Mouse

  In the basement, the building management is putting rat poison. Alice Wilson put the laundry basket on the folding table next to the washing machine and turned to watch him work.
  ”Good morning, Juan,” she said.
  ”Morning, Mrs. Wilson,” Juan replied from around the corner. He put down a small saucer there, and poured some white powder into the saucer carefully from a yellow box. The box is printed with the words “Destroyer Spirit” in bright red font, and there is a skull symbol and ingredient warning below. Arsenic, Alice guessed, or something like that.
  ”I thought all the rats here were wiped out,” she said. “Didn’t the rat extermination team come just last week?”
  ”Yeah, but I saw another one outside this morning.” He pointed to a fan The locked door, the door that leads to the steps of the street. “Still wanting to make sure nothing goes wrong.”
  Alice turned to the laundry basket, sorting out the laundry. “Well, it’s an old-fashioned way to use rat poison. But if the poisoned rat gets into the wall and dies, wouldn’t it give off an unpleasant smell?”
  Juan snickered. “They can’t go that far with this stuff. It’s fast, er, called fast… fast…”
  ”Quick,” added Mrs. Wilson. Having been an English teacher in middle school for nearly forty years, she blurted out.
  ”That’s right,” Juan said. “It’s a quick-acting medicine. I’ll just sprinkle it here.”
  ”Alright.” Alice put her clothes into the washing machine. “I don’t like mice.”
  Juan laughed again. “Nobody likes mice. They’re worse than flies and cockroaches. But don’t worry, Mrs. Wilson, I’ll take care of them.”
  ”Thanks,”
  Alice thought, pouring laundry detergent, if only it were that easy. . She took the laundry card out of her pocket, paused, stared at the small dish of poison, and an idea began to pop into her mind. Maybe, she thought, everything could really be easy. But let her discuss this beforehand with her neighbor, Marco Vannelly.
  Juan seems to be able to read minds. “How’s Mr. Vannelly doing?” he asked, as he threw some Exterminator on the shelf above the sink where cleaning supplies were stored. Alice watched as he took off the rubber gloves and washed his hands.
  ”Mr. Vannelly feels better now,” she said. “The bruises around his eyes have dissipated, and the pain in his ribs has improved.
  ” Such an unfortunate event, and it’s right in front of our building! I’ve always thought our community was pretty good.”
  ”Yeah,” Alice agreed, “it was good,” she thought, until—
  ”Well, please help me say hello to Mr. Vannelly,” Juan said, “see you.” Then he went down the hall to the basement apartment.
  Alice couldn’t help but glanced at the yellow box again, then returned to her senses, intently fumbling for the correct button on the smooth keyboard to start the washing machine. The washing machine began to spin, and Alice nodded, feeling a helpless satisfaction. Faced with this brand new laundry system, Alice is still adapting and often fails to operate. She misses the traditional coin-operated washing machine more than the shiny but moody model. Yes, traditional is always best.
  traditional. I was talking about the word just now when I was discussing rat poison with Juan. The presence of rodents in groups on this quiet street is a new thing, a consequence of the recent rapid increase and renovation of surrounding buildings. Wandering in this old neighborhood, there is also a new group of unorganized groups, which Alice’s late husband once called – “Yuppies, scumbags”. Arrogant young couples with expensive leather shoes, clean teeth, and wacky titles: fashionista, hedge fund manager, or that mysterious, misnamed, all-encompassing title, consultant. Young women pushed double-wide prams on narrow sidewalks, talking loudly into smartphones as they walked, and older locals were crowded to the side of the road, dazed. The permanent residents sneered: “These white elites are really more annoying than mice!” Alice felt deep nostalgia and pain for her deceased husband, civilization and industriousness, traditional washing machines, and past romance.
  But now, she’s faced with a bigger, more real, and more imminent problem, and it’s time to take action. Alice took one last look at the yellow box on the shelf and walked towards the elevator.
*

  Alice noticed that Marco Fannery was in a better mood today. Since the accident last month, Marco has been depressed, quiet and withdrawn, not at all like him. Marco moved into the Lundy House fourteen years ago with his now deceased wife, living upstairs from Alice. He is the beloved uncle of Alice’s two daughters, who are now grown up and live with their families in other states. In addition, Marco was a good friend of her husband before his death. It’s really sad to see this once tall and strong man slumped in a wheelchair day after day. Marco was wearing pajamas and an old bathrobe, looking out the window sullenly. Alice felt that the skyscrapers in the distance also looked back at Marco indifferently, which could not solve his predicament at all.
  Alice wants to change all of this and decides to go to Marco’s house to tell the whole plan. She brought sandwiches, as usual, and made a pot of coffee in his kitchen. They sat at each other at the coffee table, and Alice was relieved to see Marco’s eyes gleaming like she had not seen in weeks.
  ”So, what do you think?” he asked her.
  ”I’m still planning,” she said, “but I think it’s something you might need to implement—if you don’t mind.”
  ”Mind? What a joke? Why should I?”
  Alice shrugged. “Well, because it involves some physical work—”
  ”Oh, I can do it,” Marco assured her, “whatever it is, I can do it.”
  Alice smiled knowingly, guessing he would answer that . Marco Vannelly, who worked as a circus performer in his native Italy many years ago, is the youngest member of the Vannelly Flying Family. In the early years, Fannery moved to the United States with his family and worked with the famous local circus family “The Ringling Brothers”. It was there that Marco met his future wife, Sarah, a high-altitude acrobat. But now, Marco’s family has passed away – his parents, three older brothers, and Sarah, who died of cancer five years ago. The brave man who used to fly in the air is no longer active after quitting the circus, and went to a high-end fitness club to work as a fitness trainer. After retirement, Marco rarely exercised. Alice guessed that Marco was a few years older than her, probably in his early seventies. She hoped that Marco would be up to the challenge.
  ”I’ll describe to you what I’m thinking,” Alice said to Marco, “you come to the window.”
  Alice stood up and guided Marco, glad to see that he could not rely on the crutches beside the wheelchair , it was only slightly crooked when he got up.
  Marco’s residence, 5D, is located on the top floor of the back row of the apartment, overlooking the small backyard surrounded by the house. Next door to Marco is 5C, where George Androv lives. Between the windows of 5D and 5C, there is a long fire pipe that goes down deep. Alice opened the window and leaned out, motioning for Marco to look out.

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