Scene One – PISONYA – West Allis, Wisconsin, June 1949
“Momma, who’s that man in the jungle?” I point to a black and white photograph in our red, leather bound, family album.
Mother walks to my side and places her hand on my shoulder. “Why, Bobby, that’s your Uncle Larry in Burma.”
“Is it hot in Burma?” I try to reconcile the photograph of a shirtless teenager in olive green fatigue pants with my new knowledge that there are more people in my life than mother and father.
Scene One – EYES WIDE OPEN – Mauston, Wisconsin, September 2020
“She scurried across the lawn, running sideways like a crab with her six additional legs. Except each additional leg was actually a baby mouse holding on to one of the mother mouse’s nipples propelling her away from me. Take the next country road on the right, Dan. There’s a rest stop two miles down the way on the left. I’ve got something on my mind. These surgical masks bug me. I can talk more easily without a mask in the open air.”
Scene One – WE WANT HEALTHY BABIES – Milwaukee, Wisconsin, September 1952
“Momma, why is Mable fat?” I say.
“Let’s see Bobby.” Momma lifts Mable from her oversized goldfish bowl. “Your pet Japanese Waltzing Mouse is pregnant.”
I peer at the plump, black-and-white mouse squirming and waving her head back-
and-forth in Momma’s hand. “What’s pregnant?”
Scene One – ZANZIBAR – Madison, Wisconsin, July 2020
“As soon as I get to know her, she’ll leave,” I say.
“Bobby, who are you talking about?” Dan scoots his chair close to the kitchen table. A cool mid-summer breeze plays tag with gingham window curtains that dance and flow, dance and flow.
I look at Dan. He grins with expectation. Hair curls from under his blue Milwaukee Brewers baseball cap, a constant fixture in Dan’s attire, even indoors. “Everyone,” I say. “Especially baristas. As soon as she begins to recognize me as a regular customer, greets me by name, learns my bakery and coffee preferences, and I begin to form an attachment, she goes to another job, back to school, or moves to Zanzibar.”
Scene One – HOPE or DESPAIR – Madison, Wisconsin, May 2020
“She wouldn’t take the bait until all her babies were gone,” I say.
Jeannie finishes the last nibble of her avocado toast and pushes her plate to the center of the table. She brushes crumbs into the scoop of her hand and drops them on the plate. The mound of crumbs is stacked like an ant hill, a home for ants without ants. Jeannie returns her gaze to me. “What do you mean Bobby?”
About the Author
Richard Wilberg is a creativity coach, musician, writer, photographer, and former business leader who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.