The Second Mouse

by

Popser

 

"What's the weather report?" I asked as I brought the morning papers in from the front yard where the wind was beginning to pick up and heavy clouds blocked the sun.

"I don't know," she said.

"I thought you were watching the news," I said.

"No news is good news," she said.

"I'll turn it on," I said. It did look as if a storm were coming. I turned in her sewing room to face the television that sat on the shelf above her Moda Marbles and an empty drawer which used to hold yellow fabric. The television set was gone. In its place was the new Noah's Ark quilt she had just completed the night before. "The television's gone," I said.

"It's not gone. It's off for the next week."

"The election?" I asked. It had been a miserable week for both of us listening to the constant barrage of pre-election news. I remembered that she had said she was going to turn the set off. She often listened to the television news as she quilted, but too much was too much.

"You don't like the new quilt," she said. "The animals like it."

"I love the quilt," I said. I moved up to see the quilt close up. The animals seemed happy. I touched the quilt. It was hard. "The quilt's hard," I said.

"It's the television," she said. I looked under the quilt. Sure enough, the television was still there. She had used the quilt to hide the set from her view.

"I'll watch in the other room," I said. I wanted to see the weather report.

"I can't watch political news anymore," She said as I went into the bedroom. I picked up the remote control on the headboard and clicked the TV on. Nothing happened. I clicked again. Nothing. I turned toward the television. Her Kokopeli quilt was draped over the set, blocking the remote's signal.

I went into the living room. Her Emerald Quilt was draped over the television set. I had one more chance. I went into the kitchen. Sunbonnet Sue stared me in the face.

"The news was interfering with my quilting," she said in my ear. She had come up behind me.

"No political news for the whole next week?" I asked. "What about the other news?"

"You read three newspapers every day. You can read whatever news you want and we can skip the politics. We can't escape the politics on the television shows. The candidates are everywhere, in every show, in every commercial."

"All right," I said. I was also tired of too many people trying to tell us how to think.

"So, are you ready to go?" she said abruptly.

"Ready to go where?" I asked.

"The fabric sale. We have to hurry. It's only from nine to noon this morning, and I need a lot of yellow."

"A short sale?"

"You said you'd go and help carry the fabric for me."

"You can't carry a few fat quarters of yellow fabric?"

"Who said anything about a few fat quarters. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, a gala sale, the sale of all sales," she said. "And we're late."

"It's only eight o'clock," I said.

"You think all the other quilters haven't left already and taken all the places at the front of the line?" she asked.

"It only takes fifteen minutes to get there," I insisted. "And what about breakfast?"

"You already ate breakfast," she said.

"That was a snack. I was waiting for the papers to eat breakfast right," I said.

"You can eat lunch right. We have to get to the sale before all the fabric is gone." Her voice took on a slight tone that sounded like a threat, so what I actually heard was, "If we don't get there in time to buy all the fabric on sale that I want to buy--or even more than I want--you will be in big trouble."

"Let's go," I said.

 

The on-ramp to the freeway was closed from six a.m. to nine a.m. for repairs. The sign blocking the road told us that. We would have to drive a mile to the next ramp. We drove.

Traffic on the ramp was backed up three lights. It took eighteen minutes to get onto the freeway. It took ten minutes to reach the main street leading to the shopping center. A clap of thunder shook the car. Rain tumbled down on us. I turned on the windshield wipers. The one on the driver's side shredded in front of me. I couldn't see to drive.

"We may be late," I said.

 

After waiting for the rain to stop, being detoured three miles because the road was flooded, stopping at a gas station to get a new wiper blade, and having the car stall seven times, we arrived at the quilt shop. It was noon. The sale ended at noon. I should have watched the weather report.

"It's too late," she said.

"It's just noon," I said. The store will still be open.

"Everything good will be gone," she said. As we got out of the car, a sky full of water fell on us. Then we had to wade through a large puddle that blocked the entrance to the shop. We could have used Noah's Ark.

"You're soaked," I said. "Maybe we should go home and dry off and watch television--I mean quilts.

"What?" she said as she pushed on the door and bounced back into the rain.

"Pull," I said when the door didn't budge. She pulled and we were in the store.

"Is there anything left?" my very wet and annoyed Darling Wife asked the clerk who came to meet us.

"Well, we're sold out of all the sale fabric. There were so many people here. We had a great sale," she said.

"There's nothing left?" my wet wife asked in dismay.

"We don't have anything left," the clerk said. She frowned, but then she looked more closely at my drenched partner-in-life and smiled. "But maybe we can do something for you. I'm not supposed to you know, but with the rain and all...."

What she did was take my Darling Wife into a back room where new bolts of yellow sat waiting to replace the sale fabric. "We're not supposed to sell this yet, and it's not really on sale, but...."

Sunflower yellow, daffodil, lemon custard, saffron. All new fabric which she bought at sale prices. I helped her carry it. It had stopped raining.

"I'm glad we were late," she said.

"The second mouse gets the cheese," I said.

 

Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver

Click here to see finished "Noah's Ark"


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