Taking your nickels and dimes
September 18, 2012
This is a story about despair. Giving in. Resignation. In the face of evil. Its constant nagging at your nerves. Taking your nickels and dimes. Making the simplest of tasks onerous. That’s how tyranny works. You get tired of fighting so many small battles. That you cave in.
A MYSTERY BEYOND COMPREHENSION
They were everywhere. Droppings. Poo poo between the medicine bottles. Little yellow pills and brown ones two. In the pharmacy. Under the cushions. In the furniture store. Between the twenties. In the bank vault. Amongst the odd and ends of the Dollar Store. Like laces between cashews. They were everywhere in the plaza except the restaurant. They, being the mice. That the Ohara brothers had seeded in the plaza months before. The Oharas of pest control. Crafty brothers. Like the Kochs.
The owner of the Canadiana Restaurant, Luigi Manco, could not explain it. Now Luigi looked like a butcher. Handlebar moustache. That he kept well oiled. Like the horns of some ‘Jungular’ beast. A waiter buffalo?
“I don’t know why I should feel so bad. There’s a cigarette in my ashtray. And a pain in my heart.” Luigi said to the pest control brothers. Sean and Pat Ohara.
The Ohara boys shook their heads and smiled. Bright orange uniforms. Like dusk and dawn.
Luigi didn’t notice. The restaurateur’s mind was elsewhere. An agglomeration of thoughts. His gaze fixed on some evasive horizon. Of the waitress. Elisa. Her hips. Like rolling mountains. Where there were puma. Shrubbery. And caves filled with buried treasure.
Luigi sighed. His nose twittered.
“Getting back to the matter at hand,” said Sean Ohara.
Luigi jumped to attention. His chin up. Proud. He curled his moustache in his fingers. A habit. That he was totally unaware of. Like eating sushi. Perhaps not totally. But only on the very ledge of his consciousness. For now his resolve was not to have his restaurant tarnished by the rumors of pestilence.
“Oh, yes. There are things more important than romance. There is pestilence.”
The Ohara brothers smiled. Though they were confused.
Pat wondered. Why had the mice avoided the restaurant? It was a reserve of culinary rations. Pat grinned. You gotta love a mystery. Ah, the Oharas’ reputation was built upon their ability to sleuth out such conundrums. For it was…
“… In these paradoxes, that the truth lies,” Sean Ohara continued his brother’s thoughts out loud. In his light Japanese accent. An accent he had gone to Japan to cultivate. For he and his brother were third generation Canadians. He looked at his brother Pat who nodded in agreement.
“We must ask the question.” Pat raised one of his fingers. Pointed to the almighty in the sky. “Why?”
Luigi waved his hands in the air, then his head and then his hair in a current at variance. He was angry.
“Don’t give me this Asian mystical shit!” he cried in his light Italian accent. Luigi was a fourth generation Canadian who had picked up his Italian accent while on summer holidays in Rochester, New York. “The mice don’t like my food. I don’t give a shit! I don’t want their patronage. They aren’t paying customers. You should be out pestering the owners of the other stores where the mice find their sustenance.”
Luigi, hands on his hips, glared at the two pest control officers in their bright orange suits. That resembled the inmate uniforms in American prisons. Which is what they were. Second hand uniforms. Death row inmates. Patrick had picked them up on the net. At a very reasonable rate. Oh, they were a little soiled. But one had to make allowances.
“We have already spoken to the other owners,” Patrick said, quietly, almost inaudibly, so confident was he in his position as an exterminator.
Sean began to look around the kitchen as his brother spoke. He moved some pots that hung from the ceiling. They clashed.
“Don’t touch those!” Luigi barked. Luigi didn’t appreciate anyone playing his pots. Who was not an artist. A cook. Or a summer student.
“Mr. Manco,” Patrick continued. “Mr. G. has given us full powers to investigate the source of this outbreak of rodents in the plaza. We have the papers if you insist upon seeing them. He told us not to leave any rock unturned. And this,” he said tapping on the pot with his fingernails, “is a rock unturned.”
“Well, I don’t like you poking around my restaurant,” Mr. Manco continued, his eyes moving back and forth between the two brothers. “Instead of asking why I don’t have rodents, you might go and ask why the other stores have mice. What are they doing to attract those little buggers?”
“I don’t think there is any cause for that!” Sean looked up from his view of the open door of an oven.
“Cause for what,” Mr. Manco stepped over to where Sean was kneeling and closed the oven door.
“Cursing the mice,” Sean explained, rising to his feet.
“We are all God’s creations,” Patrick added.
Luigi looked from one brother to the other, than slapped his head, muttering something Italian under his breath. Something that rimed with hole. Revealing his love of opera.
“We will be putting traps around your restaurant.” Sean smiled. Nodded toward his brother.
“Traps! Why do you need traps? I’m not the one with the mice.”
“Perhaps,” Pat said stroking his chin, responding on cue, “there is something else in your restaurant killing the poor mice.”
“The poor mice?” Mr. Manco cried. “Whose side are you on?”
“The side of the underdog,” Sean responded, his voice rising in indignation. “The side of justice. The side of those who cannot stand up for themselves. Where there’s darkness, we stand for light. Where there is fear, we make love.”
“The traps won’t get in your way, Mr. Manco,” Patrick added. “They are small pieces of sticky cardboard. About five or six inches long. Most unobtrusive. Your customers will hardly notice them. Unless they step on them. And then they’re a bugger to get off. Might as well go buy new shoes.”
“This is crazy,” Mr. Manco cried. “I don’t have mice. I don’t need traps. This is a lot of to do over nothing.”
Sean and Patrick both turned on Mr. Manco. They spoke in alternate lines.
“You are trying to tell us our business?”
“Do we come in here and tell you how to cook?”
“No sir. We have put traps all over the plaza.”
And then spoke together in a refrain.
“When the mice discover the danger, where will they go? When they discover that their very existence is in peril, where will they go? They will come here. We will drive them out of the rest of the plaza into the restaurant. And then…”
And then the Ohara brothers stamped on the floor with their feet.
Mr. Manco threw up his hands in defeat and walked off. The two Ohara brothers giggled. For as Mr. Manco walked off, he had attached himself to one of the traps, now stuck to the bottom of his shoe.
“That was good, Sean.”
“Can you imagine what he’ll say when he discovers the trap on his shoe?”
“Blow a gasket.”
Tears ran down Patrick’s face. Laughing. Sean put his arm around his brother’s shoulder.
“I have seen the future,” Patrick said. “And it is filled with mouse traps. Our mouse traps.”
“I hope so, dear brother,” Sean responded. “But I can’t help wondering why there are no mice in the restaurant.”
“The Golden Cat?” Patrick asked.
Sean shook his head. “I think not. The Golden Cat has free reign through the whole plaza. And yet the mice thrive everywhere, but… No, dear brother, it is a mystery beyond comprehension.”
Sean turned and looked out the window for dramatic effect. Except that since they were in the kitchen, there was no window.