Howard and Elizabeth
by Kori Miller
“Oh my gawd! Did you see that?”
“What?” I strained to hear my friend Katy over the boom of the speakers. We stood between the living and dining rooms. We’d been invited to a circle supper with various members of our church.
“That!” She pointed at the dining table.
My eyes scanned the area.
“Right there! Do you see it?” She asked.
In the middle of the table, sitting atop a small pile of celery, sat a little brown rodent nibbling a carrot.
“What should we do?” Katy asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe nobody else sees it.”
“Well, I hope not, but we can’t just let it sit there eating all the food.”
“Why? Are you still hungry? I mean, really, do you want to eat that stuff now?”
She dismissed my sarcasm saying, “Come on!”
“Where are we going?”
“We’re going to catch it before anyone notices. Everyone else seems pretty well occupied playing Cranium.”
“And, just how do you propose we trap it?”
Katy downed her drink. “We’ll use this. It’s perfect!” She handed me a large, plastic margarita glass.
“You’ve got to be kidding. Do you know how close we’ll have to get with this glass? And, if you honestly think no one will notice, you’ve apparently already hit your drink limit.”
“It’ll work. Trust me.” She moved toward the table slowly, motioning for me to follow.
As I got closer, I could see that the little brown rodent was actually a gerbil. It looked so content sitting atop the celery nibbling its carrot. Meanwhile, Katy gave me the “shhhh” symbol, and directed me to maneuver to the opposite side of the table. All the while, blocking the view of the other guests — just in case.
As I made my way around to the other side of the table, I thought, “How the heck am I suppose to trap a gerbil on top of a plate of celery?”
Katy began a countdown with her fingers, as I readied the glass and myself. Her hand dropped. Her eyes went wide, as I slammed the glass over the gerbil. The table shook and shimmied. She watched as one table leg, then another, and another, and finally the last one, gave way.
“Oh crap!” I said.
The table slammed to the floor, with me sprawled over it, holding the glass.
“What happened?” Pete came rushing into the room, followed by ten of our closest acquaintances. He looked first to me, as if I was in a position to offer a reasonable explanation, then to Katy. She just stood there shrugging her shoulders, mouth gaping. “Trust her” she said. Yah, right!
“Oh, you found Howard!” Pete bent down, swept my hand away from the glass, and scooped up the gerbil. It jumped from the glass, scurried up his arm, and nuzzled against his neck.
“I looked everywhere for Howard the past two days. Elizabeth will be so happy to see him!”
“Elizabeth?” I slowly picked myself up. Bits of vegetables, chips, and dip decorated my chest.
“Oh yes. She’s been depressed for days. You see, Howard escaped from their home two days ago. She hasn’t eaten or slept since he disappeared. I think I even saw her cry.”
“Uh, huh.” I grabbed the glass. “I think I’ll be needing a refill.”