Traffic moved unusually slow, probably an accident in the tunnel up ahead, but because I had time to look around I spotted the sign half hidden among the trees: Mole Problems? Call 4U2–MOLE. Normally I ignore advertisers, so what got me interested is still a mystery. I dialed the number.
“Hello, Mr. Mole speaking.”
“That can’t be your real name” I said.
“Yes, yes, the business has been destiny since the day I was born. How can I help you?”
For an instant I was speechless. I didn’t have any moles. “Can you tell me what time it is?”
“I’m sorry, it’s too dark to see a clock” Mr. Mole replied.
“So you’re at the job site, very industrious of you” I said.
“No, No, I live here. Is there anything else you need?”
“You live underground?” I asked.
“Did you expect me to live in a tree?”
I could hear the sarcasm in his voice. Perhaps this signaled the beginning of my mole problems. “I’m sorry to have bothered you.” I apologized, believing he’d hang up, but the line stayed open, a musky panting coming from the other end.
“Are you still there?” I asked.
“You don’t get rid of moles by just hanging up.”
“I don’t actually have any moles” I said. “I just called because I’m stuck in traffic and didn’t have anything better to do until I saw your sign.”
“Do moles attract you?” Mr. Mole asked.
“I have no feelings whatsoever for moles!” I snapped back, but I was immediately sorry for my temper. I pictured the dirty burrow where moles live, the wife clearing a cavern under someone’s garden, preparing a cold kettle to mix a meal of pale roots. My problems with traffic were trivial compared to the struggles moles face, so I pulled over to the shoulder and settled back. “Go ahead” I encouraged, “I’m listening.”
And Mr. Mole started talking, all his dark secrets coming to the surface, passions that made my cell phone blush though I’d had it set to vibrate.
David Feela, a retired teacher, is a poet, free-lance writer, and workshop instructor. His writing has appeared in hundreds of regional and national publications since 1974, including High Country News, Mountain Gazette, Denver Post, Utne Reader, Yankee, Third Wednesday, and Pennsylvania Review, as well as in over a dozen anthologies. For eleven years he served as a contributing editor and columnist for the recently deceased Inside/Outside Southwest. Currently, he writes a monthly column for the Four Corners Free Press. A chapbook of poetry, Thought Experiments (Maverick Press), won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry collection, The Home Atlas (WordTech Editions, 2009), is currently available through the publisher and online.