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When I was a boy every summer
we'd go down to Vero Beach
to visit my grandfather,
tall and smelling of pipe tobacco.
Some days we'd stop at the pharmacy
and I'd get a soda and a comic.
Along the way he'd point out
the Tropic Wash Laundromat
where he washed his socks.

"I was in there yesterday,"
he'd say, pointing one long finger
as we rode by in his Oldsmobile,
"and who do you think I saw?
Old Ming the Merciless
trying to wash the stench
of failure out of his fancy robes.
Figures that rat would end up
here in exile with me."

Another time he saw Tars Tarkas
the giant green Thark's head
scraping the ceiling
as he waited for the dryer
to finish with his loincloth
so he could make the trip
down the River Iss to the Lost Sea of Korus
to reunite with John Carter.

I snuck down there once
hoping to see someone I knew
like Captain Kirk getting blood
and dirt out of his uniform
or Darth Vader carefully folding
one of his long black capes.
But all I saw were two old women
reading Reader's Digest in a room
that smelled of detergent and lint.

Now years later I sit
in a darkened theater beside
my twelve year old daughter.
Onscreen the wizard returns
garbed in clean white robes
blinding heroes and audience alike.
My daughter taps my shoulder
and whispers in my ear,
"He used too much bleach."

 

Copyright © 2003 Jon Hansen

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Jon Hansen spends the vast majority of his time in the southern United States in the company of his wife Lisa and their small army of cats. His work has appeared in various speculative fiction magazines since 1996. Slightly more insightful details can be found on his website. To contact him, email jon@logicalcreativity.com.



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