A Fable

Graham Barnhart

One day a cat spied a family of mice trying to hide in a milk can.

These will be a fine supper, he thought, and thrust

his face into the pail. Lifting it he soon

had a mouthful of mice. But to his dismay he found

his bulging cheeks kept him stuck fast, and he could

not swallow the mice, even one at a time, because the narrowing

neck of the pail narrowed also around his own.

He stumbled about in frustration tipping the pail back and forth

as the mice tumbled into and out of his mouth. At length

some soldiers approached behind grumbled humvee engines. The cat

froze in terror, unaware he had wandered so close to a patrolled road,

unwilling to remove his head lest any of the mice escape.

How did a cat even get stuck in a pail is not a question

anyone stops to ask in a warzone. And why should they?

One soldier drew a pistol and fired. The cat ran back and forth

in frantic, erratic patterns. The soldier fired a second time —

no one knows what became of the mice.


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