Ivan Ivanovich is a very quiet man.
He sits and stares, maybe thinking, playing with his pet mice and guinea pigs.
When he does open his mouth, it’s to softly sing “Miserere” by Allegri.
He just hasn’t been the same since they retired him. He used to be very talkative. Always telling stories about his little black dog Chernushka. He loved that dog…
Ivan smiles faintly, scratching the top of a mouse’s head with his fingernail.
Averte faciem tuam a peccatis meis: et omnes iniquitates meas dele.
He scratches at his stomach and the choir skips, replaced by squeaking.
It was the damnedest thing, really. You know he’s not real, right? Like..not living. He’s a Maket…a dummy. But, something happened to him out there in space…something brought him to life.
He makes great borscht.
I look into his eyes. They dart around, uncomfortable and sad.
What happened to him out there?
Did something extraterrestrial decide to give him life?
Is he alive through the will of guinea pigs, mice, and a tape recorder?
He opens his chest and places the mouse he was petting inside.
Cor mundum crea in me, Deus et spiritum rectum innova in visceribus meis.
The smile fades from his face and he reaches his hand out to me.
I take it.
He holds my hand limply and looks into my eyes, searching for something.
He shakes his head, looks down and picks up another mouse.