one of the things that had been most important to his mother was that he didn't hold onto the image of his dead father's body. it had been so hard to miss; it had made the papers. his mother had no one to turn to when he'd turned up dead, and the funeral was supposed to have been closed casket.
antonio had been thirteen, insistent, and he'd still seen it, had dug into the bottom of the trash to see the photo of his father's body. it hadn't looked much like his father: arms and legs forcibly bent to fit the barrel, eyes swollen shut, matted with blood.
it hadn't looked anything at all like his father. it did give him nightmares for awhile, until he'd tucked the memory away, into the recesses of his mind.
sometimes, things remind him of his father. a certain cologne, the taste of pears, the sound of an episode of i love lucy. all of that gets to him sometimes.
out of all of them, nothing beats the dull hum of a laundromat, gets to him more than anything. it erases over the images, the last way that antonio saw him.
smell is linked to memory; he knows that. sound, however, is what really transports antonio: the sound of clothes rattling around, the clink of coins slotting home, the hum of machines, over and over and over. all of it still brings antonio back to nights with his father, legs banging against the dryer, watching his father stuff shirts in. he can always still see his father: hair dyed black, brown eyes focused, his shirt haflway open, rosary dangling from his neck. he can always go back to that, to those nights with him, in a laundromat, easily.
and he knows better now -- his father didn't always need to go there. his father was usually discreetly picking up money or going to have conversations that antonio didn't need to hear at that age. he knows now that his father committed crimes in plain sight, and taking antonio was just a cover, a way to make sure that things stayed civil. he accepts that -- because it was still time with his father. it still mattered.
and part of that? was because his father was never much of a talker -- he preferred letting his mother fill up the silence, or antonio to talk his ear off or letting the radio waft over him. here tho, with all the machines, the general scarcity of people, always loosened up his tongue enough to talk to antonio about things. telling him why separating whites from colors from darks was necessary; explaining exactly how to sew up tears in clothes, spreading his hands and focusing above the rim of his glasses to help antonio with his homework.
he aches for those moments again, for perfect clarity of those nights. the older he gets, the more the memories seem glossy, unreal, and distant. picking up to call his mother wasn't any help; the moment she heard his voice, it was over. he didn't think to take anything from the house when she'd kicked him out -- and the only thing left was the memories, now.
so he keeps going to laundromats, no matter where he is, no matter what amenities matteo gets for him. no matter how fancy it is or how nicely private it is to have his own. he prefers walking into them, late at night, doing his laundry and attempting to conjure up his father, however he can, whenever he can.