When I opened my brother’s new front-loading washing machine, I didn’t expect to find a shaggy bearded head inside.
I suppose I should have noticed it sooner — the door is glass — but hey, I was in a hurry. I had a date with Nina in two hours, and no clean underwear, so I swung the door open, picked up a big pile of my Fruit of the Looms and saw the blond head right before I pitched them in.
I dropped the underwear, slammed the door and backed away, wondering what sort of crazy CSI shit Jeff had gotten himself into. And where could I do my laundry now?
Wait. Call 911, I should do that, right? I drew out my phone, glancing back at the head, wondering if the police would impound the washing machine. I couldn’t afford dinner for two and the laundromat.
The head shifted slightly, opened its eyes and stared out the door at me.
“I was enjoying my nap.” Its voice was a deep rumble, with a kind of Swedish accent. “Did you have to slam the door?”
I was almost out of the house before I thought of Nina. Nina of the raven hair, honey-colored skin and magic dancing tongue. The briefs I had on were two days old; I needed to do laundry! So I manned up, walked back and confronted the head. From a distance. “So… you’re not dead.”
“In that case, could you get out so I can wash my clothes?”
“Get out?” An unnervingly sharp gaze swept over me. “Ah. For Nina. Do not expect sex, she’s gun-shy after your last date.”
“I know she is, that’s why I want — wait, you know Nina?”
“I know much. I am Mimir.” He paused for some response. I didn’t have one. “God of wisdom? Advisor to Odin of Asgard?”
“Odin — wait, the Thor movie, right? But didn’t Marvel make him up? No, that doesn’t matter, about doing laundry — ”
“Do you imagine I can just roll out of here while you’re running the machine? Use the kitchen sink.”
“I can’t put dirty briefs in the sink.” I glanced down at the pile and shook my head. “They could give someone a disease! I’ll just move you to– ” Wait, what if he bit me? “Can you just sort of float in there while I do a load? It — it might be fun, like a water park ride.”
“No, it would not. I suggest you dispense with undergarments tonight.”
“I’m trying to show Nina I’ve changed. If she discovers I’m going commando, she’ll know I’m still a slob.” I heard a rumbling response that might have been a laugh. The jerk. “Mimir, dude, I was only asking to be nice. If you’re going to be a dick, I’m throwing them in anyway.”
“Vile though they are, I’ll chew through them. You’ll have nothing left but rags.”
“It’s Nina, man, give me a break! What do you do when Jeff or Karla have laundry? And how the hell can you be in there alive anyway?” I suppose I should have asked that right off, but I don’t think well under stress.
“I told you, I’m a god. I guarded the well of wisdom at the roots of Yggdrasil.“ He paused again; I refused to ask. “Odin gave me one of his eyes in return for a drink. That is how he gained his great wisdom.”
“What would you want with his eye?”
“You wouldn’t understand if I told you. Ahh, my well. I immersed myself there for hours, contemplating the runes.”
“Then wouldn’t a real well be better than a washing machine? Or at least the big marble tub in the master bathroom?”
“Yes…” A deep sigh. “Karla’s Norwegian, remember? She has claimed my service in return for a great deed her ancestor did unto Asgard.”
“Having you sit in the washing machine?”
“My service is tutoring Audrey in math, giving Karla stock tips — ”
“I knew she couldn’t be that lucky!” Or that much smarter than me. “And all those times I asked her for advice — ”
“Given the price, you can’t blame her for wishing to hoard the knowledge, can you?”
“Price?” Oh, shit. “The accident? The one that took out her eye?”
The head nodded.
“Okay, Mimir, that’s all fascinating, but I still need to do laundry. You’d have more space in the bathtub, honestly.“
“Karla forbids me the tub. When they do laundry, they stick me in a bucket.” He didn’t sound pleased. “Or the toilet. One time Audrey gave me a ‘swirlie’ for having a ‘stick up my butt.’”
“I wouldn’t tell Karla you were in the tub. Or how about the sink, it’s better than a bucket, right?”
“And in return?” His eyes narrowed. “What price would you pay?”
“Dude, I am not giving you my eye to do a load of underwear!”
“Of your little finger. You’ll survive.”
“You mean take out a butcher knife and — ” I swallowed. “I’m kind of a wuss.“
“Stick it in my mouth, then. Afterwards, you may put me in the sink.”
“I — I don’t — ”
“Would advice on winning Nina’s heart be worth it?”
Nothing came out of my mouth for a second. He kept talking. “I am wisdom, remember? I know much… including where Karla keeps the Percocet. You won’t hurt for long.”
I stepped forward and thrust out my finger before I could think about it.
If I’d known what getting it bitten off would feel like… not even for Nina. But now my briefs are drying, my finger’s bandaged, and I took just enough Percocet to numb the pain without knocking me out. Mimir measured the dosage perfectly. And I know Nina’s 100 percent worth it. 150 percent worth it.
And the dating advice? Unbelievable — I swear, I had no idea about some of this.
I wonder how big a bite he’d insist on for some sex tips?
Fraser Sherman is a freelance writer living in Durham, NC. His stories have appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Drabblecast and Monster Earth. He’s also the author of three film reference books, most recently Screen Enemies of the American Way.