#58: Clean

I started meeting this woman who wore skirts she’d sewn herself and who wanted to ferment her own wine and who didn’t like me wearing deodorant. When we broke up I didn’t want to stop thinking about her but I wanted to throw a glass of her homebrew wine all over her living room. I thought the best thing to keep her memory bright while still kind of laughing at it would be to home brew my own deodorant. I was excited about the idea for a day and then one of the clerks at the co-op talked me into soap instead.

“Our butcher will give you fat for tallow,” she said.

“Tallow?” I said.

When I got the bag of pork fat home I stuck it in the fridge and then thought maybe I wasn’t supposed to refrigerate it. It felt about how you’d expect, so that I wanted to juggle it or throw it across the living room and see if I could catch it on the other side without smashing through the window.

I got on the internet and then imagined myself running into Bliss. I smell you’re using soap again, she’d say. Soap I made, I’d say. And then we’d be back up here together.

I went through recipes and procedures. I mean I really combed the internet. I thought I’d make the best soap I could and I took the wildest recipe I could find and then made it better, dumped cinnamon and a cap of bleach into a bowl while the fat rendered. When it was done I got everything together. You were supposed to use molds but all I had was an ice cube tray and I didn’t want to chase little wedges of soap around the shower so I left the soap in the bowl.

Then I went to this little bar down the street. It was a little room with a few tables that looked dragged in from thrift stores. The bartender kept on me about the different levels of hops in the beers and this had all been charming before but without Bliss it was too much. I got back to my place and the soap was done and so good that it had cleaned its way through the bowl and in a long gouge over my kitchen counter and was bubbling through the tile floor. I stooped to get the blob and it was heavy and then it cleaned right through my hands. All my fingers were mostly just gone and parts of the palms too. I kicked at the soap and it cleaned right through the tip of my shoe and then cleaned through the wall and into the living room.

I went for my cell but couldn’t even unlock the screen. The soap boiled away beneath my coffee table and then was gone and there was a heavy thonk as it hit the floor of the apartment below me. Well, I thought, they’ll call the police at least, but then nobody came and nobody yelled. I looked down through the hole and the soap boiled away and then was gone into the basement. I knew I should get outside and yell for someone but how was I supposed to handle the knob? And anyway I couldn’t take my face out of that hole in my floor. Downstairs they had everything, two leather couches and a clean table with a photo album on top and I could only imagine the happiness inside.


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