D.C. Copeland
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A Fable: The Cat and The Mouse


     The cat and mouse had been chasing one another for so long a time, that neither could remember a day without the other. The cat had always chased the mouse and the mouse had always run from the cat.

     One day, after scampering on top of the kitchen counter, the mouse decided to hide in a fruit basket and catch his breath. Panting heavily, he stayed quite still lis- tening for the padding footsteps of his arch nemesis. After a solid hour, the mouse slowly peered out from the basket. Yet, the cat was nowhere to be found. After waiting a bit longer, the mouse conjectured that the cat must have given up the chase. In actuality, the cat had died due to some intestinal parasite, but this of course, made no difference where the mouse was concerned.

     Elated, the mouse decided to survey his surroundings. He began to run, but then, realizing that, although all his life he had been running, he no longer had any motivation to do so. He let out a blissful sigh and began to strut awkwardly about the room. Never before had he the time to contemplate his surroundings. He was soon overwhelmed by the vastness of the space. The enormous blocks of wood, whirring marble machines, and dangerous rubber soles, made the mouse feel in- significant.

     Scared and lonely, the mouse decided that it had been ages since he had enjoyed a good meal. With resolved determination, he flung himself upon an abandoned piece of cheese, and promptly suffered the reflex of a gleaming, metallic bar.



Across The Street


      Across the street he sees a Greek café with white washed walls and a green awning. He sits on a park bench, watching the pavement in front of the street that divides him from the Greek café. The thin trees on either side of the bench are barren. Patient and faithful, they wait for Spring to arrive.
      Murphy Molloy wants to stand and cross the street, but finds that he cannot.
Since dawn, Murphy has sat and three full hours into the morning, he remains seated, afraid and unmoving.
      There were no cars to the left of him, nor to the right; but Murphy Molloy continues to deny his will to move. It is always the same for there has never been a time in recent years that Murphy has not come to this park bench at dawn, has not sat across from the Greek café with the green awning, and has not waited, with desperate patience, for his feelings of fear to subside.
      He lives far away in another town and every morning he arrives here to this bench on this street. He has chosen this place to sit and wait. Maybe he enjoys feeling the wood of the park bench beneath his tired bones or maybe he likes to look at the green awning in front of him. Maybe he thinks the street is very wide or maybe, to him, it is very narrow.
      He sits and stares at the pigeon shit a few inches from his left sneaker. The pigeon has departed long ago. Have you ever seen a pigeon in the process of releasing its excrement? Murphy has never seen such an act, but wonders, if during the act of expulsion, the pigeon’s expression becomes unique. As of yet, all pigeons he has encountered have looked the same, as he presumes, all humans must look the same to pigeons.
      After staring purposefully at the shit for a long enough time to realize it is disdainful to him, (whether, because in staring for so long his eyes have forgotten to blink, or because of the nature of the thing itself we do not know), his eyes return to their study of the street before him. He does not want to cross the street because of his fear, that if he should succeed, he would fail in a much larger sense, causing suffering to his person that would be too monstrous to bear while in his present state. Although he must admit to himself that he enjoys the process of thinking of this suffering, the nature of it and so forth, just as one finds sex titillating to think about, since the consequences do not, as yet, exist.
      In the grand scheme of things, Murphy is an artist, or likes to imagine himself as such. Many people would say he is no such person, for he does not write, nor paint, nor design clothing. And yet, Murphy always believed he had the capacity for art.
      Murphy's art, he believes, involves the peculiar craft of knowing only himself in the world. If there can be a craft of self-discovery then Murphy is an artist, just as he believes. If there cannot be such, he is completely a fraud and wholly unjustified in his irrelevancy. There is no other way of looking at it.

      As Murphy Molloy's gaze is directed towards the deep green awning, a young boy enters from the door of the Greek café. The boy turns right and runs away fast, like a horse at the races. Murphy wishes the boy would have beckoned him to come over and say hello, maybe have a sandwich or drink with him in the Greek café. For the question that constantly plagues Murphy is one of his future action. Once he crosses the street, what should happen then? That is perhaps the most anxiety causing of questions. Besides, he reasons, the solid wood that supports his back and tuchos is steady and he is able to feel both distress and bodily comfort as he sits there.

      "I doubt you know anything!" said Murphy aloud.

      Sometimes he talks to himself. He knows it does not matter what he says, so long as it is said with conviction and sometimes he just needs to reassure himself that his inside still has a means of access to the world.
      If, since the beginning of time, no one has never existed then, Murphy reasons, he must be someone.
      The boy returns from running and, seeing Murphy, crosses the street.

      "I've never liked you much," said the boy.
      "Funny! I always liked you very much," retorted Murphy.
      "Why do you sit by yourself so often? All the time you are alone."
      "I suppose I am in love and trying not to be."

      The boy runs because he wants to fly away. Murphy too, longs to fly. Unfortunately for both, Murphy's thoughts and the boy's two legs can often get in the way of their takeoff.
      "Shall we run, Sir? A race across the street? How about it?"
      "You run, young man, and I will watch you from where I sit and I will contemplate your running."

      The boy's mother appears from the Greek café. She stands beneath the green awning. Her black hair is set against the lightest of brown skin. He imagines the skin would be smooth to the touch. She does not look at him but at the son.
      The woman beckons the boy to cross the street. The boy says goodbye to Murphy and runs to meet his mother. The boy grabs her hand and together they disappear inside the Greek café with the white washed walls and deep green awning. Murphy does not like the boy very much anymore. Feeling defeated, he rises and having risen, walks along the pavement; never looking anymore at what lies across the street, until he reaches the station where there is a train to take him home.