Mr. Big Maus
Mr. Big Maus
M ILES MAUS WAS HAVING A BAD WEEK. Sunday night his girlfriend, Lily Chow, dumped him and Monday morning his boss, Rudy Pummel, cautioned him that if he didn't grow up - those were Rudy's precise words - then Miles would be out of a job. Rudy gave Miles until Wednesday to prove he could, he would, that he had, grown up. And how? By appeasing the client who had been adult enough to tattle on Miles.
"'Recalcitrance' is the word the client used," Rudy informed Miles.
And Miles informed Rudy that he'd have to consult a dictionary, seeing as how they hadn't yet covered that word in his SAT prep class.
Rudy didn't find that particularly humorous. Or surprising. "It's that mouth of yours, Miles," Rudy had said. "As soon as it opens, sounds come out that are guaranteed to piss people off."
Miles couldn't think of a response that would have disproved the point. On the other hand, he couldn't imagine keeping his mouth shut for the next forty-seven years. For one, he enjoyed eating; for another, he was fond of cunnilingus. And the ability to scream when being chased by bad guys and stick his tongue out at snotty parking attendants held certain advantages, as well. He also had to admit to a weakness for making kissy noises whenever he encountered kittens and puppies.
So, all things considered, Miles reckoned he should start looking for alternate employment.
Scrolling through the jobs section of Ad Age digital on the Monday evening train home, he supposed the client was right. His preference to find a new position rather than bend to his boss's command probably qualified him as recalcitrant.
And, of course, from all that recalcitrance, everything else followed . . .
Playing hooky from work. Which led to the puzzling rendezvous. Which led to the suspicious tail. Which led to the incriminating pictures. Which led to the assault and blackmail. Which led to the federal agents. Which led to buying a gun and being fitted for a wire and engaging in cloak and dagger derring-do. Which led to breaking into the secure federal facility. Which led to retrieving the secret documents and engaging in the public exchange.
And this didn't even account for the con. The hex talionis . The subterfuse . The dead accomplice. The shootout at the apartment . . .
Well, there was a lesson right there: that's a whole heap of stuff that impetuous adolescent rebellion will get you into. It surely was a sobering cautionary Miles Maus could file away for future reference in order to grow on.
Assuming he made it through the ordeal alive.
The thing is, if Miles had been given the choice between avoiding all that mayhem and compromising his principles, well . . . that would have been a toughie. For, he had always been this way, as far back as he could recall. The high road over easy street; integrity over expedience; bloody noses over brown noses. He considered it a philosophy - although people like Rudy probably considered it stupidity. The best comeback he could offer - the only valid excuse - was that he was probably wired that way. And, if so, then nothing could be done to change it.
All things considered, then, it was probably best to surround himself with people who didn't mind. For starters, Kaity was one. And Grew Dunne was another. So, it wasn't like no one could tolerate Miles and his big mouth. At least two people could.
Kaity and Grew were Miles's oldest friends. Grade school chums, who, together, were known around Pittsburgh as "The Three Bold Mice" (or TBM, for short). A name that originated, obvio