The Thompson family’s week long holiday had come to an end. From their Saturday arrival to their Saturday departure, it had been a hectic, chaotic, stressful and exhausting romp around Devon. But it had also been fun. Still, as they returned to familiar roads the sense of belonging was a comfort to the travel-fatigued parents and their two kids in the back seats.
“Hey, look!” Sandra, the mother, said with a turned head. “It’s the garage we stop for fuel at on our way home from your grandparents.” She said, pointing to the roadside stop.
Felicity and Rupert, seven and nine respectively, both turned to peer out at the forecourt. They had seen the ‘Tiger Wash’ sign nearby many a time. It was only now that they brought it up though.
“I wonder what a Tiger Wash is like…” Rupert wondered aloud.
Felicity was quick to answer. “I bet it’s kind of like this!”
Opening the back doors of the car, Felicity carefully led Terrance, her tiger, out by his leash. Licking at his chops, the tiger padded sedately alongside her as she lead him to the washing facilities. What followed was a mix of washing, shampooing, rinsing and then a blow dry that left Terrance’s fur puffed up and sticking out wildly. It was with some quick persuasion that she got him back in the car. Mostly involving the promise of a bacon sandwich when they got home.
Felicity had barely finished when Rupert shook his head violently. “Nuh-uh! I bet this is what a Tiger Wash is like!”
Making sure that their windows were closed, the car rolled into the Tiger Wash area. Peeking out of the window, Rupert grinned excitedly as the tigers came out with wash cloths on their paws and buckets carried in between their teeth. The car sunk down on its suspension as they rested on it, washing, waxing and polishing without even trying to eat them. He made sure to wave to them all as they drove out, but he didn’t wind the window down to do so. If they ate one of his arms, how would he play video games?
“It wouldn’t be like that at all!” Felicity huffed, pulling herself forwards to tap on her mother’s shoulders. “Muuuuuuuum, tell him what a Tiger Wash is really like.”
Peering back to smile at them, Sandra gave it some thought before speaking. “Well…”
Padding over to the Tiger Wash, the mother held two cubs by the scruff of their necks between her teeth. They squirmed about, of course. They weren’t silly and they knew what was coming. Their protests didn’t do much to deter their mother’s wishes though, and she easily placed them both in the shallow pool before starting to splash water over them with her large paws.
“That’s just silly, Mum!” Rupert sighed. “And Tigers wash by licking, just like house cats do.”
“Yeah Mum, everyone knows that.” Felicity nodded in agreement.
“Maybe so,” Sandra concurred. “But both of you are still going to have a bath tonight.”
“Dad, what do you think happens at a Tiger Wash?” Rupert asked.
“Yeah, James. What happens at a Tiger Wash?” Sandra smiled.
James didn’t take his eyes off the road as they drove along. “I’ll tell you what happens. It goes a little something like this…”
Pulling into the service station, James grumbled some very naughty words as he drove into the Tiger Wash. Big, mean lorries had splashed his car with muddy surface water, so it definitely needed a wash. What he wasn’t expecting though, were the tigers. Even as the car proceeded through the rotors scrubbing the car down, they struck! Slashing and swiping away with bestial ferocity, leaving hefty claw marks all along the paintwork.
“And that’s why your Dad had to pay out for a repaint of the car, and why we went to Devon instead of Spain this year on holiday.” James concluded.
The kids both spoke as one at that revelation. “Coooooooooooooool!”
Author’s Note: Tiger Wash is the name given to some car washes at Esso petrol stations.