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Of mice and men
Even the animals have a good time
By Camille Dodero

It's a recent Monday night around eight. I'm in the Theater District and need to kill time before an interview. So I trudge over to City Place, a weird food court off Stuart Street with a Sbarro and a burrito joint that's still open - the sort of place that's not exactly grimy, but feels like a janitor army could scrub for days and never get the place clean.

I plunk down at a table with coffee. There are a few bodies scattered among the seats: three or four sad-looking souls picking at pastry blobs, an old man canoodling a plastic-bag-stuffed wire pushcart, a young Dunkin' Donuts employee on break and yelling into his cell phone, "Condoms! You can't get your aunt condoms!"

I'm scribbling questions for my upcoming interview in a notebook when I notice a tiny speck moving across the floor. No one else sees it - they're too engrossed in their cell-phone conversations, their medicated hazes, their donut glazes to notice that something's crawling under their feet. I unpack a digital camera from my bag and walk over to take a few pictures.

A brown mouse sits on the edge of a planter. The creature is actually kind of cute - the length and girth of a thumb. I snap a photo. Click click. Out of focus. Click click. Aw, it moved.
Then another one crawls out from the planter.
Then another.
Then another.
There's a full-on mice party in there.

"You can't do that!" someone yells. Barreling toward me is a uniformed security guard with a walkie-talkie, a spotty face, and thickly accented English. "You can't take pictures in here!"
Excuse me? "I don't know who you're going to give them to! You might give them to the terrorists!"
"It's a law! This is a state building."

Turns out, I'd forgotten this was the Transportation Building. It also turns out that this security man wasn't going to allow me to photograph the fuzzy-vermin posse inhabiting his food court on the grounds that I might e-mail those photos to Osama bin Laden. And it also turns out that he wouldn't budge until I put the lens cap on my camera, walked away from the mice throwdown, and stuffed the device back in my bag, thereby single-handedly rescuing the city from suicide-bombers.