InStory

A Mouse in the Wall

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A Mouse in the Wall, Part 2

It was three days before the regular inhabitants of the warehouse realized that they weren’t alone, and they’d been considering what the slow disappearance of their junk food might mean when one of them spotted Marty peeking around the corner of a box at them. The man who saw him laughed. “Well, now we know it ain’t rats,” he told the others, pointing. “What you doin’ in here, little guy?”

Marty crept out a little further. “We’s hidin’ from the Man.”

“Ain’t we all,” one of the other men chuckled. “Why’d the Man be after you, kid?”

“ ‘Cause he’s a pig, that’s what mama said.”

The man nodded. “Some of them are, yeah. So where’s Mama now?”

Marty shook his head. “Don’t know. The Man came with a doctor-man in a white coat, and he tooked her away in a garbage bag with a zip on it. I don’t know if she’s a whore no more now, though.”

This revelation seemed to make the men unhappy. “Well crap,” the first man said. “So who’s with you, little guy?”

“Mary. The City Lady made her take pills that made her sleepy and cry all the time or she’d have to go to a home and be a whore. The Man told his phone she’d get me too and I’d have to go to a home. I don’t wanna be a tranny whore, so I got Mary and we runned away.”

For some reason that made four of the men make a choking noise, and the one who’d called him kid looked like he wanted to laugh, but he didn’t; instead he smiled and nodded. “Yeah, I don’t blame you. You been sleepin’ in here for a few days, you and Mary?” Marty nodded. “Okay, I understand – you were hidin’ from the Man and that City Lady, and you were scared. You’re safe now, though. Ain’t no one here gonna hurt you, I promise. So go get Mary, we were about to figure out what to eat for supper and you guys can have some too.”

Marty smiled at that and trotted back off into the shadows of the boxes, and the man stopped anyone from going after him. “No, let him bring her out, she’s probably scared to death.”

“We’ve got to call someone…”

“No, Reg. Not yet, anyway.”

“But Jasp, those must be the kids the cops were lookin’ for!” Reg made a face when his boss raised an eyebrow at him. “It ain’t been in the news, but I heard about it – just didn’t seem like anything to do with us, that’s why I didn’t say anything. Word is they’ve been missin’ for days…”

“And now we know why,” Jasp told him. “You ain’t heard about that stupid social work bitch they’ve got over the projects now? That’s got to be the City Lady he’s talkin’ about, she’s pretty much the boogeyman down there.” He smiled. “Not sure where the ‘tranny whore’ part came from, though; we’ll have to ask him later.”

Reg nodded, but one of the other men was shaking his head. “So what’re we gonna do? This ain’t our problem, and we can’t just keep two little lost kids here in the warehouse…”

“Normally I’d agree with you, but somethin’ doesn’t feel right to me. I want to know what that is before I make any decisions.” Marty was peeking around the box again, and Jasp smiled at him. “It’s okay, kids, come on out. I promised nobody would hurt you, right?”

Marty frowned. “Mary says we don’t know you.”

“Well, that means Mary’s smart,” Jasp approved. “We ain’t had a chance to get acquainted. My name is Jasper, this is my warehouse. And these boys are my friends who help me with my business: Reg, Jackie, Josie and El – his momma named him Elrond, after a wizard,” he confided. “But he don’t want people to ask if he’s a wizard, so we just call him El.” Marty moved and gave something a little tug; Mary came out, teary-eyed and squeezing Marty’s stuffie, and Jasp made a face. “Oh crap, little girl, just look at you.” He motioned for her to move closer. “Come here, sweetheart, it’s okay. Come here and let Josie look at you, he knows about those drugs. Bet you’re just feelin’ like crap right now, aren’t you? Come on, it’s okay. Nobody here is gonna hurt you, you got my word.”

Mary very cautiously came forward, holding tight to Marty’s hand, and once she got close the young man introduced as Josie very slowly went down on one knee so he could look into her eyes. He shook his head, looking unhappy. “The pink pills?” he asked, and she nodded. He very gently patted her head, and winced when she flinched. “Yeah, Jasp, she’s in withdrawal – the pink ones are some nasty shit. How often did they give you one, chica? Every day?”

Mary swallowed. “Mama gave me one when I got up and when I went to bed and when she wanted me to take a nap.”

“So three times?” She shook her head. “Four?”

That got him an unsure nod, and he frowned. “Max dose is two,” he tossed over his shoulder. “And no way a doc would have put her on even that much at her age, she’s way too little.” He very carefully pulled her into his arms and held on gently until she relaxed, sniffling into his shoulder. “It’s okay, little one, cry it out. Even big people cry when they’ve been takin’ the pink ones. In a few more days you’ll be feelin’ better, though, promise.”

Jasp raised an eyebrow at him. “Anything that can help?”

“I wish. There’s a reason nobody decent sells that shit on the streets, Jasp.”

The other man sighed and turned his attention back to Marty. “Well, you know who we are, and we know who Mary is. Now who are you, kid?”

“Marty.”

“Come here, Marty.” Marty came right to him, and Jasp realized with a pang that the kid was too little to know he should be afraid of strangers – the only reason he’d been cautious at first was because he’d been afraid they were cops. Or pigs, rather. The Man. He almost wanted to laugh; Mama must have been a piece of work and a half. He looked the little boy up and down. Cheap clothes, no shoes. Pretty obviously mixed-race, probably came from one of Mama’s clients. He’d check the police blotter later, see if he could find out who she’d been. Nobody the world would miss, no doubt, so the story most likely hadn’t made much news. Jasp looked the little boy in the eye. “How’d you and Mary get in here?”

“We climbed all the way up the fire escape and came in the window.”

Jasp jerked his head at El, who immediately disappeared into the maze of boxes, and stood up, holding out his hand. “Wanna show me where you and Mary’ve been sleepin’?”

Marty took his hand and led him into the boxes, and back in the very furthest corner a handful of snack wrappers decorated the floor and a ratty blanket was spread out on top of a crate. “That’s my blanket,” he announced. “Mary has my stuffie, she needed it more than me ‘cause she’s sad all the time.”

“Mary won’t be sad all the time in a few days,” Jasp assured him. How the hell had nobody noticed the two of them back here? He’d thought maybe they’d been hiding inside a crate, but this just didn’t make sense. “She’s sad right now because she’s sick – the pink pills made her sick, her mama was givin’ her too many.” He gathered up the blanket, folding it neatly, and then led Marty back to the little room in the boxes; he handed the man called Jackie the blanket. “This one’s Marty’s, they been sharin’ it,” he said. “Find somethin’ better, we’ll put them in the office for right now until I can figure somethin’ else out.”

“We shouldn’t…”

“You got a better idea?”

Jackie opened his mouth…and then Mary whimpered and he closed it again, shaking his head. “Wish I did, Jasp. This is fucked up and a half.”

“You’re tellin’ me.” Jasp sighed. “I wanna find out what’s goin’ on before I make any decisions,” he repeated. “We need to find out who Marty’s mama was, and Mary’s too.”

“Mary’s mama lived across the hall from where my mama and I lived,” Marty piped up. “She wasn’t no whore like my mama, though; she got a check every month. She could make special soup, though.”

“Special soup?”

Marty nodded gravely. “It was real special, so special she could only make one spoon at a time. Mama would go over there so she could cook it and then they’d share it out of the spoon with tiny little needles.”

Jasp nodded back just as gravely. “That is some very special soup,” he agreed. “She didn’t ever give you none of it, did she?”

Marty shook his head. “It was only for big peoples, that’s what Mary’s mama said.”

“That’s right, it is.” Jasp wondered if the cops had already found out about Mary’s mamma’s ‘special soup’ when she reported her daughter missing. If she’d reported her daughter missing. If she had, and they had, Mary’s mamma was probably sitting in jail while the cops and the social work tried to figure out if she’d sold her drugged-up kid to some creeper to get more H. He was gonna have to be real careful checking up on that bitch, real careful.

And he was gonna have to be even more careful figuring out what to do about the kids afterwards. Appearances aside, he wasn’t a criminal – the cops wanted him to be, but he wasn’t. Yeah, he sometimes imported things for people that maybe the law didn’t think they should have, but none of those things were illegal to sell or own and it was Jasp’s considered opinion that sometimes the law needed to keep its nose out of other people’s business. Like with that social-work bitch over the projects, the one who’d decided none of the kids over there would become thugs if she stuck ‘em all on a lifetime prescription of downers to ‘keep them out of trouble’.

In spite of himself, he shuddered, and was surprised when Marty tugged on his hand. “Are you cold?” the little boy asked. “You can use my blanket.”

“It’s real nice of you to offer,” Jasp told him. “If I get cold, though, I can go get my coat.”

Marty nodded solemnly. “Mama had coats,” he said. “One of them was little and furry and blue, and one was soft and puffy and pink and sparkly.”

Yep, Mama had been a whore, all right – those were both wardrobe staples for the lower south-side prostitutes. Jasp picked Marty up, getting little bare feet off the cold concrete floor – it didn’t appear to be bothering the kid, but it was bugging him. “We’ll get you a coat of your own,” he said. “And some socks and shoes, too.”

Marty cocked his head. “Do me an’ Mary live with you now?”

Jasp sighed and ruffled his hair. Tried to, anyway. Baths, too, they both needed baths. “I don’t know yet, kid. I just don’t know.”

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2 Comments

  • Avatar
    BookWyrm

    This is fascinating! I’m very hopeful that the people in the warehouse are going to take good care of Marty and Mary

    Why did Jasp send El off? To make sure that the way the kids came in is secure?

    I hope Jasp will explain some of the stuff Marty is confused about, too

    (And comments for last chapter too: the secret passages in the walls thing is very interesting! I’m happy that Marty took Mary with him– a, kind/friendly action on his part. I hope the toys left behind won’t be a problem later on. It’s really cool to see the world through Marty’s eyes– like, he is misinterpreting things in a way that makes sense and leads to reasonable responses and also makes the fact that he is 4-5 years old feel real!)

    Thank you for writing and sharing this story!

    26 April 2020 at 7:41 pm Reply
    • Goth Kitty Lady
      Goth Kitty Lady

      Glad you liked it! Yes, Jasp and the boys will take good care of the kids. Jasp knew it was important to help them. 😉

      Yes, security is an issue in the warehouse – in any warehouse, really. A door or window left open is a place where thieves, etc. could get in and out, especially since the old warehouse district is usually not the best area of any city.

      lol, I’m not sure Marty would understand Jasp’s explanations very well. And who knows what he might make out of them!

      26 April 2020 at 8:30 pm Reply

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