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Close Encounters with Science: Picks

Car Wash Kitty by Edward Yatscoff

The King Car Wash was the first automatic car wash in town and had recently opened.  

Everyone said it was the best ever, anywhere. I cranked the wheel and drove in. With me was my sister's orange cat, Binkie, who I was kindly transporting to her new apartment. The cat sat calmly above the back seat looking out the rear window. Steam wands sounding like jet engines were swept across the car bottom by two tattooed guys. Steam rose around the windows.

I glanced in the mirror. Binkie was gone.  I leaned over the seat and saw him lying on the floor, tail whipping, thumping against the floor.

The conveyor track jerked a few times and pulled the car inside. I picked up a newspaper as the wheels spun and brushes scrubbed my wheels. Impressive technology. My whitewalls would never be cleaner.

A deluge of water from above splashed onto the roof. Tall scrubbers at each side spun like tornadoes, their red strands lashing the fenders.

It was all Binkie could stand.

In one vertical launch, he was on my shoulder, his yellow eyes threatening to pop. Claws impaled my flesh as torrents of water blasted the glass. I screamed and cursed and grabbed him by his neck. He bit my hand. I flung him onto the dash where a horizontal blue spinner revved up in a turbine crescendo and rolled toward the windshield.

Desperate to escape, Binkie bounded over the headrest onto the backseat and right onto me again, fur puffed out, all tooth and claw. I held up my newspaper to beat him off, but he charged through, slamming into the steering wheel and fell to the floor, where he lay still.

A truckload of soapsuds dropped onto the car, creating a whiteout. The scrubbers returned and attacked the vehicle.  Binkie rose from the dead. He went into a spin cycle galloping the interior, desperate to escape. I examined my bleeding hand as he braked on the back of my head, claws digging in solidly against my temples. In the mirror, I saw my bleeding face and Binkies' utter terror. I was sure he'd scratch out my eyes. I rolled down my window and got pasted by spray and suds, turning Binkie white.

Next, the dryer, a huge aluminum box with rubber rollers, set on the hood and blew out air like the loudest vacuum cleaner in the world.  The windshield wipers vibrated in fear as if they'd tear off.

Binkie whipped into a frenzied orbit: door to dash to seat to window to door to dash...and right toward my face. I ducked.

He winged out the open window and thumped awkwardly onto the concrete.  Like a cartoon cat he skittered on his claws and shot out the big exit door.

All the machines stopped.

An attendant walked over. "Was that your cat?" he said.

I wiped suds from my face. "Not anymore."

Edward Yatscoff lives in Beaumont, AB.

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