I GLANCED AT the picture in my hand. It showed one of the wren houses I’d built in the spring of 2008 and hung in a nearby tree. A dead mouse dangled absurdly by its tail, evidently somehow caught in the intricately twig fashioned wren’s nest inside. I showed it to my wife and in a rather typical response, she said, “Ugh!”
For my part, my active mind took off for parts unknown and I conjured a fantasy.
At the end of the summer season on 10-17-2008 about the time of the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, I wrote this original story based on that picture. In October 2016, a mere eight years later, but on the first anniversary of the blog I added to my website, I decided to update the story, fix its many flaws and publish it as a blog post. Here is my fantasy.
Yes, folks, the stock market crash affected everyone. After investing heavily in birdseed and sub-prime tree-house condos, the mouse finally took a dive. Word has it the little rodent had just received notice of a pending lawsuit from the Fed, something about back taxes on some dilapidated, cockroach-infested properties in New York.
Well, they caught up to him and he took it hard, folks. Recently, his buddies in the underground saw him looking all ragged, scurrying around and muttering, “I bought stock in the sub-prime housing market and “Crash,” just like that I’m ruined…ruined…do you hear me, RUINED!”
In the aftermath of what occurred, it looked like he couldn’t face it, folks. Personally, I know there’s more to the strange position we find Mr. Mouse in than forensics has discovered. I’m not telling. Hey, if they can’t figure it out…
You see, I happen to know that a flock of angry wrens ganged up on him late one afternoon and did the dirty deed. I think maybe he got a little push. How do I know? Let’s just say a little birdy told me.
The cops still think it’s suicide and it looks like it, but will they ever know for sure? I mean, hung by his tail from a birdhouse, a wren house no less, most assuredly dead and swinging in the wind. What a horrific way to go!
It makes water-boarding and other terrors our government claims never happened seem tame, doesn’t it? Do you suppose the birds “’boarded” the mouse first? I don’t know, but I put a scenario together and to me it fits. This is what I’m thinking.
I picture a small, dim room of thin, interwoven sticks. A circular shaft of bright light focuses on a spot in the middle of, let’s call it a nest, and there’s Mr. Mouse, his four limbs held firmly in the beaks of four nasty looking military wrens. In front of him is a dish of water.
From the surrounding darkness, a harsh voice grates at the wet, shivering prisoner.
“Okay, again, we know you started collecting rents twice instead of once a month. You think we’re stupid? You stashed it, didn’t you? Now talk.”
“No, I didn’t do it. You got the wrong mouse. ”
“Lies! Put him under again.”
“Sarge, not again,” Private Smith says, aghast. He gulps. He didn’t enlist to torture other animals.
“FOLLOW ORDERS, PRIVATE!”
“Yes, Sarge.” His reticence overcome by fear, he steels himself and says, “Okay, in you go.”
“No, no. I’ll talk…I’ll talk.”
“All right, Mouse, spill it.”
“Look, I did it. I needed the money. I got bad advice…real bad advice. I had a few shekels to throw at the market and this guy I met in the cellar under a bar says; he says to me, “Psst! Sub-prime, you make a lotta money quick.”
“More lies. Under you go.” He looks at Private Smith and nods.
“No…no… there’s more…” Mouse looks desperate.
“Thought so,” Sarge says. “Go on.”
“Yeah, well, I took my savings and put it into sub-prime. It looked good at first, but it went south about a month ago. I owe money. I had to make it up somehow. Please, mercy!”
Sarge studies Mouse for a minute or two. Finally, he says, “That sounds more like truth. Okay, I believe you.”
Mouse takes a deep breath. Finally!
“You tell me where the money is so I can get it back to the wren community and we’ll think about letting you go.”
“I’ll tell, I’ll tell,” Mouse pleads.
“Give.” So the mouse gives all his information and wren searchers go out to collect it.
Sarge smiles. “Put him under again, Private.”
“But, sir, why?”
“I want him to remember what it’s like to mess with us wrens.”
Terrified, the Private does it again.
Finally, the sergeant gives his Private a wicked smile. “Now hang him out to dry.”
The scene fades. I come to and realize I’ve been daydreaming. I look at my watch. Getting late. Better put something together for the next session with my writers group. How about this daydream? Why not?
How does such a fantasy evolve? One needs a sense of humor, a need to fill and some agency that kicks up the creative juices. That’s all, except putting it to paper. And that part's fun.