Clean Up – Under the Hood: TIoJK (13/44)

The Preacherman

Think of this facility as a place to be when there’s nowhere else to go.


Clean Up

When Jonathan Knox wakes he’s not entirely sure where he is, when it is, what he had gotten up to before he fell spontaneously into his slumber. He knows he had gotten himself all worked up because the only times he sleeps outside the comfort of his bedroom is when he gets so worked up his raging stream of consciousness collapses similarly to a drinker who’s a little too thirsty, and he knows he’s still at home because although Jonathan’s life hasn’t taken him into a great number of houses, never once has he heard tell of a house with a carpeted kitchen. As he rolls over to plant his hands and lift himself into a sit he hears a grumbling, and he’s not sure if it’s coming from his stomach or his throat.

Plot twist: it’s coming from both. Another plot twist: Jonathan Knox can’t seem to let go of the carpet.

Jonathan Knox’s entire house is floored with carpet. Thick, soft, welcoming carpet that collects footprints like freshly laid cement, and in the same way the carpet often hugs the feet of whoever walks upon it – Jonathan’s feet, that is, as Jonathan Knox has never once had a visitor in his warm dark home with the blackout curtains duct taped to the windows – it’s currently hugging his hands, and it doesn’t want to let go. Jonathan is slightly touched by this gesture, as he loves his little home out on Burnout Strip back in the woods of Wuester very much, but it also enrages him, terrifies him, gives him cause to get himself all worked up and his mind is spinning, the thoughts, too many thoughts too fast everything is going too fast I need a plan a plan a plan a pla–’

Jonathan Knox screeches as his hands rip free of the carpet. The back of his head crashes down as if he was hitting the pillow. He raises his hands above his eyes to see if the carpet stole so much skin that the bones of his hands are visible but the tortuous plot that is the life of Jonathan Knox twists yet again: the carpet didn’t tear the skin off of Jonathan’s hands. Oh no, quite the contrary: Jonathan’s hands ripped a quarter of an inch of carpet up off the floor. The certainty that his kitchen floor will now permanently sport two handprints near the foot of the refrigerator and freezer irks Jonathan past the point that human words can describe, and when he sees the hand-prints with his own two eyes? Well, it honestly doesn’t bother him all that much. Normally it might [read: most definitely would], but Jonathan’s hardly been awake for five minutes and he’s already gotten himself all worked up, and look where that got him. No, Jonathan decides to just stay calm.

Placing his carpeted hands on the carpeted floor is a very strange tactile sensation. Jonathan Knox can feel the fibres interlocking like fangs sprouting from top and bottom jaws.

Brooding black clouds come rushing into Jonathan’s head when he assumes his natural bipedal form, and he has to brace himself against the refrigerator to keep from toppling back down. When he can see again, the empty tub of Rocky Road ice cream reminds him of most of the variables surrounding his current situation. The lid of the tub, leaning against the wall on the other side of the room as though it was cast there with some fury, reminds him of the rest.

“I need to clean up,” Jonathan mopes miserably as he bends over and snatches up the empty tub. “If it weren’t for the carpet, I bet my hands would be all sticky.”

Maybe so, but that’s no big deal, is it? Nothing a quick hand-wash won’t solve. Jonathan Knox opens the lid to his garbage can, walks across the kitchen, takes up the lid to the ice cream tub, caps it, crushes it down like a big strong man might do to a can of beer after he finishes quaffing it, and then returns to the garbage can to throw the complete package out. Jonathan Knox then shuts the garbage can and walks by the kitchen sink without even looking at it, moving en route to his bathroom.

Despite being fully awake, Jonathan is momentarily dazed by the bathroom lights. They’re fluorescent bulbs, and not the crummy kind that take nineteen hours to get bright. No, Jonathan Knox’s fluorescents are bright right from the get-go, and he can see the swirly shape of the iridescent bulbs despite his closed eyes, as they’re now burned into his corneas. When the afterburn image fades out and Jonathan Knox feels comfortable opening his eyes again, he has himself a little fright.

Staring forlornly back at Jonathan Knox from inside the spittle-smudged bathroom mirror is Jonathan Knox, but not a particularly dapper Jonathan Knox. His hair isn’t entirely out of wack – the Marlton haircut is holding strong, parted way on the left and swept elegantly across his forehead – and his big clunky glasses aren’t bent out of shape, thank goodness, but unlike his white button-up, his face is stained. Around Jonathan’s face in the place of what could be a stellar goatee which might grow into some cheek foliage if Jonathan Knox were capable of growing facial hair but of course he’s not because he’s wretched Jonathan Knox and wretched Jonathan Knox gets himself all worked up and he stresses too much and the facial hair all falls out before it can even grow and and an–… there’s a big brown splotch smeared from one cheek across his lips to the other. He brings a hand up to touch the stain and then hesitates, because although Jonathan would love facial hair, ‘More than anything in the world,’ he doesn’t want a beard made of carpet. So, Jonathan Knox uses the back of his hand to examine the brown stain, and he finds that his face is very sticky.

“The ice cream,” Jonathan finally admits to himself. He’s been thinking it from the moment he saw the tub, but finally he now admits it. “I ate all the Rocky Road. I got myself all worked up and guzzled all my Rocky Road without even using a spoon.”

Standing there alone in his bathroom Jonathan Knox silently weeps, mourning all the marshmallows and nuts and sweet chocolaty ice creamy goodness that he doesn’t even remember tasting. An epiphany comes to Jonathan as the tears stream down his face; Jonathan licks at and around his lips but it’s no good, the stain tastes gross and stale. Gross, stale, and slightly salty from the tears.

“Yeah,” Jonathan Knox moans. He runs the hot water with his elbow. “I need to clean up.”

And so Jonathan Knox cleans up. When the water’s warm enough to not scald bubbling red blisters unto his fragile flesh, he rubs the torn carpet stuck to his hands together until it all falls off and washes down the drain, where it will surely meld together and cause a gruesome clog. But that’s a problem for a different day; right now, Jonathan isn’t thinking about different days. Jonathan is having trouble thinking about much of anything, truth be told, because he can feel his hands again. The carpet’s all gone and he can feel his hands again and they feel slimy. They were all sticky when the chocolate ice cream stains were dried out, but now the stains are moisturized again. Now the stains are slimy, just like the preacherman on Madison Avenue.

Jonathan cups water in his slimy hands – his slimy brown hands, his slimy Earthen hands, hands the damn dirty cops would love to sacrifice to their alleged Rock – and splashes it against his gross mouth and cheeks, then begins to scrub at his face with his palms. Slimy hands, slimy face, slimy cheeks, slimy lips. Slimy. So slimy, so brown and Earthen and slimy.

“Need to be clean! ” Jonathan screams gutturally as he scrubs at his face like an unhinged wildman. “Need to be clean, too slimy! Need to be clean be clean!!

Need to be clean be clean!!

Later on when Jonathan Knox finally realizes what time it is, he scurries down to his basement and fills his eyeglass case with half a dozen bugs out of his sizeable cache of the devices, then marches up to his garage like a soldier heading for war. He may have woken up on the floor tonight but Jonathan made a plan, he has plans for tonight and he plans on keeping those plans. Now that he’s all clean there’s only one slimy man in the town of Wuester, and by the end of this night, Jonathan Knox will know exactly what’s going on under the hood of his car.

“His car that he doesn’t even have,” Jonathan Knox whispers to himself as he prowls towards Rycker Street in his smart car, his smart car that he does have. “His car that he doesn’t even have.”


Hello Commons, this has been the seventh subchapter of the second chapter of Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox, a novel about a man who likes to eavesdrop on his neighbors.

Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is the second book in the W-2222 series, a series of books which take place in Universe W-2222.

Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

If you like Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~

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