Gallivant

gallivant (GAL-ih-vant), verb

To wander widely; to constantly travel to many different places, without an itinerary or plan; to freely go wherever and whenever the mood strikes you, and doing so frequently.

“Gavin gallivants gallantly!…Oh no, no, no,” mutters the old crocodile as he pushes his glasses up his long spiny nose.

“Harold hops heroically! Bah!!!” The crocodile’s voice cracks as his short fingertips massage his temples. A deep sigh flutters his papers from the desk to the floor.

“Ahem,” coughs a wee voice from below. The crocodile takes a sideways glance to the floorboards and laughs a hysterical laugh, “Ah, Regis the rat rampages the room!”

“No sir,” squeaks the voice. “I’m just the mouse who lives next door to you.”

“A mouse is a mouthful that muddles my morning!” The crocodile screams as tears well in his eyeballs. He shakes his head, flipping teardrops to the floor. Five giant water spots bleed the ink written on research papers, marbling them into incoherence. At the sight of his work disappearing, more tears flow.

“Apologies, sir. I meant nothing by it,” the mouse instinctively tucks his tail end back into the hole in the wall. “But it seems you are struggling with something?”

“Struggling with something!? The mouse mocks me!?” The crocodile swings around. More giant tears well and rest precariously on his eyelids. From below where the mouse stands, the crocodile’s eyes magnify into two gigantic orbs of fiery yellow. Before the crocodile blinks them away, the mouse retreats to the safety of the wall.

The crocodile looks at the state of his office. Some office. It is littered with papers that make no sense. Hours upon hours of research into a condition that does not exist. Hundreds of interviews with doctors who laugh at him and a few who want to make him into a lab rat. A lab rat.

“Poor Regis,” thinks the crocodile. “Of course I know he is not a rat, but how can I call him by his name without saying so?” Regis and the crocodile have been neighbors for nearly four years. Most of their interactions resemble that of this morning.

“Yet he keeps trying to contact me,” wonders the crocodile. “I should do something nice for him.” For the rest of the day the crocodile works in silence. It is his preferred state since anything he says must follow in the ever-frustrating alliteration. If only he were an alligator he could explain his condition with ease.

Instead the other neighbors in the complex refer to him as the contemptible crocodile on the first floor. Mr. Mouse has never done so.

“That is it!” realizes the crocodile. “I will call Regis, Mr. Mouse! I cannot offend him that way!” The crocodile has always felt a pang of remorse when calling Regis a rat, even though it slides across the tongue with such satisfaction it nearly makes him weak in the knees. But he knows how frustrating it must be just as he hates anyone who calls him an alligator, even if makes it easier to explain his alliteration. He had decided early on that he would rather have no speech impediment and remain a crocodile.

The next day the crocodile tidies his office and sets out a block of cheese and some wine. He peaks his big yellow-orange eyes into the mouse’s front door and says in his finest, friendliest voice, “Mr. Mouse, Mr. Mouse! Might we make amends?”

No answer.

Two, three, four hours pass by and there is not a peep from the hole in the wall. The crocodile slumps to the ground, his giant tail curls around his toes. His elbows lean against his bent knees and his hands press big teardrops back into his skull.

“Mr. Crocodile?” a tiny voice echoes from up inside the wall.

“Mr. Mouse?” the crocodile chokes through his swelling throat. “Please pardon my performance from the past. I….” the crocodile is so close to completing his thought but cannot find the words to accompany the letter ‘I.’ Tears pour down his leathery cheeks, flooding the floor around him.

“Mr. Crocodile,” continues the mouse. “I cannot come down from inside the wall because I am afraid you’ll drown me. But I have been listening to you struggle for all these years and I have been trying to tell you, I think I have a solution to your problem.”

At this the crocodile perks up. He shoulders lurch forward and his tale swings back behind him where it should be. It slaps the wall so hard, the whole room shakes. Like an acrobat the crocodile flips onto his stomach and peers through the hole.

“What is this wondrous work of which you whisper?” The crocodile thinks of his own leaps of progress in deciding to call Regis, Mr. Mouse. He decides he will wait for Regis to speak before telling him of his own great resolution. But just as he thinks this, his nostrils smell a strange sort of danger. His eyes peer into the hole where his friend must be, and then he sees a tiny gray speck lying on the ground, its silky pelt soaked by the lake of tears that covers the floor.

“Mr. Mouse?” says the crocodile, afraid that all his research has just come to an end. “Mr. Mouse?” More tears blur his vision. The tiny speck moves, shakes a violent quiver and rolls over. Regis looks at the crocodile and smiles weakly. A tiny drip of blood falls into the pool of tears, marbling like ink in water.

“Mr. Mouse,” says the crocodile, “May I moreover mention you as Mr. Mouse! So have I solved the stickiness of saying such things as…” his throat swells shut. Remembering all the years of pain he must have caused using such a vile word as rat. Even if his throat unlocked and allowed him to utter a non-alliterate sentence, he could not say the word now. The crocodile watches the mouse’s tiny lungs heave up and down, their pace quickening to an alarming rate. The mouse opens his tiny mouth and paws the crocodile to come closer.

“Please,” his voice is raspy. “Forever more, call me Regis and let them know who I was.” And with that, the little mousey lungs collapse. The crocodile blinks, his head spins around the room. What cruelty! How can this be? The dying words of the only soul who has ever shown him kindness are literally and utterly impossible.

 

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