Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Mouse Writer


Coffee in hand, I was starting to get comfortable this morning, wondering about the next step to take with Pink Hats and a Mack Truck, when I heard what sounded like a triumphant announcement, "Spring has sproing!"

"Don't you mean, 'sprung,'" I asked, pausing between sips.

"No, I meant what I said. It's too nice outside my window for traditional spellings and pronunciations. On top of that, 'sproing' gets a reader's attention." He definitely had mine, completely.

"Well, what are we going to write about?" he asked, stressing the personal plural pronoun as though the endeavor was predictably corporate.

"What do you mean, we? Have you got a mouse in your pocket?"

"Very funny. Witty, even. Better than your usual attempts at humor, I must say, and speaking of which -- whom might be better -- how could I have myself in my pocket? Just because I am a mouse, doesn't mean I'm also a contortionist."

I was talking with Hinsley, my inking partner, as he's fond of describing himself and what the writing process would be if my laptop were a typewriter. I suppose you could liken "inking partner" to a drinking partner, except neither of us wakes up hungover. Anyway, he's a little grey fellow about the size of a 16 oz. mug of deep, dark, nutty, English brown ale, clad in a red plaid waistcoat and scarf, with a tail nearly as long as he is tall. I rescued him from a fate worse than death, or so he said it would be, when we met at Starbucks this past Christmas. I was doing my annual shopping, looking at coffee accessories, when I felt him tug at my sleeve.

"You've got to help me," he said, whispering breathlessly, as though he had just completed a 100 yard dash before his competitor, the Jamaican sprinter, Usain Bolt, could get out of the starting blocks. "See that woman over there? Not the pretty one, she works here. I mean the other one, the woman with bags on each arm and even larger bags under her eyes. The one who smells like she bathed in her grandmother's perfume and then sprayed herself with an entire bottle for good measure. She bought a friend of mine last year and he hasn't been heard from since. Come on, be a chum."

I wasn't certain whether his concern was the result of spending far too much time inhaling the caffeine-injected atmosphere, but he was cute (psst, don't tell him I said this, he really does hate it) and as his tag read, The Mouse Writer, I truly felt compelled to act. Writers have to stick together. So, now he sits, happily, on the bookshelf across from me, guarding a medical text dated 1866 alongside his friend, Barclay, a similarly-sized raccoon I discovered a few years ago, trying to scramble out of a drawer in my late mother's secretary. Destined, I think, to become a dog toy, he managed to burrow into some old papers and there he stayed, safe but forgotten, until he heard me inspecting the contents of the old cabinet after my father was gone.

Forgotten or lost toys are one of life's saddest things, I think. I don't know why, exactly, maybe it's the lost memories that go with them. Perhaps it's the reason I keep them, an old Lionel steam locomotive, fire trucks, and a couple of faded, worn teddy bears. They aren't much, I suppose, but they were mine and still are. They remind me of a line from Kenny Loggin's, The House at Pooh Corner.

After all's said and done, I was watching my son,
sleeping there with my bear by his side;
So, I tucked him in and kissed him, and as I was going,
I could swear that old bear whispered, 'Boy, welcome home...'


"Are you going to reminisce all day? I don't know about you, but I'm ready to work!" Mouse Writers are inclined to impatience.

"Aren't we telling your story? Surely, that counts, wouldn't you agree?"

He hesitated, tugged on the bottom of his waistcoat, straightening it, and said, "Well. Yes, I do believe you're right. Proceed, maestro, but please, please don't say anything about my being cute. I just don't think I could 'bear' it, should your views on the matter become public knowledge. I do have my dignity, you know."

"Oh, I know, all too well. As to cute, however, I'm sorry, but the cat's already 'out of the bag,'" I said, playing the pun card back to him.

"Now why did you have to go and say, 'cat?!'"


(Photo copyright 2011 by the author. The House on Pooh Corner, words and music by Kenny Loggins)

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