The Mouse, the Cheese and the Trap: A Tale of Three Species

The Trap was set. Placed in a strategic corner of a little-used kitchen it sat quietly, contemplating the moment when the Mouse would arrive. The Cheese was wedged uncomfortably atop the Trap. And the Cheese was not happy.

“Why do you and that Woman insist on using me to lure the Mouse?” asked the Cheese.   “Why are you in particular so greedy for blood in this house?”

The Trap was silent for several seconds then made a tiny shrug, bouncing the Cheese a little bit off its wooden platform perch. “I dunno. Maybe it’s because I was made to kill, for you know how I love the thrill. I love to lure an unsuspecting rodent to my deathly grip. It gets the sap running fast through my grainy pip.”

“That disgusts me,” the Cheese said, shivering slightly on its wooden perch. “I should just jump off this thing. That Woman who put me here, like you, has absolutely no regard for my well-being.”

“Your well-being? Ha!” said the Trap. “Listen to me whine. You were made to be eaten. To kill is my sign. And when the Mouse arrives, both objectives will be mine.”

“But you are forgetting the life of the Mouse,” said the Cheese, who felt like a louse.

The Trap was quiet for several minutes, contemplating this heretofore unrealized notion. Again, another shrug. Another bounce. The Cheese settled itself with the motion.

“The Woman told me that the only good mice are dead.   That Mouse has been living off of the Woman’s thread. Haven’t you seen it scuttle about the house in the night? Foraging for food when its time is right?”

“Well,” said the Cheese, “doesn’t the Mouse need to eat, too? And how can I see while in the fridge: cold, dark and blue.”

“Then you should be happy to be here with me,” said the Trap. “I’m sure this is probably the most excitement you’ll ever see.”

“You would be wrong, Trap, and this is true,” the Cheese said. “The most excitement I’ve had was being cut me into this wedge, then wedged atop of you.”

“I’m flattered,” said the Trap.

The Cheese seethed with discontent.

After another several minutes, tiny footsteps could be heard padding across the worn linoleum. The Cheese and the Trap said not a word. They sat transfixed and lay in wait for the approaching Mouse had a sprightly gait. The corner in which they sat appeared a little darker as the afternoon sun fell near.

The Trap repressed a giggle. “It’s coming!” The Cheese began to wiggle, its being was thrumming

After a moment more, in a soft glow from the window above the Mouse did show. It presented itself to the Trap and the Cheese. Its arrival brought with it a gentle breeze.

“Good evening to you,” it said, sniffing casually at the Cheese. The Cheese took a deep breath and replied with a wheeze.

“And a good evening to you,” it said to the Mouse. “What are you doing out and about at this time in the house?”

“Ah, such a good question, Cheese. I am so hungry. I’ve looked high and low for one morsel to calm my tummy.”

The Trap stifled a laugh, as was his fashion. The Cheese regarded the Mouse with instant compassion.

“But don’t you know the way out of this place? You must have found your way in at some point in space. Have you tried to find your way back? I’m sure it’s not much more than a knack.”

The Trap shuddered, and in so doing scooted the Cheese even closer to the edge as it tooted. Swiss was the Mouse’s preferred Cheese. And Swiss it was, perched precariously upon the Trap before it.

“Alas, no. I wish I could remember, but my memory fails me for lack of care.  Though I believe I came in one day through that door over there. Oh,” the Mouse exclaimed, “but to have a bit of food! Oh but a morsel to lighten my mood!”

The Cheese despaired of the Mouse’s pitiful suffering, such a pitiful chap. “Let me sacrifice myself for this Mouse,” it whispered to the Trap. “Let my life not be spent in vain in the midst of your strife. Let me give life to this suffering beast, and spare it to live a little more of life.”

The Trap wouldn’t hear of it.

“My job is to kill this distressed rodent,” it hissed. “Can you not see how it suffers, it will not be missed! Damn it, I was placed on this mission and will finish the job that I was set by commission!”

The Mouse strained to hear, but could only make out a few scrapes and rumbles, well muffled no doubt.

“So, do either of you fine fellows have something with which I can cure my starvation and stifle the itch?”

“Yes,” said the Trap, with a voice full of glee.

“No!” said the Cheese, “most certainly not me!”

“No?” asked the Mouse. “What do you mean, ‘no’, Cheese? Aren’t you made to be eaten as I please?”

The Cheese contemplated this for a moment, and the realization began to foment.

“Yes,” the Cheese finally admitted. “Yes, I am, to you I’m committed.”

“So,” the Mouse said, inching closer, “do you agree? That your very existence is dinner for me?”

The Trap began to shake and bounce like a ball. The Cheese neared the edge and threatened to fall.

“Will you not stop, Trap!” the Cheese commanded. “Do you not see the truth in which the Mouse demands it? Stop shaking this instant! You’re giving me the squeaks. If you don’t stop, off this Trap I will sneak!”

But the Trap with its shaking, it could not stop. The Cheese bounced hither and yon while sitting on top. The Mouse, it salivated more and more, until finally with the energy that a Cheese can endure, the Swiss wedge leapt from the Trap and onto the floor. It landed a mere inch from the Mouse, and a few inches from the platform on which it previously sat in the house.

“You traitor! You liar, why did you dive? You lied, you lied, you lied and connived!” the Trap exclaimed. “How shall I complete my mission without you? Why do you take from me that which I’m due?”

The Mouse sat on its haunches, contemplating its next move. The Trap continued to shake, threatening to loosen its deathly snap and groove. The Cheese sat in a Swiss smudge on the floor, temporarily glued to the linoleum on which it was bore. The trio regarded each other with a mixture of awe and contempt, what an ugly picture.

“But this is not what a Trap is supposed to say,” said the Mouse. “I myself have bettered many a trap in my day. You have so much to learn, you who appear so petulant and aggressive. I would venture a guess that you are fairly new and possessive.”

The Trap was aggravated further at the Mouse’s comments.

“And how would you know if I was fairly new? Are you some sort of sorcerer, too?”

The Mouse looked at the mechanism, not misunderstood, and saw a small label affixed to the wood.

“Made in China, this label it says. You are the first Chinese Trap I’ve encountered in my days!”

And with this pronouncement from the Mouse, the Cheese let out a boisterous laugh in the house. “Oh ho, look at you, Trap! You aren’t even from here! The two of us were made right in America dear. You had to be shipped in from clear across the world!” And with this, the Cheese and the Mouse enjoyed several moments of frivolity.

The Trap would not be fazed. “So, yes, I was made in China, but I have had the pleasure of traveling half the width of the globe in good measure to arrive right here at this moment in time. More than either one of you can say for yours, having never stepped foot off these very shores.”

And for a moment, the three again regarded each other with a mixture of awe and contempt for the other.

“That may be, you magnificent Sage,” said the Mouse to the Trap, creeping toward the Cheese bit by bit, “but you are still very young and you definitely act your age.”

The Cheese looked at the soft, rounded nose that grew ever larger. It swallowed hard and calculated the distance of margin. “So, Mouse, I venture to guess that you will now eat me and find yourself blessed?”

The Mouse dropped its head to look the Cheese. It seemed altogether too many times pleased. “You would venture correctly, I plan to eat you directly.”

The Trap would not be had. “You think you venture correctly,” it shouted out loud, “but I still have the ability to destroy you both!” And with a final shudder the Trap flipped on its end. The mechanism fully engaged itself, and the Trap flopped and it flailed and it hit the door, finally falling flat on the floor.

Still shuddering, the Trap found it could not speak, having fallen upside down alone and weak. The Mouse walked over to investigate, heaving itself along with its weight. The Cheese could move no more than before, having been glued by itself to the floor.

“What do you see, Mouse? Has the Trap been destroyed?” the Cheese asked hopeful, but of hope devoid.

The Mouse grew closer, noticing the still-vibrating wooden platform atop the engaged metal hill. “The poor thing, it has truly failed in its mission. For the time being, I would say it is out of commission,” the Mouse mumbled with ease, turning its attention back to the Cheese.

The Cheese felt the gaze of the Mouse. A breeze blew in under the door of the house.

“What do you suggest we do now?” the Cheese asked, wishing it were back in the cow.

The Mouse regarded the Cheese from its seat. “I know not what you are to do now, but as for me, I shall eat.”

And the Mouse scraped the Cheese up from the floor and began to devour it in front of the door. The Cheese could not speak, sliding down the Mouse’s neck, so the Mouse ate in peace near the Trap’s wooden deck. The Mouse looked at the Swiss smudge on the floor and then at the Trap that lay near the door.

All was silent, except for the sound of boot heels crunching outdoors on the ground.

The Mouse remembered in a moment of clear, how it had arrived inside the house that year.

And when the Man of the house opened the door with a jerk, and entered inside from a long day at work, the Mouse escaped to where all good mice reside, to that place in the wonderful land of outside.

© 2014 Echo LaVeaux

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