Sunday, February 04, 2007


Phelinius P. Myszkawitz was a mouse who enjoyed riding on the railroad. But not one of those immensely huge railroads for people in which the aisles were a mile wide and the other passengers constantly stepped on one's tail, or in which rabid cats had free reign. This was a teeny-weeny, sweet little railroad for mice. Not even something as terrible as a mouse trap could fit in the aisles of the train's wagons, but there was always room for a few crumbs of cheese. It was the perfect means of transportation for mice.

As Phelinius sat comfortably in his seat the passing scenery placed him in a thoughtful mood. Half of him meditated on mice issues and the other half reflected on general questions of life which may even have been of interest to a cat. Suddenly he was interrupted by a deep, bass sounding burst of mouse squeaks. It was the portly mouse, Felix Schmelix. He was actually much shorter than most other mice, but made up for it by being twice as fat. And that made him quite portly compared to Phelinius. When Felix Schmelix was aggravated - and that was very often the case - his whiskers began to twitch in all directions. He functioned as conductor for the railroad. The two mice had known each other for a long time.

"Mr. Myszkawitz! Your ticket, please!"

"Is that necessary?"

"It is always necessary!" answered Felix Schmelix, and his purple nose become even more purple.

"But why?"

"Because I said so!"

"Who ever heard of a mouse buying a train ticket?"

Felix Schmelix squeaked on, "What would the world come to if mice could ride the railroad without a ticket?" and his whiskers began to twitch wildly.

"I don't know. The world is riding another train."

"I'll tell you what the world would come to. The train would be infested with mice!"

"But no mouse ever had to buy a ticket to use transportation. My cousin once took a ship all the way to Panama and he didn't have to buy a ticket. In a first class cabin he went! And anyhow, it's very comfortable here in the train, even without a ticket, not crowded at all. In fact, we're the only ones here."

"If you do not present your ticket at once, I shall have to stop the train!"

"But Mr. Conductor, Mr. Schmelix, I beg you Felix, this is the first time I ever rode on the train and before I buy a ticket I want to see if a train ride is something I enjoy!"

"Your ticket, now!"

"And besides, I plan to disembark at the same station I boarded. You can't ask me to buy a ticket for that."

"Ticket!"

"Look here, I want to see your ticket!"

"This is an outrage!" Felix Schmelix sputtered furiously.

"I just wanted to know what a ticket looks like," Phelinius shrugged his miniscule shoulders.

The conductor calmed down because he suddenly felt superior and began explaining, as to a little baby who doesn't know anything yet: "A ticket is something like a - it looks like a - people - I mean, mice hold it in their hands – I mean paws and..." He didn't know what a train ticket looked like either.

"So a ticket is small?" Phelinius P. Myszkawitz helped him.

"Yes."

"Smaller than a mouse?"

"Well, it would have to be."

"Larger than a crumb of cheese?"

"Most certainly!"

"Is this a ticket?" Phelinius asked innocently and presented Felix Schmelix a little piece of something.

"What in the world is that?"

"It's a part from a toy out of a Cracker Jack box. I found it lying around in the train station."

"Yes. That's a ticket. Give it to me and you can ride."

It was a good thing that Phelinius had such a ticket and that the conductor didn't know what a ticket was, because this conductor was in no position to stop the train. He was working illegally without a permit. The founder and sole owner of the railroad was a little - pardon - a big boy named Lenny, who would have been thrilled to know that a tiny mouse was traveling with his railroad.

So what could Felix do now? There were no more passengers to check and he didn't care to walk back and forth through the train all by himself. He sat down next to Phelinius and the two kept each other company for the remainder of the trip. Half of the time they debated mouse themes. The other half they observed the passing landscape.

"Oh look!" said Phelinius, "It's the kitchen again!"

As it became time for Lenny to go to bed and the train suddenly came to a standstill, Phelinius P. Myszkawitz told the conductor Felix Schmelix in a firm mouse voice, "I want my ticket back. The train has stopped moving!" And as long as Lenny still sleeps, the two mice are sitting in his train quarreling long into the night.

Story #388

Special message: some weeks ago a gal named Sarah wrote to me about a "Stray Story Project" she is working on, and which sounded quite interesting. You people stopping by here are all so incredibly creative and veritable reservoirs of stories, I'm sure you will have something to share with her.

Postscript: For those of you who can read German, my cousin and adopted sister has a wonderful story about rats. I wrote the above story long ago for my son and wanted to finally post it somewhere. The above photo is as close as I could ever find to go with it. I have not had much time and mood lately to write, which is why I took a time-out in this manner. The story doesn't go with the photo, I know, but for what it's worth, it was one of my rare spontaneous inspirations. Thanks to all my dear commentors and story writers for this great round!

26 comments:

Mickey Ratt said...

"Ah-hah," Mickey Ratt said, breathing a sigh of relief. "My pal Terrance was right--The Cheesemeister IS living in the Netherworld! And he should know, as he was her pet for the three years that he lived on Earth. I'll be safe here. When Sal Banana's goons come looking for me, I'll just pretend I'm a regular rat in a cage. And everyone will feed me seeds and bits of yam and comment on what a cute critter I am, little knowing that I am the publisher of one of the Netherworld's foremost music magazines. Being a rat really rules!"

Indeterminacy said...

Thanks Mr. Ratt! That is a rat in the photo isn't it. I took poetic license in my story and wrote about mice.

Ben said...

I get so lonely sometimes. Will you write a song about me? Will you sing it to me? Will you wallow me and talk baby talk to me? I love it when I am on my back and you rub my belly with your fingers. That tickles. And when you slip pieces of cheese into my mouth. Yummy. And when you kiss me and take my whole head into your mouth. So warm and tender. I could go on and on, but I'd better not. Suffice to say, Michael, you're not like any other human being I have ever met!

Templeton said...

Thank you, Wilbur, for bring me to this wonderful fair! So much to eat! So little time. Gotta go get more!

Rat In A Cat said...

I'm just a little rat
Inside this big ole cat
'Cause it swallowed me whole
And I wonder like a mole
Through this tunnel so tight
Going toward the light
Until until until splat!
I'm now out of that darn cat

Indeterminacy said...

What a sweet way to start the day, eith the opposite of bedtime stories. Thanks Ben, Templeton and Rat in a Cat!

Cheesemeister said...

Rats, mice, they're all rodents of varying sizes.
Howcome I find the pet store variety of rats cute and pleasant creatures (except for my belated rat Phillip, who bit my arm when I got too close to his cage--BTW, that's not why he's belated, he died of heat stroke) but I find those rats that hang around storm drains and garbage bins hideous and repulsive and in fact have had nightmares about them.

Willard said...

I have nightmares about the Cheesemeister!

The Mushroom said...

You people are always saying things like "Snug as a bug in a rug" and "Don't let the bed-bugs bite." What's up with bugs? We rodents like our creature comforts too, and I don't mean that hole in the wall with the perfect arch like in the cartoons.

This is a Sealy Posturpedic, right? Yeah, I walked across the label, it is. You've got some fine digs here. Your feet don't reach the end of the bed so I think we can share... you'll never notice. Just give me a little warning when it's laundry day so I can scuttle out of your way; there's nothing worse than waking to the screaming of humans, I tell ya.

Indeterminacy said...

Cheesemeister: My cousin, the one whose story I linked, used to have a pet rat. I remember once we were in the Hamburg subway together and the rat crawled up her back and onto her shoulder. The lady standing near us nearly fainted.

Willard: That lady probably still has nightmares.

Mushroom: That's right - I don't mind the rodents, as long as I don't see them and they don't chew up all my papers.

Frances bo bancess said...

Henry came home to hear his wife in the bedroom giggling. A lumped formed in his throat and he decided to barge in, no matter how scared he was of what he might see. The door swung open and his wife lay under the covers squirming and laughing. He threw off the covers to find her surprised yet fully clothed, and there was no adulterous bastard to be seen either. But then he caught something in the cover of his eye. It was Mr George, their sons pet rat, climbing and gently gnawing on her feet.
"oh honey..." his wife started.
Henry sighed in relief.

Mickey Ratt said...

Willard,
Most things in the Nether-woild have nightmares about The Cheesemeister. But I have nightmares about Mr. Banana's goons!
Do youse also have nightmares about Mrs. Weirdso? Maybe youse have a problem with human women!
Yer pal,
Mickey Ratt

cooper said...

I felt much like a child reading your tale and enjoyed it tremendously.

Indeterminacy said...

Frances: Cool story! And what a dream she must have had! This is the one time that smelling a rat wasn't bad.

Cooper: You should go and visit that kid at indeterminacy11 now.

Tom & Icy said...

You're still the Master! We bow to you! Great story!

Indeterminacy said...

Tom & Icy: Thanks for the very kind compliment. I'm trying to think when I wrote the story - it was around the summer 0f 2001, actually. I wanted to write some more with the same characters, and I did two others, but I don't think they hold up to this first one.

Indeterminacy said...

P.S. I wrote the story in German, and this is the translation. In my opinion the story is somehow better in German.

roachz said...

where is MY ticket??!

Indeterminacy said...

Roachz: You have lifetime permission to ride the train any time you want.

Mickey Ratt said...

I say that Felix Schmelix is a big fat schlemeil! Phelinius is well within his rights to kick his lardy butt! But he does it with smarts and panache. Even a rat can respect a mouse like that!

Cheesemeister said...

I enjoyed it very much--light-hearted and great fun. Kind of like a Twilight Zone, but for mice.

I have a little game going on my forgotten creative writing and not so creative bitching blog where I take a sentence or short paragraph from the story I'm due to have published this year and let people use their imaginations to create dialogue or their own plot. It's at http://amoeboidfungus.blogspot.com

Cori said...

!!! A TRUE GEM !!!

weirsdo said...

That's a very sweet story. Did Lenny notice that the mice had cat names?

Indeterminacy said...

Cori: Coming from the Gem of the Blogosphere, that's quite a compliment.

Mrs. Weirsdo: Lenny didn't notice that, but you did. Of course Myszka is mouse in Polish.

Metamorfose Ambulante said...

i love the pairing of the stories and photos. one adds something to the other, while borrowing meaning from each other. quite brilliant and quite beautiful.

Indeterminacy said...

Thanks Metamorfose for the very kind words. It has been very rewarding, posting these photo-story combinations. I'm happy the idea caught your eye, and imagination.