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3rd SEASON ROUND ROBIN

 

Chapter 4

by Becky Board


Still in that state somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, Mouse laid on the bed listening to the pipes. For some reason, this morning they sounded different and were making no sense. He could discern no messages from them; in fact, he could make nothing out at all. His bed felt funny, too, as though it had turned into a rock during the night. Mouse giggled a little bit and thought how funny it would be for a bed to turn into a rock, and then he started his ascent into being fully awake. When he opened his eyes, the first thing he noticed was how different the quality of light was, and that is when he started to remember the events that had led him to this place.

During his usual foraging mission through Central Park, Mouse had stumbled upon a wonderful treasure next to the new restrooms that were being built in one of the sections of the park fairly close to a tunnel entrance. A generator! Just what Mouse needed for the new work he was doing deep in the lower tunnels. He also needed it to help him shake off the awful occurrences that had happened earlier that day.

Arthur had been moping around the tunnel for several days, and Mouse had grown quite worried about him. No sweet treat from William’s kitchen would cheer him, nor would a good brushing or loving pats bring him around to his usual happy little self. Mouse had thought and thought of what he could do to cheer his best furry little friend, and finally he thought to himself, ‘Something shiny! Mouse needs new shiny things for Arthur!’ He looked frantically around his chamber, which was normally full of shiny things, but last week Mary had come through like a typhoon with cleaning products and ordered Mouse to clean out his chamber!

“It is becoming too much of a hazard for you and everyone else who comes in here, Mouse. It MUST be cleaned out, and I am here to see that it is done properly!”

With that, they went to work, one more reluctant than the other. Mouse was terribly sad to see some of his favorite treasures leave the chamber in trash bags, and even sadder to hear Mary refer to them as, “junk”. He had to admit, though, it looked very roomy in there when they were done, and he had a twinkle in his eyes thinking of all the new treasures that would now fit in it! He couldn’t wait to start gathering!

Mouse thought and thought, ‘Where can I get shiny things to help Arthur be happy?’ and then he remembered the time he and Jamie had gone to the jewelry store downtown to pick out a gift for Rebecca’s birthday. They had found a beautiful silver locket and had pooled their money together to buy it. Jamie had gone on and on about how beautiful it was, but Mouse had only remarked, “It’s very shiny!”

Mouse knew he could afford a few shiny things for Arthur as he had saved all of the money he had made selling bottles and cans and other discarded items to Cullen. Cullen gave him a whole quarter for every fifty lbs. of stuff Mouse brought to him, and he had saved every penny. At the thought of how this would cheer Arthur, he left the tunnels, completely forgetting to tell anyone about his plans due to his excitement.

Later that afternoon, standing outside of the jewelry store, Mouse tried to work up the courage to go in. It was one thing to go in with his best friend, but to go in alone and have to . . . well . . . TALK to people, that was a hard thing for him to do. With his friends in the tunnels Mouse was outgoing, but with strangers . . . from Above? Well, that was a different matter all together. He had been standing outside the store for quite some time when a police cruiser pulled up alongside of him.

Officer McCart had received the call at 2:25 p.m. about a man who looked suspicious loitering outside Martin’s Jewelry Shop on 3rd and Broadway. Ruth Ann Warren, a waitress at the coffee shop across the street, had called the precinct many, many times in the past, complaining of this or that, and had even flagged down patrol officers to make her opinions known about the lack of response by “New York’s finest.” Julia McCart had had a belly full of her; but, unfortunately, she did not get to pick and choose her calls and had to respond as ordered, even if the complaint came from the neighborhood busy body.

McCart could tell at once that this man had no evil intentions towards the jewelry store; but to keep Ruth Ann happy, she went ahead and took him to the precinct, took his picture, gave him a stern lecture, and sent him on his way, with his promise that he would not come back to her beat again. She thought he was most likely one of the strangest vagrants she had ever seen, and she had seen her share, but her good sense and intuition told her this man posed no threat to himself or anyone around him.

When Mouse had his picture taken by the nice lady in the police woman’s outfit, he was very, very sad. His only thought was that now Arthur would not get his new shiny surprise. He was not sad or worried for himself because he didn’t think he had really done anything wrong. ‘If people get mad for just standing and looking, Mouse is glad to be in the tunnels and not up top,’ he thought to himself.

He had spent the afternoon wandering around the park looking for any shiny objects he thought might tempt his friend into being happy again, and before he knew it, it had grown dark and the park was practically deserted. In no time, he came across his greatest find of all!

“Gas-powered gizmo”, Mouse said happily, “won’t Father be surprised!” Luckily, Mouse had his old grocery cart along with him, and a strong, willing back for lifting heavy objects. This find would redeem him in his own eyes and the eyes of the tunnel community, because if they found out that he had been in trouble earlier in the day, he would need that redemption. After wrestling with the generator for several minutes and getting nowhere fast, he came up with the ideal solution for the problem, ‘Take gizmo apart, put parts in cart, and take back to chamber to put back together,’ he thought to himself.

But just as he was bending over the generator he heard, “Hey! What’s going on here?”

Looking up, Mouse saw a policeman coming towards him at a fast trot with his billy club held out before him, and, remembering how he was manhandled the time he was on the construction site for the Burch Tower, he panicked and charged the policeman with the cart! Not an hour later he was in the local precinct house being told something about felony theft and attempted assault. Mouse remembered how they had put ink (he knew what that was from the blotter and bottle of ink on Father’s desk) all over his fingers and then rolled them on the paper. He wished they had let him make some pictures with his fingers but they were in a hurry and seemed rather unfriendly to him.

Not at all as nice as was Officer McCart earlier in the day. He wished he was back in the police car. He had enjoyed the ride thru the streets with the lights and the siren blasting. Then they took Mouse’s picture and, giving his best smile in an effort to make them like him better, he held the sign for them and tried to follow the instructions they were barking out at him. Afterwards, they took him to a room that was lit up brighter than any room he had ever been in, with just a table and chairs, a notepad and a couple of pens on the table. He was told to sit down, that someone would come along to talk to him in a minute.

While waiting, Mouse used the pen and paper to draw some plans of the work he was doing in the lower tunnels. He was trying to devise a better system for waste elimination. “Send smelly stuff to the abyss, with a pipe here and a gasket there. Not Pascal’s pipes, no! PVC pipes BEST for carrying smelly stuff away!”

As he was happily planning and drawing, a detective walked into the room and sat down across the table from him. “My name is Detective Chapel. I understand from the police officer that you have refused to give your name and that you don’t understand your Miranda rights as they were read to you. That about right?”

Mouse looked at this man and thought how he reminded him of Father, except without any of the soft spots underneath. “Don’t know Miranda . . . knew a Melinda, but . . .”

“Cut the crap, son, I was born on a Thursday, but it wasn’t THIS Thursday, and I’m not falling for your act. Tell me your name and what you were doing stealing someone’s property, and we can get you arraigned in the morning, you can post bail and be on your way.

“Mouse. I’m Mouse. Found the gas gizmo. Was taking, NOT stealing! Can’t tell where, can’t tell why. Secret. Wasn’t stealing. TAKING! Someone leaves something, Mouse finds it, Mouse NEEDS it, Mouse TAKES it.” At that, perhaps the longest speech he had ever made in his life, he shrugged his shoulders and gave the harried detective his best smile.

“Now look here, buddy, I’m . . .”

“Not Buddy. Mouse."

Detective Chapel then jumped up from the table, exiting the room in a huff, with a very confused Mouse looking on after him. Detective Chapel went into the break room for a smoke and a think, telling Officer Brady, the one responsible for this newest headache, “I think there may be something wrong with this guy you picked up in the park tonight. Did you notice anything weird about him?”

“You mean besides the fact that he acts like he’s from a different planet, Chapel?” Brady said with a smirk. “Nope, can’t say that I did.”

“Great! Just great! Everyone’s a comedian around here.” With that, Chapel, resolving to be home by midnight, hurried back to interrogation room #4, where he spent another wasted hour trying to make some sense out of a man named Mouse.

The next morning, Mouse was given a tray with something on it that was called breakfast, but didn’t resemble anything that ever came out of William’s kitchen. ‘Won’t eat this. CAN’T eat this. Smells like what will go into the abyss,’ thought Mouse, just as one of the guards came to escort him to the courthouse.

***

The bailiff called out, “Case number 3478-93-NY, New York State vs. Mouse”

The judge thought to himself, ‘Mouse? Maybe Edith’s right. I do need to get my hearing checked,’ and then out loud said, “Proceed. What have we got here, Counselor?”

“Your honor, William Pointer. I am the court appointed attorney for . . . Mr. er, uh, Mouse, and we are requesting a continuance on the grounds that my client is incompetent to stand trial. We request a three day mental evaluation in Bellevue.”

“On what do you base this request, Mr. Pointer?”

“Our client did not understand his Miranda rights, was unable to provide us with a last name or place of residence and does not know who the current Mayor or President is, among other things, your honor.”

“Does the state have any objection to this motion?” asked the judge.

“No, your honor,” the state’s attorney replied.

“Request granted.” At that, the gavel banged down like a thunderclap, and Mouse was led away.

~


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