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Things to do on your birthday.

Mick is 70 years old now. The Duck probably much the same. The whole zoo is gentrified and creaking. Characters that amused your grandparents and even their parents are getting pretty desperate. They feel trapped, it’s a small world after all and they may not look like cuddly hamsters, but they are on a treadmill and that’s looking pretty tired as well.

Mick knows he hasn’t been funny since, oh since around 1940. It’s hard knowing that you peaked in 1940 and you’re still around. Sure Mick goes through the motions, but there have been funnier, better mice since then and some even got to have a good time. It’s depressing sitting in your dressing room everyday, knowing you’ll have to smile and dance and put on your squeaky voice, when all the while you just want to put up your feet, smoke a pipe and order carpet slippers from a Sears catalogue.
The Duck feels the same way and Pluto is pretty grumpy. But you are Mick and Mick is the grand poobah of the whole she-bang. They can’t do the Disney thing without you and there is so little of you left, you just know that you are going to explode one of these days and ...

Well why not. Why not escape?
Why not just pack your bags and get out. Sure the gates are patrolled, the guards have guns and it’s hard for a mouse to get out of the compound, but ...

It’s this thought that haunts Mick, day in, day out. Year in, year out. Escape. Getting out. Never having to be nice to Japanese tourists ever again. Never having to say ‘have a nice day’ to anyone ever again, or entertain anyone. Sure Bob Hope still thinks he’s entertaining people, but that’s all in his own mind. Mickey just knows he doesn’t want to be as old as Bob Hope and it’s getting dangerously close. They have to keep spraying his fur black, for god’s sake. Why can’t he go grey like George Clooney. He’s grey and sexy. Why can’t Mickey go grey for christsakes. Have a little decency in ones senior years.

These are the things that haunt you. That and the hot dogs and the concession stands. The whole place stinks of grease. Of course he rotates. He gets to be in ‘Eurodismal’ in August. Never let him be there in July when it’s cooler. No in July he always has to lead the parade in California. He hates Dismalland. The whole place is too cramped. Why they didn’t just relocate it to the coast , build something new instead of constantly patching, patching. His dressing room there is a disgrace, the floorboards rotten. No one cares. They just paint over it. Just like his hair.

He’d talked to Dumbo about it, but Dumbo didn’t mind. He didn’t get out much anyway anymore. Just like the chipmunks, he was pretty much forgotten. Like many others, he rarely left left his dressing room except for the parades, and didn’t they all just hate the parades. Even Roger Rabbit was getting restless. He always keep hoping he’ll get another movie, but no, they just won’t do it and he can see himself, just like Mick, ten years on, older, fatter, greyer, a secret drinker...

Mick had been on the wagon four years now. There had been a time there when he’d tried to finish himself off with drink, but they had to dry him out for the remake of Fantasy2.

“Try and be more like your old self’, they told him, but that was the point. He was his old self. Well old anyway. He just didn’t get a kick out of magic anymore, or kids, or candy floss and if he had to see one more broom carrying water...

And now he was staring at a Germans who’d come to see the ‘Maus’.

Smile for the Germans. Dance for the Poles, sing for the French, scowl at the English....

Escape. He just had to escape and when he heard the French guards were thinking of going on strike, he just knew, he just knew this was his last chance.

He was packing when the Duck came in. He knew instinctively what was going on.“You can’t go. It’s not fair on all of us. I’m not going to let you go.”
Mick, looking ragged and desperate, continued to pack, taking the gun off the rack he’d kept from an appearance in a wild west show.
‘I’m going. You can come with me, or quack for the rest of your life Duck, but I’m outta here. I’m going and you can’t stop me.”
“Mick, you can’t leave, no one ever leaves. If you leave you die, everyone knows that.”
Mick smiles. Yes, that is what he wanted most of all. To die, just like normal people.
”Please understand Duck, I gotta go, I have to escape, I want to die. I can’t say ‘You’re a cute kid,’ one more time without puking.

Mick has gone just two minutes before the Duck is on the phone blabbing. The EuroGuardi yells at him to calm down, stop quacking. Who’s running this time? There’s one a week in August. It’s peak time for breaking out.

Mick can hear the siren blaring. Now he knows they know. He can hear the refrain going around the compound, “We got a runner”. Everyone is excited to know who. Porky Pig is lying in the gutter and stops him.

‘I-I say...who’s running this time?’

‘The Duck’ Mick lied, ‘ he won’t make it. No sense of direction.’

The Pig snorted in agreement. ‘Stupid duck, never liked him.’

Mick knew that. It was one of those things. Not really understood by outsiders, but no one actually liked anyone at Eurodismal. A professor who came to study the place from the Sorbonne told him that the atmosphere was just like the University in Paris. Only the animals were more polite to each other.

At edge of the compound Mick has to jump over an electric fence. It’s the only way into the tourist compound. He’d long worked out a plan to leave with a family. Hell he’d even wear a Mick Mask. But a searchlight picked him out.

A Euroguardi spots him and calls out the dogs. If there is one thing Mick hates, it’s slobbering dogs.

The Duck and Pluto don battle fatigues, grabbing their guns as others come in to hear the news from the Duck’s mouth.

“Micks gone ape-shit guys, we got to get him before he ruins it for all of us.” They understand. Bambi needs a rifle. The Beast is already on the case. “We’d better get him before they do,’ he tells them all. “Pass the word.”

Mick has no choice. The parade is no good, the other animals will give him away in no time. He knows he is on his own in this. He can’t rely on anyone. This is no chicken run. He knows the red alert phone will have sounded in the executive boardroom and they’ll pull out all the stops. Without Mick on the posters, they’re dead and they know it. Everyone knows that when the star quits the show the audience stays at home. What would Friends me without, well friends.

Mick does the only thing possible. He grabs a kid, points his gun at him and tells him that he’ll blow him away if he doesn’t do as he’s told. He drags him into the Pirates Cave. It’s empty, the Pirates are French, they’ve been on strike for a month, they’d have to cross the picket line to stop him and he knows they won’t do that. Not here, in France.

”You are making trouble for us all mouse,” a pirate complained. ‘”You can’t kidnap little keeds and get away with it.”
‘You’re pirates,” Mick reminded them. “Trouble is your business.’

“This is cool,” the kid told Mick. “No one will believe this back in Kalamazoo.”
“You’re from Kalamazoo?” another Pirate asked. “Do you know ‘Lefty Collins?”
“Huh?” The kid asked, but Mick had the gun up to his head again now.
“Shut up, if you want to live.’

“You’re not holding the gun right,” the kid told him, showing him how to take the safety off. “When I grow up I’m going to be a terrorist just like you, Mick.”
Mick sighed. He could see that he wasn’t exactly setting a good example to the young anymore. But had he ever? What kind of kid took his lead from a mouse?

Outside he could hear a commotion. The kid and Mick could see the other animals were hunting for them in packs, all of them armed to the teeth. The parade would be over soon and the fireworks would begin. That’s when Mick was hoping he could break for it.

Meanwhile the family of tourists who saw Mick taking the kid hostage were being brainrinsed to forget what they saw. In an underground lab scientists with giant hypo-needles wait at their sides. It’s a regular thing. ‘Operation Forgetful’ runs all the time and they know just what images and words to show these traumatised folks. Desperate fairies dance in a corner with fixed smiles as the drugs kick in. “Oh what a wonderful day we had,” a voice intones. “We’re going to tell all our friends what a wonderful time we had...”

The Beast roams, he does not need a pack. He will find and terminate the little mouse. It would be a lesson to all the rest of them. No one will escape the terminator. He’d never liked the little mouse, his dressing room was too big for a mouse...

“If you’re going to go, we’d better go now,” the kid told Mick. Mick and the Kid run for it, mingling with the tourists. But it’s no good, a boy with a mouse, whatever was he thinking. People just stare and point. They could see a guard talking into his phone, besdie him a sniper trying to get a clean shot.
“It’s no good, we’re going to have to jump for it kid.”
“I’m with you Mick.”

Together they jump over the barrier into the lake.
It isn't very deep. Which was lucky as mice don’t swim.
However crocodiles do. The Kid screams once. Mick raises his gun and blasts the Croc. He kills it, but it’s drawn a crowd and Mick can see a EuroDismal chopper hovering in the sky. His heart began to sink. The possibility of him not being able to escape was beginning to dawn on him. Behind him a mob of armed animals was beginning to pour over the barrier.

“All part of the show, nothing to see here,” the guards were yelling as they fixed laser sights on their guns.

Miraculously Mick and the Kid reach the car park unscathed, but Kid scrapes his leg on a jeep and falls. A Eroguardi is on him in a second beating him senseless.

Mick is on his own now. In one desperate last move he points his gun at a family of Chinese tourists. He makes them hand over their family wagon. They take pictures, they seem almost happy to see him and chant ‘ Mick, Mick’. They do not know they will be spending the night in interrogation and brainrinsing. It will be a busy night underground.

Mick thanks his lucky stars he learned to drive back in the ‘40s. At least he know how to use a stick shift. He guns the motor and heads away from Eurodismal. The animals behind spread into the car park and commandeer more vehicles. It’s chaos now and the tourists are growing frightened. Bambi with a gun makes children cry. The executives have begun to realise that things are getting out of hand. But the guards don’t care.

They hand out guns to whoever who asks, telling them “Don’t come back without the fuckin’ Mouse - dead or alive.”

The Duck and Pluto steal a jeep but crash it. Neither one knew shit about driving. Never did. Never take lessons from Mr Magoo.

The Beast watches from a distance. He will follow. The mouse will fuck-up. There will be a trail. He will find and kill the mouse.

Hours later Mick arrives in Paris, stops to ask directions in the Pigalle district.

The girl seems very friendly, but she won’t tell him where to go without being paid. Mick has worked for 66 years and never yet been paid, just the thought of that makes him feel very angry and hard. He levels his gun at her and she climbs in.

She does what she knows best and Mick feels his whole mind expanding. Minnie Mouse never did that!
Suddenly Mick knows why the French like to smoke so much. He points the gun at her again and with a growl he didn’t know he had, he tells her, “Bitch, from now on you work for me.”

Hard Graft - What Mick does next.
(probably not coming froma website near you)

© Marcel D’Agneau 2000
Artist ‘Pirate’ Jon Miller 2000

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