“You are boring my balls off.” Toby was wearing only boxer shorts. “You know how Jesus Christ came to the earth to heal the sick and deliver man from damnation, and the Antichrist will come to bring illness to the healthy and lead righteous men astray? You are on, like, the square root of negative one, exact perpendicular plane to that, where the two polar superpowers of the mystical universe each have an avatar, one who comes to party, and one who comes to bore my balls off. You’re the last one.”
Chen squinted, moved his lips as if to speak, and then stopped. A moment of silence.
“What?” said Chen.
Toby spoke again. “You’re boring my balls off.”
The washer door stood open, empty. Toby stood between Chen and the washer. The dryer hummed away, oblivious.
Chen rubbed his eyes. “All I’m saying is that there is absolutely no risk. It’s been proven in tests. All bacteria or viruses would be killed in the heat of the washing machine or the dryer. And because my scrubs are going in both, they’re being killed twice over.”
“I don’t care how you science it, I don’t want your AIDS laundry going in our washing machine. What if some blood leaks onto the edge, where it doesn’t get hot? And then it gets soaked up when I’m pulling my underpants out of the dryer. I don’t want that shit anywhere near my junk. Even potentially.”
Chen wiped his hand across a blood stain. The scrubs he held were an even mix of blue fabric and dried blood. He raised his hand, clean. “Blood dries, brainiac. And besides, nobody I worked on today had a blood disease.” He gestured at the largest continent of maroon, “This one was a combination of a botched hip replacement, an irregular heartbeat, and an accidental overdose of blood thinner.”
“They don’t have a cleaning service for your stuff at the hospital?”
“No!” said Chen.
“Why the hell not?”
“Because,” Chen moved toward the washing machine, and Toby stepped forward, lowering his shoulders. “Because of what I just told you. Because there is absolutely no reason for me not to wash my own scrubs, at my own house.”
Toby did not move.
“Seriously. You’re seriously willing to fight me for wanting to wash my work clothes. Because you don’t know how disinfection works?”
“Wash it somewhere else, man, that’s all I’m saying. I’m sure you think it’s safe, and your boss thinks it’s safe, or whatever. But I don’t need to take any chances. Dying young is a frame of mind. If I let you put your infectious diseases in our cleaning devices, that’s as good as telling God I am no longer taking a personal interest in my own continued survival.”
“But I’ve already washed my scrubs here dozens of times. You’ve already been exposed to whatever risks you’re going to be exposed to.”
“That’s not the point. I bet I’ve had my food spit in before, or worse. I can’t do anything about that, and I’m glad nothing terrible has come of it, but if I have the opportunity to prevent people from spitting in my food in the future, I’ll damned well take it.”
“Fine,” said Chen. “You win. I’ll find somewhere else to wash these.” He turned, and left the laundry room.
Toby loaded the washing machine with his underpants, some ratty and threadbare, all in dark blues and greys and black.
When he returned from the laundry room, Chen was washing his scrubs in the kitchen sink.
Andrew LeBlanc is too big to fit inside of a washing machine. For this reason, he is washed in the sink.