I first read the book Of Mice and Men as an assigned book for my freshman English class. Throughout the novel, I continued to have a profound respect for both George and Lennie's shared dream of a home of their own. In the time period they lived in, and the struggles they had to overcome even before coming to the ranch, life was undoubtedly tough. For Candy and Crooks, whose restricted, second-class lives were a constant struggle to make ends meet while keeping some semblance of self-dignity, I always felt sympathy for their pain, and a severe dislike of the cruelty and degradation they had to endure due to their age, social status, and race, just to name a few things belittled. I really hate when people treat others so cruelly.
By the time the novel reached its conclusion, I already knew the inevitable end. That didn't stop me from feeling sad, however, when everything fell to pieces and their dream collapsed like a broken bridge. It always broke my heart, it was such a beautiful dream, like a soap bubble, really: a beautiful, all-encompassing fairy bauble while it's in the air, but if you try to touch it, it's ruined.
So, in honor of Steinbeck's tragic work of the dream that never bore fruit, I have decided to write an alternate universe of sorts: a world where that soap bubble of a dream survived, and the boys made it to their promised land.
OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: I obviously don't own Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. This is done purely to comfort those who, like me, thought that an ending with the boys actually accomplishing their dream would have been nice too.
I hope you enjoy it. Please, feedback and criticism is welcome, but flaming in very much UNwelcome.
It was at noon, one summer's day in July, and the sun was a huge, golden coin in the sky, fat and yellow and blinding the world in a dazzling heatwave.
The house, little more than a shantytown shack built up and around, was made of old bricks, faded a rusty red color, with dried river mud for cement, and a dented tin roof, a few clay tiles here and there where the tin had fallen through. There was a chimney poking through that roof, a long, crooked tube of old pipe, puffing out little black plumes of smoke, like a sleeping dragon. The windows, all four of them, were built rather clumsily, the sills made of mismatched planks, the windowpanes transparent plastic sheets, so that peering out through them made the outside world look like a rainbow bubble. The door was a few planks of wood, all nailed together in a crude rectangle, with a broken umbrella handle hammered on for the doorknob. A worn tin box of old tools, some rusty, some missing a chunk or two of metal, with a cracked handle of bent wire and a bit of fabric for the grip, sat in the little pool of shade provided by the side of the house. In the box, a little tin can, which once held beans that by now had long been eaten, squatted in a bent corner, placidly being half-full of old nails, bits of wire, and a few clothespins.
Chickens, little chicks and clucking, doting hens, and proud, strutting roosters, ambled about in the dirt path and in the backyard. The henhouse was dilapidated, having been cobbled together by eager, but somewhat clumsy hands, and was painted egg-yolk yellow in long streaks and dots and splashes, as if a child had used it as an art project. A few fruit trees, apples and oranges and pears, sat in clusters near the house, shading it somewhat. By each tree was a sort of container for collecting fruit: a dented lunch pail, an old wicker basket with a handle, and even an old cowboy hat, the brim looking to have been chewed leisurely by a dog. A dark-skinned man with a crooked back and a mean glare was waving a stick with furious gusto at a few birds who'd started trying to land in the apple tree, pecking at the fruit with sharp little beaks.
There was an old man sitting nearby, tending a large, lopsided rectangle of moist brown earth, the ground bulging with carrots, squash, and cabbages. There were a few tall wooden stakes in the ground, around which grapevines and pea plants were slowly winding around like thin snakes. Old, worn fingers washed a little bowl of green peas, one at a time, as he whistled softly. The dog next to him, an aging Basset hound with a drooping face and soulful eyes, whined softly and draped himself across the old man's legs, before falling asleep, breath whistling like an ancient wind-chime as he snored. The garden hoe next to the old man's feet was caked with coffee-dark earth from being dragged through the dirt earlier.
A huge man, with large pale eyes sat cross-legged in the hot grass in front of a huge, rectangular wooden box with a screen of chicken wire for the front side, with an old tin bowl filled with water, and another with a few thick carrots with the tops poking out like green pins, sitting next to it. There was a fat, fluffy rabbit in his lap, snoozing away, and there were many more rabbits besides, sleeping in a huge, sloppy pile in the shade of the box. The huge man was stroking the rabbit's long ears, which twitched every so often as a fat little leg kicked out from dreaming. The box had, painted in large, childish handwriting on the top, the words, "Rabbit Hutch" in white.
Inside the house (with his head ducked low so as to avoid the clothesline hanging from the ceiling) a small man with sharp features and restless eyes was sitting in one of a handful of mismatched chairs settled at the edges of a crooked table, cutting away determinedly at a tin can in front of him, full of fresh cream. The knife was stuck. "Doggone it," he said in amused exasperation, "The cream's too damn thick."