This is a story I wrote after going through a car wash recently. This particular car wash features mannequins dressed in yellow rain slickers that greet you with frozen stares.
As I went through the wash, I thought of it as a cheap haunted house. My imagination went wild.
The story started as a 100 word Facebook post. After receiving several “likes,” I expanded it to 600+ words and read it at the Nebraska Writers Guild conference last weekend.
Halloween at the Car Wash by Sue Bristol 2017
The crisp air invigorated me as I stepped out the door. “I love the Fall,” I said to no one. My black cat looked up at me as if I were an idiot. I nudged her out of the way and headed to my car.
I turned the key in the ignition. “Wash me” the engine seemed to growl. A shiver ran down my spine. I looked up and saw the windshield covered with dead slimy bugs and beetle juice.
I drove passed the Bates Motel and headed down Elm Street to the nearest car wash. Traffic was a nightmare! I wanted to scream.
At the intersection, I spotted the twenty-foot tall, blonde fiber-glass figure in a yellow-raincoat, beckoning me to the car wash.
I turned in and pulled up to the lane beyond the gas pumps. A guy dressed in cuffed blue jeans, a white t-shirt and black leather jacket sauntered over to the car. “What’ll it be, baby cakes?” He ran a comb through his Brylcream-saturated slicked-back pompadour.
“I just want a basic wash that will get rid of the bugs.”
He leaned into the drivers’ side window. “That’ll be seven-bucks.” He took my money, winked at me, and double-clicked his tongue.
I followed the lane to the entrance. A strange mannequin greeted me with a frozen grin and big eyes that never blinked. He was dressed in a yellow raincoat and a hat like the Gorton fisherman. It reminded me that I needed to stop and buy some frozen halibut, fava beans and a nice Chianti.
I proceeded into the tunnel. As I drove onto the conveyor, the car resisted my control. Piercing green eyes flashed across the dashboard. My SUV morphed into a 1958 Plymouth Fury. Another yellow-clad mannequin waved while holding a water-less water wand as if washing the car.
The car lurched forward. Red and blue lights flashed in the tunnel as the car advanced. I was powerless. Discombobulated by the lights and the roar of the wash starting up, I shut my eyes and trembled. The name “Christine” popped into my head as the smell of a hamburger drifted from the back seat.
I startled as white ethereal foam covered my red SUV-turned Plymouth Fury. Black tentacles descended from the ceiling and swished across Christine’s windshield. Petrified, I heard a rumble. Water shot out from the tunnel walls, hitting with such force from both sides that the car shook. The eerie foam oozed from the hood of the car. The spray had won. Was I next?
The car advanced with no help from me. I sat frozen in my seat. I looked up and saw a little mannequin doing flips near the ceiling, staring like the curse of Chucky.
Strong bursts of air hit the car as it advanced toward the exit. No control over my thoughts, the light at the end of the tunnel forced me to think in clichés. Another life-size mannequin dressed in a yellow coat, white shirt and black tie, stood at the exit, waving at me and pointing to something. I wasn’t sure what, as his arm was flattened and his tie, duct-taped to the sleeve. The car slowed. At last, I had control! Christine was gone. Grateful that I’d escaped the yellow dummies, I drove the SUV onto the street, heading home.
The giant yellow beckoning statue looked down at me at the intersection. His menacing fixed gaze warned, “We’ll get you next time and your seven-bucks, too.”