“It’s time for Captain Caaa-aave Ma-an!”
I stared at the television’s glow; my body splayed upon the ground, stomach smashed into the threadbare carpet, legs bent with feet clapping in the air, chin resting upon my hands. My little sister sat next to me, mimicking my movements.
The waiting hour.
I glanced at the massive grandfather clock, the click just barely audible over the television. The long hand crept past the two as the short hand pointed at the five.
I half-heartedly watched Captain Caveman. Every night varying shows broadcasted during this cartoon hour – Jana of the Jungle my favorite – and I crossed my fingers for it to be next.
A car’s engine rumbled into the commercial break. Its car door slammed.
I flew from my position on the floor, rounded the corner – my bare feet pounding on the linoleum – and fought the stubborn deadbolt, opening the back door.
“Grandpa!” I cried. I approached for a hug and stopped, wrinkling my nose. “You stink, Grandpa!”
He chuckled, the sound echoing deep within his chest. He told me the name of the day’s spice, although I can’t remember it now.
Every night the smell changed along with spice. Cinnamon day was my favorite – the one day I wanted him to remain in his dark navy blue uniform with “Tone’s” etched on one side, and “Paul” embroidered on the other.
Most nights, the spices clung to his skin and clothing so fiercely, I counted down the minutes to performing my job: Grandpa’s Wash Lady.
The metal thermos and enormous black lunch box placed upon the tiny kitchen table, just a few feet away; I followed my grandpa, as he continued down the creaky basement stairs leading from the back door.
The temperature cooled, dropping as we descended, the dimness wrapping around us.
This area marked “forbidden” without an escort; the main room housed a bar, Christmas decorations, and old inherited furniture – all but the decorations retired years ago.
First we turned right, looping into the low doorway of the laundry room. The bare concrete floor chilled my feet. A single large bulb lit the room, painting scary shadows I scoffed at in Grandpa’s presence.
I ran to the washing machine, carefully clicking the dial to the proper setting, lifting the lid, measuring the detergent before gleefully dumping it in as the warm water splattered the interior.
I turned to him, holding out my hand.
He smiled, his calloused right hand rummaging in his pocket as he produced a shiny quarter. “There you go!”
I grinned, my wash lady money earned.
Sometimes, as we waited for the water to fill, we explored the left side of the stairs, crossing into the main room and entering his workshop.
Sawdust coated much of it, the smell mingling with the spiced clothing. I climbed onto my metal stool, reaching for the squishy funny red faced “toy”– my thumb mashing the handle bar ears into its head along with the nose and eyes. Slowly the face recovered, the odd filling returning to normal.
It always fascinated me.
I surveyed the extensive tools, magical devices carrying the power to shape regular wood into a crib or highchair for my dollies.
The water stopped, signaling the end of workshop time. We returned to the laundry room, only this time I veered left, away from the machine. I walked around the heavy black plastic curtain; a tiny white sink jutted from the dark gray cinder blocks. A foot to the right, the curtain hung on the round metal bar above, circling the sloped concrete leading to a drain.
I twisted the faucet handle, knowing the precise stopping point for ideal hot water. Quickly, I dodged the waterfall, missing the deluge.
“Good job, Kelly. Time to go back upstairs.”
I nodded, knowing the routine. I raced away, my hands joining my feet to propel myself up the stairs.
I flopped back onto the living room floor, rejoining my sister – Scooby-Doo now on the TV.
We sat and watched.
Waiting for the Old Spice aftershave scented Grandpa to emerge, signaling our time to go out and eat.
This week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell that reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory. Don’t forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing!
As usual, word maximum is 700 words, but you can do fewer.
Author’s Note: My grandfather is now 86 years old. He just retired from his job at the spice company LAST year. He worked there for over 45 years, known as “the old guy” who could fix and design equipment to work more efficiently. Everything he did and does, was self taught.