The Man in the Cupboard, pt. 14

We last left Mike in the hooked claws of Ben the crazy bluejay, flying through the park to where the she tinkers might live.

To read the previous episode, click here!

To start at the beginning, click here!

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As Mike felt his feet leave the safety of the nest he thought for sure that he was going to die, after so many adventures to get this far, this one would be the one to end it all.  He already imagined the hooked claws loosening their grip as Ben flapped up and free of the twisted crab apple tree.

Up flying in the clear Ben whistled a happy tune to himself, each note grating on Mike’s already strained nerves.  How dare the bird be so carefree while he hung beneath fearing for his life?  He gripped the bird’s scaly ankles until his knuckles turned white. If the bird forgot about him, which was a real possibility, and released his grip, at least he’d have a chance to catch himself.

The park unfolded under them like a map, each trail, each tree a perfect miniature from this far above.  Mike searched for the two pines and the willow from the poem and tried hard to push his fear of heights aside. Each flap of Ben’s wings made his stomach clench tighter as he was pulled higher into the sky.

“Does little candy like to fly?” Ben whistled, giving Mike a little shake.

Mike held on tighter and squeezed his eyes shut. “No! Pay attention to what you’re doing!” Although it was a relief that bird hadn’t forgotten about him, he could do without any extra shaking. He was shaking enough on his own without the bird doing it to him.

“Don’t you trust a bird to fly? That’s what birds do best.” To demonstrate Ben tucked in his wings and plummeted spinning toward a wisteria arbor. Moments before striking the ground he flung his wings open again and soared through the tunnel of flowers, startling a flock of pigeons into flight in a flurry of feathers and angry screeching.

It took Mike a few moments to convince himself he hadn’t died in that very moment.  A pigeon feather had gotten stuck against his neck, and it tickled at his face threatening to make him sneeze. He didn’t dare remove it. “Never do that again, I beg you.”

“Candy not having fun? Too bad. No worry, we there soon.”

The thought of arrival brought a whole new set of worries. Ben was going to have to set him down somehow, and he couldn’t use his claws. Images of himself falling and being crushed against the ground or thrown against an unyielding tree trunk flashed through his mind, and with each one his heart beat harder.  As much as he had laughed off other threats to his life before, he truly didn’t want to die, not when he was this close to reaching his prize.

Ben banked between a pair of maples and a willow came into view.  On either side was a tall slender pine tree, just like he had said there would be. The bird swooped low to the ground and then slowed suddenly, flapping his wings forward, before dropping Mike into the undergrowth.

Mike hit the ground and rolled end over end several times before stopping flat on his back staring upwards through the thin draping limbs of the willow.

Somewhere nearby Mike heard Ben land and scratch around in the thin underbrush before hopping over and peering at him from above.  “Biscuit please.” He poked at Mike’s pocket with his beak.”

Mike climbed back to his feet and brushed himself off. “I’m fine, thank you.”

Ben missed the sarcasm in his voice entirely. “Good. Biscuit?”

“Here, take it.” Mike pulled the now smashed biscuit from his pocket which Ben snatched away.

“Where for the tarts?”

Mike described how to find Auntie’s burrow and Ben nodded vigorously, eager to leave. “Before you go you must promise me not to be a bother to her, she’ll love to feed you every once in a while but if you become a nuisance she will stop.”

“Not a bother, never a bother.  I bring her treats too, you see.  Good bird.”

Mike laughed and shook his head, Ben was a good bird at heart.  Even if he tried to eat Mike in the beginning. “Yes, you are.”

As Ben flew off Mike sensed that he wasn’t alone. A twig popped behind him and he heard whispers from the branches of the willow above.

“Turn slowly stranger or I’ll gut you,” said a woman’s voice.

Mike did as he was told, keeping his hand on his cane. Behind him he found the most remarkable she tinker he had ever seen holding a spear leveled at his chest like she knew how to use it.   She wore a walnut-shell breastplate and her hair hung free down her shoulders, reminding him of honey.

As their eyes met she narrowed her eyes and lowered her spear. “Could it really be? Are you what I think you are?”

To be continued…

To read the next episode, click here!

 

 

 

The Man in the Cupboard, pt. 13

In the last episode Mike finally made it to Ben the bluebird’s nest, narrowly avoiding being eaten by whatever lurked in the ivy.  Now, he must see if he can make sense of the crazy bird’s ramblings.

To read the previous episode, click here!

To start at the beginning of the story, click here!

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The dark shadow cast by the bird’s wings descended over the nest where Mike sat perched and trembling.  His held fast to the sticks that made up the nest, his knuckles white with the strain.  Being at the top of the tree was almost enough to unnerve him completely.  Looking down, when he dared, all he could see were branches and leaves, the ground had vanished.

“Why look, I candy I’ve got, all wrapped up nicely.  Is it a chocolate or a mint?” Ben said in a sing song voice while hopping back and forth, making the nest bounce and Mike’s stomach turn even more. “We best unwrap it and find out.”

If Mike could have worked up the courage to let go of the nest for a moment, he would have rapped the bird on the beak with his cane. “You will do nothing of the sort!

“The candy talks!” The bird laughed and cocked his head so far he was nearly upside down as he leaned in to get a better look. His black beady eyes sparkled with glee. “I’ve never had a talking candy before. Let’s get the wrapper off.” He nipped at Mike with his beak. “I do hope it’s got nuts.”

That was enough for Mike, he gripped the nest with one hand and swung the cane with the other. “Benjamin Bluejay I am not candy!” he hollered as it came down on the intruding beak with a crack.

The bird jumped to the other side of the nest, rubbing at his beak with the edge of his dusty blue wing. “That wasn’t very nice. No, no no…” He paced and twitched his wings, glancing back at Mike as if trying to figure him out.

“Listen crazy bird, I need to talk to you. You know everything about the park, what do you know of the she tinkers?”

Ben froze and fixed Mike in his stare, eyes narrowed. Then he began singing to himself, bobbing his head to the rhythm of the words.

Betwixt the pines a willow stands

Where the Valkyries rule the land.

With pointed spear and battle cry

They say that they will never die.

 

Mike leaned forward, the words meant something to the bird they had to be some sort of riddle. “Are the Valkyries the she tinkers? Are you trying to tell me where they are?”

The bird screeched and gave a curt nod. “Smart candy, now I can eat you?”

“Oh no, never, I’m not food.” Mike scooted back as the bird came closer, clicking his tongue inside its beak. “If it’s food you want I know where you can get some delicious biscuits and tarts.”

The bird stopped and stood up tall. “I like tarts, are there raspberry ones?”

“Certainly, and blueberry too.  I’m sure she will make whatever you like if you are polite.” Mike fished out one of the biscuits he had forgotten about from his pockets and tossed it forward. “Here, try this.”

Ben whistled and snatched up the biscuit. “Yes, I like. Where, tell me!”

Mike cringed at the thought of what he was about to suggest but it was the only way he could think of to get down from this tree and over the willow tree mentioned in the song.  “I’ll tell you, but first you have to do something for me.”

“What does the candy want?”

“Carry me to the willow tree where the she tinkers are, then I’ll tell you where you can get your tarts.” Mike cringed. Suggesting to be flown over the park to yet another tree? He must be losing his mind.

“More biscuit?”

Mike felt his other pocket, the second biscuit was still there. “When we get there.”

The bird gave a happy whistle and without waiting a moment grabbed Mike by the shoulders and lifted him from the nest.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Man in the Cupboard, pt. 12

In the previous episode, Mike had reached the end of the hedge trail and parted ways with the two field mice Jacob and Tilly.  Now he faces climbing the mighty crab apple tree to find a crazy bluejay.

To read the previous episode, click here!

To start at the beginning, click here!

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The words of Jacob’s warning echoed through Mike’s head as he made his way through the dense ivy that tangled around his feet, tripping him every other step.  Each brush of the undergrowth against his legs brought a new thrill of panic that some creature might be reaching out to grab him.  The faster he tried to move, the more tangled his feet became and the more times he fell.

When he finally reached the gnarled trunk of the tree all he wanted was a place to sit for a moment catch his breath.  That, and perhaps a hot cup of tea to steady his nerves.  He scanned the ivy for signs of life, nothing moved in the still air. He leaned against the rough bark and closed his eyes, letting the sun warm him.  Surely a few moments wouldn’t do any harm.

Just as Mike was starting to feel ready to attempt the climb something shot around his ankles, yanked him off his feet, and began dragging him under the ivy.  He twisted and flailed for his cane resting against the trunk and managed to knock it into his hands before going under the dark canopy of leaves. With a deft swing of the cane he sent a crackle of magic into the shadows.  Whatever was pulling him screeched and the binding at his feet loosened.

He didn’t stop to see what it was, the second he was free he ran for the tree and climbed as fast as he could until he reached the branches. That’s what Jacob had told him to do in the first place, he cursed at himself for not listening.  When he reached the first branch it was all he could do to pull himself on top of it before collapsing, breathless.  The height made his head swim and the thought of looking down made his stomach turn.

In the branches overhead he heard a series of chitters and squeaks bouncing about.

“What’s this here?” he heard one ask from somewhere above and to the left.

“Dunno, looks like a tall rat without a tail and wearing clothes,” answered another voice off to the right.

“Why’d ya think ol’ Cluny let him go?” asked the first voice.”I thought he’d be dinner for sure.”

A large grey squirrel leaped down on Mike’s branch, making it bounce.  Mike scrambled to grip the branch tighter, and squeezed his eyes shut. “Please don’t shake the branch.” He asked through clenched teeth.

“Wha’ you mean like this?” The grey squirrel jumped up and down a few times and Mike held on even tighter.  Even so he imagined he felt his grip slipping and him plummeting back down to the ivy and into the jaws of that thing that lived there. It wasn’t a pleasant thought.

“Stop it Wetta, you’re scaring him.” A second squirrel joined the first on the branch and the shaking thankfully stopped. Mike dared to look up to see his rescuer and saw a different grey squirrel, this one smaller with flecks of black peppered through his fur.  “Name’s Tucker friend, what’s yours?” he asked extending a paw.

Mike shook his head, he couldn’t imagine letting go, not yet. “Name’s Mike.”

“Well Mike, whatcha doing in our tree? You’re not a nut snatcher, are ya?” Tucker sat with his legs dangling next to Mike being careful not to jar him.  Wetta climbed over to another branch for a better view all the while muttering to himself about crazy rats.

“No, not interesting in nuts.” Mike managed to sit up and swallow down the dryness in his throat, but scooted close to where the branch met the trunk.

“Well then, why ya here?”

“I need to get to Benjamin, I have some questions for him.”

Tucker looked up to the top of the tree. “That’s a mighty hard climb for a land dweller like you. Do you want a lift?”

Mike risked a look up towards the top of the tree, if he had to do it on his own it would take the rest of the day.  That is, if he worked up the courage to let go of the branch.  “Would you do that?”

“Sure, It’d be fun.”

Wetta growled deep in his throat like he didn’t like the idea. “Tucker, what are you doing?”

“Being helpful, one day you should try it.”

“One day you are going to get yourself into trouble,” he said with a sneer and then bounded away.

“Stupid oaf,” Tucker said under his breath before turning back to Mike and extending a paw. “Alright, all you have to do is hang on tight and keep your head down. I’ll do the rest.”

Mike clung to Tucker’s paw and climbed on the squirrel’s back.  His thick fur made it easy to get a solid grip.

 

Without another word they were flying through the branches reaching higher and higher inside the great crab apple tree. Before Mike could think to be terrified they had reached the top and the blue jay’s nest.

Tucker stopped at the edge of the nest and let Mike climb off. “Listen, be careful around the old bird.  He’s a fine chap but he can be unpredictable at times.”

Mike’s legs shook as he climbed to the edge of the nest, this was higher than he had ever been before and he definitely didn’t like it.  “I will, thank you for the lift, I honestly can say I couldn’t do it without you.”

Overhead they heard a whistle of birdsong. “That’d be Ben, I’d best be heading down now, the two of us don’t get along. Good luck. Goodbye.”

Before Mike could say good-bye the squirrel had already turned and began his trip back down.  There was a great rush of wind as Ben landed in his nest.

The bird clucked and cocked his head. “What’s this? Has someone left me a present?”

To be continued…

***

 To read the next episode, click here!

The Man in the Cupboard, pt. 11

In the previous episode, Mike learned that Benjamin the blue jay, the one creature in the park that might know about the fate of the she tinkers, has lost his mind. Today we will bring him one step closer to his goal.

To read the previous episode, click here!

To start at the beginning, click here!

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Mike followed Tilly and Jacob out of the burrow with another warm biscuit in hand and two in his pockets. The two field mice bounded ahead leaving Mike alone to stop and stare. Overnight, the tunnel they had traveled had transformed into a magical place. Tiny drops of dew had collected along the edges of each leaf and tipped the bending tops of each blade of grass. The whole world glittered in the clear cold morning light.

Tilly smiled and laughed as they made their way down the path, often stopping and showing Mike different sights. He marveled at dew bejeweled cobwebs, fuzzy sleeping spiders, and pine cones. Seeing the young mouse happy was a welcome change from the night before.

At first, Tilly tried to get Jacob to come and look as well, but each time he’d refuse and continue on walking, straight-backed and whiskers twitching.

“He’s a serious one today, isn’t he?” Mike asked when Tilly returned once again.

“He isn’t always like this, there must be something on his mind.  That, or he’s trying to impress you.”

Mike couldn’t help but laugh. “Why would he be trying to impress me?”

She shrugged and lowered her eyes. “He always does this when I’m with new friends, it’s his way of showing what a responsible big brother he is.  It’s irritating, I know.”

“No, I find it quite charming. Not every young lady is blessed to have a good big brother like that.”

Up ahead Jacob had stopped in front of what looked like a stone wall. He cleared his throat to get their attention. “Well my good sir, this is the end of the trail for us.”

Mike joined Jacob and found that the wall was actually the edge of a concrete walkway. Standing there, he could see the immense crab apple tree looming overhead, its bent and twisted branches like hands reaching out to snag birds from the sky. The ground beneath the tree crawled with a sprawling ivy.

“You’ll want to go quickly and not stop until you’ve climbed up into the branches.  In the ivy you can’t see what is hiding until it’s already upon you.  Once you are up there you’ll have to watch out for the squirrels. They’re generally very civil unless they think you are threatening their nuts. And believe me, don’t do or say anything that might make them think that.” Jacob said the last with a smile, making Mike thing that he might know about the squirrels from personal experience.

He twisted his cane in his hands.  The tree looked taller by the minute as he stood there and he began to wonder if it was really all that important to go find a she tinker after all. Tilly set a paw on his arm and looked up into his eyes, giving him strength. No, he would complete his quest.  He couldn’t let something as simple as a tree stop him, not after coming this far.

He placed her paw between his hands, it seemed so small. “My dear, it’s been a pleasure to have met and spent time with you.  I promise that I’ll come back this way when I have found what I seek.”

A tear had formed in the corner of Tilly’s eye. “The pleasure is all mine.  I’ll watch for you everyday until you return.” She sniffed and dabbed at her eye with the corner of her kerchief. “Please be careful out there.”

Mike knelt in front of the tiny mouse and gave her a gentle hug. “Don’t you worry about me, I’m a stubborn one. I’ll be back before long.” Tilly nodded and gave her best smile.

Mike turned to Jacob. “As for you, as much as I’d like a sturdy chap like you at my side I understand the importance of keeping the peace. Thank you for everything.”

“I would come if I weren’t needed here, it sounds like a grand adventure. You’d better come back and tell us about everything when it’s over.”

“Aye, that I will.” Mike said as he climbed up to the walkway. The sun shone brighter there, blinding him for a moment.   From the top he looked down into the end of the tunnel, he could barely make out his new friends standing in the shadows. He gave one last farewell before heading off once more into the unknown.

 

To be continued…

The Man in the Cupboard, pt. 10

From Mike and all the humble woodland creatures – Happy Valentine’s Day!  We wish you all warm memorable moments and cherished time spent with loved ones today.

Our last installation of Mike Finnegan’s story left him in the cozy burrow of Tilly’s Auntie Marie trying to learn of the fate of the she tinkers that used to live in the park.  We continue on today with Mike’s adventure.

To read the previous episode, click here!

To start at the beginning, click here!

fiction friday bannerMike awoke to quiet voices coming from the burrow’s kitchen. He squinted in the dim light trying to make out what time it might be and found it hard to tell.  It had to be morning, and early at that.  He felt as if he had only just curled into the downy mouse nest to sleep a few hours ago and would have liked a few more.

He went to push open the rounded door separating the sleeping area from the rest of the burrow to join Tilly and the others when he heard something that made him stop.

“But surely you knew that poor Benjamin has gone a bit mad didn’t you?” he heard Auntie say.

“Well, no.  How would I have known that?” Tilly replied, sounding a bit exasperated.

“She’s right Til. Ever since that summer storm a few months ago, when lightning hit his tree, he’s been a bit off,” Jacob added.

Mike decided that it was time he joined the conversation, eavesdropping was a frightfully rude habit and the last thing he wanted was to be thought of as rude.  The three stopped talking when they saw him.  Tilly’s ears flattened against her head as if she were ashamed.

“I hope we didn’t wake you Mike, field mice are early risers.  Did you sleep well?” asked Jacob as he offered Mike a biscuit and a chair.

“Well enough I suppose. Thank ye.” He took the biscuit with a nod. “I thought I heard mention about the blue jay, is there somethin’ wrong?”

Tilly was about to answer but Auntie beat her to it. “The poor thing has had a rough year, I’m afraid he’s quite addled. Nothing he says makes any sense anymore.  A few weeks ago I asked him if he had seen that the autumn roses were in bloom.  Instead of answering he stood on his head and started to sing about rainbows being smiles when looked at upside-down…”

“I’m so sorry Mike, I didn’t know.” Tilly leaned in to tell Mike as Auntie prattled on about her encounter. “I wouldn’t have brought you all this way to talk to a crazy bird.”

Mike patted Tilly’s paw. “I know lass, don’t ye be bothered by it.” He turned to Auntie, who was still talking to anyone who would listen. “Excuse me, Auntie, hate to interrupt. Ye say he acts a bit odd, and talks nonsense and what not, right?”

Auntie nodded and opened her mouth to start talking once more but Mike didn’t give her the chance.

“With all that, is he still friendly? Or should a stranger like me be wary?”

Auntie cocked her head. “I suppose he is still friendly, he hasn’t shown anyone otherwise. Why do you ask?”

“I’d like to meet him still.  Me ol’ great uncle was also a bit mad, would sing folk tunes to answer questions and sometimes said words backwards and what not. It took some work, but in the end we figured him out.  I’m hoping to do the same with old Benjamin.”

Jacob stood and brushed the crumbs from his fur. “Tilly and I can take you as far as the edge of the hedgerow that leads to the tree.  That’s the edge of our land here, we can’t cross further.  We should be on our way.”

Mike nodded toward Jacob. “I thank ye for the kindness you’ve shown me, it’ll not be forgotten.” Then he turned to Auntie. “You should be proud of your kin.  As for you, my dearie, you are surely the best cook in all the park, me stomach will be missing your biscuits before long.”

Auntie blushed beneath her fur. “You are too kind.  I’ll pack you a little something to take on your way while you collect your things.”

With his cane in hand and his hat on his head, Mike bowed and placed a gentlemanly kiss on Auntie’s paw. “You are indeed a marvel. I hope to cross this way when I return.”

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Man in the Cupboard, pt. 9

It’s Fiction Friday and we’re back with another episode of the Man in the Cupboard. Enjoy!

To read the previous episode, click here!

To start at the beginning, click here!

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Mike crouched down and squeezed his way through the narrow earthen tunnel that led to Auntie Marie’s burrow.  Tilly and Jacob had already hurried through ahead of him, eager to tell Auntie of their visitor.  Smells of roasted parsnip and nuts drifted up the tunnel reminding Mike that he had missed lunch in all the excitement of the day.

The tunnel opened into a warm cozy burrow that was thankfully large enough for Mike to stand in, if just barely.  Tilly and Jacob had hung their belongings on pegs in the wall and now stood at a long low basin washing away the dirt from their paws and snouts.  Auntie Marie stood over a large pot wielding a wooden spoon as long as her arm. Strands of silver flecked the fur at the tips of her ears and tail.  When she saw him she stuck the spoon in her ruffled apron and rushed toward the door.

“Why isn’t this a treat!  It’s been ages since I’ve had a proper visitor.  If only I’d known earlier I would have made something special.  I make a wonderful seed tartlet with the most delicious crab apple sauce you could imagine.  But look at me gabbing away!  Go hang up your things and get washed up, supper will be ready in no time.”

She bustled back to her pot as quickly as she had come leaving Mike with his mouth hanging open.  He had meant to introduce himself properly, and thank her for her hospitality but instead only managed a mumbled, “Yes, of course m’am.”

“Look at you. Has Auntie got your tongue?” Tilly chided as she walked by, the fur of her head still damp from washing. “Don’t worry, I’m sure we can get her to stop talking long enough for you to have a chance to have your say.”

“She’s something else, isn’t she?”

“That’s one way of saying it.  Make sure you tell her how much you enjoy her cooking and she’ll like you forever.”

“That I will lass, thanks for the advice.”

Jacob had already sat at the tidy table and was helping himself to one of the petite biscuits from a walnut shell serving bowl.  Auntie, as expected, was talking in a non stop stream as she tended to her pot, tossing in a pinch of this and that as she went.  Mike joined him and was happy to find the biscuits still warm and fragrant.  Tilly joined Auntie in the kitchen and prepared the tea, ladling a deep red liquid from the crock next to the fire into four earthenware mugs.

Auntie gave her latest creation a taste and declared that supper was indeed ready, and none too soon, between Mike and Jacob somehow all of the biscuits had disappeared. With steaming bowls set in front of each of them, they set in to eat.

For the first time since they entered Auntie stopped talking.

“Dear Auntie, it is very gracious for you to have me in your lovely home.  Thank you.  Allow me to introduce myself, I’m Mike Finnegan.”

“He’s a Tinker, Auntie.  He’s come searching for other tinkers here in the park.” Tilly added, not giving Auntie a chance to start in again.

“Tinker you say? I haven’t heard of tinkers being in the park for ages.  But then again, I only talk with the other animals who live around here.  Perhaps there still are a few on the other side of the park, which reminds me, I spoke to Roger this morning.  You remember Roger, the meadowlark? Always such a nice chap, he brings me nuts and berries from all over the park.  He told me that that he heard that there was another storm on the way and I’d better make sure that all of the burrow was well protected against leaks.  Perhaps you could check over the burrow before you head home, Jacob.  A nice fit mouse like you would be able to get it done in a minute.”

Jacob made as if to answer but Auntie didn’t stop for a moment.

“Now that that is decided, you must tell me where you are from Mr. Mike. You sound like you come from the Northlands, is that it?”

“Well not exactly -”

She cut him off with a wave of her paw. “No, now that I listen closer I’m thinking perhaps not.”

This exchange went on for the rest of the night, Auntie talking at her guests and no one getting a word in edge wise.  Mike was more than grateful when it was time to head to bed, his head throbbed and he had learned nothing that would help him in his quest.

To be continued…

***

To read the next episode, click here!

The Man in the Cupboard, pt. 7

Let’s get back to the story of tiny tinker Mike Finnegan!  In the last installment, Mike had left Kimberly’s home to find a she tinker of his own to love.  Let’s see what happens next!

To read the previous installment, click here!

To start at the beginning, click here!

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Within the safety of the dense boxwood hedge the field mouse bounced down from branch to branch until she stood face to face with Mike.  She wore a red checkered scarf around her neck and carried a handbag fashioned from woven grass.

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” she asked in a squeaky high voice.

Mike leaned on his cane. “I wouldn’t say new, but it has been awhile.” He cocked his head towards Big Tom who had resumed lounging on the sidewalk. “I don’t remember there ever being cats here.”

“You must have been gone a long time then. The cats came when my great grand dad was a boy.  Since then us smaller creatures have had to be very careful, especially out on the paths.” She shrugged her scarf tighter around her shoulders. “You’re very lucky, I thought Big Tom had you for sure.”  She reached out a tiny paw. “I’m Tilly Fieldmouse.”

Mike took the paw between two fingers. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. They call me Mike, Mike Finnegan.”

“Well Mike Finnegan, it’s good I found you before any other cat did.  In this place it’s good to have a friend.”

“You’re absolutely right m’dear.” He tapped his cane on the ground. “If it weren’t for this I’d be his lunch for sure.”

Tilly jumped to the ground and sniffed at the cane, whiskers vibrating in the air. “I don’t mean to be rude, but what exactly are you?”

“Careful little miss, once mustn’t touch a tinker’s cane. There’s no telling what might happen.”

Tilly jumped back and wrung her tail between her paws. “I’m sorry, I’ve never met a tinker before.

Mike sat down on moss covered rock and set his pack against his leg.  He drew out a pipe and stuck it between his teeth.  Holding the pipe was a comfort and made thinking easier. He took a deep pull and held the smoke in his mouth a while before puffing it out. “Never? Are you quite sure?”

She blushed and lowered her eyes. “I’d think I’d remember meeting a tinker.”

He took another pull on the pipe. “My dear Tilly, I’ve come to the park to seek out a she tinker, so you see there must be one here somewhere.  Have you visited the rose gardens or the arbors along the pathway?”

“Well, no.  We field mice tend to stick to our part of the park.  It isn’t safe to venture out into the unknown.”  She twisted her tail again.

“No need to be troubled. Is there anyone you know that has visited the rose gardens? I’d like to speak to them.”

Tilly’s ear perked up and a smile spread across her face. “Why yes, you will want to speak to Benjamin, he’s a bluejay. He knows everything about the park, I’m sure he will be able to help you.”

“That’s terrific, where can I find him?”

“He lives in the top of the old crab apple tree at the end of the hedge, it’s not far.” I’ll show you the way.

To be continued…

Read the next episode here.

***

Like Mike and his adventures? Let me know in the comments!

Friday Fiction – The Man in the Cupboard Pt. 6

After a long break we are visiting Mike Finnegan once more in this, the next installment of the Man in the Cupboard series.

To start at the beginning, click here!

To go to the previous chapter, click here!

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It had been ages since Mike had ventured out on his own, he’d almost forgotten what it was like to feel the crisp breeze at his back and the warm sun on his face.  The tree-lined avenue seemed to welcome him as he walked down its shaded paths.

He turned once more to look at the yellow house down the lane.  This wasn’t goodbye, he would return as soon as he found himself a woman to share his life with.  However, leaving pained him.  Kimberly and little Thomas had managed to find a place in his heart, a place that he didn’t know existed before.

“I’ll be back soon my dears, take care.,” he said as he spun his cane, casting a spell over the house. With him gone there wouldn’t be anyone to keep away undesirables such as rats or those detestable leprechauns.  The spell would keep them away, at least for a while.  No spell could last forever.

With his face to the sun he set off down the lane.  If he remembered correctly there was a lovely park with vast gardens filled with fragrant flowers, arbors heavy with wisteria, and wandering paths, not too far away.  He was sure to find a she tinker or two there, they almost always chose gardens over houses.

At the rise in the next hill the park came into view.  The garden beds were alive with different hues of reds and yellows from the fall roses.  The ancient maples stretched toward the sky, the edges of their leaves beginning to change from brilliant green to gold and red. Tucked among the flowers and trees, couples sat together on the park benches exchanging quiet words and smiles.

Soon, he would have someone of his own to share quiet words and smiles with as well. The thought warmed his heart and he set off down the hill.

At the main gate a tawny cat lounged on the sidewalk, eyes half closed, tail flicking.  He stood and stretched as Mike approached.

“What do you want here, Tinker?” The cat sneered.

“None of your business, now let me pass.”

The cat stepped closer, showing his needle sharp teeth. “Oh, but it is my business.  I’m Big Tom and you see, this is my park, I say who goes in and who doesn’t.”

“Very funny Tom.  Now if you will step aside I have things that I need to attend to.”

“That’s Big Tom and no, I don’t think so.  Not until I’m through with you.”

Mike tapped his cane in front of him, his patience was wearing thin. “What is it you want then?”

“Lunch.”

Just then Big Tom leapt into the air, his claws extended and ready to pounce upon Mike. He jumped back swinging his cane, dodging the blow only by an inch. The cat hissed in anger, and turned to strike again.  Mike wasn’t going to let him have the pleasure.  With a quick stroke he drew a spell with his cane and sent it flying at Big Tom’s face.  The spell struck with an puff of glittery smoke. Tom shook his head, pawing at his nose, then sat hard on the pathway as the spell took effect.

Mike didn’t wait to see if the spell worked or not, he had never cast a confusion spell on an animal as large as a cat before, he wasn’t sure if it would even work. He ran as fast as his little legs would carry him into the dense leaves of a nearby boxwood  hedge.  Even if it did work he didn’t want to anywhere nearby when the cat remembered what had happened.

Inside the hedge he leaned against one of the branches, and gulped to catch his breath. Something inside the hedge rustled overhead.

“You’d best be more careful Tinker, the park can be a dangerous place,” squeaked a tiny voice.

There above him, crouched on a higher branch, was a field mouse no bigger than a half-dollar coin.

To be continued…

***

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Friday Fiction – The Man in the Cupboard Pt. 5

It’s time to see what wee Mike has been up to in this week’s installment of “The Man in the Cupboard.” Enjoy!

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To go to part 4, click here!

fiction friday bannerEven after eighty years, Mike still loved the old Colonial style house, drafts and all. It had personality. He remembered the day he came to the neighborhood, fresh out of tinkering school and eager to find his home. Of all the homes on the street, this one spoke to him, Its bright yellow paint beamed like sunshine among the solemn brown, brick, and gray of the other homes on the tree-lined avenue. A rose garden bloomed in the front yard under the sitting room windows, inviting sprites and pixies in the warm months, snow fairies in the cold. Even then the house required lots of work, remembering made him tired.

He sunk into his favorite armchair, the one he had crafted from matchboxes and Popsicle sticks, padded with folded pieces of discarded felt, and covered with a scarlet silken handkerchief. Alongside the chair, on top of a table made from a thread spool; he kept his favorite thimble mug, the one with the flying birds etched across its sides. His collection of postage stamps hung on display along one wall. On the opposite wall hung an antique pocket watch that sparkled with its gold case and mother of pearl face. Mike had gifted it to himself to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of working at the house.

As he reclined in the chair he listened to the quiet mumble of noise coming from the family below. The kids had all been snuggled into their beds. Kimberly had turned on one of her favorite dramas and had curled up on the couch alongside her hubby with a mug of hot chocolate. Most nights Mike usually would watch as well, he had a comfy spot on top of the glass paneled curio cabinet with an excellent view, but tonight he felt more like sitting and thinking.

Watching Kimberly and Thomas had kindled a spark within him, and itch that needed scratching. At one hundred and two, and still an eligible bachelor, perhaps it was time to seek out his own companion. After all this time being alone it would be a welcome change to have another tinker around. He craved someone to care for and to care for him as well. He smiled thinking of having someone to wake up next to in the morning. The house could use another tinker, caring for it by himself had become harder as it grew older and more things had started to break.

Resolved, he slapped the arm of the chair, releasing a cloud of dust into the air. He knew what he must do. It was time to seek out his mate, he could wait no longer. Leaving the house to find her pained him, he didn’t want to leave Kimberly without an explanation. At the same time, he worried that she wouldn’t give permission to bring another woman in the house. In the end he decided it would be better to leave without telling her and come back as soon as he could. Perhaps she wouldn’t notice.

As the sun rose that next morning Mike waved a farewell to the house and to Kimberly who would be waking any minute.  Dew clung like tiny diamonds to the blush colored roses lining the walkway.  With cane in hand and a small pack on his back, he walked toward his greatest adventure yet.

 

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Fiction Friday: The Man in the Cupboard pt. 4

Well ol’ Mike Finnegen is back at it again in this installment of the Man in the Cupboard series, hope you like it!

To start at the beginning of the series, click here.

To go to part three, click here.

fiction friday banner

The plastic spoon bounced across the tile floor, scattering drops of milk and soggy cereal along the way.  Baby Thomas belly laughed as Kimberly, once again, retrieved the spoon and gave it back with a sigh.  She knew he was hungry, he had been climbing her legs and pushing her around the kitchen for the past twenty minutes, all while screaming and shrieking.  He sounded for all the world like a distressed guinea pig.

“Come on buddy, this isn’t a game.  Eat a few bites.” She waved a different spoon under his nose. “Please?”

With a squeal of laughter he lobbed his spoon across the kitchen once again.  Kimberly picked it up again and this time tossed it into the sink. “No more games buddy, it’s time to eat.”

Thomas let out a wail and stretched out his pudgy fingers towards the sink as far as his high chair would allow.  Clearly breakfast wasn’t going to happen, at least not right now.

Kimberly pulled the angry baby out of his chair and hauled him over to the sink to wipe him down. He grabbed at anything his stubby arms could reach, wildly flailing in all directions. After a few swipes of the washrag she set him down. He sped off as fast as his wobbly legs could carry him.

“He’s a fiesty one isn’t he?” asked a quiet voice above the sink.

Kimberly found Mike lounging on the windowsill, soaking in the morning sun. “Of the three he’s always been a bit of a free spirit.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with him.” She picked up the washrag from the sink, rinsed it out, and began the process of wiping down the kitchen.

“He’d make a right nice pup, much better than a wee lad if your askin’ me.” The tiny tinker swung his cane in the direction Thomas had run off.  “I could do it fer ya, it’s not a bother.”

“You’ll not be changing Thomas into a puppy,” she said with a sigh, “at least not today.  I still love him, even when it’s tough.”  She turned towards him, one hand on a hip. “You can’t really turn people into animals can you?”

Mike blushed. “Well no, not really.  But I know of one who can. It’s a nasty business that is. Not worth it if you ask me.”

“And why’s that?”

“Involves black magic.” He went to spit but stopped when he saw Kimberly’s glare. “It’s not natural, no one should get mixed up in it.  Those who do…” He shuddered. “We’ll let’s just say nothing good comes of it.”

Something crashed to the floor in the next room where Thomas played.  Kimberly tossed the washrag into the sink. “I guess I’d better go check on him, he’s been too quiet, means he’s up to no good.”

In the next room Thomas was gleefully unloading the shelves.  Behind him, scattered all over the floor, was the big box of blocks.

“Well at least he didn’t hurt himself.” Kimberly said as she sat and started collecting the blocks, she wiggled one in the air.  “Hey, Thomas, wanna play blocks?”

Thomas turned and looked at the block only to turn back and pull down another stack of books.  He wore such a look of concentration, like this was his job and how dare she interrupt him.

“Thomas! You stop that, you naughty baby.” She snatched him away from the shelf and stuck him in her lap where he squirmed to get free. “Oh no you don’t.” She laughed and tickled his tummy.

Mike appeared in a poof of smoke on one of the higher shelves, out of the baby’s reach. Thomas stopped his wiggling and stared at the tiny man, wide eyed, mouth open.

“I thought you said none of them could see you.”

“Didn’t think they could, I know the older ones can’t for sure.  This wee one, however, well he’s as bald as an egg.  Guess there’s ginger in there after all.” He gave a half laugh. “Relax, it’s not like its a bad thing.”

Kimberly ran her hand over Thomas’z fuzz covered head. He twisted his neck to look at her and fell over in her lap. “What do we do now?”

“Nothin’. There’s nothin’ wrong.  Lots of kids have imaginary friends growin’ up.  His will just be a bit more real than others.”

“Won’t that cause problems down the road?”

“I suppose. But we don’t have much choice do we?” He shrugged. “It’s not like we can stop him from seeing me.  And I can’t be always hiding from him either. I say we start him young.”

Kimberly looked up at the little tinker sitting on the edge of the shelf and smiled. “I suppose it’s better than having him turned into a puppy. For now.”

“Most definitely.”

___

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