Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

the rabbits

by Tony Rauch

There is a panicked tapping at my window late at night. I turn and sit up, only to find a strange, shadowy figure outside my window. “Come on, man, let me in. Come on,” the stranger whispers urgently. “Please, please. Don’t let them take me. Don’t let them take me.” And then nothing.

I gaze up at the drizzly night, clouds swirling and folding and twisting and overlapping and merging - all slowly turning grays, all fluid and murky, like puddles in the sky.

I roll over and try to go back to sleep, but the tapping resumes after a moment. I sit up again and lift the pane to crack the window. And there in the mist of drizzle is a giant rabbit dressed in a green top hat and plaid vest. “Please,” he leans his head in and whispers. “The foxes . . the foxes are out,” then looks about frantically. “Please. Please. I-I will grant you two . . ah, three wishes.” It’s as if the rabbit is trying to determine an appropriate and fair amount. He is a big one, five-feet-six-inches at least. He begins to hop up and down anxiously.

“You’re a tall one,” I rub my eyes.

“Well, not really, I’m actually kind of short for where I come from. . . Now whadda ya say, kid, huh, how’s ‘bout lettin’ me in?”

“Has your relative ‘shortness’ affected you in any manner of a psychological nature?” I wonder out loud.

“No. No, kid. I’m not a compulsive liar or over-competitive nut or insecure jerk or anything like that. I’m not compelled to tear others down, nor will you find me strutting about like some phony poser,” the rabbit continues his antsy hop.
“Oh, well that’s good, ‘cause you know how mean some people can be for no real reason, I mean who knows why people behave the way . . .”

“Yeah, yeah. . .”

“. . . Plus, I happen to sleep with a filed down and sharpened spoon taped in my hand - just in case, you dig? See,” I hold it up. “Like this,” and examine it with pride. “I‘d sure hate to have to jab you with it, like this,” I poke at the air around me. “Jab you about the midsection . . . and maybe happen to loosen-up some of your more important internal organs . . .”

“I’m o.k., kid, don’t worry about me. Now, about coming in?”

“Yeah, I guess, . .” I grumble, swinging my legs out of bed.

“But mind your manners,“ I hold up my shiv for the rabbit to consider, then nod over to the back door, and the big rabbit nods back, to signal he understands my instructions, then disappears into the smoky, dark drizzle.
I walk around to the back door and let him in. He stands upright in the kitchen. “Don’t get your wet fur all over,” I instruct. “You can sleep here,” I gesture, down to the kitchen rug. “You’ll be safe, out of sight, and dry in here,” I hand him a dish towel to dry off with.

The rabbit just nods, then steps to the sink to wring the water from his long white ears into the kitchen sink with his front paws. “Thank you. Thank you,” he repeats in polite whispers as I wave and return to bed, forgetting all about the three wishes he has supposedly granted me.

My dad wakes me in the morning by calling to me from the kitchen. I walk out there, rubbing my eyes in the slight pink light. “Who ate the pie?” my dad growls. I just stand there and shrug, forgetting my mother had made a pie the night before and left it cooling on the counter. But now all that was left was the pan and some crumbs in my dad’s hand. “Who did this?” my dad is very cross with me. “I found this on the floor in the hall outside your room,” he holds out the pan.

“I didn’t,” I shrug.

“Who was here with you last night? I thought I heard something.”

And then I remembered my encounter with that big rabbit. So I say, “You wouldn’t even believe me, Dad, but this giant rabbit knocked on my window . . .”

“Oh you didn’t,” my dad interrupts.

“Well, Dad, I . . .”

“Well, that explains it then. I mean, what’d you expect. You know you shouldn’t be letting rabbits in the house . . .”

“Yeah, but Dad . . .”

“And to leave one unattended like that. No wonder.”

“Well, gee, I’m sorry, but the foxes were . . .”

“Oh, don’t you go talkin’ to no rabbits now. Not when they can smell that pie for miles . . .”

“Well, I didn’t know . . . I mean, what-what should . . .”

“Ah, don’t worry about it, everyone makes mistakes. . . Run along now. Go an’ write another of your crazy stories - another one of those ‘adventures of lobster-boy’ or ‘fish-man’ or whatever.” And with that I am dismissed.

He doesn‘t sound like he believes me at all, it only sounds like he is just going along with it. But it still doesn’t make any sense. Think about it, if I were going to eat an entire pie, would I leave the evidence right outside my own room? I turn to address him. “For your information, my current projects include: ‘Samurai Executioner’ and my magnum opus: ‘The twelve dreams of Dr. Sardonicous’ . .” I mutter, as I turn and sulk back to my room, “. . and several works in progress written under my pen name, Nick Fartski, entitled: ‘Shama-lama-ding-dong’ and ‘The grand adventures of Phinious Z. Phinious’.”

That night I have the most unusual dream. I’m running through this incredibly large and elaborate house, dashing from room to room, trying to get out. I can’t find the front door. I can’t find the back door. Only windows. I can’t find my way out at all. The house is all room after room and stairways and landings leading up and down. It’s furnished and many of the rooms lead into several different rooms, with openings in all four walls. There are some round rooms and oval rooms and even a triangle shaped room. There are balconies and terraces and thin walkways overhead. The house is kept up all nice and everything, very exotic and ornate and all, but I start getting worried after awhile, worried that I can’t find my way out, that I’ll be stuck here, lost - worried that some ogre is going to keep me here or something. Then I happen upon the rabbit. He’s a tall bugger - about five-six and standing up right on his hind legs. He’s wearing a green top hat and a plaid vest, just like that rabbit I let in the other night. Or maybe that entire event was just one of those twilight dreams like this one. Anyway, that darn rabbit is holding a pie pan in one paw and scooping the last of it out with his other paw. He’s leaning casually against a doorway that leads into a little foyer that has more openings leading into five or six other directions, an ornate octagon room. I stop, looking into the room. The rabbit looks over to me and, seeing the homemade lancet taped into my fist, he nods, “Over there,” he says, licking his paw. He winks and holds up one little paw finger, as if to indicate that this is him granting the first of my three wishes, as if rabbit wishes were only applicable in dreams.

I nod to thank him and take off running and he nods and bows back at me, licking his paw, as if thanking me for the sanctuary and warm meal. I dash up and down short flights of stairs and zip through pink rooms and light blue rooms, and sure enough, after traveling up and down more stairs, across a balcony, and through a tall ballroom with a long red rug, that way eventually leads outside. Once outside I keep running - running and running, though a sunny field of long grass and up a little hill until I awake and it is morning and the scent of pie is wafting in from the kitchen and I barely recall the shadowy figure at my window, beckoning now as if only from a distant dream, leaving me to wonder about what I should do with my last two wishes.



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