By John Thomas Tuft

Sybil rises each morning and prepares an insulated tumbler of coffee. And every morning, she fills the tumbler with filtered water and dumps it into the chamber of the coffee maker. And every morning, the amount of coffee she gets back is less than the amount of water she dumped in. This imbalance baffled her until she decided to finally do something about this quandary. She pulled the coffee maker away from the wall to examine it. To her surprise, she discovered a small hole in the back of the chamber that holds the water, with a tiny stopper closing it off. And adjacent to that hole was a small opening in the backsplash around the countertop. Being an intrepid investigator, she decided to place a small camera near the opening and see what happens.

The next morning, Sybil made her coffee as usual, and as usual, there was less coffee than the water she’d poured into the maker. Curious, she checked her computer that she had synced to the camera. To her amazement, after the lights go out and she is safe in her bed, a small door opens in the backsplash. A small paw comes through the opening and pulls out the small stopper in the back of the coffee maker. Then a piece of tubing that she lost long ago, is extended into the hole and water flows from a secret chamber in the base of the maker, through the tube, and into the wall. Sybil’s curiosity was piqued, to say the least. She ordered a small spy camera from Amazon and hooked it inside the opening in the wall.

Two mornings later, because Amazon, she made her coffee, and once again there was less coffee than the water she poured into the maker. Eagerly, while sipping her coffee, she checked the tape. She watched in amazement as it showed a group of mice siphoning off water from the secret chamber. It came through the tube and into a tea pot. The mice gathered round, dressed in their finest and sipped hot tea from china cups. Soon the family of crickets that Sybil heard at all hours, also showed up and began break dancing to the music they played on a long forgotten tape player. After they finished their tea, and the crickets wiped the cups clean, they all filed out the other side of the wall. Sybil wondered where they went. SO, she hatched a plan.

The next night, Sybil turned out the lights and snuck out the door and sat down in the flower bed underneath the kitchen window. Sure enough, soon she heard the rattle of teacups and the music for break dancing. All went silent. She heard a rustling behind her and craned her neck to watch the mice and crickets file out of the downspout and head for the old pack house. She quietly crept along behind them to see what was going on. Standing on her tiptoes, she looked through the smoky window. The interior was lit with the old kerosene lanterns from days of yore. In the far corner she spotted the copper pot and corkscrew tubing of a still. A group of snakes, both black rat and copperheads, tended to the fire under the pot. Apparently, the party was already underway because they were sipping from old mason jars and waving about making crazy patterns in all the dust.

The mice and crickets came in and set up seats for everyone at one end of the pack house. A three-legged raccoon made himself comfortable on the old tobacco planter and lit up a huge cigar. Suddenly a shout went up as a group of tree frogs tumbled in and got busy setting up their equipment. Sybil watched in amazement as the frogs tuned their banjos, guitars and wash tub bass. A one eyed crow took a seat behind the drums and counted down on the sticks and the band played blue grass like you have never heard before. After about twenty minutes the crowd started to chant: “Mable, Mable, Mable.” In strolled a gray and white kitten, who commenced to sing love songs, Taylor Swift tunes and old, aching ballads in a voice that left them all speechless.

Before it seemed possible, the horizon at the tree covered hills of central North Carolina, right near the Virginia border, turned to gray, tinged with pink. The snakes sounded last call and the frogs stowed their instruments. From somewhere behind a yawning Sybil, a flock of chickadees and a host of butterflies showed up to escort the partygoers safely home. Sybil walked back to the house, shaking her head at the sign and wonders she witnessed. As she began to drink her coffee, she paused. Maybe, just maybe, she had dreamed it all. She looked out the window. A three-legged raccoon looked at her from near the pecan tree and gave her a big wink before disappearing into the drainage ditch. This was definitely a two mug morning she decided and started filling the coffee maker again.

Words are magic and writers are wizards.