By Julie Carpenter
So this was it. The Thin Hungry Man was finally going to get to eat. His quest was going to be fulfilled. He was so excited he hardly knew what to think. For one thing he could hardly believe that this was happening. Some part of his brain refused, point blank, to believe it at all, but since it had no better plan it decided to go along for the ride. Unfortunately, in its excitement, his brain had ceased to remember that it was in charge of his body. The Thin Hungry Man could hardly stand up. In fact, he soon found he couldn't stand up at all. He took two steps forward and then fell over backwards and lay there waving his arms and legs like some huge and hideous insect. His feet and legs were going opposite directions and his arms were so eager to be up and gone that they simply waved around his head instead of helping to push him off the ground.
Adelaide stood staring at this performance. It made her no more eager to bring the Thin Hungry Man in the house to feed him, certainly. She sighed and walked over to him and grabbed one of the excited waving hands and pulled him off the ground.
"Come on, you idiot!" she said roughly as he popped to his feet. "Do you want lunch or do you want to lay in that flower patch thrashing around like a lunatic?"
The Thin Hungry Man was happy to be on his feet, but he was a little afraid of falling down again so he held tightly to Adelaide's hand, smiling.
Adelaide jerked her hand out of his. "You're up aren't you?"
The Thin Hungry Man tottered this way and that, but held his position and as soon as he steadied himself he followed her towards the house.
Before he could reach the house, however, she turned and looked at him. She stared at the bloody shirt and dirty hair. He had, over the course of his wandering in search of food, acquired a lot of dirt and grime. Bathing is completely secondary to someone who is starving. Besides, he had no friends to tell him how stinky he was (a greatly underrated advantage of friendship). Adelaide wrinkled her nose. The thought of this grimy twit setting foot in her house was not appealing to her. But he was pitiful. From somewhere deep inside, sympathy welled up, a sympathy that surprised her and made her uncomfortable.
"Come here." she commanded the Thin Hungry Man and headed around the side of the house. He followed her with some concern, eyeing her suspiciously. He thought she had said lunch was inside. In the history of the universe, few people have been more ready for lunch than the Thin Hungry Man.
"You're going to eat, you silly man, just not until you're a little cleaner." Adelaide picked up the garden hose and looked at him. "What you really need is a bath of course, but I can't even put you in the bathtub looking like that. It would never come clean again. Just stand there while I clean you off with the hose. And take that horrible shirt off. And your shoes and socks while you're at it. Just take off everything." She went inside for a bottle of dish liquid.
When she returned, the Thin Humgry Man stood staring at her.
"Do you want lunch or don't you?" said Adelaide.
He took off his shirt. And his shorts and underwear. Adelaide squirted the blue dish soap on him from as far away as she could, told him to close his eyes and keep them closed then turned the hose on him and did her best to clean him up. She squirted water behind his ears and over his head. She sprayed his feet and did her best to spray his legs. He needed scrubbing but she could barely stand to look at him, much less touch him. She turned the hose on full pressure. He toppled over and popped up covered with grass and wet dirt clinging to him. She turned down the hose. When all was said and done, she had completely emptied a half gallon bottle of dish soap and he was blinking one eye like a mad man from the soap but he stood comparatively clean, nude and angular in her soft, sweet green garden, like a strange little gargoyle on a forgotten corner of the church that makes you feel more sad than frightened.
“Better than before," she sighed. "Stand right there and don't move. I'll be right back."
Adelaide ran into the house to get some clean towels.
"He can’t put his dirty clothes back on," she muttered. "But what should he wear?"
She finally decided that he was certainly thin enough to wear some of her clothes and she found a pair of old shorts, shirt that she hated, and some rather itchy purple lace boy leg panties and took them out to him.
When Adelaide walked back outside she found the Thin Hungry Man standing firmly and stiffly where she had told him to. He had not come this far to lose out on lunch by angering the one person who had offered it to him. It felt strange to be standing there without his clothes although he wasn’t sure why.
Adelaide handed him the clothes. "Here are some towels and some clean clothes. Get dried off and then get dressed." She tried not to let her glance fall on him at all, but she couldn’t help stare. His starving body was riveting and revolting. Maybe a muumuu would have been better if she’d had one. She just wanted to do this one thing. This little thing. Then she wanted to send him on his way.
The Thin Hungry Man immediately obeyed, covering the skeletal body with the clothes she had given him, unfortunately initially interpreting the panties as a hat. After they had smoothed that over, Adelaide sighed and turned toward the house.
She did her best to remain angry with him. She felt more in control when she was angry. He stood barefoot and eager outside her door. What a dope.
"Come in," she said..
He walked into the kitchen and stood there smiling.
"Sit down," she said with a sigh and pulled out a chair.
He looked delightedly at the chair and sat down. She pushed him a little from behind.
"You have to sit up closer to the table stupid," she said. "It isn't like you're not entirely likely to make the world's biggest mess anyway."
He smiled at her. "Where's lunch?" he asked.
Adelaide glared at him. "Shut up and let me get it," she suggested.
So he shut up and waited eagerly at the table.
"Hmmm," Adelaide mumbled. She thought about what to give him. On the one hand, she really did feel a little sorry for him. On the other hand, she didn’t want to feed him so well that he kept coming back for food or something. She thought briefly about the ice cream and thought a bit about the lovely brie that had fallen out of the void. She looked at him and decided he wouldn’t properly appreciate the brie. She had already assuaged her guilt by telling herself that the filet mignon would take too long. Peanut butter. Adelaide didn’t care too much for peanut butter, but sometimes you just had to take whatever fell out of the void. She dug through the cabinet and found it.
There were two loaves of bread on the counter. She looked at them carefully to make sure she was picking out the oldest and stalest one. She spread the peanut butter on the bread and started to put the sandwich together. She turned and looked at her guest. He was smiling and rocking himself gently back and forth. His right hand had seemingly gotten out of control. It was moving around loosely on his wrist, fingers flexing madly. His left hand however was well under control and he smiled down at it frequently as if to reward it for its good behavior.
Adelaide sighed loudly. She went to the refrigerator, took out a jar of grape jelly and slammed the door. Thunk! The jelly smacked against the counter. She smeared about a teaspoon on the sandwich and smushed the pieces of bread together. Peanut butter oozed out the sides.
She slid the sandwich over to the Thin Hungry Man, and handed him a glass of milk. "Here you are. Go ahead. Eat."
The Thin Hungry Man picked up the messy, oozing sandwich and looked at it in awe.
"Food," he whispered reverently. He poked the sandwich at one side where peanut butter and jelly were oozing out the side. The index finger of that uncontrollable right hand jabbed itself between the bread and frolicked briefly in the goo. Convulsively, he jerked it out, as if he were having some difficulty stopping it. He lifted the index finger of his right hand to his mouth -- controlling it by lifting it with his left hand -- and popped it in.
A rather grotesque sucking noise followed, a look of sheer delight spread out over his face. And then his right hand lost control. It grabbed the sandwich, rather too hard because the bread smushed and the insides oozed out everywhere. He looked startled and darted out his left hand but it was too late. The right hand picked up the mushed sandwich and shoved it into his mouth. He gobbled the sandwich down in a few bites. Then he picked up the milk and took a delicate sip. And belched.
He smiled up beatifically at Adelaide, a great circle of peanut butter and jelly surrounding his mouth. A blob of jelly hung from the end of his nose and there was a little piece of peanut stuck in it, the last peanut butter to have fallen into the void having been of the chunky variety. He sipped his milk slowly now and again, exuding great sighs of pleasure.
Lunch. At last.
Catching up with the Thin Hungry Man
THM Chapter 1
THM Chapter 2
THM Chapter 3
THM Chapter 4