“So it has come to this,” he thinks, crouching half-naked in the center of his kitchen floor, clutching the handle of a wooden spoon. He likes the way it sounds so he repeats aloud, “It has come to this.”
Strewn around him are the contents of his kitchen cupboards: a stack of unused dishes, some liquor bottles, a camping tent. In the nearby living room all the furniture is pulled away from the wall. His oven and refrigerator, too, have been nudged from their posts and the grimy dust behind them freed to roam his apartment.
But none of this matters. The dust, the naked chaos of his possessions loosed from their regiments; these simple maladies mean nothing. He is composed now of a single purpose. He is a hunter.
“And hunting takes patience,” he mutters, shifting position. The dull throb in his heel suddenly shoots rainbows of sensation across his thigh and causes him to suck wind through his teeth. “Ah, ah, ah, ah” he winces and thumps at his leg to wake the sleeping muscle.
Just then a gray blur flits across the floor between his espresso machine and a shoebox full of old photos. He lets a guttural wail and puts his shirt toward it. “Like a Roman gladiator’s net,” he thinks but he is too late and the creature is safe beneath the fridge.
“Damn it!” he cries and jabs his spoon at the darkness. The mouse emerges from the other side, and he springs into action. It scurries toward the couch but he anticipates the move and yanks hard on the leather back, pulling it still further from the wall.
The mouse heads next to the antique chest in which he keeps his bed but he tosses his pants after it, blocking the entrance. Unfazed, his prey wheels on him and charges. He shrieks surprise and dances awkwardly on his toes as the beast returns to the fridge and safety.
“GOD DAMN IT!” he shouts and stoops to pick up his shirt, readying his spoon for a second rout when the critter skitters toward the cabinets, disappearing behind the wainscot. He takes up his position again and a sound escapes his lips: “Hmmmmm.”
It is an unsatisfied, guttural sound — equal parts resignation and remorse. “Too slow with the shirt,” he admonishes himself, “and remember to lead the little bastard when he runs.” He feels sweat beading on his palms, no doubt the result of the adrenaline pumping through his veins, anticipating further action.
The phrase recurs to him: “So it has come to this.” And soon he is lost in thought, imagining a war in which he is author and hero, both.