A Mouse in the Wall, Part 1
This story is a very small part of what will eventually be a much larger book, but since everyone is either stuck at home or forced to work right now I thought I’d do my part to provide you with some fresh reading material. Enjoy!
Marty scurried around the corner so the Man wouldn’t see him, holding his breath so the Man couldn’t hear him breathe. Mama had said the Man in the blue uniform was a pig, but the man didn’t look like a pig to Marty – his nose was all wrong, and he wasn’t pink. Still, though, the Man was bad news. Mama had said the Man would bring the City Lady who took children away and made them sleepy all the time.
Marty knew that was true, because the City Lady had come for his friend Mary. Mary’s mama had told her Mary was bad because she had too much energy, so the City Lady had said Mary had to take pills to take the energy away. Mary didn’t want to play anymore once her mama started making her take the pills, she was just too tired. She would sit on a chair in her room, or lay on her bed, and that was all.
The last time Marty had been over to the other apartment and been sent to Mary’s room to stay out of the way, Mary had cried. She didn’t like the pills, she wanted to play and not be sleepy all the time. But her mama had said that if she didn’t take them, the City Lady would come and put her in jail with people who would hurt her, or put her in a home where she would have to be a whore.
Marty knew all about whores. His mama was one, it was her job.
Or it had been, he didn’t know if it was anymore. His mama had been doing her job one night, and then the next day she’d stayed in bed and wouldn’t talk to Marty. And the next day the same, and the next. And then the Man had come, and then a lot more Men, and then a doctor-man in a white coat had come and they’d taken his mama away in a trash bag that had a zip on it. Marty had seen them put her in it from where he’d been hiding in the wall.
The wall had been Marty’s own room for as long as he could remember, because his mama had said nobody who wasn’t a creeper wanted to see someone’s kid around while they got some, or while they waited in the living room while she was with another client. At first Marty had just been put in the closet, but then he’d gotten bigger and found the little door that led into the wall, and after that he’d had his own room where he could hide toys and didn’t have to be in the dark all the time – Mama’s clients didn’t like it if they could see light in her closet, they thought that meant there was a camera or a pig.
Marty still wasn’t sure why a man-client would be afraid of pigs, or why the Man in the blue uniform was called that, but apparently pigs were bad and got into things that weren’t their business and that was why people ate them as bacon.
The Man was in the room again; he’d been in the apartment a few times now just to look at things. He’d been to talk to Mary and her mama too, Marty knew because he’d come back to the apartment talking to another man about it and he’d been mad. Something about a clueless bitch getting another one, and a kid drugged up to her eyeballs, and that was how Marty had known he was talking about Mary. And then the other Man had said something about them having to call her if they found Marty and he’d probably end up in a home. Marty had thought about that all night after the Men had left. He hadn’t known that a boy could be a whore, he’d thought only girls could. Did they make boys into girls in a home, so they could be whores? He remembered his mama making a joke about something called a tranny one time, and when he’d asked what that was she’d said a tranny was a boy who wanted to be a girl so bad he had himself turned into one. Maybe trannies came from the homes the City Lady put kids in.
Marty heard the Man open the closet door, and then he heard him swear when the light switch didn’t work – it didn’t even have a light bulb in it, but Marty guessed the Man hadn’t looked to see. And then there was a really soft click, and he could hear the Man moving things around in the closet…and then the Man swore again in a low voice and Marty heard the little door into the wall open and light came into the space behind the wall like it was looking for him.
It didn’t find him, of course; he was around the corner, in the place that was behind the potty where the pipes were. A few of his toys were there, though, and Marty knew the Man had seen them because he said so into his phone. Then he said he needed backup, because he couldn’t fit in the wall and he wasn’t sure if there were more people in there with Marty. “Yeah, it would be tight, but there’s room,” he said. “To a homeless guy this would look like the Ritz. And the kid could be anywhere in the building; neighbor said he was maybe four or five, he’d be like a little mouse in these walls and nobody would ever know he wasn’t.”
He had gone out of the closet again, but he’d left the little door open because Marty could feel the air. He started to move again, as quietly as he could, away from the little door and his toys and the apartment he’d lived in with his mama. He had his blanket with him, and his stuffie that he used as a pillow and squeezed when he was scared. He was squeezing it now, but he knew what he had to do.
‘Anywhere in the building’, the Man had said. The Men were going to come into the walls to find him, so the clueless bitch City Lady could make him take pills and put him in a home to be a tranny whore. And if she did that, Mary would be all alone and no one would care that she cried and she was sleepy all the time and couldn’t play. So Marty was going to go get Mary first, and then he was going to get out of the walls and find another place to have his room – and he was going to make Mary a room too where the City Lady couldn’t find her.
He crept along, and finally he was at the little door. He listened, and he heard Mary’s mama snoring, so he snuck around to Mary’s wall and tapped on it next to her bed. She heard him. “Marty, that you?”
“Uh-huh.” Marty listened again, didn’t hear anything. “Mary, come to your mama’s closet, use the little door in the side to come in the wall with me.”
She sniffed. “Are we…runnin’ away?”
Marty wasn’t sure what that meant. “We have to get away and hide, the Man is here and he called more Men to come help him.”
Another sniff, but he heard her get up. “Okay, I’m comin’.”
Marty went back to the little door and waited, squeezing his stuffie really hard. And then the little door opened, and Mary stuck her head in; she came the rest of the way in once she saw him, and Marty helped her close the little door and then took her hand and led her back to a place where her mama wouldn’t wake up and hear them. “We have to find a place to hide,” he whispered. “The Man called more men, because he wouldn’t fit in the wall. And he said the City Lady would put me in a home.”
Mary gave him a squeeze like the one he was giving his stuffie, only not quite so hard. “We have to get outside,” she whispered back. “If we could get into an apartment where no one was home, we could go out the window to the fire escape.”
“Okay.” Marty was willing to take her word for it; Mary was six already, so she knew about a lot of things he didn’t. He led her around inside the walls, checking the parts where the potty pipes were; one flushed, so they knew someone was home in that apartment. The one after that didn’t flush, though, and Marty listened really hard at the wall before leaving his blanket and stuffie with Mary and sneaking into the closet through the little door. He peeked out; nobody was there, so he went to the bedroom door and peeked out there too. Finding the apartment empty, he brought Mary out and they crept to the window. They were at the back of the building, and the fire escape was there. It took both of them to get the window up, and they closed it behind them as much as they could before sneaking down the rusty metal stairs that zigzagged down the side of the old bricks. It was starting to be night behind the building, because the sun was on the other side, so the two of them were able to get away from the building without being seen.
Marty wasn’t really sure what to do after that, but he knew they needed to get back inside a building to be safe; his mama had always said the street wasn’t safe, that was why she’d made the Men come to her at the apartment. Mary found a box to carry his blanket and stuffie in so the blanket wouldn’t drag on the ground, and then the two of them just walked down the alley that seemed like it went on forever.
They walked until Marty was tired and his feet hurt a lot, but they still hadn’t seen a building they could go into and it was getting dark all over. The buildings here were all really big and only had windows way up high, but finally Mary saw one that had a fire escape with a ladder that came all the way down to the ground and they climbed up it to the door that was at the top. That door wouldn’t open, but window beside it did, just enough, and the two of them slipped inside.
It was really dark inside, so Marty and Mary felt around the wall until they found a light switch. The switch turned on a dirty little light right by the door, and then they could see. The room they were in was huge and empty, with big posts that came down from the ceiling and into the floor every so often. The floor was dirty but thick, because walking on it didn’t make a noise like it had in the apartment building, and the posts were made of wood. And at the other end of the room they found some doors. Two were in a cage, one went to more stairs, and one went to a potty. That was a good thing to find and they both used it, even though Mary was unhappy about not being able to flush the potty because it would make a noise. Then they went out and explored the big room some more, and finally they decided they were going to have to go down the stairs. The big room was too big and scary and dirty to sleep in, and there wasn’t any food anywhere.
The stairs were dark because the switch in the big room hadn’t worked, but there was a rail so Marty and Mary were able to feel their way down until they got to the bottom…where there was a door that wouldn’t open. So they kept going down, and the door at the very bottom had light coming in around the edges of it and opened when Mary turned the knob and Marty pushed on it. There were a lot of boxes stacked on the other side of the door, making tall walls with little streets between them, and somewhere in the middle there was a light on.
Marty took Mary down the box-street until they were closer to the light, and then he left his blanket and stuffie with her and snuck closer so he could see. In the center of the box walls there was a little box room with a bright yellow light hanging down from the ceiling, a few tables with things piled on them, and some chairs. Marty crept out a little more, looking all around; nobody was there. He saw something he thought he recognized on one of the tables and went to see, and finding that the box was what he’d thought he took two of the snacks he found inside it and carried them back to Mary. Mary was afraid to go into the box room, though, so Marty found a place where the boxes made a little secret corner for them to hide in, and they spread out his blanket, ate the snacks, and went to sleep.