With that she aimed a sharp kick at the rocket ship umbrella stand that Hermux had brought back from his trip to the World's Fair when he was a boy.
As her foot flashed by in front of him, Hermux said, "I wish you wouldn't do that."
Tucka's shriek shattered the air.
"It's made of lead," he continued.
"You've broken my foot!" she bellowed, lurching back and shaking her fist under Hermux's nose. She turned in a fury and limped away. "You'll hear about this from my lawyers!" she shouted. "You'll pay every cent!"
"Every cent of what? I wonder," sighed Hermux. He set his umbrella stand back upright, opened the door to his apartment, and stepped gratefully inside. He locked the lock. He threw the deadbolt. He fastened the chain. And for extra measure he peered through the peephole and watched until Tucka vanished completely from sight. "That woman will drive me nuts!"
The Comforts of Home
Hermux threw the mail on his desk in his study and promptly forgot all about Tucka Mertslin.
He ran to the front window and peered into the cage where his pet ladybug dozed quietly on her perch. "Wake up Terfle!" he said merrily. "I'm home." He reached through the bars of the cage and stroked the edge of her glossy red wing. Terfle opened and closed her wings and stretched up in a lazy yawn.
"How was your day?" Hermux asked. "Mine was most peculiar, I can tell you that! Right up until this very moment. And it's wonderful to be home!" He opened the tin of dried aphids and shook a handful into Terfle's bowl. She leapt down onto the floor of her cage and began greedily to eat.
Hermux watched happily. "Home where no-one snoops! And no-one shouts!" he shouted. "Except me, of course!" He spun around and leapt high into the air with a little twist and a wiggle. And landed with a crash that nearly knocked Terfle's cage off its stand.
"And now for supper!" he announced and got back to his feet.
In the kitchen Hermux opened the refrigerator and removed a pot of soup and set it to heat. Then he changed out of his shop clothes. He removed his jacket and carefully brushed it before putting it on its wooden hanger. He untied his bow tie. He unbuttoned his shirt and took it off. He examined its collar carefully for dirt and sniffed cautiously under the arms. "I think it still has one more good day left in it," he said and hung it up carefully. He untied his shoes, and set them beside his bed to air. From his chest of drawers he took out a pair of thick woolen socks and slipped them over his dress socks. He took down a flannel shirt printed all over with pictures of cheeses from around the world. Then he put on his house shoes and his thick, fuzzy robe, and walked back to the kitchen.
The soup was bubbling furiously on the stove. He turned it off and took down from the cabinet a large bowl the color of a midnight sky. Around its rim marched a line of white ducks drawn with egg yolk yellow feet and bills and jet black eyes.
"Watch out ducks!" cried Hermux ladling the steaming soup into the bowl. He carried the soup to the table, got down a box of crackers, poured himself a glass a milk and sat down to eat.
"My!" he said to himself, "This was a very unusual day. That was a narrow escape with Tucka Mertslin. And that Miss Perflinger is quite a dynamic mouse. Quite unlike anyone I've met before!" He remembered her bright outgoing face, her slightly crooked nose, and the musical but very determined sound of her voice. Then he added, "But she is certainly quite like someone I'd like to meet again."
After he'd washed his dishes and set them to dry, Hermux prepared himself a pot of tea. And while it steeped, he peeled a small apple, sliced it into thin wedges, and cut himself a sizable piece of sharp, crumbly cheese, nibbling only the tiniest amount. He arranged everything on the table beside his reading chair in the study. He lit a small fire in the fireplace. Then he settled himself comfortably in his chair, put on his glasses and began to read his mail.
Copyright 2000 Michael Hoeye. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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