Mr. Morton walked down the street. He walked so as not to attract attention from everyone else going about their day. A shaky hand reached into the pocket of his yellow jacket to retrieve a handkerchief which he dabbed at the sweat beading across his forehead. His beady eyes followed the people he passed on the street, watching for the telltale signs of one of them. They were always watching. Sudden movement in the bushes caught his attention. He froze, paralyzed to the spot, and held his breath. An orange and black striped tabby cat darted out of the leaves, leapt up on top of his mailbox, and sat upon it.
He laughed to himself as he tucked his handkerchief back into his jacket pocket. "Hello cat. You look good!" Mr. Morton often talked to his cat as part of their routine. The cat yawned lazily and waited for him to walk by on his way to their home. He mused at the fright the little fellow had given him and went through the motions of checking his mailbox. As expected, it was empty. Mr. Morton was a lonely man. Mr. Morton walked up and opened the door of his house. His cat followed him inside, quite likely expecting dinner to follow. Being inside their home was his only relief anymore. He knew that they were still watching him. They were always watching him, always controlling him. They watched everyone, subjected everyone to their will. Yet in his house, he could forget that they existed, forget everyone existed. Well, almost everyone.
He moved up the stairs to the window which overlooked his neighbor's home. Mr. Morton knew only one girl, his next-door neighbor Pearl, although he had not been able to work up the nerve to speak with her as of yet. Mr. Morton grew the yellow daisies in his flower box for her, and dreamed of the day when they would bloom. On that day, he would gather up a handful of flowers, march over to Pearl's house, knock on her door, and ask her to be his. He would be courageous on that day! Only...that day had come at the beginning of the week, most of the daisies were in full bloom now, and he still had yet to speak with her. He leaned out the window with his watering can to water the flowers, and glanced over at the neighboring window. There she was! Beautiful Pearl! Pearl with her soft brown hair and glittering eyes. As she always did whenever she noticed him at the window, she waved and smiled at him. Her smiles were like sunshine parting through rain clouds. Mr. Morton blushed beat red and retreat from the window. Mr. Morton was very shy.
How could he ever be brave enough to talk to Pearl? How could he ever tell her about those things which terrified him everyday? Did she know that they were being controlled too? Would she think him strange or dangerous? Would she even speak with him to begin with? He wasn't the best looking man to be certain. He opened his closet door and stood in front of the mirror to better evaluate his reflected physique. He was a robust man, far from fit, with not a trace of muscle on his figure. He was also completely bald. Such a man would never be right for beautiful, perfect Pearl. When she had first moved in, he had determined to start running in order to get into shape. However, the very idea of her watching him struggle to catch his breath and toddle down the street was far too mortifying for him to bear. He had given that up almost immediately after the first day she had spotted him.
Heaving a sigh of resignation, he left his mirror and sat in front of his typewriter. He poked halfheartedly at the keys. First he struck a word or two, but the longer he sat there, the more he began to really let fly. The typewrite clicked and clacked like mad as he let loose his heart upon the page. Before too long, Mr. Morton had finished a poem about Pearl. He looked over the words, each one perfectly arranged to describe his passion for the gorgeous woman who lived next door. His heart swelled and soared within his chest as he read and reread the words! Perhaps, perhaps if she should only read it, then she would see something of interest in him? He turned to see if there was still a glimpse of Pearl through the window, but as he looked outside, his heart sank like a stone.
When he was inside the safety of his home, it was easy to forget about them. Now that he had written his feelings for Pearl, they would know. Once she saw it, what would happen then? What would they make her do? Run away, most likely. Who could ever make Pearl love him? She was so perfect! On impulse, he turned the poem into a paper airplane and sent it gliding out of the window. He wanted it out of his house and hoped that the wind would carry it far, far away. It would be nothing but a dream now. He would never have to face her rejection or, worse, her ridicule. His cat stretched lazily across the floor and then leapt nimbly out the window, since he wasn't paying it the least bit of attention.
All this worry about what might happen now that they knew about his feelings for Pearl had made Mr. Morton nervous. He began to pace back and forth across the room. He was still at his pacing some time later when the orange and black cat returned with a note in his mouth. So surprised was he to see the cat with a letter, that he couldn't possibly imagine where it might have come from. Perhaps he had overlooked it in the mailbox? That certainly seemed reasonable. Upon retrieving the note and realizing that it had not been sent through the mail, he began to tremble and sweat profusely. It was a reply from Pearl! This could only mean that somehow, somehow Pearl knew. It had to be them. He was sure of it. He carefully opened the letter and began to read...and then Mr. Morton fainted.
It was nightfall by the time he came to. The cat was nowhere to be seen, but the window had been left open and he could see the lights from Pearl's house next-door. He trembled at the thought of what he had to do, but he had to know. He had to know for certain if it was them. He had to know if Pearl knew that she was subject to their will, that she couldn't help herself. Gathering his courage, he rose from the floor, cut a handful of the daisies from his window box, and left his house. Before he was completely aware of it, he was standing on her porch. Mr. Morton knocked on the door several times. The delay made Mr. Morton nervous and begin to sweat again, so he sat down on the rocking chair that Pearl kept on her porch and idly rocked back and forth while he waited. The minutes stretched on into eternity and it felt like he had all the time in the world to sit and think and reconsider what he was doing. Just why had he come? What would he say? Surely Pearl would laugh at him. Surely this was a mistake!
The door opened and Mr. Morton, tormented by his thoughts, ran from Pearl's porch, dropping the makeshift bouquet of daisies at her feet in his flight. By the time he was back inside of his house, he had managed to regain his senses. Why had he run away? Mr. Morton climbed his stairs and returned to the room with the window which overlooked Pearl's home. Why didn't he just say hello? Mr. Morton began to type on his typewriter, making silly little rhymes as he mentally rebuffed himself for his cowardice. Pearl could never love him. It must have them. They were playing with him, toying with him the way they always did. He was nothing but a subject to their whim. He was angry! He was heartbroken! He was ashamed! And Mr. Morton was lonely, so very, very lonely.
The creaking of floorboards caught his attention. He turned in his chair to discover Pearl standing there in his writing room. She was as resplendent as ever; beaming at him with that radiant, warm smile of her's and holding out a single red rose to him. Mr. Morton was so happy to see her, but he couldn't understand how she was here. What was she doing? Why had she come? He stood up to embrace her, her whom he loved so dearly from afar. Yet, all he could do was stand there and stare, transfixed by her presence. Pearl only smiled all the wider, her eyes glittering with secret delight. She opened her mouth to speak in her perfect angelic voice. They were married. They were happy, so was the cat. Everything happened so fast! They were packed and ready to go on their honeymoon, a bus was waiting outside to carry them away. It was everything, everything he ever wanted, so Mr. Morton never questioned it. He never questioned one word from Pearl. He never suspected she might be one of them; he never even thought to ask because, Mr. Morton is the Subject and what the Predicates say, he does.
Inspired by School House Rock: