27 - The Naked Man

Submitted by Ken Watts on Mon, 01/15/2007 - 10:16
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She spun around and yanked the door open.

Just as she thought. There was nothing in the closet but paper goods, cleaning supplies…

And a naked man.

I smiled.

She slammed the door, and jammed a chair under the knob.

"Julie! Come here, quick!"

A voice called through the door.

"You're absolutely right to do that, Ma'am."

Julie came running.

"What's wrong? Are you all right?"

"It's perfectly appropriate," It said, "given the circumstances.

Ann leaned against the door.

"Call the police, Honey. No! Hold this against the door. I'll call the police."

"Perfectly appropriate." It said.

"What's the matter, Mom?"

"This is a little embarrassing for me, too." It said.

"There's a man in there."

"May I make a suggestion?" The Voice asked. "You might want to put a chair up against the door, or lock it if you have a key."

Julie was finally getting the idea. She pulled her eyes back from the closet.

"Who?"

"I don't know. He's wearing a mop."

The bizarre image floated through her brain again: the naked man, the strategically placed mop-head, the wooden handle jutting upwards…

She changed her mind once more.

"No. You call the police. I'll guard the door."

"I understand your position completely." The Voice said. "You need to feel safe."

"A mop? Mom, what's he doing in there?"

"Actually, I'm hiding." The Voice said. "I can explain everything, but I'd just as soon you left the door closed while I do that. Would that be all right?"

"Ma'am?"

Ann really did want to say something. But nothing occurred to her.

"Are you still there Ma'am?"

She searched her brain for just the right phrase.

"We're here."

"I went for a swim last night," The Voice said, "and got caught in the storm. I woke up this morning, on the beach. My trunks were gone. I was looking for something to wear."

She thought that she and Julie must look like a couple of idiots, standing there, listening to a closet door.

"I heard someone come in, and thought it would be best to stay out of sight."

They stared in silence.

"I'm sure you can appreciate that," the voice said.

They looked at each other.

"Are you still there?" it said.

They looked at the door.

"Who are you?" Julie said.

The voice was silent for a moment.

"Clarence. Clarence Odsbody."

Ann exploded with disbelief.

"Odsbody?"

"I apologize for that, too, Ma'am."

For some reason that made her laugh. She pulled the chair from under the doorknob.

"Julie. Give me your apron."

Before Julie could untie it, The picture floated through Ann's mind again.

"No!" She said.

"Wait." She said.

"Get one of Alfred's."