A note: the Stuart Little depicted in this work of fiction is derived from E.B White’s 1945 novel of the same name, and, in this short work of fiction, is depicted as an old man. Remy and Despereaux are approximately the same age, working from the assumption that since Tale of Despereaux was published in 2003 and Ratatouille was released in 2007, the two gay rodents are part of the same generation.
OPEN on REMY and DESPEREAUX, in their kitchen, which is in Brooklyn, off the Classon G stop. It is a mouse/rat size kitchen, with polished ceramic buttons as plates, a thimble chair, a doll kettle as the kettle, a little wood fired oven with a single gas burner on top, etc. There is a tiny sprig of eucalyptus inside a little tiny pencil sharpener vase by the door, which is a mouse hole but with a beaded curtain. It is inside a normal brick building, and the bricks are human size, so you can tell that REMY and DESPEREAUX are small. It is November. DESPEREAUX is wearing a little sweater and some corduroy trousers. REMY is wearing short shorts and a muscle tank, as he is nearer to the heat of the stove. Through the glazed window, we see rain pouring down, with the clock tower in downtown Brooklyn lit up with its red face in the distance. REMY is chopping small pieces of onion and thyme on a block of wood laid down on top of the tiny table. DESPEREAUX is decanting a bottle of dandelion wine into a tiny pitcher made of a seashell. There are also little seashell wine glasses.
DESPEREAUX: It’s just, you know, I haven’t seen him in months, not since that party in Berlin with Mig and everyone where you invited him. And he’s like, you know, he intimidates me a little. Just one of those crazy old queens or whatever. With his philosophy. He’s so beautiful, you know. I can’t imagine the kinds of things he got up to.
REMY turns on the single gas burner on the tiny stove. It flares up bright against the rainy dark window.
REMY: You know, you talk as if he has some kind of magical wisdom. He’s smart, you know, he’s very funny and endlessly charismatic, and he’s seen some shit, but you’re intelligent too. And you’ve been through shit. I think he likes you more than me. You’re a hero, and you fence.
DESPEREAUX: You cook, though. Everyone comes to dinner parties because you’re like, miss Julia Child over here. You’re incredibly gifted. What are you making right now?
DESPEREAUX finishes decanting the wine and tastes it carefully. He smacks his lips delicately, and his very large ears twitch.
REMY: Alison Roman’s seafood pasta from this week’s New York Times. I have to get the shrimp out of the freezer in a second. Which means walking down the hall and seeing all the neighbors’ shit again. Can we tell them to move their bikes?
DESPEREAUX: Remember when I tried to make paella? You’re the draw here.
REMY: You did have an actual close intimate friendship with a real princess, which I know Stuart appreciates. That whole fag for diva thing. He and you are very much the same person, only with a different sort of upbringing. He’s the mama’s boy who ran away and became a wanderer…
DESPEREAUX: And I’m what, exactly?
REMY: Well, like me. Except more sentiment.
DESPEREAUX: I know, I know. But it’s like meeting Quentin Crisp, or like, I guess more like a living David Wojnorowicz, where it’s like, god, I know what you were like as a young man because of your work and you’re here… oh, shit, Remy, he’s texting me. How old is he? His book came out in ’45. Am I like, totally wrong for hoping I can like, know him? Shit, he says hi. He’s using emojis.
(The phone CAN be a mouse sized phone, but could also be a very large prop piece which DESPEREAUX taps at like a console at NASA.)
REMY: Is he with Mig at the bar right now? She told me they were going out. Some new show thing that’s happening. Dinner hour theater at Bizarre. She carries him in her hat.
DESPEREAUX: I don’t know, I don’t go there since they fired Roscuro. She says they’re like, deeply transphobic.
REMY: No offense, babe, but Roscuro’s fucking hard to get along with. It doesn’t mean anything about the venue. I hear the show’s good. A lot of Bushwig queens.
DESPEREAUX: Roscuro has a lot of like, light in her, personally. And her artistic vision is like, really beyond anyone else because of what she’s been through and come through. She just isn’t very good at handling stress. And she’s worried about money.
REMY: Have you seen the way she laid into Poppy the other week after the reading series?
DESPEREAUX: (ignoring this) Stuart wants to know if there’s anything he can bring.
REMY: If he feels like bringing ice cream to go with the tiramisu he can feel free, but if he’s already on his way over there’s not going to be any way he can get it here from the store on Classon.
DESPEREAUX: (texting) He has a car, remember?
REMY: Oh right. (considers this for a second as he takes a small parcel of garlic and puts it into the hot copper pan) Wow, it’s so great to know someone with a car. He can take us to the beach next summer. Let’s impress him with tiramisu.
DESPEREAUX: You run a restaurant. You could buy a car.
REMY: I don’t have like, a lot of capital. And I don’t have time to move a car every week for street cleaning. We’ll ask someone to take us.
DESPEREAUX: You can park it behind the trash cans. It can be a small car.
DESPEREAUX walks over and offers REMY the dandelion wine. The two rodents sit for a second as the onions start to sizzle on the stove. There is a framed photo above the mantlepiece of REMY with LINGUINI and several other cooks posed next to the door of REMY’S brunch spot on Mulberry St.
REMY: Have you been reading any of the M.F.K Fisher I got you? The oyster essay is like, really sexy. It’s why I wanted to do seafood.
DESPEREAUX: No, I’m trying to catch up with other stuff. I finally read Bluets last week after telling everyone I’ve already read it for years.
REMY: Oh, tell Stuart that. He has a whole Maggie Nelson rant.
DESPEREAUX: Okay, I will. (hesitates) Hey, it’s still fine if I take Roscuro to the thing next week, right? You two aren’t like, not speaking.
REMY: You’re just a very like, mother figure in her life despite the fact she is older than you, and I think she could learn to be less messy. Mig’s been through worse, and frankly, you have been through just as much as either of them, and both of you are well-adjusted.
DESPEREAUX: That’s unfair. Everyone reacts to trauma in different ways.
REMY: She just talks about herself and her work and her practice and her depression and her dating life ALL THE TIME. Like, nothing else. She can’t exist outside of herself and the only conversations I have ever had with her are about what she wants and asking other people to validate that. But I know she’s important to you.
DESPEREAUX: Well, that’s like, Lin. With you. Kind of.
REMY: I know. I’m not saying I’m not a hypocrite. But Lin is in Paris ten months out of the year so when he’s gone I can pretend I’m emotionally well-adjusted and am not a crazy person who wants to marry him.
DESPEREAUX: I’m really glad he like, finally came out, anyway. That’s a step.
REMY: He’s been bi the whole time, he just doesn’t read anything so he didn’t have any way to talk about it. It’s just about what he wants, what his body wants.
DESPEREAUX: Well, that’s charming.
REMY: His neurotic thing, the crazy thing, the like, incredulous spastic thing he does when he wants stuff and finds that he can get stuff, that’s charming. And he’s too big to fit in our apartment so I never have to worry about him being in my space.
(the doorbell buzzer rings)
DESPEREAUX: Oh! That’ll be Stuart!!
(STUART LITTLE enters through the beaded curtain. He is an old gay man who looks in every respect like a mouse. He is wearing a blouse with an embroidered blue pattern with a neat little cravat about his neck. There are a large number of shiny necklaces hanging below, on his chest, in a way that he would have abhorred when he was a young man but which he now has incorporated into his overall look. He is towing with him a little wagon that has a very small Ben & Jerry’s bite size snack cup of Phish Food ice cream. Over his other arm he has a little purse. When he speaks, his little voice is high and very fey.)
STUART: It’s so good to see both of you. I’m so delighted. I parked my car out by the trash cans. I hope that’s all right. I looked it up beforehand using the city app or whatever they call it, and it seems like your trash night is Friday.
DESPEREAUX rises and goes over to hug STUART. They do a delicate kiss on each others’ cheeks.
DESPEREAUX: How was Bizarre?
STUART: Oh, we didn’t end up going. I talked with Mig for her podcast project and then we sat smoking for a while. I’m terrible to get out of the house to go anywhere. I just sit around or rearrange things when I’m at home. Or smoke, when I am in L.A. I have tremendous inertia.
DESPEREAUX: Would you like any wine? It’s from the store across from Remy’s friend’s place.
STUART: Is it French?
REMY: No, no, good Central Park rats making dandelion wine the way they have for centuries.
STUART: Lovely. Thank you boys. May I sit down? My knees are not terribly good. My, Remy, that smells just lovely. Like sunlight.
REMY: I reread M.F.K Fisher’s book of essays the other day and thought that I just had to make something with seafood. The way she writes about fish is so sexy.
STUART: Have you read the one where she describes eating—what was it—scallops? For the first time, at the dance at her school. Where the older girl danced with her, and she swallowed the scallop or whatever it was while in her arms. I’m certain she was a lesbian.
REMY: I think a number of women could have been lesbians. Pardon me, I’m going to go get the shrimp from the freezer. And put your ice cream there. Thank you, Stuart, you’re so good.
STUART: How is your business?
REMY: Oh, fine. I’m there six days a week and never want to think about it on the seventh.
STUART: They say god rested on the seventh day, so it makes sense for you to as well. (REMY leaves through the beaded curtain) What about you, Despereaux?
DESPEREAUX: (visibly blushing in his ears as he pours wine for STUART) Well, I have a reading at the Strand next month, and it seems like everything’s going well as far as my agent has told me with the new book at Doubleday. We’ll see.
STUART: (sipping from the wine glass he has been offered by DESPEREAUX) And what is the new book about? I am so sorry I’ve been so out of touch. I never check anything but my email.
DESPEREAUX: Well, it’s sort of a gothic story. I decided to reinterpret The Castle of Otranto and make it into a…well, it’s got its roots in a lot of media. Basically it’s an adaptation of a gothic story. I’ve gotten some people to read it and they tell me it isn’t bad.
STUART: I quite liked your first book, you know. Deeply fun. And the one about the rabbit. That was so sentimental but somehow not crass. I love reading things young people write.
REMY: What are you writing lately?
STUART: Just journals. And letters to lovers. Very Christopher Isherwood of me.
(Everyone laughs; REMY returns with one large shrimp in his arms and puts it into the copper pan. He tends to the dish.)
REMY: Despereaux just finally read Bluets by Maggie Nelson.
STUART: Oh, I quite liked that one. It’s one of her better ones.
REMY: I told him you had a whole rant.
STUART: Not a whole rant, dears. Just that I don’t like Argonauts and I feel that Nelson is best when she is doing critique within clear parameters or is conducting analysis. She’s very intelligent. But she and many of her readers think she’s more important than she is.
REMY: I love you.
DESPEREAUX: I have read The Argonauts. I don’t think it’s bad, exactly, though most of it where she says things as if they are a revelation, I think, well, I’ve already known this a very long time and it’s silly to pretend that Nelson thought of all this herself. I also would hate to be married to someone who thought that my transition was like a pregnancy.
STUART: Oh, but wasn’t your transition like a pregnancy? Mine was.
REMY: Speaking personally, I like The Art of Cruelty, too, though with that one I suppose I’m not very well equipped to judge.
STUART: She needed to define her scope a little better for that one. I love her sort of mixed approach of memoir and anecdote and study—if she queers anything, as a verb, it’s format. But I think she should have been specific about speaking from a very Christian perspective at the start of the book. Because ultimately she thinks sadomasochism and the porn industry and violence against women and all these things are connected in different mirror images with the body of Christ, and she tries to go into Islam but doesn’t know anything, and she speaks about Nazis but never mentions Jewish concepts of suffering or pain. It could have used more critique as she was developing it. Remy, this wine is lovely, thank your rats.
DESPEREAUX: Would you ever hold lectures or host things at like, BAM? I love listening to you talk.
STUART: (looking meaningfully at REMY) It’s a skill I have. I think I’d like to do more of this podcast business, if Mig makes the technical side of things happen.
REMY: I think that would go very well for you. You have a very soothing voice, and you have a lot to say.
STUART: Now doesn’t that sound dismissive! Yes, grandma, you can still make art. As if I am writing a garden column. Oh, but I’d like to write a garden column.
DESPEREAUX: You have a beautiful garden, I’ve seen it. When you were away and Poppy housesat for you, I visited.
STUART: Well, I’ll take you there sometime. (sniffing the air) Now, Remy, this wouldn’t be the recipe from Alison Roman in the New York Times, would it? The one-pot bouillabaisse?
REMY: Don’t tell my sous-chef, but I steal so much from NYT Cooking.
STUART: I love it. I bought one of those cheap subscriptions.
DESPEREAUX: (looking out at the window) Oh, wow, it is raining. I am so happy to be in here with both of you.
STUART: I’m glad to be here.