Tom stepped out into the afternoon Texas wind and dry heat, leaving Sharon and Neenah, his wife and their boxer, in the chilled air of the motel efficiency suite. He shook his head and grimaced, lamenting: What a downer! All this commotion over finding a laundry instead of simply using the motel's laundry facilities. And the car was still a mess!
They had had nearly all day to kill, as the workshop they had driven nearly 900 miles for Tom to attend didn't start until 7:00 p.m. But this wasn't what he had in mind for killing the day. And it certainly hadn't put him in the mood he wanted to be in for a psychic adventure into remote viewing, the objective of the weekend workshop. Perhaps he shouldn't have come.
Tom hesitated, looking up at the bright, clear-blue sky before unlocking the bug-splattered car and climbing in. He told Sharon he'd be back in a little while, but wasn't sure himself when that would be or where he was going. Maybe he'd try, again, to get the car washed. The weather's great. It certainly needed it. Maybe he'd have better luck. That might help.
* * * * *
They'd done battle earlier over laundering the dog's soiled begging. This was the second time Neenah had peed her bed. The first was about a week before they began their trek to Austin, so they couldn't blame it on travel stress. Neenah was a good traveler, never barking when others went by the window or in or out of the neighboring rooms. She was content just being with them, not left at home with neighbors or caged up at some vet's tiled and noisy dog boarding facility. Maybe it was some mild urinary infection. Hopefully, this wouldn't happen, again. They had six more days of travel before being home, again.
Tom had checked with the manager for the location of a nearby laundromat.
"We got machines just around the corner at the back of the building."
But that wouldn't do.
Sharon protested, "I 'm not going to sit around waiting for someone to finish with the washer or drier. I'm going to need three machines, or it will take me all day,"
So they'd driven to the H.E.B. nearby, picked up some detergent and softener and headed out in search of a laundromat. On the way out of the market parking lot Sharon spotted a dry cleaner.
"Stop there. Maybe they will do the bedding and blankets."
Tom pulled the car around to the front of the building and parked; Sharon got out and went into the dry cleaners, returning several minutes later. Opening the door, she leaned in and said, "They don't do sheets and blankets. But they gave me the address of a laundromat that's supposed to be near here." She handed him a piece of paper as she got back in the car.
Tom read the address on the paper."I know where Pond Springs Road is. It's where I stopped at that gas mart, yesterday, for directions to the motel."
In less than five minutes they were at the strip mall not much more than a mile from the motel. Vacant, except for a single elderly man, the grungy laundromat was located between a package liquor store and a dark, drab hair dressing salon. Tom confided to himself, "Not your upscale neighborhood strip mall, for sure."
They loaded up their arms with the soiled items in the car trunk and Tom grabbed the soap and softener bottles. Neenah, nose up to the one inch opening in the rear window, sniffed away, watching as they trundled by and into the laundromat. What's this all about she must have wondered.
Dryers of various sizes, sorts and conditions lined the left and back walls. Except for a couple of folding tables, an assortment of thirty to forty washers filled most of the rest of the laundromat space. They loaded three washers with clothes and quarters and set them to work.
As Tom headed out the door, anxious to escape the negative ambiance, Sharon pleaded, "Would you get me a paper? Please."
"Sure. Glad to get out of here."
Tom headed to the gas mart at the end of the strip mall, picked up a paper and returned. He handed it to Sharon who, meanwhile, had struck up a conversation with the elderly gentleman.
It's getting hot in the car. I'm going to take Neenah for a walk. So Tom and Neenah canvassed the parking lot, finding grassy islands and shading trees where they both found spotty relief, each of a different kind.
By the time Tom had returned and placed Neenah back in the car, Sharon was loading the wet, washed bedding and blankets into one of two large dryers along the back wall.
"It will be another thirty minutes, at least, before they're dry."
"Fine. I saw a car wash across the street. I'm going over there to wash the car."
At the unattended car wash Tom considered his options: A drive-thru for five to eight bucks, or a do-it-yourself wash for, obviously, something less. He drove into one of the washing stalls, rolled up the windows and stepped out to read the instructions. Four quarters would give him four minutes to hose off, suds wash and rinse the car. Not much time. He hadn't used one like this before, but decided it would probably due. He fed in the quarters and the red digit counter began counting down. Grabbing the combination sprayer and brush, he squeezed the trigger handle to begin the wet down. A feeble stream, arcing out no more than six inches from the nozzle, peed onto the car. The red countdown continued the march of time. After more than three minutes of fussing with the trigger and nozzle, the timer displayed zero. That was it: Less than a pint of water and no suds. Neenah must have peed nearly that much last night! Tom thought.
* * * * *
Tom backed away from the shade of the motel building and headed out into the brilliant heat of the afternoon. He recalled seeing, the day before, a car wash a block or two away, near a car lube shop. He navigated the one-way streets, cutting across several parking lots in search of it, finally finding it--another unattended wash--behind a Mobil station. He pulled over and parked to the side of the entrance, rolled down the windows and turned off the engine. He remained there, listening to a NPR program on the XM Radio until it had finished, as he would loose the satellite signal when he drove into the wash's compact metal building.
When the program was over Tom sat there a minute or two longer, contemplating the situation: the failure at the unattended car wash and the clerk at this wash's mother Mobile station who'd be of no help if this wash petered out, too. Besides, during the ten or twelve minutes he'd been parked there, no one had run a car or truck through the wash; perhaps another omen of bad times if he tried this one. So he started the engine, rolled the windows up and drove away, once more in search of another wash. This time it would have to be an attended wash where, if something went wrong, he'd have someone to assist him: to see what was wrong, to remedy the problem; not simply some address of an absentee owner on a fading placard; someone to whom to write what would be a lengthy letter, explaining the problem and reasoning for a fair hearing and a prompt refund. Yah, lots of luck! Tom mused.
After several miles meandering the surface streets and detours beneath the towering skyway interchange under construction, Tom came upon the intersection where a film crew was still shooting some theatrical or television production. Sharon had noticed it the day before, when they were driving around, getting the lay of the land. Rubbernecking to see what was going on, Tom nearly missed seeing the Laserwash. But as he looked up to check the traffic light he finally noticed it across the intersection and, when the light changed, he proceeded directly to it, pulling in around the back side of the building and, again, beside the entrance where he could stop and survey the situation.
The Laserwash had two bays, separated by a midsection with a door that stood ajar. Overhead was a large sign displaying the wash fares, ranging from $3 to $8 dollars, and the types of services provided for each amount. Just as Tom began studying the sign, a man emerged from the room between the car wash bays, a mop and bucket in hand, and headed toward the car. Tom rolled down the window. After surveying the car's exterior condition, the man put his hand on the car above the open window and leaned forward.
"Looks like you need a wash."
Yah, I sure do." Tom paused then went on, "Just trying to figure out which one I should get."
"Looks like you've been on the road, near the coast." He glanced back at the hood and windshield, perhaps trying to divine from the entrails of the spattered bugs the locales Tom had driven through.
"What wash do you recommend? Probably don't need the most expensive one, as I'm going to be traveling back and will harvest another coat of bugs."
"In that case, the five dollar wash will do."
He glanced into the back seat and noticed the fleece-lined, hammock-like outfit fastened between the front head restraints and the backseat loops there for securing child seats. This was Neenah's bed which, among other things, kept her from tumbling to the floor during heavy braking.
"Would you take a dog?" Tom nodded back towards where the man was looking. "That's her traveling bed."
"Here in Texas, a man never gives his dog away. Always keep your dog." he joked. "What brings you here, anyway?"
Tom hesitated for a moment, trying to figure out what to say. "Attending a workshop at The Crossings."
"That's a pretty fancy place. What about?"
Tom though: Here was a middle-age car wash attendant, probably with, at most, a high school education. He wouldn't understand what I meant if I said nonlocal awareness or remote viewing. What should he say?
Finally, he thought it best to say, simply, "It's about learning to see things with your eyes closed."
The car wash attendant straightened up, leaned back as if farsighted to get me in better focus or to say whoa, then leaned forward, again.
"You mean, REMOTE VIEWING?"
BAM! He just kicked it up a notch! He said, remote viewing!
"Well, yes,.. exactly." Tom was dumbfounded. Here was a guy, an attendant at the Laserwash, who knew something about remote viewing.
"You know about remote viewing?"
"Yah, I do a lot of reading about things like that. Use to work in counter intelligence." He tipped his head aside as if to correct the framing of Tom's face.
" You wouldn't be, by chance, Hal Puthoff?"
"Hal Puthoff!" Tom exclaimed silently. Hal Puthoff was one of two laser physicists who, at the Stanford Research Institute in the 70's, had coined the term, remote viewing and developed and conducted amazing, then secret, research on remote viewing for the CIA.
"No, I'm not Hal."
"You know, Hal lives and works here in Austin, now. Is he conducting the workshop?"
"No, I don't think Hal's involved in remote viewing anymore. He's into research on energy, something called the zero point field."
"Yes, I know. I'm doing research, too. I've got several patents pending: Things related to new energy sources and spying." He paused then continued, "You know, they send spooks to workshops like yours. They want to know who's doing what. Who can do what."
Tom smiled. "I wouldn't be surprised, though I understand the CIA got out of remote viewing years ago."
"Don't you believe that, the car wash attendant retorted. "They wouldn't give up on such a useful tool."
I handed him a five and, with that, he grabbed his bucket and long-handed brush and began to scrub the front of the car and windshield, lathering them up and rubbing off the bug remains. He punched in a code and signaled me to enter the car wash bay.
As the machine went through the $5 cycle, Tom thought: "This is all really bizarre." Then he realized: no, this wasn't bizarre, this was synchronicity! It had ignited him. In an instant this improbable, powerful meaningful coincidence had transformed his sullen mood to elation; a Jungian numinous moment.
Tom stopped just outside the wash bay as the attendant approached the car. He rolled down the window as the attendant, looking over the front end, said, There are still a few bugs, here.
"Don't want to leave them on or they'll harden and stain the finish." He retrieved the bucket and brush and proceeded to lather and scrub away, again. "Go back around and we'll wash it, again. This time it's going to go through some extra steps, so wait until it's finished."
Tom went through the wash, again. Obviously, it was the $8 cycle this time. Afterward, they carried on their conversation for another twenty minutes or so, talking about remote viewing, spooks and spying, and unbelievable technologies, physical and mental. The car wash attendant asked Tom if he had read Ingo Swan's book about using remote viewing to spy on the Russians in the 70's. Tom told him, Yes. He knew of Ingo's work.
"I've got the book, in a box right here in my office. I've got a computer terminal here, too, connected with the internet."
Tom and Mitch, the Laserwash attendant, exchanged email addresses, finally ending their visit with a vow to keep in touch.
That evening, Tom attended the opening session of the workshop on remote viewing. He was, now, primed, for the experience. That synchronicity at the Laserwash had occurred, as synchronicities often do, at a time of important, life-changing events. It marked this workshop and Tom's remote viewing experiences, ˜Corona, Extra Special', too.
* * * * *
The next morning, before heading off to the workshop for a full day on remote viewing, Tom checked his email. There was one from Mitch.
Subject: Nice meeting you
> I am glad to have met you today. It was an
> interesting conversation that we had.
> Good luck and enjoy your conference!
> Thanks for a remarkable afternoon car wash!
> I'm sure to bring it up at our meeting at this
> weekend ("Will all who are spooks,
> please raise your left hand."
When Tom arrived home a week later there was another email from Mitch.
Subject: Just checking in
> Just checking in to see how the conference
> went. Did any spooks raise their hands?
Tom thought for a moment: Hal Puthoff--the laser physicist, remote viewing researcher--he oughta get himself a Laserwash.