THE CLEAN MAN
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
The clean man had cleaned his body so much and so well that his outside squeaked. But there was something terribly wrong with his inside. He drank lots of water and liquid soap but he still felt dirty within. His grandmother removed her teeth to clean them and did a smacking good job of it, didn’t she? He wanted to remove his teeth. He wanted to remove his everything.
The clean man opened himself up and removed his insides, spreading them out onto a big sheet in the backyard. The parts were well labeled so he could put them all back in the proper order. He scrubbed and polished each bit and piece. He ran water from the garden hose through them until the color began to wash out of them.
Now it just so happened that the naked people from beyond the sea had chosen this time to land in the clean man’s yard. He lived well inland but their leaping boats with the big, paddley feet made landfall right there.
“Hey!” said the large hairy naked guy in the bow of the first boat. “You shouldn’t do that!”
The clean man looked at him. Looked at all the naked jiggling people standing on the decks of the jumpy boats.
“That thing you’re doing there, with the hose and such,” hairy naked guy went on to say. “Cut it out, I mean. It’s not good. You got bacteria and things. Some bad, yes, but some good. You’re gonna, you know, drop dead or something like that.”
The clean man turned off his hose and sighed. He placed each and every organ, kidneys, liver, onions, back where it belonged and zipped himself back up. The naked people whooped at their first victory in this new land and leapt into their next yard, many miles away. They were mistaken, however, if they thought the hairy one’s words had swayed the clean man.
The clean man gave up and never washed again. For the effect of the body followed the cause of the mind. And his mind, after seeing the naked invaders, would be dirty forever more.