A Cheesy Destiny
(a weird children's story)
A mouse changed my life. I was sitting on the stoop of my flat in Brooklyn one afternoon (which I used to do frequently to get a breath of fresh air; the air is so crisp and clean there). Anyway, there I was, quietly humming Hi-Ho The Derrio when a little mouse sidled up to me and nestled in the crook of my leg. After a sizeable and rather awkward pause he looked up at me with doleful eyes and asked if I was Bill Carrothers. I said yes, I was. I admit that I was a little embarrassed. What I mean is that the face looked familiar but I couldn't for the life of me remember his name. We exchanged small talk for a while (with me desperately trying to think of his name...turns out I had never met him before) and then all of a sudden he just blurted it out.
"Hey, aren't you the guy that knows?"
"Knows what," I said."You know, about the cheese," he retorted. I looked surprised. I had to.
"What in heaven's name are you talking about?" I said (and with just the slightest hint of naivete. What a performance...).
"You know damn well what, you selfish bastard. Don't try to play dumb with me! The cheese connection...your friend...the stockpiles of goddamned cheese!" By this time he was screeching at the top of his little lungs. Did I say little? He was making more damn noise than a busted chainsaw. Passersby were being drawn in by the noise. I had to say something, anything, to shut him up.
"O.K." I said. "Just calm down and come on inside and then we can talk, all right?" So inside we went. I told my girlfriend to get lost, that me and the mouse had some shit to discuss. The mouse came clean with me right off.
"Look," he said, "I know all about you and your friend and his secret cheese facility."
"You do?" I said. "Yeah," he continued, "and what's more, I'm protected as an endangered species, so if you try any funny stuff, I've got friends that are prepared to go to the Department of Wine and Cheeses and tell them everything."
"Well, you've obviously thought of everything," I said. "So what kind of a deal do you want to make?" He eyed me greedily. "Make me an offer I can't refuse." Of all the rotten mice in this world I just had to get squeezed by one who thinks he's Marlon Brando. Needless to say, I wasn't in much of a mood to bargain.
"How about two pieces of Monterey Jack, a circle of Edam and three slices of Jarlsburg?"
I said. "No way! He shot back. "No, I'm afraid you're going to have to do alot better than that if you give a damn about my silence." I could tell he was just loving the fact that he thought he was in the driver's seat, this foolish little mouse.
"O.K." I countered. "How about four pieces of Monterey Jack, a whole pound of Edam, another pound of Jarlsburg and a four pound bag of grated Sharp Cheddar?"
"Look here!" he bawled. "If you don't start ponying up some serious cheese right now, I'll go to the Wine and Cheese people today and tell them everything. All the cheese stockpiles, the secret warehouses full to the top with cheese, the Kraft agents, all those goats that your friend Talalla had killed because they wouldn't give up their milk...all the payoffs...everything! Do you hear me? Everything!"
"And what makes you think anyone's going to believe you?" I said. "I'm a respected member of the artistic community and I'm a human being. You're nothing but a sleazy, foul smelling, lice infested little rodent. Besides that, you've got no proof. It'll be your word against mine. You'll tell them, and they'll come out and they'll find nothing because we will have already packed up, moved out, and gone on doing business somewhere else. I'll take my chances. As for my original offer, it still holds. You suit yourself." He stalked across the room, twitching his whiskers and swishing his tail.
"You don't understand, do you?" he said, shaking his head as he sat down on the couch and stared out the window. "How could you? I grew up a poor, city mouse on streets just like these. I had nothing, absolutely nothing. I scrapped for what I got, dodging cats and dogs and subway trains along the way. You, on the other hand, have everything; a house, a bed, supportive parents and cheese. You've always had cheese. You can get Gouda, Jarlsburg, Colby, Swiss, Mozzarella, Sharp and Mild Cheddar, Bleu, even Cream Cheese, just by asking. It's so easy for you."
There was a long silence. He turned away from the window and looked at me and I could see the tears welling up in his eyes.
"Do you have any idea what it's like to be a mouse in a man's world; to be taken seriously? Do you know how it feels to be constantly chased out of people's homes? Have you ever seen one of your buddies' neck crushed in a vice just for the sin of being hungry and wanting something to eat? Tell me you know what it's like to be looking at a beautiful girl and then have her take one look at you and scream bloody murder. Did you ever once consider the possibility that mice have feelings and hopes and desires, just like you?" Another long, accusatory silence. "I don't think you have," he said quietly, bowing his head. "No, I don't think so."
As his voice trailed off, I began to really feel sorry for him. Up to this point in my life I have never had a compassionate bone in my body for a mouse. In fact, I used to relish the idea that I had all the cheese and the mice had none. But here, sitting before me, was a kind of mouse I had never seen before. This was a truly passionate mouse. He started to weep openly and it was at that moment I realized what my true purpose in life was, is, and will always be. My purpose is to give succor to the huddling masses beneath the streets; To give them the hope to carry on during times of weariness; To give them a destiny that goes beyond D-Con. My purpose is to bring cheese, glorious cheese, to the mice.
Return to the Playhouse