Dead Rabbits Don’t Run [fiction]

(© 1989; renewed 1993.)

Going to college from 1986 to 1990 and reading new literature, as well as reading the classics there, gave me new insights on my own writing and stirred my imagination.

I smell it again. Past hemlock and below this hill that man calls Myers Ridge, the aroma comes from his wooden lodge, drifting to me on powerful smoke and burning my nose with the fragrance of the blood of my sins. It was there that I lost my dignity by giving in to temptation and committing the crime that now damns me.

Man eats his bloodless rabbit meal tonight: chewing, always chewing; licking fingers clean; sucking bare every tawny bone; he will leave no bloodless meat behind. Before he sleeps he will throw those bones into high grass where I waited often, always hidden, always alone, consuming dry and chewy meat that had a rich, addictive flavor. I grew fat and stopped hunting my meals.

If I could move I would crawl deeper under hemlock to hide my crippled body and all evidence of the follies of an old laggard who spent his final days chasing cooked, discarded marrow of dead rabbits.

Their round and plump elder towers above my broken body, mocks my death throes, sneers at my torment with his taunting round white face, laughing at my ruin. The great white rabbit has traveled quickly across the sky tonight to pull the blanket of final darkness over me. He is right to ridicule my predicament. His quick and bountiful children made me a strong hunter and my strength made me a leader. My laziness, however, made me easy prey to the rifle. Now I am helpless, waiting to return to ground. I wonder if my bones will make a good meal.

Is this daylight upon me at last, or am I dreaming? I thought I saw dead rabbits running through the summer grass. It must surely be a dream. Dead rabbits don’t run … unless they run for the dead.

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