Monday, March 3, 2014

Of Mice and Man

A (new) short (allegory) story by Alexander Nixon

Drawing by Alexander Nixon.
“You sure have a lot of pets,” he said, handing her his coat.
“I love animals,” she replied, taking his coat and hanging it on a hook next to a dozen leashes and collars belonging to the numerous pets she owned.
“Sometimes I think I get along with animals better than I do people,” she said, entering her kitchen. “I think we understand each other better,” she added.
The man leaned into a cage in which a squirrel was gnawing on a pinecone. He stuck his finger into the cage and called the squirrel to him by chirping twice. The squirrel pounced on his finger, which avoided any bloodletting by extracting itself before the squirrel could chomp down on it.
“Careful,” she said. “That one bites.”
She could have told him this useful information before her guest had stuck his finger inside the cage, but she had chosen not to.
“What about your other pets?” he asked.
“That depends,” she answered.
“That’s reassuring,” he said.
“As a rule,” she said. “Don’t go sticking your finger inside of cages.”
“That’s good advice,” he said with a laugh.
“Words to live by,” she declared. “Want something to drink?”
“Sure,” he said.
“I don’t have anything alcoholic,” she stated.
“Why not?” the man asked, leaning down into the glass of an aquarium, inside of which all kinds of colorful tropical fish darted in and out of phony red coral.
She frowned. She stuck her head out of the kitchen and, realizing that her guest was being cheeky with her, concealed her frown behind an excessive smile, all of which was noted by the man.
“Juice?” she asked.
“Love some,” he answered, ditching the poorly received sarcasm.
He looked down at a book that she had left open on the tabletop. Of Mice and Men.

She poured two glasses of juice, left the kitchen, and glided over to the man, guiding him over to the couch.
“I am a lightweight,” she stated, handing him the cup, as well as a sort of answer to his earlier sarcastic question.
“Here’s to OJ!” he proclaimed, holding up his glass.
Their glasses clinked and they drank. The woman set down her cup and pounced on her guest as suddenly as the squirrel had, also nibbling at him, and he fell back onto the scratched up couch.
“HEY!” the man stated, falling.
“What’s wrong?” the woman asked, sitting upright.
“Let me set down my glass,” he said, clamoring for an answer.
She snatched his glass and threw it into the fireplace. A cat that had been perched on the shelf hopped down and started licking up the spilt juice. The woman resumed kissing the man’s face and he had no more cause to object and happily acquiesced. Moments later, the man felt something licking his right hand, the one that had crawled up her back, inside her shirt, reaching the back of her neck to caress it. He jerked his hand out and sat up.
“That’s just Jester,” the woman stated, realizing with alarming familiarity what had been the problem.
“Hi Jester,” the man said, wiping off the dog saliva from his right thumb.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Never been in a ménage á trois?”
He grimaced.
The woman stuffed a polka dot pillow into his face and said, “What? Do you have a monopoly on sarcasm?”
She pulled him up out of the couch by his collar and guided him to her bed, her left hand caressing his groin. They fell onto the bed together and, with her right hand unbuttoning his shirt, her left hand continued as was. She combed his hands through her hair and prepared to stuff his right hand up into her shirt to remove it, but preceded this with instructions for Jester to “stay.” Jester watched on, an unhappy bystander to the petting.

She turned out the lamp and they started making love and all the animals in the apartment started squawking, chirping, howling, hopping, hissing, swimming, slithering, and crawling with excitement. When it was over, both the lovemaking and the cacophony, the man rolled onto his back and kissed her tenderly on her neck.

His cell phone jingled, alerting him about an incoming text message. He exhaled forlornly and retrieved his phone from his tangled pants and the LCD panel lit up his face.

“It’s my boss,” he said, lying. “I have to go.”

She watched him step into his pants and lift the buckle up to his waist, her anger swelling. He felt her watching him and looked up. He contorted his face with an expression of utter despondence about being compelled by duty to leave. His expression did not achieve the desired result. To the contrary, his contorted face reminded her of the way her new pets always looked at her, mistakenly expecting their cuteness will gain a measure of freedom.
“Stay,” she said, pleading with the man, who was now putting on his shoes.
He was about to reply, but she spoke first, repeating her previous plea. Only, this time, it was not a plea. It had been an imperative. The man had been about to reply, “I can’t,” but, well, he couldn’t.
He was no longer a man. He was a mouse. The cat and Jester eyed him with excited interest.
“Stay Jester,” the man snapped, noting the humongous dog leering at him. “Stay.”
But all that came out was, “squeak, squeak, squeak.”

© 2014, Alexander "Xander" Nixon