First Draft Theatre – Dead Mouse

When he saw the dead body, Leo almost dropped the pizza.  He had just walked in from work after stopping at the pizza place next to his job.  He shook his head and looked around for something to get it up with so he could dump it in the woods behind the house.  He thought the mice were supposed to eat the poison and walk back to their nest and then die.  They weren’t supposed to die in the house much less in the middle of the floor.  The gray little furry body lay spread eagle against the cream colored floor with the pastel blue and pink flowers.

He looked for something strong enough to carry the little critter in all the cardboard boxes and paper he had sitting in the corner.  He finally decided to go downstairs and just get a shovel.  He didn’t have a lot of time to waste worrying about this dead mouse.

He was down and back up pretty quickly.  His neighbor seemed curious as to why he was taking a shovel into his house.  She watched as she walked her dog but didn’t say anything.  She was still out there when he came back down with the mouse and walked to the woods.  He took the shovel back to the basement and she still said nothing even as he waved on his way back into the house.

He looked around at the kitchen floor.  He did not see any signs of the dead mouse, but he decided he still needed to clean the floor to be safe.  Still in a hurry to get out to Sheila’s place he vacuumed and then sprayed the floor with a cleaner/disinfectant.

Once all that was finally done, he grabbed a couple of slices of pizza before putting the rest in the fridge and chomped through one piece on the way back out to his car.  Hopefully Sheila and Jack were still at her new place.  Actually it was their place, he just hated admitting it.

He pulled into a little convenience store parking lot a couple blocks away and backed into the space so he could see the house.  Sheila’s care was in front of the house.  They must have taken Jack’s car and went somewhere.  He rushed inside the convenience store and paid for a soda and some gum.  He would wait.

Sheila left him a year and a half ago and the divorce has been final for about 6 months.  He was still paying the asshole lawyer for losing.  Leo didn’t know what winning would have been, but he knew it wasn’t this.  She started dating Jack just after the divorce was final.

They had all gone to high school together here in Emerson.  She dated Jack before she dated Leo.  He always thought she was having an affair while they were married, and when she started dating Jack, he knew it.  She denied it and his crappy lawyer could not prove it, but Leo knew it was true.

The street lights started to flicker to life.  Leo could see the clerk glancing out at him every few minutes wondering what Leo was doing in his car.  Then Jack’s car came around the corner.  Leo recognized it immediately from an old apartment complex parking sticker on the back left corner of the back windshield.  He watched them park and go into the house.  When they were inside, Leo started his car and drove over to the little ranch house.

He parked on the street in front and walked across the yard to the front door.  He knocked and waited.  He could hear steps coming towards the door.  The steps stopped and he guessed whoever it was looked out the peep hole to see who was there.  A few more seconds passed and heard another set of footsteps going towards the back of the house.  Then the door opened.  “Leo.  What can I do for you tonight?”

“You could stop fucking my wife.”

“She ain’t your wife.  She left you a while ago.  You need to move on, man.”

“How long you been fucking here?  Two years?  Three years?”  Then yelling into the house, “How long you been sucking his dick?  Since high school?”

“Look, if all you are going to do is sit and yell dumb shit, go home.  Go find a girl friend or hooker or go jerk off, but quit coming around here.  I know you been following us the last couple of months.  You need to stop that shit.”

“I ain’t done nothing to you.  We just keep popping up in the same places is all.  If you weren’t fucking my wife, we would probably never see each other.”

Sheila appeared in the kitchen behind Jack.  “We are not married, Leo.  Would you just move on from it?  I don’t love you like I did when we go married.”

“Go back in the kitchen, Sheila, Leo’s leaving.”

“What do you mean you don’t love me like you did?”  Leo stepped forward into the room and towards Jack.

“I didn’t say you could come in.”  Jack blocks Leo and pushes him slightly.

“Get your fucking hands off me.  I’m talking to my wife.”  Leo is trying to push past Jack and they start pushing each other until they are finally grabbing and wrestling each other in the door way.  They fall into the hedges to the right of the door as Sheila runs back into the kitchen and gets the telephone and calls the police.

There were not too many dramatic punches thrown by either man.  It was mostly just panting and grabbing and rolling around in the hedges and in the grass.  Finally, Jack managed to roll over and get on top of Leo and punched a couple of times before getting off of him and going back inside the house.  The sounds of sirens approached and an Emerson police cruiser pulled up to the house.

Leo was still lying in the yard.  Jack’s punches had not really hurt him.  He just wanted to lay there in the cool air with the grass on his back.

He could hear the officer ordering him over on his back.  It was like a coach calling out instructions on the other side of the field.  He complied.  He could hear Jack telling the officer what happened and Sheila giving her version of what happened.  Leo watched it like a movie going in slow motion with the sound not working.

“Mr. Harris?  Mr. Harris?”  Leo had dozed off or drifted into a day dream when the officer started speaking to him.  “Mr. Harris can you hear me.”

“Yeah, yeah.  I just drifted off for a second.”

“Mr. Harris, your ex-wife and her boyfriend are saying they won’t press charges if you agree to stop following him and quit watching the house.  If you agree to that, I’ll put you back in your car and follow you home to make sure you get there safe.  But, if you do start harassing them again they are going to press charges and you will go to jail.  Do you understand me, sir?

“Yeah.  Yeah.”

“I am going to uncuff you and walk you over to your car.  Then I’m going to follow you to your house.  Are we clear?”

“Yeah.”  Leo rubbed his wrists as he walked back to his car.  The world had a gauzy look around its edges.  It made it feel like the drive back to his house was a dream.  As he got out of the car and walked to his door, he could hear the officer talking to him and nodding in agreement to whatever he was saying.

He walked into his house and closed the door.  He heard the police cruiser pull out of the driveway and leave.  He was alone in a dark house.  He turned on the lights and looked around the house.  It was just as it was when she left.  Just with more stuff strewn around.  Magazines and mail lay on the coffee table.  Empty beer and liquor bottles sat on the bar and the dining table.  A faint sheen of dust covered it all.

He grabbed a box from the corner and started putting all the mail, magazines, receipts, etc. in the box.  When that was filled he grabbed another and put all the bottles in this one.  When that was filled he took them all out to his car and loaded them in the trunk.  He came back into the house and sat on his couch and finally started thinking about tomorrow.


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