Durstan’s Car Wash

He swore on his mother’s grave, but then he swore on just about everything. It was tiresome and tedious but Iris held on to her professional façade throughout their forty-five-minute session. He was the last client of the day and the biggest pain in the ass of her life. She couldn’t say that out loud though and risk her professional career.

Fred continued to drone on about his next set of lies and Iris wondered why she even bothered to be a psychoanalyst in the first place. She held a smile to herself. Psychotherapy would be the correct term. Glancing at the clock, the session was at its close.

“Shall we schedule an appointment for the same time next week, Fred?” She asked him.

Fred nodded and took a tissue from the box to blow his nose. He ran his hand through his dirty blond hair, stood up, and put on his jacket. He walked out and Iris was left to finish her notes on the session.

Getting up, she walked to her car and looked at her face in the rearview mirror. Discovering a new wrinkle, she let out a shudder. Irish reached into her pocketbook and took out her makeup kit and fixed herself to what she considered a standard. The wrinkle now appearing to be gone, she drove home.

Walking into her apartment, her mother was sitting in the rocking chair, crocheting a new blanket. Iris glanced in her direction and nodded a customary hello. Her mother lived with her, due to current nursing homes and other psychiatric wards having no available openings and Iris was left to deal with the aftermath. Even though she worked in the mental health field she was unable to pull strings and way too filled with pride to let her situation be known.

“You’re ugly,” Her mother stated as she continued crocheting.

Iris ignored this. It was a customary thing, day in and day out. Entering the kitchen, she pulled out a bottle of water and took out a yogurt. For the past year and a half, she had been trying to knock off the excess weight and even though she only weighed one hundred and sixty pounds and was 170.18 cm, Iris felt it was still too much, and her mother, quick to judge, said the same.

“You’re ugly and fat. You’ll never find a man,” Her mother said.

“You’re right mom,” Iris agreed. “And I’m not interested in dating right now.”

“I want grandchildren.”

“How do expect me to have children if I’m ugly?”

“Ugly people make beautiful babies. I wish you were younger again. You weren’t so ugly.”

“That’s enough mother!”

Iris slammed her yogurt cup into the garbage and went into her bedroom. Sitting on the edge of her bed, she put her head in her hands and tears fell. A good career, her own place although it wasn’t much, and her mother living with her, and yet she felt like she was a teenager again. What she wouldn’t give to be young again with what she knew now? Oh, how many things she would change with the knowledge she now possessed!

Iris sighed. She wasn’t even that old. In her mid-thirties and thriving more than most of her contemporaries, she knew deep down she shouldn’t be feeling the way she was. It was her mother. The bane of her existence.

Her mother who abandoned her into foster care when she was growing up. Still, Iris had to be caring and take her back into her life in her old age. Iris sighed again. She made a huge mistake. Clearly, her mother needed to be put somewhere and at the same time Iris wanted to feel beautiful. Ha, what a dilemma.

The next week, it was Fred’s session at her practice. Iris listened intently to the conversation. It didn’t seem like he was lying this time. Was there a breakthrough?

At the end of the session, Fred stood up and put his jacket on. He looked at Iris intently.

“Is there something you would like to tell me?” Iris asked.

“Yes!” Fred replied. “I got a new car. I’m taking it to the car wash.”

“Oh good.” Iris said, hiding her confusion and making a mental note for next week’s session.


Walking back to her own car, Iris discovered an envelope in her back seat. Lifting an eyebrow at this, she opened the back door and picked up the envelope which was strangely heavy. Opening it, Iris took out a note and a diamond bracelet. Quickly putting the diamond bracelet in the envelope, she read the note which was from her ex-husband:


We need to talk. Call me.


Shuddering, she threw the envelope back into the back seat and got into her car. Driving home she couldn’t get past how Mark could have gotten into her car. Iris had made sure after their divorce to change the locks on everything so he couldn’t get in. The restraining order even said he had to stay away, but then again, restraining orders were only a piece of paper to abusers.

Heart pounding in her chest, Iris got out of her car and walked into her apartment. Eyes widening, Fred was in her apartment crocheting next to her mother.

“Why are you here?” She asked.

“We met at the library,” her mother intervened “And I invited him home with me.”

“Mom this is not a good idea.”

“He’s my friend. Not yours. Deal with it. Also, jerkface called. Thought you two weren’t talking.”

“We’re not,” Iris answered. Jerkface was her mother’s nickname for her ex-husband Mark. There were no offspring between them as she was infertile, so she didn’t understand what he wanted.

She listened to the answering machine on the old house phone she bought. Iris had purchased it since her mother still couldn’t figure out cell phones. The message was grim.

“Iris, you’re disappointing me. Meet me at Durstan’s Car Wash on Friday. No police. Just want to talk. Nothing bad.”

“Yeah right,” Irish muttered under her breath.

A few weeks later, and after she had filed numerous reports with the police she went to work. Fred was her last session and surprisingly he didn’t show up. Thankfully he kept secret the fact he was hanging out with her mother and he seemed to be happier and her mother less abusive towards her. She didn’t have the heart to tell him to stop coming over after that even though she knew it violated all professional protocols. Iris picked up the phone to call her client. He didn’t answer. Hesitating, she used her cell phone and called her Mom.

“Is Fred with you?” She asked when her mother picked up.

“No, he said something about car washes.”


Shit! Iris clicked the end call button on her cell phone. Did Fred overhear the messages on her answering machine? Leaving work early, she sped to Durstan’s car wash having to make sure, knowing this was a stupid idea. She found Fred, disguised as herself, decapitated in the parking lot. Piercing screams left her mouth. Iris would never forget the time Fred went to the car wash and never came back.

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