The Man in the Cupboard, pt. 8

In the last episode we left Mike in the sprawling park searching out Benjamin the blue jay with the help of Tilly, a tiny fieldmouse.

To read the previous episode, click here!

To start at the beginning, click here!

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Tilly darted her way winding though the hedge, jumping and winding her way around the dense growth on all fours.  Her grass purse bounced against her back as she went. Mike did his best to keep up with her but after a few minutes of climbing over and ducking under branches and scrambling over stones, it was clear that he couldn’t travel this way.

“Tilly, wait a wee bit, I need to catch my breath.”

The young mouse stopped and turned before making her way back, a look of concern painted her face. “I’m so sorry, I didn’t think-”

Mike interrupted her. “It’s quite alright, I would have been just fine had I been a touch smaller.” He looked to either side of the hedge. “Perhaps there’s another way to the crabapple tree?”

Tilly stopped and sniffed, her slender nose high in the air.  “I suppose we could go along the edge of the hedge that meets the grass.  There is good cover there, not quite as good as within the hedge, but the way is certainly clearer.”

“That sounds the perfect path for me, lead the way.”

For a moment the mouse stood still, as if she wanted to say something but couldn’t find the words.  She twitched her tail and looked towards the edge of the hedge and back to Mike before clearing her throat. “Alright then, here we go.”

“What’s the matter lass?” I don’t want to force ye into doing something ye aren’t comfortable with.”

“It’s just…” She shuffled her feet. “I’m a bit scared, that’s all.”

“Of what, m’dear?”

“Jasper.  He’s a grass snake. He sometimes hunts along the border.  He ate my cousin last year.” Her whiskers trembled as she spoke.

“Is there another way that we could go?”

“No, not really. He’s rarely around, especially as the weather gets cooler.  We should be fine.” She tried to smile and reassure him, but it looked more like a grimace.

“You don’t have to come with me if it scares you.” He leaned on his cane. “With your directions I should be able to find it on my own.”

“I want to come and make sure you get there alright.” She stood straighter and gripped the strap on her purse. “I like you.”

Now it was Mike’s turn to blush.  “Well alright little miss. I guess we go together then. But if ever you change your mind, let me know. I won’t mind.”

She nodded with a smile, this time a happier one. “We best be going then, we don’t want to be caught out in the dark.”

With a flick of her tail she turned and then led them out where there hedge met the grass. The path reminded Mike of shady avenues where the trees had grown into a tunnel.  On one side the grass grew tall and straight and on the other the leafy canopy of the hedge arched overhead. The dirt underfoot had been packed hard and smooth by the recent rain. If it wasn’t for the threat of a snake it would have been a very pleasant place to walk and think.

Tilly darted rather than walked, taking several small quick steps and then stopping to sniff the air.  Mike tried to remain alert but found the walk so relaxing that he started feeling almost giddy and had to remind himself not to whistle. The evening drew on and the greens and browns of the path changed to golds and yellows with the setting of the sun. As the light faded Tilly’s darting grew more frantic.

“We must hurry along Mike, it’s nearly dark.  We can stop at my Auntie Marie’s burrow for the night and then I’ll show you the rest of the way in the morning.”

“Is it far now? Could I make it to the tree before dark?”

“Well yes, but then you would have to climb it and that’s something that you really shouldn’t do at night.”

Mike swallowed hard, he never considered that he would have to climb the tree. He figured that he’s would have to get to the trunk and the blue jay would come to him.  The thought of climbing made his head swim, he never liked heights.  “I suppose you’re right, that is something best done when there’s light.”

From off to the side they heard a rustle in the grass. They both froze, neither wanting to make a sound. Tilly’s whiskers twitched back and forth trying to catch a hint of scent in the air.  Mike’s heart pounded in his chest and he held his cane at the ready, although he had no idea what use it would be against a snake. He hoped whatever he could do would be enough to save them both.

A shadowy shape burst into the path in front of them with a ear splitting screech, knocking both Mike and Tilly to the ground.  In their mad scramble to regain their feet they heard something completely unexpected – laughter.

Tilly lunged at the shape, crying, cursing, and laughing all at the same time.  Her tiny fists pummeled into the creature who against all reason continued to laugh.

Mike approached, cane at the ready.

“It’s alright Mike.” Tilly sat up and wiped a tear from her face, still chuckling. “This is my idiot brother, Jacob.”

Jacob stood and brushed off the dust.  He was tall with glossy dark fur and kind but serious eyes.  He helped Tilly to her feet and looked her over, picking off a stray blade of grass from her back.

“Idiot!  You call me idiot!  Fat lot of thanks I get from you for me coming all this way to make sure you get home.” He turned to Mike. “Who are you?”

Tilly answered before Mike had a chance to catch his breath. “This is Mike, he’s a tinker. It’s alright, he’s my friend.”

To be continued…

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

 

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.

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Fiction Friday: The Man in the Cupboard, Pt. 3

We’re back to Fiction Friday here at the blog, and today is part three of the Man in the Cupboard serial fiction.  To start at the beginning, click here.  To see the last installment, click here.

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Over the last few weeks Kimberly found all sorts of things that tiny Mike had fixed. The squeaky ceiling fan in the family room now behaved properly instead of squeaking and swaying like an airplane propeller lodged in in her roof.  The chair at the kitchen table with the stunted leg had lost it’s wobble, and she couldn’t remember the last time the faulty light switch had shocked her when she didn’t flip it correctly.

Instead of a nuisance, Mike’s unannounced appearances in the kitchen had become a welcome surprise.  She enjoyed having someone to talk to and share her life with.  Although he wouldn’t say it, she thought Mike enjoyed it as well.

Today, she didn’t feel like doing the obligatory housework.  The dishes in the sink could stay there for a few more hours, no one would care.   Sun shone through the east windows making liquid puddles on the floor making it a perfect day to sink into the couch with a Coke and read one of those cheap harlequin romances she kept stuffed under the bed.

Just as she got snuggled into her favorite spot, the big armchair in the corner, a terrible screech and clatter bounced from the broom closet.  She jumped to her feet and opened the door to see what had happened.  There on the floor, completely tangled in what looked like spider’s web and dust lay Mike, looking a bit dazed.

“Blasted spiders won’t get the best of me,” he muttered under his breath as he struggled to sit upright.  The webs held him down.  The poor man looked as if he had had an unfortunate run in with a crazed knitter.  Tight bands of web circled his chest and another strand pulled across his face, flattening his nose to one side.  His legs were stuck bent, ankles hog tied behind him.  His arms looked no better, one was only free from the elbow down, the other stuck at an awkward angle against his chest.

Kimberly started the painstaking task of untangling Mike from the mess of string, being careful not to tie him into a worse knot.  “Are you alright, have you hurt yourself?”

“I’m fine, don’t you be troubled ’bout me.” He brushed her hands away. “No need for that, get my cane free and I’ll take care of the rest.”

She pulled the cane free of the sticky web and put it in his free hand.  He twisted it, and began tapping at the strands which loosened and fell free. Once he had dusted himself off, straightened his shirt and vest, and located his hat, he finally looked up at Kimberly.

“After an ordeal like that a man deserves a drink, don’t you think?”

“That depends. What happened?”

He sighed and leaned on one of the shoes that had fallen from the closet. “Been going on a couple o’ weeks.  ‘Dem spiders don’t forget anything, or forgive for that matter.  I shoulda never tried to move their egg sack in the first place.”

Kimberly sat on the nearby stair. “Why would you want to move an egg sack?”

“Thought it’d be funny.  Guess they don’t have that kind of sense of humor.  They’ve been after me ever since.”  He kicked at the loose pile of web.  “Today they finally got me.  Tied me up good they did, even made it so I couldn’t get my cane.  That’s how I ended up tripping in the closet, I was trying to grab it and lost my balance.”

“They weren’t planning on eating you, were they?”

“Naw, spiders don’t eat tinkers.  I suppose we don’t taste that good anyway.  They were just messing around.  We’re even now.  At least until I get the itch for mischief again.”

Kimberly rose and went to the kitchen and pulled out an amber colored bottle from a high cupboard.  “I suppose you can have a little something for your ordeal.”

Mike’s eyes went wide. “That’s not what I think it is, is it?”

“Only because you have proven your worth around the house. I expect this bottle to last you a very long time.”

He breathed in deep and a dopey smile crossed his face as if he had already imagined the joy he would find in drinking it. “Cross my heart, m’lady.”

Later that evening, after the kids were in bed and the house was quiet again, Kimberly swore she could hear Mike singing a bawdy ballad up in the rafters. She smiled and tipped an imaginary glass his way, “Cheers.”

 

For the next part, click here.

Fiction Friday: The Man in the Cupboard pt. 2

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To start at part one, click here!

Two weeks had passed since Kimberly had first encountered that tiny man in her cupboard, since then she had seen no trace of him.  Maybe she was right in thinking that  he was only a figment of her imagination.  Even so, the last time she put the peanuts away she made sure that the lid wasn’t too tight.

The radio blared in the kitchen, bouncing the best hits of the 80’s and 90’s off the walls and throughout the house.  Kimberly sang along to the music as she tackled the dishes and cups overflowing from the sink.  Over the last week with the coming of better weather and no sighting of the tiny Mike Finnegan, she had found a cheerfulness that she hadn’t found in what felt like years.

During a particularly loud rendition of “All the Single Ladies” she heard a loud rap and then the music died.  There on top of the radio sat Mike, swinging his cane.

“What in tarnation is the meaning of all this racket?” he asked, clutching his head. “In my day, people caught singin’ like that were put in the stocks.”

Kimberly couldn’t help but stare.  Seeing him again meant one of two things, either he was indeed real, or she needed her head examined.  “So…,” she rubbed her temples, “you’re real then.”

“As real as the smelly pile of laundry in yer closet.”

“What?!?” She slapped the counter.  The thought of a strange little man in her kitchen was one thing, knowing he was raiding her closet was a more serious offence.

Mike blushed and shuffled his feet, “Erm, forget I said that.”

“Don’t think I can.” Kimberly planted her hands on her hips. “What am I going to do with you?”

Mike jumped down from the radio and began pacing across the countertop. “Well Missy, most tend to ignore me but I can be quite handy.”

“Like how?”

“Well, I’m a tinker, right?”

“I thought you were a leprechaun, is there a difference?”

Mike banged his cane against the counter with a snap. “Now you understand this, no one calls Mike Finnegan a leprechaun.  Little gold obsessed good fer nothin’ mites, they are.” He spat, emphasizing his point.

“Hey, none of that!” She tossed him a cloth from the sink. “Clean it up.”

He grumbled as he wiped up the spot, something about how gingers had a temper.  She couldn’t make out most of it, and was glad for it.

“A tinker, miss, fixes things.  It’s what we live for.  That squeak in the garage door, the one that mysteriously disappeared, that was me.”  He tossed the cloth back, which to him seemed more like a blanket.  “A tinker is happiest when there are things to mend, that’s why we love these old houses.  Always something that needs a fix.”

Kimberly nodded, tapping her chin. Someone who sould fix things around the house would be nice. “What’s the catch?”

“No catch, you lets me borrow things from here and there, a pinch of food, and what not.  A touch of whiskey is always a nice gesture.  Do that, and I’m more than happy staying here doin’ what I do.” He said with a flourish.

“Alrighty Mr. Mike, you can stay.  Just promise me not to riffle through my personal items.  None of the drawers in the bedroom.”

“And the whiskey. . .?” He asked, a hopeful gleam in his eye.

“We’ll see in time.  When I can see things working out well between us then yes, I’ll get you some.”

He danced a little jig, swinging his tiny cane in time to his steps.

“Oh miss? There is one more thing.”

“And what’s that?”

“Promise me never to get a cat.”

Kimberly giggled at the image in her head of tiny Mike being chased by a cat.  “Ok, I promise.”

“Good doing business with ya.” He tipped his hat and with a flash, vanished.

 

To read the next in the series, click here.