“Quick … hide me!”
I gasped out my breathless request for sanctuary as I hopped frantically into the spacious garage that housed the various automobiles in the Callington stable.
James, my dependable chauffeur, was assiduously applying a coat of wax to the family brougham in preparation for tomorrow’s pilgrimage to sunrise mass. Normally he is unflappable and not easily surprised, but as he turned his head to look at me, his eyes widened perceptibly and he paused in mid-buff.
“Hide you, sir?”
“Yes,” I panted vigorously like a fox pursued by hounds, “I am being chased.”
“Chased by … ?” he asked expectantly.
“Well, you may not believe this, but I am being chased by an unruly mob of children.”
He set down his can of paste wax and the buffing rag and considered me for a moment.
“I’m no expert on such things,” he said after his moment of thought was through, “But perhaps it has something to do with the way you’re dressed.”
“It has everything to do with the way I’m dressed,” I said. “Those kids are like a pack of wild jackals. And let me tell you; it was no easy task pulling away from the pack in these feet.”
I held up my right foot as exhibit A.
He again raised an eyebrow and, since I know him to be an amateur handicapper of horse flesh, I could see him considering the impost of my improper footwear upon the outcome of a potential footrace between me and a pack of rabid children. He also seemed to be having a small bout of indigestion, as he put his hand to his mouth and covered it discretely.
“I mean, just look at these things,” I said querulously. “They are a good foot and a half long.”
“Oh, at least,” said James, again covering his mouth.
“It seems incredible that a rabbit could even get himself out of his warren with feet such as these without tripping over them and possibly putting out an eye, let alone be able to set land-speed records day in and day out.”
“Pardon me, Sir …”
“Yes?” I said, eyeing him keenly, for I had just been getting on a roll with some very good material.
“I believe one of your whiskers is coming off.” He pointed towards my face.
“Eh?” I asked, a trifle self-consciously. No one wants to be told that one of their whiskers is coming off.
“Yes, sir. It’s drooping a little.”
“It’s this unseasonably warm weather we’re having,” I said. “It softens the spirit gum.” Then added as an afterthought, “Not to mention one’s spirits.”
I slipped off my stuffed mitten of a rabbit’s paw and reached up to try and find which of my six whiskers was the drooping one. I stooped down and eyed myself in the side-view mirror of a nearby Rolls-Royce, but my attire precluded me from bending over too far, so I just tried to blindly adjust the antenna-like whisker for better reception. “How’s that?”
“Better, Sir.” Even so, he reached over and made another fine adjustment to enable me to really bring in the distant stations.
“Thank you, James,” I said as I slipped my paw back on after he’d finished.
“Any time,” he said.
“You’re a gentleman and a scholar.”
“It’s the least I could do.”
“I’d do the same for you,” I said.
“Thank you, Sir.”
“We’re not unlike those chaps in the trenches in World War I who had each other’s backs when things got a bit dicey.”
“I had a grandfather who fought in that war,” said James, his tone reverent as he recalled his ancient forebear.
“Did he have to adjust any errant bunny whiskers?”
“Not that was recorded anywhere, sir.”
I would have gone on to relate to him the story of my own Uncle Aldwin who had distinguished himself admirably in the USO as a juggler, but at that moment a faint sound caused one of my enormous ears to perk up.
“I say, James. Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” he asked.
“Something that sounded like an angry mob of townsfolk with pitchforks and torches, but an octave or two higher as if they were from a village inhabited entirely by chipmunks.”
“I can’t say as I heard anything like that, Sir,” said the imperturbable James.
“Perhaps it is these rabbit ears. They are giving me super-human hearing. Or, it is like they say: when you lose one sense, one of your other senses rubs its hands together, steps up, grabs hold of the rope, and prepares to take up the slack.”
“Which sense are you missing, sir?
“Mostly the sense of feeling in everything from the knees down. I think this fluffy white tail is applying pressure to the ol’ spine in just the wrong spot.”
“And that’s helping your hearing?”
“Shhh!” I shushed, my eyes wild with encroaching panic. “They’re getting closer.”
“I’ll take your word for it, Sir,” said James. “I think perhaps your ears are more sensitive than mine at the moment.”
“You’ve got to hide me, James,” I said, attempting to grab him by the collar to drive home the desperation of the situation. However, all I could manage to do was paw at his chauffeur uniform with my giant, non-articulated rabbit paws. “They will be here in a moment and I ran out of candy to keep them placated. They practically rioted.”
The quick-thinking James pulled a key out of his pocket and popped the trunk on a nearby car.
“In here, Sir,” he said, taking my arm and helping me into the trunk.
Normally I am quite capable of seeing myself into the trunk of a car, as I have demonstrated on more than one occasion, but hindered as I was with this infernal bunny suit, I gladly accepted his help. I was quite like the knights of yore. Their suits of armor were so unwieldy that they were quite helpless when they were not on horseback and so often required the aid of a squire or two to help them do the simplest things, such as drink mead, slay dragons, or sign autographs. I found myself in a similar situation now.
James got me into the trunk, wrestling a bit with my giant, elongated bunny feet, and managed to get the trunk closed just in time, for I heard the garage being invaded by a seething swarm of hungry children in search of artificial sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives in the shape of eggs, rabbits, and chicks.
“Hello, Mister,” came a voice that I recognized instantly as belonging to the infernal ten-year-old Aloysius Blighton-Smythe from next door. I’d know his affected fake English accent anywhere. He’d picked it up a few years back when his parents acquired a British nanny, who left soon afterwards with a nervous condition. However, the accent remained as a sort of tribute to her memory.
“Have you seen an enormous bunny come this way?”
“Can you describe him?” asked James, as cool as ice.
“He had two big ears,” came the voice of my own darling Evangeline and my heart melted within my chest. I fumbled for the trunk latch release, for who was I to disappoint my beautiful little red-haired bundle of sweetness? But it was dark in the trunk and my giant rabbit paws were next to useless for finding trunk latches in the dark.
“And a dumb look on his face,” said Aloysius, causing me to suddenly think of a very good use for my giant rabbit paws. They might fit perfectly around his neck.
Unfortunately, I still could not find the trunk release.
“And a fluffy tail,” spoke up another girl, whose voice I recognized as belonging to Enid Blighton-Smythe.
“And big feet,” said another tot helpfully.
There followed a cacophony of descriptions of a giant rabbit which, if they’d come from a grown-up, would have landed them in the clink under suspicion of public drunkenness. But in their case, they were merely intoxicated with the wide-eyed naivety of youth … and possibly several times the surgeon general’s recommended daily allowance of sugar.
“Follow me, kids,” said James. “I’ll take you back up to the house. I’m sure Mrs. Callington will know where to find a giant rabbit, if indeed there is one.”
“I saw him,” said Evangeline emphatically and plaintively, and my heart nearly burst and I cried out for James to release me, but my plea was drowned out by the closing of the garage door.
I fumbled some more in the dark, looking for the trunk release. But then I remembered that James had stuffed me … giant feet, fluffy tail, long ears, and all … into a classic automobile from the time before internal trunk releases.
I sighed. There was nothing to do but wait for James to return and to release me from my dark, but surprisingly plush prison.
Solitary confinement is a funny thing. I have read that when one is locked up in a cell with no human contact, light, or puff pastries, that one’s mind loses all sense of time. Mine proceeded to do that with gusto. Had a minute passed? Or was it a day? There was no way to tell. The only really wise thing to do in such a situation is to take a nap. If bunny ears are good for nothing else, they make a very fine natural pillow on which to rest one’s weary head.
I was therefore startled when the trunk flew open. I blinked at the light, shielding my eyes with my giant paw.
“James? Is that you?” I said, wincing against the light.
“I’ve heard of pulling a rabbit out of a hat,” came the highly-amused voice of my darling wife, Alexis, “But never out of a locked car trunk. Did you anger the Mafia or something?”
“I ran afoul of a pack of feral children,” I said, making several awkward attempts to remove myself from the trunk, but was thwarted by my gigantic rabbit feet and my club-like paws.
“Yes,” said Alexis. “James told me you had run out of candy and that he had offered you sanctuary in the trunk of a car. I’m so sorry, Darling! I thought I bought enough candy.”
“You did buy enough, for, say, a small army or perhaps an island nation. However, you underestimated the appetites of a thundering herd of growing children.”
My darling Easter lily apparently grew tired of watching me trying to extricate myself from the trunk, so she said, “Give me your paw.”
I did, and with the help of my helpmeet, we managed, with some difficulty, to extract me from the trunk. To show my appreciation, I folded her within my bunny-like arms and gave her a grateful kiss.
She immediately began to giggle.
“You’re ruining the mood with your giggling,” I murmured through another attempted kiss.
“Sorry,” she apologized, though still giggling. “But your whiskers are tickling me.”
“Well,” I said, “You keep stepping on my feet, but you don’t hear me giggling, do you?
“It is very hard to not step on them. Your feet, like your reputation, precedes you.”
“Perhaps I should just pick you up and hop away with you to my hutch.”
“I don’t know,” she said, dubiously, eyeing me suspiciously while trying not to giggle. “You rabbits have quite a reputation.”
With one smooth motion, I swept her up into my arms as she let out a surprised little squeal.
“You watch those paws, mister,” she said, giggling.
“I’ll keep them in plain sight at all times,” I said.
“Anyway, I have something I want to tell you.”
“I’m all ears,” I said, waggling my head a little to get my enormous ears to sway back and forth. Then I bent down to steal a little kiss, causing her to erupt in peals of laughter as my whiskers tickled her face.
“You’re not all ears,” she said, winking at me.
“True,” I said, grinning back at her.
“For instance, some of you is composed of whisker. And they are very tickly!”
I harrumphed and prepared to bend my head down for another attempt at a kiss.
“Anyway!” she said preemptively. “What I wanted to tell you is that James is distracting the children by helping them dye Easter eggs, but I’m not sure how long he’ll last with such a large group of children with short attentions spans. And so I think the Easter bunny should hop his cute little fluffy tail back up to the house and distract the children. Plus, they all want to take pictures with you.”
I sighed a heavy sigh and slid her slowly back down to the ground.
“Awwww,” she cooed, sympathetically. “It’s not easy being a celebrity, is it?”
“No,” I said. “It’s far easier being a nobody.”
She cooed sympathetically and reached up to ruffle my ears. “Well, you’ll always be some-bunny to us!”
With that she laughed and took off running.
I hopped after her as fast as I could, but I kept tripping over my own feet.
I guess rabbit’s feet are not as lucky as I had been led to believe.
Story is Copyright ©2019 by Biff Sock Pow
The title and characters “Alistair and Alexis” are copyright © 2019 by Biff Sock Pow
All characters, character names, fictional place names, fictional products, and fictional companies and organizations used in the “Alistair and Alexis” stories are copyright © 2019 by Biff Sock Pow