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A Man and a Mouse

Short story By: Wilbur

I asked brucek what to put in the introduction of this piece and here’s his quote: “A collaborative effort by wilbur and brucek, this story about a spunky mouse is sure to leave you laughing, that is if you can get past the evil cat!" To which I add, the story takes place in Magoo's home and despite his missus and her cat, he and the mini-mouse have the last laugh. -
Finally, in the interests of full disclosure, the co-writing was bruckk’s idea and he began it by introducing the man and mini-mouse. The rest, as they say, is history. -- Brucek and Wilbur/Connie -- NOTE - Bruce felt that had gotten waaayyyyy too long - so any complaints of that nature, send them c/o wilbur

Submitted:May 23, 2012    Reads: 52    Comments: 5    Likes: 5   

A Man and a Mouse

Mr. Magoo dropped a pin, just to see if he could hear it, and of course the instant the pin hit the floor it bounced and he lost it. Being a conscientious fellow, he got down on his knees to look for the damn thing, not wanting anyone, he thought, to come along and hurt themselves, especially him.
While he was down there sliding his hands slowly across the floor, he wondered how something that he had been holding between his fingers only a few moments before could completely vanish on white linoleum tiles. It was at that exact moment that he noticed the most amazing thing. There, where the door frame met the baseboard, was the smallest of openings, perhaps as small as a half an inch, and sitting in that opening was the smallest mouse he had ever seen. And in its tiny little paw, it was holding his pin! He froze, not wanting to frighten the little guy, and to assure him of his friendly intentions, he said, "Hello there Mr. Mouse."
Perhaps in mouse talk the mouse translated that to, "If I can ever get close enough to you, I'm going to smash you flat," because the mouse fixed little black eyes on Magoo, flicked that pin back and forth between its paws like a gangster in a knife fight, and slowly eased its way back into the hole.
Mr. Magoo knelt there, continuing to stare and think. The pin was from Hulda's sewing box. She'd never miss it. She had pincushions full of pins all over the house. It's so quiet in here with no talking, and no TV or radio. Hulda hates all of that, just like she hates music. It gets so that the man sometimes wonder if he's still here, Magoo mused. Which is why he dropped the pin in the first place. To see if he would hear it. But now. Now, he knows there's a mouse in the house. A crazy cartoon mini-mouse that has that pin. Magoo stared at the mini-mouse hole, thinking the thing had to have bones like spaghetti to shrink back and disappear into that tiny hole like that.
He got up to his feet and dusted his knees off, thinking about Hulda, his missus, and that galumpus cat of hers, which is even now up there on the bed with her. One of them is eating sweeties, the other is lapping his balls. If Hulda learns about the mouse, she'd send that hulk hunting and then brag on him as he crunched the bones, just like she did with Tweetie. Poor bird, poor Tweetie.
Mr. Magoo sighed long and hard. Hulda -- a youthful mistake of his and one he's been paying for, dearly. "That's settled," he thought, "I'm not gonna tell her." He looked back over to where the hole for the mouse was. "Well," he said to the mouse who wasn't there, "good luck with the pin! You looked kind of like a two year old tossing around a sword. Don't hurt yourself, because I don't want a dead mouse in the wall, he he heh."
And almost peed his pants when he saw a flicker of a teensy mouse face glaring up at him and heard a weensy voice saying, "Yeah? Well, good night and good luck to you, too, Sonny. The name is Minnie, as in Minnie Mouse, and there will be no laughing!" After which, quick as that, she flipped the pin through the air and it got him. Stuck right in, just beside his nose - which hurt, believe it. Then the ratty bitty mouse-thing disappeared and it was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Again.
Magoo gave up at that point. Went upstairs, more than ready for bed. He shoved Moby off the bed in a thunk of white rump and flailing legs. When he suggested Moby as a name, the Missus had thought it sounded good, so they were both pleased. The Missus wasn't a reader and hadn't graduated from middle school. She also had a wooden leg, souvenir of a bad luge accident she got into while in her late teens and bumming around Norway. She didn't believe in the modern world. That's why she sewed everything by hand and had a wooden leg and it's probably why she'd married him. He's been called a Gentleman of the Old School. As to why he married her? Probably all his drinking blinded him.
Anyway, the only modern thing in their life was that morgue-like white tiled floor in the kitchen and both bathrooms. He'd insisted on separate baths after spending the first year together picking splinters out of his bare feet. She still wore the old leg, now worn a bit shorter than the other. "But," Magoo thought wearily, " that's a whole other story."
He wanted to get into bed as quickly as possible and hurried through his toilette being careful to wash the pin prick by his nose first with rubbing alcohol (followed by a swallow or two, since his drinking had been cut short that night), followed by iodine and a band aid. "Hey," he thought aloud to his mirrored reflection, "it was in that mouse's paws and there's no sense in taking chances."
As he climbed into bed, he humphed a goodnight to Hulda, heard one in return, then saw the light go out and felt her settle for the night. He was asleep almost immediately, lulled, like always, by Hulda's heavy breathing. Moby had never tried sneaking backup on the bed since the night Magoo tied his legs together with the tail of Hulda's nightgown and the ruckus that ensued the following morning. He slept.
Minnie the mini-mouse halted just behind the mini-mouse hole. She was pissed. She was pissed because she's lived in this place all of her life and had never been discovered by the man or his wife, or even with that great hulking Moby-cat, always stalking around, acting like the cat who ate the canary. Which he actually had done. Tweety had been Mister Magoo's bird. But, after three years, Hulda decided she didn't like the 'noise' and brought that hunk of white cat meat home. And Tweetie was history the very first night. In return, Mr. Magoo suggested the name 'Moby' for the cat. Which was pretty funny of him, Minnie has to admit. The man, though small in many ways, has a full sized and wry, very wry, sense of humor. She almost likes him.
Moby, the cat, knows Minnie lives there. But so far in her tenancy, she has preferred peace to all out war. Which doesn't mean they haven't had their skirmishes. The first time he tried, she let him think he could catch her and then at the last moment dropped a marble from her mouth so that it rolled under Moby's paw and had thrown him flat on his jaw. The second time, Moby had been planning to hide behind the recliner and pounce on her as she went by. But Minnie'd run a glue stick over his hiding place, so when he pounced, he'd left a patch of fur behind and Minnie was in the wind.
She beats him every time he thinks he can take her. But she'd love to take a true shot at him. She's tiny, but she's fast and wicked smart. She has tricks up her wee small arms you wouldn't believe. Plus a collection of weapons that don't appear to be weapons until you're facing her in battle, which is when she wreaks carnage on you.
Now, with a last look across the tiled flooring, she scuttled her way back up the lath and plaster work to the attic, where she pretty much has had free reign. Once safe in the nest she's made of Mr. Magoo's old alpaca socks, she settled down to think. Mrs. M. and the cat never went up there. It's where Magoo stores his past glories. His piano music. His harmonica. His old scout badges and whistle. His LPs first, then his tapes, then his 8-track tapes, and before Hulda, his CDs. All gathering dust, now. Like his alto sax. His college text books, and lots of fiction authors he's read and loved. All his track team medals from high school on. His Blue Ribbon Prizes for best Fox Trot and Tango at the Pavilion Dance Palace, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2009. Stuff like that. She's never messed with it. She has a kind of fondness for the man. He's blind drunk a lot of the evenings. But he once was quite the man, for all his miniature stature. A thing Minnie appreciates. However, nostalgia is not on the menu. Minnie's wondering what being discovered by Magoo will mean. Time to think and scheme and dream and plan. Who should she take on first? Hulda the hulk? Or Moby the dick? And should she talk with Magoo about it?
The next morning was the start of Magoo's weekend, and he suspected it would be quite a weekend. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to walk and think, think and walk. But every time he told Hulda he was going out, she would give him a list of ridiculous things to pick up for her at the store, which would mean he'd have to give up going for a walk, since he'd have so many of her stupid groceries to carry home. The trick would have to be sneaking out of the house without her knowing about it. Far easier said than done. Well, no time like the present, he decided, for a bit of sneaking. He sat up and put on his slippers.
"Up already?", mumbled his sleepy wife, "Where are you off to?"
He lied as convincingly as he could. "I'm not off to anywhere. I'm having a little trouble sleeping."
"If you do go out, there's a few things that I need. A package of sandpaper would be nice. The kind with course, medium, and fine. And you can get me another big box of chocolates. I hardly have any more left. Oh....and a bottle of Listerine......and a jar of Vicks vapor rub......"
"I'm not going out, okay?," Magoo snapped back. "You'll just have to wait for those things until later." And he hurried to finish getting dressed.
"I HATE waiting!"
"Yes, I know, dear." Magoo made the soothing words sound pleasant, but nothing irritated him more than her demanding attitude. Always with the, "I need it now," or the, "What took you so long?" It was another reason he so disliked running her endless errands. He made my way downstairs as quickly as he could, throwing on his coat, and quietly leaving by the front door. When he had turned the corner a few houses down the street, he was finally able to relax. Now he could have a chance to do a little thinking. What was going on in his life? He listed off his troubles.
First of all, he had a lazy, overbearing wife with a wooden leg. He had a cat that was terrible to deal with on the front end, four paws of pain in the middle, and even more disgusting on the back end. And now there was Minnie the talking mouse. So either the mouse was extraordinary, or he was going crazy. With all of the daily aggravation he had to deal with, he decided he wouldn't be surprised if it were the latter. "After all," Magoo mused unhappily, " I did have an Uncle Seymore who talked to door knobs and Christmas ornaments, and half the time he wasn't even sure which was which." Magoo rubbed at the side of his nose. "But that little mouse did throw that pin at me. I have the mark on my face to prove it, so I can't be imagining everything."
Magoo shuffled his way around the block, thinking furiously as he walked. Finally he decided that the thing he needed to do was to go back home and make sure that the mouse truly did talk. And this time he'd just be a little friendlier to her, that's all. "After all," he thought, gaining confidence as he turned down the street toward his house, "we do have a common enemy; that white fur ball on four feet."
When he got back into the house, he made sure he slipped in the back door as quietly as he could. Going through to the kitchen, he began setting out ingredients for making his breakfast. That way, he would have an excuse for hanging around the mouse hole. He began by breaking eggs and adding milk before starting to beat them together. And it was at that point that Moby sauntered in.
Moby was certainly no ordinary cat. Underneath the mountain of thick white fur was mouse killing machine. He was supremely confident in his ability to catch any mouse, and since the one currently on his radar screen was only one third normal size, it should be a piece of cake. But this mouse kept fighting back! Yep, Moby was really beginning to hate that mouse. No animal that far beneath him should ever stand a chance. He was quick, he was lethal, and he was mean. Oh yes, he had decided, one way or another, there would be only one animal that ended up living in this house. And what to do, what to do, what to do about that? Well, he'd think about it later. Right now the old pain in the butt, Mr. M. was in the kitchen and starting to cook something.
Moby stared at the slipper-less sock-holed feet standing in front of the stove and thought about winding back and forth around them until the old guy tried to kick or move away at which point, Moby could throw him on the floor. That'd send the old fart for a snort or two from a bottle of Johnny Walker kept behind the cleaning stuff under the counter. Or he could just nail that big toe sticking out of the hole in the sock with one large sharp needle-like claw. He thought that could be fun. To see the old duffer jump, hear him howl.
But, nah, Moby re-thought the idea, and quickly for him. Not that he was dumb. He wasn't. Slow and deliberate was how he saw it. Except when on the hunt. Then it was all instinct and adrenaline. That was a real high, Moby thought. Forget the sissy catnip. Hunt and kill, that was the stuff Moby liked.
Still he stayed, staring at Magoo's feet in those tired old socks with the big toes sticking out. Moby thought that maybe it could be a one-time chance. That maybe it was just too good a chance to pass up. He crept nearer, crouching close to the floor, eyes slitted and flashing, ears back, whiskers forward.
Bracing himself, gauging his aim while silently lifting a paw, claws fully extended, he stared fixedly at the fat flesh of the big toe closest to him. He raised his paw higher still and began to bring it down, to hook right into that big toe. Which was when he saw, in a kind of blurry flash, the face of the mini-mouse glaring back up at him. Which had the effect of so unnerving him, he retracted his claws, redirected his raised paw and tried to swivel away. "What the hell!?" was his last coherent thought. After that, everything happened in a flurry of noise followed by a crushing pain in his head.
The muffled scuffle directly beneath him had alerted Mr. Magoo that there was trouble afoot. He responded by attempting to step aside, still clutching the cast iron pan in which he was frying his favorite mixture of eggs and potatoes. Unfortunately he landed squarely on a cat paw, knocking him off balance and causing him to drop the pan, which smacked Moby unconscious, laying him out flat at Magoo's feet, his head decorated in egg and potato.
Minnie, quick to reach Moby's head and start eating, was shoveling it in without regard for manners or image. Seeing Mr. Magoo, who was clutching his own head now and blankly staring down, wondering once again about his Uncle Seymore, Minnie stopped long enough to yell a mini-mouse yell at Magoo.
"Look handsome, get it together. The lug is knocked silly and it isn't going to last forever. Wha'd'we do while he's out? It's a one time chance, bright eyes. Put on your thinking cap if you've got one!"
She stuffed more of Mr. Magoo's breakfast in her mouth and chewed rapidly while staring at Magoo who was now rapidly blinking and making small mewing noises. Minnie sat up, wiping her whiskers clean and burping.
"Okay," she said, "you don't see it, do you? Go get that Sharpie you use to write Hulda's shopping lists. Move it!"
Magoo was too blown away to do anything but obey, dumbly. Back at the stove and a conked out Moby with the mini-mouse now sitting on Moby's head, he heard Minnie directing him:
"Take the Sharpie, bro' and draw something on the cat. NOW! I can't do it so you gotta. DO IT! NOW!"
Magoo looked down at Moby. Thought of all the times he wished he the cat was laid out in front of him. His mind began to run movies of his fantasies and was only brought back by a stinging nip at his big toe. Minnie was glaring up at him and pointing at the Sharpie in his hand.
Kneeling down, he thought about how this had all started with him on his knees and wondered briefly if this were dream or reality. Either way, he thought, here I go. Rolling Moby over, he drew a large bullseye in the white hair of the inert cat's side. Moby was large enough that the final result was impressively big. The Sharpie he'd chosen was a brilliant blue and the bullseye stood out clearly against Moby's white pelt. He knelt back, admiring his work.
"So don't stop there!" It was Minnie again. Still. "Roll him over and do it again."
Now, Minnie was standing on Magoo's own knee.
"But first, get another colored Sharpie. Maybe a red one. Yeah, red'd be good. Go! Fast!"
It was done in another couple of minutes. Now Moby had a bright blue bullseye on his right side and an equally bright red one on his left side. But Minnie wasn't done.
"Go get the black Sharpie and be quick, the critter is going to come to pretty quick. His breathing is changing."
Back with the Sharpie, Mr. Magoo thought he was going to have to sneak back out for another walk and think. This was all too weird and yet...
"What?" he snapped at the mini-mouse. As she reared back and hissed in response, he lowered his voice and began again. "Pardon," he tipped a head bow to the mouse. "What, Miss Minnie?"
"Smart ass," the mouse snapped back. "Roll him onto his back and draw a mouse on his belly. Just a cartoon will do. I don't need my portrait on a cat, thanks."
Magoo did a pretty good job of it until Moby began wiggling, driving the Sharpie off at an angle that caused the cartoon mouse to have a very long tail. Magoo snapped to his feet, snapping the cap back on the Sharpie. Minnie was already into her disappearing act but paused long enough to put a tiny paw up and salute Magoo.
Magoo looked at the mess on the floor. Moby was drunkenly tottering around. Well, Magoo thought, dream or reality, time to clean my cast iron skillet and then I'll do the floor. Stepping over the cat, still fighting its way back, he scooped up the fry pan and cleaned it efficiently with salt and paper toweling. Next he attacked the floor, pushing Moby - still slightly disoriented but not so much he didn't recognize food when he smelled it - aside but leaving him to clean up the egg and potatoes while he dealt with the white tile linoleum. Magoo finished about the same time as Moby finally staggered over to the water bowl, which Magoo refilled with milk.
"Why not," he thought, charitably. "He's a marked target now." And winced as a marble struck the bullseye on the red side and Moby whirled drunkenly around in search of what had attacked. Mr. Magoo, heard the sounds of Hulda above and hurried to get into his shoes and jacket and out the door, halting only to call up the stairs.
"I remember, my love. Listerine, Vicks Vapor Rub, sandpaper - fine medium and coarse. And a big box of chocolates. Back in a flash. Oh! And here's Moby. How'd he get out? - Oh, well, no telling. He's on the way up, dear heart. Back soon."
And he was out the door as Moby began his wobbling way up the stairs and Hulda's voice started up as well. Slamming the door, he escaped to the porch, stumbled down the steps and out onto the street. "Time for another think," he thought. "Time for another walk and think, think and walk. Oh God," he moaned to himself, "what have I wrought? With a mouse, yet!"
The last thing he heard from the house as he rounded the corner was the erupting bellow of Hulda's voice, no doubt seeing those drawings on Moby for the first time. "What could have possessed me? Why did I even listen to that mouse, that Minnie? Now there will be major hell to pay."
He walked with his hands in his pockets, shuffling along, ignoring his surroundings. Minnie told him to draw on the cat and he just goes ahead and does it? Hulda loves that cat, and who else could she blame for defacing her precious Moby, that evil distributor of pain, other than him? "Why do I always get myself into situations like this," he wondered, massaging a growing ache in his neck and temple.
He was rapidly coming to the conclusion that there was no solution to this mess, and no hope of ever understanding the strange things that kept happening to him. What he really needed was a good, stiff drink, followed by a second one to keep it company. And if those two got along, who knows, they may want to throw a party and invite a third to drop by. Now there was a solution that he could act upon. And maybe he'd remember to pick up Hulda's things, and then again, maybe he'd just forget. Who really cared anyway? Either way, he'd still be hearing about the bulls eyes on her cat for a month.
The only thing he wanted to think about at all right now was which bar he's go to first.He decided to turn left instead of right and head downtown. By most every way that he measured it, the town that he lived in was far too small, but with six bars on Main St. all within walking distance of each other, it was plenty big enough for him. He had to admit though, usually after the third bar he wasn't fit to be walking anywhere.
Since he had turned left, he knew he would shortly be passing by the post office. He'd been avoiding the pile of bills at home for weeks, for no better reason than he always seemed to forget to buy some stamps to mail them. As long as he was passing by and he was still sober, he thought he might as well jump in and take care of that chore really quick.
Mr. Magoo entered the small town post office and, of course, had to wait in line. In the grand scheme of things, the interior of a post office was not what he would call "scenic", and before too long he grew completely bored. This was why he noticed something new decorating the wall; a spiral bound book of wanted posters hanging from a hook.
"What the hell," he thought, "at least this will be a little entertainment." He started flipping through the pages. Armed robbers, murderers, embezzlers, a whole parade of bad guys. Although he didn't know it at the time, the thing that he did next would utterly alter the rest of his life. For some reason Mr. Magoo decided to take a peek at the very last wanted poster, the one that was from the longest ago.
To his complete shock, there, both in profile and face on, were two photographs of his wife, Hulda! In the picture she was a bit younger and thinner, but there certainly wasn't any doubt. When!? Why!? How!? How could this be? He had been married to her for over five years now, and he was certain that she had never committed any crime. In fact, she hardly ever left her bed! A quick glance explained things; the crime had been committed only a few months before they were wed. So, what was it that his darling wife had done? And yes, without even looking at the crime, he was already sure that she was guilty of it.
It only took a minute to read the details and already he was furious. So, it seems Hulda used to work at the exotic pet store in town, and days after she was fired she broke back into the business, completely destroying the place. And not only that, before she was through she made sure she killed every one of the most expensive exotic birds, a loss for the store of well over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars!
"Oh yes," thought Mr. Magoo, "doesn't it all make sense now!" Hadn't she brought that evil cat into the house? And what was the first thing that happened? NO MORE TWEETY! In his life full of straws, this was the last one. He took his cell phone out of his pocket and placed a deliciously anonymous phone call to the police. Oh yes sir, he knew exactly where they could find her, sitting in her bed watching "Jerry Springer" and stuffing her fat face full of chocolates!
Mr. Magoo, for the first time in ages, had no desire to go downtown to the bar for a drink. He was much too eager to get back home and watch all the fun. He covered the distance in half the time it took him an hour ago, and made it just in time to see the police push, pull, and shove his screaming wife into a squad car. What sweet revenge! What bliss! He didn't think he could get any happier until he saw Moby run out of the house after his master. That cat leaped ten feet at least, past the outstretched arms of an officer, and right into the back seat with Hulda.
"Oh no you don't!" one of them yelled. But when he tried to remove Moby, he was attacked by a set of fangs and claws that better belonged on a mountain lion than a house cat. With another officer's help, they tossed Moby into the back seat of another squad car, and off they went. This was better than a dream, because it was actually happening.
As he stood there in a blue cloud of exhaust from the last squad car's rapid escape, Moby visible, scratching furiously at the back window, he reveled in the freedom that was now his life, his own again, and for the long haul. Just a short time ago, he'd left the town's Main Street with its inviting stretch of bars for a quick view of Hulda on her way to what was sure to be her long stretch in Thompson State Prison. No county jail for her, not with her record. And now he stood looking at the golden road that was his life, lying there right, stretched out in front of him. Free! He was free. Rid, rid, RID! Of both Hulda and Moby. Two strikes in one!
He cast a look at the heavens and then looked quickly away. Whoever rules may have just rid him of Moby and Hulda, but that same Whoever lumbered him with them in the first place! He wasn't about to risk acknowledging the presence of Him, Her or It. No, he had plenty of other things to think about. Like annulling the marriage. Which he was sure he could do. There were no offspring, so no proof of their ever sharing a conjugal bed. Oh erk, ugh. Where is a drink when you need one?! And if that didn't work, he was certain he could divorce her. For desertion, maybe. Or incompatibility. And, did it really matter? She was GONE.
He did a little gavotte and a spin, ending with a celebratory twirl that almost threw him to the ground. When he recovered from the giddy bout of laughing that had him first shedding tears and then his tie and jacket, he strode on. And that is what he did - he strode. Like a returning war hero at the head of a Welcome Home parade. Like a king making his way to his throne. Like a successful Wall Street Trader doing an Occupy-Walk-By-And-Smirk stride.
He, Magister Magoo, strode back to the Post Office where he happily took his place in line. When he reached the spot where the Wanted posters hung, he took the book down and ripped out the sheet with Hulda's picture and the description of her vile acts. Unable to stop smiling, he beamed and nodded at everyone who turned to look first at the sound of ripping and then at him as he folded the poster and put it in his pocket, saying, "My wife. It's my wife, don't you know." Though he wasn't sure whether that mini-caricature of a mouse could read or not, he knew she would recognize the picture. And he'd delight in telling her how he'd gotten rid of both Hulda and Moby.
He danced to the window when it was his turn and bought three books of stamps. Tonight would be bookkeeping time. He'd drain or close them all the bank accounts and open a new one in another bank. Pay all the bills. Put them out for the postman to take tomorrow. Then it'd be time to summon the mini-mouse and have a good old down and dirty celebration! Teach her how to throw back a shot. Lots of shots. Get her loaded along with him. Use one of Hulda's thimbles. Be the right size.
Finished with his Post Office business he set about visiting the bars he'd neglected earlier, but limited himself to one drink at each. Then, cutting cross town, he stopped at Wellbeing Bedding to order a new mahogany king sized sleigh bed with all the fixings! From downy-topped double-firm mattress right through to handsome duvet and shags, whatever the hell they were. Without Hulda's demands, all expensive of course, he could afford to set a new standard for himself and his future life, beginning with a new bed and all that goes with it. He was going to do some rearranging of things, oh yes indeed he was. And it started with a bed that had never even so much as glimpsed Hulda. Or Moby, god rot his bull's eyed bulk of a body!
Magoo arrived back home in time to greet the Wellbeing delivery truck and then stand in happy awe as he watched one set of workmen handle the dis-assembly and removal of the old while another worked at the re-assembly of the new. After which, in the quiet of this new lease on life, he made up the bed and then dumped the various packaging materials, together with all of Hulda's medicaments and toiletries in the back yard waste bin.
Closing doors and turning off lights as he went, he made his rather weary way back upstairs to a bedroom cleared of any signs of Hulda, the sleigh bed standing resplendent with its high soft yet firm mattress dressed in a welter of fine sheeting and pillows, awaiting as if in greeting. He just managed to pull off his shoes before throwing himself down without even a passing thought for a drink. And slept. And slept. Until at last he awoke. To find a mini-mouse seated on his chest.
"Ahhhhhhh!" screamed a startled Mr. Magoo.
"You really should do something about your snoring."
"I snore?"
"Yep, like a freight train with square wheels." Minnie looked at him, a thoughtful expression on her face. "Your new bed looks so comfortable, but with the way you snore, I'd never be able to get any sleep."
"You've slept fine for years down stairs in your mouse hole, don't start getting too big for your ..." Magoo looked the mighty mini-mouse up and down, "okay, no pants. Just don't think you're bigger than you are. And don't start thinking you've got any rights to this bed. This bed is mine."
"Yeah, about what I expected. --- So, I see both Hulda and Moby are gone. I read the paper you left on the dresser. But what's happened to Moby?"
"You can read?" Magoo had levered himself up into a sitting position by now and Minnie had taken up a post on the high rail at end of the sleigh bed, so they were about equal in height.
"Look, little man, I can talk, can't I? Is it that hard to figure out that I can also read? So yeah, your biggest pain in the neck is gone for good, but what about the hulk? I ask again."
For a tiny mini-mouse, Magoo thought, she could look and sound fairly intimidating. He sighed. Okay, she wasn't Hulda and that was a blessing, but still, having to answer to anybody seemed a real pain in the butt. But, Minnie was now stalking back and forth on the sleigh rail, uttering mini-growls.
"Okay! They hauled him off when they haul off Hulda. I called the cops. And, hey! You were probably watching! So what are you hassling me for anyway?" He was working himself up into a snit and Minnie hopped off to sleigh rail to race right up and perch on his knee.
"Yeah. I saw it all. But is he really gone? Gone for good?"
"If Hulda isn't here, neither is Moby. He hates me. He's not coming back."
"Good!" Minnie slapped her two front paws together and beamed a mini-beam at him. "So what's the plan, little guy?"
"Well, if you don't knock off the insults, a call to the Have A Heart Exterminators. And if they can't catch you, it will be because you've cut your losses and will be picking on someone your own size." And Magoo dissolved himself into a huddled lump and was heaving and hoving around and squeaking.
"Look, I live in the attic. I have done for as long as I've lived. I was born up there. Something you didn't know. I ran my parents off and have kept the house clear of things other than you. And Hulda and the Hulk. Now they're gone, why don't we just part ways. You'll never know I'm around." And she prepared to scramble down off the bed.
Suddenly, Magoo didn't want to be alone. And hell, she'd been in the house for years and never put a whisker wrong as far as he had known. And she'd given Moby a terrible time.
"Ahhhhh....." He started.
Minnie halted and peered at him, still angry, he could tell. "What?!"
"You care for a drink?" Magoo himself was feeling a strong need for one himself.
"Oh." Minnie halted. "Is that the stuff Hulda called 'your likker'? You know, when she was bellowing at you for being 'blind drunk', and 'a bloody fool' and 'a no good...."
Magoo broke in, wagging both a finger and his head at her. "Look. I'm going downstairs and I am going to get blind drunk. If you want to come along and have a shot or two in celebration, I kept a couple of Hulda's thimbles for just this purpose. So, are you in or are you out, since I guess we're both in this together. But I just bought this bed. It's a luxury I've been dreaming of for forever. So, what if I build you your own private little house and you can live in it right over there in the corner? I'll even make a cozy bed for you to sleep in. What do you think?"
"I wouldn't sleep in your bedroom if you paid me in brie and camembert. I'm happy in the attic. I've got a wonderful bed and the space is all mine. Don't do me no favors. A doll's house! A cute little bed! Just shut it and let's go explore this drink stuff."
"Not drink stuff, " Magoo was saying as he attempted to hurry down the stairs at least as fast as he could go, Minnie already way ahead of him. "NOT 'drink stuff,' you idiot mini-monster! Johnny Walker Black. And you oughta be happy I don't have any cheap stuff to feed to you. 'Drink stuff' -- you sound like Hulda!"
Minnie was up on the table waiting for him. The Johnny Walker Black was still behind the cleaning stuff in the cupboard under the sink where Hulda never went. Waiting for him. So what, he asked himself, was he waiting for?


Shortly after that first day of celebration, Magoo switched to bourbon, Minnie following happily, and over the next year, they both slid to the bottom of a bourbon bottle where they stayed, Magistier Magoo, old sot, together with mini-mouse extraordinaire, Minnie, newly besotted sot. "Cheap drunk," Magoo called her, affectionately, since it took less than 7 thimbles full of Maker's Mark to put her out, snoring mini-snorts and burbles.
Five months later, when Stewie, a large sewer rat, broke in and set up bachelor digs for himself in the kitchen, Minnie sobered up enough to decide a drinking life was not for her. And after disposing of the Stewie by trapping him in the sump pump and threatening to jump on the start button, she set about drying out Magoo.
The process was not easy or pretty and didn't get serious until after an ugly session with washing soda that persuaded Magoo himself to swear off the drink. Then, together, they joined Alcoholics Anonymous, Minnie attending as a ride-along, stuffed in one of Magoo's pockets. They made good progress, spending days in retrofitting the house and evenings learning Scrabble first and Bananagrams.
Watching Minnie struggle with moving tiles on and off the little easel thing for Scrabble or moving Bananagram tiles back and forth on the table top kept Magoo amused as she would inevitably scoot herself right off the table every night. Quick though -- her return up one of Magoo's pant legs was remarkable. He took to timing her, using his father's old pocket watch. Under 3 seconds, and he allows her a free cream cheese puff.
In their 2nd year of sobriety, Magoo and Minnie opened the 4M B&R (Magister Magoo & Mini-Minnie Boarding and Rooming) in Magoo's home. The house is big enough to house 4 paying guests on the 2nd floor, each with a bed-sitting room and all of them sharing a full bath. An addition of a small bath on the top floor allows 2 spinster sisters to live up there in in exchange for cooking and cleaning. Magoo lives at the back of the house with his macaw, Tweetie-two, in a master suite of bed-bath-and sitting room. The kitchen and dining rooms both are ample It is altogether a pleasant arrangement. The Chamber of Commerce recommends the 4M B&R to all salesmen coming through on short trips. Magoo is kept entertained by their traveling salesmen stories. Minnie is kept entertained by causing them dreams they can't explain and would never tell. The sisters kept in a tizzy as they are both in virginal love with Magoo and harbor delightfully innocent fantasies about him. Minnie keeps busy crocheting, using the hair from one of Hulda's old wigs that was tossed up in the attic where Minnie continues to hang out. Her doilies are rather revolting but they wash very well and salesman's hair gel keeps them pliant so they retain their shape. Minnie made Magoo a woven toupee, as his hair is thinning on top, but the idea of putting Hulda's hair on his head had him looking longingly at the bottle of Jim Beam's they keep on the dining room mantel as a reminder and test, so Minnie took back her gift and instead lets him win at chess, 2 games out of every 3.
As to Hulda, she seduced the prison warden within the first month. When the warden's wife found out, she shot Hulda between the eyes, killing her instantly. Now the wife keeps tabs on the warden from inside her prison cell. And Hulda has gone to her reward, wherever that is.
Moby, Hulda's white cat, escaped the police easily and took up living in the town dump, keeping the rat population down and being bragged about as the Sanitation Department's Secret Weapon. Moby and Stewie share war stories about Mini-Minnie and get drunk on the dregs from wine bottles and beer cans.


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