Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Perspective is Everything

Mr. Mousey leaves the apartment some mornings when it's still dark outside.  He prefers to get to the dumpster behind the big church before the other mice arrive. He doesn't like waiting in line for his opportunity to lick the sides of the huge, oily container.

He sets his alarm clock thirty minutes early several nights a week.  He kisses his children 'goodbye' while they're still sleeping.  He grabs a hug from Mrs. Mousey, and off he goes.


On Wednesdays and Thursdays, I drive into the city to attend writing classes on the campus of Covenant Presbyterian.  I love everything about being a student.  Well, almost everything.

I usually prepare a quick breakfast that I can enjoy during my commute.  Some peanut butter on a slice of this delicious bread I secure from a modest bakeshop in my town.  Maybe a piece of fruit.  I bring a Diet Pepsi with me to wash down my vitamins.

It takes about thirty five minutes to get there.  I like listening to music along the way.  I think about bits of stories I can piece together in my head.  I write them down on a sheet of paper that I keep on the passenger seat of my car.  I never take my eyes off the road, so reading back what I've written can be challenging.  And frequently illegible.

When I arrive, I park my vehicle in the lot across from the main building.  I gather up all the garbage - my napkin and banana peel, the empty soda bottle.  I lock the car and head over to the dumpster to pitch the trash.

This past Wednesday, Mr. Mousey and I crossed paths for the very first time.  He may argue that he has seen me before, and I don't really care.  As far as I'm concerned, he's not gonna win any prizes for keeping tabs on my comings and goings.

I caught sight of him out the corner of my eye.  He skittered atop the pine needles at the base of the big blue box.  After making visual contact, my brain suggested the presence of a small rodent to the rest of my body.  My armpits reacted by sweating.

"Eek!" I exclaimed, almost as an afterthought.  I suppose I felt somewhat pleased with the word that accompanied my reaction, considering the colorful options at my disposal.  There are mothers and babies in strollers everywhere on the grounds of the church.  Had I shouted "Shit" or "Fuck," I'd have been embarrassed.  It was, after all, just a mousey.

"Keep it moving, lady."  He sounded exactly like James Gandolfini.  "Or I will come out from underneath this here filthy bin and bite you."

I said nothing as I walked briskly past my provocateur.  I had no intention of engaging him at length.  Scooting into the building, I mentioned my unpleasant exchange to the lovely receptionist at the front desk.

"A mousey startled me, Amy.  He showed me his teeth."

"Oh, no.  I'm so sorry," she said.

"It's okay.  But don't go outside if you can help it."


That night when Mr. Mousey got home, he poured himself a thimble full of scotch and regaled the day's events to his wife.

"You'll never believe the nervy broad I ran into today at the dumpster.  Not in a million years."

"Oh, honey," Mrs. Mousey replied.  "Don't be so dramatic."

"You weren't there, madam.  A bold piece, she was!  Almost ran me over with her truck."

"Well, you're safe now.  Try to relax.  And go easy on the sauce, will you, handsome?  Tonight is my Bunco game, and you'll need to put the kids to bed."


The following morning, I got a little bit later start than usual.  I decided to wait until the laundry had finished its last cycle so I could transfer the wet clothes into the dryer before I left for my class.  Fortunately, there was no traffic, and I reached my destination right on schedule.

Very much a creature of habit, I returned to the trash area as I had the day before. This time with an apple core, a wadded up paper towel and a Dixie cup that had contained my breakfast cereal.  Immediately, I called to mind the previous day's altercation with Mr. Mousey and his less than cordial attitude.

And then, I saw him.  Licking the remains of a donut in the leaves.

"Oh, c'mon!" he squeaked, sounding not quite as tough as he did when we'd last met.  Perhaps he was hung over.  Or worse yet, I may have gotten used to the treatment.

"Look, I don't want no trouble," I told him.

"Too bad.  My middle name is Trouble.  And woman, it is on!"

With that, he charged me.  I hurled my half empty soda bottle in his general direction.  I don't think I nailed him, but the projectile did send his tiny frame scampering back underneath the dumpster.

I ran toward the building, feeling a little guilty that I left my garbage behind in the parking lot.  To say the least, the entire experience was categorically upsetting. Precisely what category this situation might fall under is not clear.  Assault seems a bit harsh.


Mr. Mousey rushed back to his colleagues and the safety of his mulch pile.  He was out of breath, sporting a huge knot on the top of his forehead.

"Woah, Mike.  Where's the fire?" one of the day shift guys asked, and they all chuckled.  Apparently, this wasn't his first donnybrook.  Things had been thrown at him before.

"Laugh it up, dickheads.  You weren't there.  That bitch is crazy."

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