Disclaimer, Author's Notes, etc.:

Yeah...uh... I have only the vaguest memory of writing this little beastie, and I have not the faintest idea why it happened, or what brought it on. It's from mid-2006, I know that much - in fact, this may even have been "A Crash & A Crossover" in its original form. Scary thought... Anyway, it popped up on the server I was backing up my work to, and I thought I'd share it, for better or for worse. It's exactly how I found it - no modification whatsoever.

I don't own "Of Mice and Men" - that belongs to Mr. John Steinbeck. Nor did I own it when I was 15 - which, looking at this thing, is probably fortunate. Can't remember how much of the original novel appears in this, so if it looks familiar, it's either not mine or it's in "A Crash & A Crossover". And the name "Dwayne Dibley" is from Red Dwarf. Why's it here? Not a blinkin' clue.


A muddy trickle, once a raging, scummy torrent in the rains of last week, bordered by a bank of dry tufts of grass and littered with broken beer bottles runs the entire length of one edge of the parking lot, before disappearing sideways to run along the edge of the usually busy main road. Dead trees, their branches like skeleton claws, loom menacingly over any unwitting car parked underneath. From across the road, the sounds of raucous laughter and slurred singing can be heard echoing out into the night.

Suddenly, a stream of curses floated out from a bush at the edge of the carpark. Two men emerged, one clutching his toe, face contorted in pain. He kicked a broken bottle he had just cut his toe on, and the offending object skidded across the carpark to come to rest by an abandoned can. The man with the cut toe was small and slight, with a hat like an old flannel on the top of his head and a large nose. The other man, who had watched the first's cursing and kicking with traces of amusement on his face, was a complete opposite – large and hairy, with hands like dustbin lids and a hat like an old shower mat. He loped over to the broken bottle, and picked up the can it was lying beside. A grin spread across his face as he felt the can's weight, and he swigged from it.

"Barry!" the smaller man snapped. "Barry, don't drink so much!" Barry stopped and glanced over at the smaller man, pouting. The smaller man held out his hand, and Barry handed him the can, which he drained, then flattened against Barry's forehead. Barry blinked, and his eyes followed the can being tossed into the ditch.

"Dwayne…" he said cautiously. "Dwayne, where we goin' again?" The smaller man, Dwayne, ignored him and sniffed, checking the bottoms of his boots.

"Dwayne, where we-"

"I jes told you five minutes ago!" Dwayne exclaimed. Barry stuck one hand in the pocket of his jacket, and Dwayne watched suspiciously as Barry smiled slowly.

"What you got there?" he demanded.

"Nuffin'."

"Somethin'."

"Nuffin'!" Dwayne held out his hand, scowling, and Barry pouted. He brought the object out of his pocket and placed it miserably on Dwayne's hand.

"A mouse?" Dwayne said.

"Yup," Barry replied sullenly.

"Where'd you get it?" Dwayne held the mouse by its tail as it wriggled to get away.

"Caught it. In that there bush." He nodded in the direction he meant, and Dwayne turned to walk in that direction.

"'S my mouse!" Barry wailed.

"'S a mouse's mouse, ain't it?" Dwayne knelt down beside the bush and held out the hand with the mouse, finger and thumb still held onto its tail. He glanced over his shoulder, saw Barry kicking dejectedly at an empty beer can and slipped the mouse into his pocket. Then, he stood up, brushed down his trousers and looked around. He spotted a sheltered bus stop over by the main road, and began heading over to it, Barry following on his heels like a puppy dog.

The bus stop smelled a little peculiar, but Dwayne deemed it habitable enough and settled himself on one graffiti-plastered bench. Barry followed suit, then turned to face Dwayne.

"Dwayne, I forgot. Where we goin'?" Barry whined. Dwayne gave an exasperated groan and rolled over to face the bus shelter wall. He abruptly turned around again on being met with a large, brightly coloured poster of the Sound of Music. His hand crept discreetly into his pocket, where it met soft fur and fell to stroking.

"We goin' to work," he answered. "After you muck things up in Pot, we're goin' to find us another job." Barry chewed the corner of his hat thoughtfully.

"'S a police station, right?" he said after a while.

"It's a ranch. Go to sleep," Dwayne mumbled. There was silence for a moment, then Barry announced

"When we gets our house, and we's famous, and we's walkin' the red carpet and bein' in pictures, I'm gonna have my own mice. And no-one's gonna put 'em in no bush neither. And they'll be all soft and furry and little and with their little whiskers and their little paws, and they'll be black ones and brown ones and white ones and…" He trailed off, rolled back over and almost instantly fell into a loud, rumbling snore. A hat like an old flannel smacked him on the back of the head and silence fell in the rundown bus stop.

...

The bunk house was small and startlingly white, with cheap whitewash splashed over everything, from the floor to the cards table in the centre of the room. Even the bunks had not escaped attention, and each individual bedpost had been drenched with white, in thick slops that had left white spots over the mattresses. A small shelf was bracketed to the wall above each bed, and personal belongings were stacked on each shelf, except for that of one unfortunate individual whose shelf had lost the screws in one bracket and it hung at a lopsided angle, razors and adult magazines littered across the bed underneath.

The door creaked a crack open, then shuddered at a sharp kick from the man who then entered the bunk house. He was old, with a hat like an old tea towel covering his thin, grey, grizzled hair and a mop clutched in his single hand. He was followed by Dwayne, and Barry soon after.

"Top bunk's mine," Dwayne muttered to Barry. The old man didn't hear them, and pointed with his wrist stump to two creaky camp beds down the far end of the room.

"They's yours," he told them. "Don't worry 'bout the smell – ole Barf Bag had it last." Dwayne glanced at Barry and pulled a face.

"Barf Bag…why'd he quit?" he asked cautiously.

"Ah…said it was the food," the old man replied. "Jes walked out one evening, after dinner. The way any guy would around here, if it weren't so blinkin' hard to get somewhere else to go. Name's Lolly, by the way." Dwayne opened his mouth to introduce himself, but a creak and then a bang behind them made all three jump and spin around.

A short, round man with a figure rather like a bowling ball and a hat like an old schoolbag stood in the door. He had a clipboard in his left hand, a pen in his right, a cigar in the corner of his mouth and another pen behind his ear.

"You's the new boys, right?" he growled, and his cigar bent halfway along and drooped. He spat it out and pulled another from his pocket.

"Yup," Dwayne replied. "Name's Dwayne Dibley." The corners of the boss's mouth twitched as he scribbled the name down, and then glanced up at Barry, who looked puzzled.

"That there's Barry Tall," Dwayne said quickly. "He don't talk much, but he sure can…ah…toss them…bales."

"You guys done buckin' barley before, right?" the boss asked suspiciously.

"Oh, yeah – heaps," Dwayne assured him. "Back in Pot, where we come from – why, we was the best blinkin'…ah…buckers on the team!"

"Why'd you quit?"

"Food."

The boss finished scribbling on the clipboard and stuck his pen behind the free ear.

"You'll be on Phat's team," he informed them. "You'll start at five tomorrow mornin'." He hesitated, then added "That means you'll be up at four." He slapped the clipboard with the palm of his hand, in a somewhat businesslike manner, turned on his heel and strode out of the door, whistling.


Not an end, but as far as it's going to go...

By Aietradaea