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Syndic Literary Journal


Written by Paul M. Levitt


Narrated by Syndic Literary Journal Poets

Published by LeRoy Chatfield


Introduction by the Publisher

Paul. M. Levitt, Professor Emeritus of English,  University of Colorado at Boulder, has written 14 Moral Fables that I have agreed to publish ~ and narrate ~  in serial-fashion in Syndic Literary Journal.

The titles of these Moral Fables are: Bad Words; Crybaby; Making Believe and Day Dreaming; Drawing the Line; Eating; Pocket Money; Nay Saying; Practice; Respect; Shouting; Tidiness; Telling the Truth; Whining; and No Bullying

The narration for each Moral Fable is  provided by a Poet  from Syndic Literary Journal.

I hope you will enjoy these moral fables as much as I do.

~ LeRoy Chatfield, Publisher



Moral Fable No.12  ~  Tidiness

Narrated by Poet Stanley H. Barkan


Tidiness and neatness were not words that Donald Bakeless was familiar with. Sloppiness he understood. Confusion made sense to him. But orderliness was a stranger to him. If orderliness had dressed in a clown suit, and had walked in the front door, and had tipped his hat to him, Donald wouldn’t have even noticed.

Donald’s mother and father said that he had the messiest room in America. They also said that he never picked up after he had finished playing. He always left his toys on the floor, his sneakers on the couch, his bicycle on the sidewalk, and his candy wrappers under the bed.

“If you don’t clean up your room,” said his mother—

“And pick up your things,” added his father—

“We will,” they said in unison, “MOVE OUT!”

His parents liked a clean, uncluttered home. But two minutes after Donald’s mother finished picking up after him, the house looked as if the roof had fallen in and robbers had ransacked the closets and drawers.

“I will not live in a messy house,” Mrs. Bakeless complained.

“Either you clean up, Donald,” announced Mr. Bakeless, “or we leave.”

Donald wondered. Would his parents really move out of the house and leave him alone? No, he thought, they were just teasing him.

So Donald went right on messing up his room. He threw dirty clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper. He tossed his sweaters and jackets in a pile on the bottom of his closet. His socks and underwear, which his mother had folded neatly, he flung this way and that. His bathroom habits were just as bad. He never cleaned out the sink or the bathtub after using them; he never wiped up the puddles on the floor; he never put the soap in the soap dish; he never cleaned his comb or brush. The fact is that Donald, awful as it is to say, was a slob.

“That does it,” said his father, who had just discovered that Donald had emptied a pocketful of sand on the new living room rug. “I’m going to live elsewhere.” And he packed a suitcase for traveling. “I will not live in this mess. Are you coming, Gloria?” he called to his wife.

“Yes,” she answered, “just as soon as I can pack a bag.”

Mr. and Mrs. Bakeless were out the front door and half way down the porch steps when Donald came tearing out of the house

after them.

“Don’t go!” he yelled. “I’ll clean my room; I promise.”

“Every day?” asked his father.

“Every day!” answered Donald.

“You’ll keep the bathroom clean?” asked his mother.

“As clean as you keep it—and even cleaner!” answered Donald.

Mr. and Mrs. Bakeless looked at each other and shook their heads. They turned around and went back into the house. While they were unpacking their bags, Donald started to clean his room. He picked up all his clothes, neatly folding his shirts, socks, handkerchiefs, underwear, and sweaters. He hung his coats and jackets on hangers in the closet. He straightened out the books on his shelves. He picked up the candy wrappers and all the other scraps of paper under the bed. He dusted the room and vacuumed the rug. He made the bed, using hospital corners. He cleaned the windows and polished up the handle on the bedroom door. Then he headed for the bathroom.

In the bathroom, he scoured the sink and tub and toilet, cleaned the tile in the shower, polished the mirror, and mopped the floor. After cleaning the bathroom, he went from room to room, scrubbing, scraping, dusting, vacuuming, polishing, and

waxing. When he had finished cleaning the house, he went downstairs and cleaned the basement and garage. Then he polished the brass pipes in the furnace room and the sprinkler heads in the garden.

Every day after school, and on weekends too, he cleaned: soaping and mopping, brushing and sweeping, waxing and buffing. The house shone. The windows glistened in the sun. The furniture blazed with polish. The floors were burnished to a glass-like finish. Everything was immaculate; nothing was out of place.

One evening, after a dinner party at the Bakeless home, Donald pointed to scuff marks on the polished floor and said to his father:

“Dad, the next time you invite guests to the house, they’ll have to take off their shoes outside and leave them at the front door. Their shoes leave marks on the floor.”

A couple of days later, he called his mother upstairs.

“What is it?” she asked.

“I was checking the bed in the guest room,” he said, “the one Auntie Sandra slept in. It’s poorly made. She left waves in the bedspread. And there are no hospital corners.”

Every evening, before he went to bed, Donald inspected the

house; and every evening he found a mark made by his parents or a scuff left by a houseguest or a friend.

“This won’t do,” he scolded. “All of us—including our guests—must be more careful, if we’re going to keep the house clean.”

After several months of these inspections, Donald’s father could stand them no longer, especially when Donald declared:

“I think it would be a good idea if we stopped having guests altogether. Even when they’re tidy, I have to clean up after them.”

Mr. Bakeless hardly knew what to say. He felt as if his home no longer belonged to him, but rather to a monster of cleanliness.

“Donald,” he asked, “wouldn’t you like to leave a sneaker on the couch, just for old time’s sake? Or a candy wrapper under the bed, to remind you of the good old days?”

“In my former life,” announced Donald, “I was a slob. But now I’m a perfectionist. I love seeing everything perfectly clean and neat.”


What would you advise?

a. that Donald return to being sloppy?

b. that Donald continue to insist that the house be spotless;

c. that Donald bar the door to visitors;

d. that Mr. and Mrs. Bakeless mess up the house to teach Donald a lesson;

e. that Mr. and Mrs. Bakeless live as they have always lived;

f. that Mr. and Mrs. Bakeless move out?



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