hard it was to wash clothes. As if it was his fault that working in the field made it almost impossible to get his clothes clean! It was like a broken record playing over and over again.

Something had to be done and after weeks of careful planning today was the day!

Tami still did the laundry in the basement right next to where they kept the old washer. In fact she was down there right now, and he could hear her complaints as he walked down the steps with his ball peen hammer and tool box in hand. A smile crossed his face as he thought how today would be different. After today he would finally have some peace and quiet. With a loving smile he watched her as she bent over the wash tub and scrubbed his old blue jeans on the wash board. His smile grew bigger as he listened to her muttering and complaining about what a pain it was to do laundry this way. Slowly he raised the hammer and took careful aim, pausing for just a small moment to enjoying the look of shock and surprise on Tami’s face as he brought the hammer down with a might blow. He struck again, and then again, and one more time just for the sheer joy of it. It felt good using the hammer, knowing with each blow he was one step closer to finally getting Tami to shut up about the laundry.

Sadly, as much fun as using the hammer had been, it was time to bring out the hacksaw and get down to the real work. After making the first cut he could see that drainage was going to be a problem. He realized that he probably should have thought of that before he started, but it was too late to worry about that right now. No; best to push on and get the job done. It was surprising how well things went once he was though with the hammer. Oh a few minor problems, like a stubborn elbow joint, but nothing that some patient sawing and some work with the blow torch couldn’t fix. He had a bit of a problem getting the fire hot enough, and the whole thing was a lot messier then he originally thought it would be. But that was OK, a small price to pay for a little peace and quiet.

Finally with the last piece cut and the chain hooked up he stepped back to admire his work. In fact he was so wrapped up in the sheer beauty of the thing that the cold arms slipping around his waist and Tami’s high pitched voice screaming “I can’t believe you did it!” almost caused him to have a heart attack.

He turned around to face Tami, her arms still cold and wet from using the wash board. “Well it wasn’t that hard really. Once I knocked off the body of that old washer and cut the front end off that old bike it was pretty easy. All I had to do then was cut a sprocket to mount on the washer’s drive shaft and hook up the bike chain. Getting the stove to fire up hot enough to heat the water was a problem but it works fine now. I know it’s not as nice as what we had before but…”

Tami smiled, “It’s perfect honey! Any thing’s an improvement over that old washboard. And if Great-grandma could use a pedal powered washing machine, so can I. But…”

“Oh great,” John thought. “Here we go again.” But he gave a sigh of relief when Tami said, “You had better get that shirt off so I can soak it before I put it in the new washer, otherwise I’ll have a hard time getting the stains out.”

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