Librarian of Alexandria

IX: The Staggeringly Incomplete and Unfortunately Azure Presence of the Spirit of Our Times and The Lady of the Bentley Subglacial Trench, or, La Vita Degli Topi Chi Vivanno Nel'Opera

There was a family of five mice-children that lived in an opera-house in Milan. Their father had been eaten, not by a cat, as one might expect of mice, but by several fish who had set an elaborate trap involving no less than four decoy eels and an intricate pulley system.

The father had been in an open relationship with several female mice, each of whom was seeing several other male mice, and so several of them lived with the family simultaneously; the children never knew whether the next day would find one subset of their "mothers" and "fathers" replaced by another set. However, one of them—a beautiful mouse with mottled brown-and-black fur—was always there for them, being the biological mother of two of them and highly attached to the other three. For the purposes of this story, I will call her Suzie, which is a reasonably accurate translation of her name from the original Milanese Mouse dialect, inasmuch as any collection of squeaks can be translated into a human language at all.

One day, she and the five children, along with her two boyfriends, snuck into the opera house, where a performance of Il dissoluto punito, ossia il Don Giovanni was being prepared for that weekend. Excited for the opera, Suzie insisted that the bored children stay there to keep her seat for when she got back from getting refreshments for the performance from the corner mouse store. The children sat expectantly for a time, and then became bored and wandered around the upper boxes, looking for a good vantage point for a mouse wishing to watch an opera.

It was not long until they found a box which was occupied by a Milanese inventor called Massimo della Piscina Pubblica. He was performing the finishing touches on a mannequin he had created so as to give the illusion that he had a date for the opera, whereas in fact he was remarkably unattractive to women because of his complete and utter lack of a nose. (He never considered that he could instead invent a nose for himself; and if he had, he probably would have made it poorly, as he got zeroes on most of the tests at L'academie des inventeurs in Paris and slept through a lot of classes. His nose would have actually been hilarious, though, so it is a pity that he did not think of it.)

The mice thought quickly and dove into the mannuequin, and began operating it independently. He was shocked to see his date come to life, and began to dream that he was Giapetto, and the mannuequin was his own hypersexualized Pinnochio. The mice began to make the mannuequin smile, and operated the voicebox through strings and pulleys.

"What is wrong with you?" they asked. Massimo della Piscina Pubblica was shocked, but also confused, because he did not speak English. So they repeated, "Qual è il tuo problema?" He stammered, and stuttered, and the mice laughed in a mousey way inside of the body, and the people who were filing into the opera began to stare at the famous inventor and his oddly beautiful and yet somehow strange date.

"Cosà?" he asked, trying to understand what had happened to his mannequin. If he had nostrils, they may very well have flared; we can only guess.

The mice never dignified him with a response, they left the box and found their mother who was sneaking in a box of mouse popcorn and some mouse sodas; they picked her up and began living in the basement of the opera-house, where they could listen to the music without having to look at the atrocious makeup that some of these singers had on.

Occasionally they'd go upstairs in their human-suit and give Massimo the finger. He would try to thumb his nose at them and fail, and subsequently be laughed out of the opera house. Kind of sad, really.