Friday, June 24, 2011

*Saving Booger Hole*

In college I knew this guy named Francis.  Sometimes I called him the Gentle Giant but that all stopped the day I found out he was gonna feed a cute little mouse to a mean old tarantula.
            “No how, no way,” I said.  “Not on my watch.”   

I'm not sure why Frank got a tarantula.  It's not like you can cuddle one or anything.  Frank named it Legs, 'cause he liked ZZ Top.    The mouse was a BOGO item--buy a tarantula, get its first meal free.
            I was walking through the common room on my dorm floor when I heard the announcement. 
            "Frank's gonna feed a mouse to his tarantula.  Who wants to--"
            That's all I heard.  I left a trail of my econ textbook, a spiral notebook, two Bic pens, my gloves, and a hoodie in the hall.  I flung open the door to Frank's room.  He lowered the beer bottle that was en route to his lips.  One corner of his mouth went up.  He didn't say it, but it seemed he was expecting me.
            I put my hands on my hips and glared at him and his red-headed roommate. "Where's the mouse?"
            The guys looked at each other, then back at me.  Frank used his beer bottle to point to the other side of the room.  I walked over and sat at his desk.  Put my hands on the ends of the cardboard pet box.  A half-dozen fiber optic-looking whiskers stuck out of the air holes.  I touched them.  They retracted.  After a minute, a little eraser pink nose poked out, all quivery. 

            "That does it,"  I said.
            I picked up the mouse house and held it close to my heart.  Walked back to the red head's side of the room. 
            "How much?"
            Frank squinted.  "How much what?"
            "How much for the mouse?"
            Frank shrugged.  "I don't know," he said.  "That probably would’ve fed Legs for a good month."
            "Crickets 'til the end of the year," I said.
            Frank shook his head.  "What?"
            "I'll buy your stupid spider a bag of crickets every week 'til the end of the year in exchange for this little guy."  I tapped the top of the box.
            When he didn't answer, I braced the pet container on my hip with one hand and held out my other. 
            Frank looked at the ceiling a minute, then stuck his hand out.  "Deal." 
            He took his time letting my hand go.

The next day, Frank and I rode the elevator to the ninth floor after lunch.
            "You want a lift to the pet store?" he said, before he turned left and I went right off the elevator.
            I looked up at him and wrinkled my nose.  "What for?"
            "You know.  Mouse food?  Crickets?"
            "Oh.  Yeah.  I guess I do.  Let me get some cash."
            My mad money from Dad was running low so I bought Booger Hole a glass turtle bowl instead of a fancy Habitrail.  I didn't buy him any food.  I'd just bring him scraps up from the dining hall.  I found a little blue dish for him to drink water out of 'cause I couldn't figure out how to attach a water bottle to the turtle bowl.
            Frank waited for me by the register, hands deep in his Wrangler pockets.  “All set?”
            I grinned.  “Yep.”

I named my  mouse Booger Hole 'cause one of my brothers had told me about a bluegrass band called Booger Hole Revival.  When you revive something, isn't it like snatching it from the jaws of death?  Like Jesus did Lazarus?
            Booger Hole was a silky, charcoal-colored mouse, the size of my thumb.  I could tell he was a boy 'cause--  Well, I could tell.  Even though he was super cute, Booger Hole turned out to be a pain in my butt.  He was forever peeing in my sweatshirt pockets and escaping his turtle bowl.  He didn't seem to realize or appreciate what I'd done for him--the way I'd purchased his redemption and all.  I loved him anyway.
            Booger figured out how to come and go early on.  Every morning he was inside his bowl, but there were always chocolate jimmy-looking mouse presents all over my desk.  I started putting a textbook on top of his bowl with a sliver of a gap for him to get air.  Each of my school books wound up with a crescent moon-shaped hole on the side opposite the spine.  I didn't get cash back for used books that semester. 

On about our fourth trip to the pet store, Frank turned to me at the stoplight right before the Mileground. 
            He looked at my knees instead of my face.  "Legs was scared of Booger." 
            I looked over at him and huffed.  "Are you serious?"
            Frank bent forward to see if the light had changed. 
            "Yeah.  I put Booger in with him and he ran to the other side of the tank."
            I didn't say anything.
            Frank cleared his throat.  "You don't have to keep buying crickets.  If you don't want to."
            I looked out my window and shook my head.  "No.  A deal's a deal."

And then I killed him--Booger Hole.  School was out for summer so Booger Hole and I went home to Huntington.
            One night I had one too many at the Varsity Club and I made a bad choice at two in the morning.  After I brushed my teeth, I got Booger out to play on my bed.  I passed out and when I woke up, I felt like the Princess and the Pea.  What is that lump under me?  It was Booger Hole, dead, but still warm. 
            I held him in my hand and sobbed.  Tried to wash my guilt away with tears.  I stroked his little body with my pointer finger.  All his important stuff was smooshed to one side.  Like when the loaf of bread gets crushed by the gallon of milk in your grocery bag.

I never got around to telling Frank I killed Booger Hole.  If I did, I’d have to face the fact that I’m a giant as sure as he is, only not as gentle.  Not by a long shot.


Jacqueline said...

Oh my goodness that is so funny and so sad at the same time. Love it.

Denise said...

Laughing and sighing all at the same time. Excellent writing.

Anonymous said...

Well done... you made me uncomfortable, and that is a great reaction to get.

writingdianet said...

Hey Girls! I have no idea how you found me but I'm glad you did:) I love that you enjoyed my story about my little friend, Booger.

melody-mae said...

found you via blogfrog and am so very happy I did!!! I plan to follow you but the widget is gone (mine has been doing that too!!) I will start by following you on twitter for now and come back and follow you!!

new friend!

Rebecca Bany said...

Made my way here via blogfrog. Glad I did :)

writingdianet said...

So glad to see my girls from BlogFrog and BlogHer! Thanks for visiting. I'll try to make my way to you soon:)


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