by Craig Carpenter
It’s said that every seven years rabbits have their year and propagate at alarming rates. The day I decided to sacrifice the fat one hopping about my front doorstep, it was one among thousands dotting the northern meadow outside my cabin at Head Acres, the cabin community 30 km north of Whitehorse.
Our landlord, a jovial ex-Olympic Austrian cyclist, said they would sublimate our desire for the dogs and cats he had outlawed. These weren’t wild northern hares but the off-spring of a few chocolate coated cuddly store bought bunnies devoid of any scurrying prey instinct he had released years earlier. The image of our lord in his biking shorts, beer belly hanging near the cross bar and an ear to ear grin, waving as he swerved to avoid the rabbits in the field has become increasingly surreal. “Dey little bunnies are so cute,” he’d say, twisting a cold Kokanee off his perennial six pack for me. “Pets. De’re our pets.”
I decided their ubiquity had to come to an end. Having once routinely slaughtered rabbits on a farm in the south of France, I figured it would be easy. A quick chop to the neck and they would hang rag-doll limp, soft and warm in my outstretched fist. A deft jab to the jugular, and their blood would flow thick. Once bled, I would make a slice in the middle of the loose pelt, insert a finger on either side of the slit and yank, exposing shiny muscles, tendons and blue veins. Another quick slice where the skull attached and I would have myself a bulging-eyed E.T. ready to broil, bake or fry.
As it were, on this particular day, I was baked, maybe a little fried from the high-test Indica neighbor Rick Sward had smoked with me earlier. I was also broke and had eaten the last of the moose meat kindly provided by my comedian neighbor Sharron Shorty. So, without further reasoning I reached for one of the slower, more docile bunnies. I lifted it by the scruff of the neck, thumping weakly to eye level, then firmly wrapped my left hand around its hind legs. Yes, I was going to do this.
Making a kung-fu right hand, I stared at the inverted rabbit with intent, recalling how the farmer would first softly stroke the lapin with the striking hand. I felt a sudden weakness, a hesitation: blotting it out I soothingly slipped my fingers over its velvety ears, then re-cocked my wooden plank hand and, without looking, took a deft stab at its neck. Opening my eyes, I saw bunny was pulling its head into its torso and staring up at me with big, accusatory, round brown eyes. Pushing aside all thoughts of pets, I chopped again harder and still, the rabbit lived, quivering, perhaps maimed, its head now twisted a little to the left.
I stopped, somewhat emasculated. What was different in France? Before reason could cut through insanity I scooped an evergreen limb from the ground. With the bristly weapon in hand, the rabbit quivering, I clobbered it over the head twice. It actually emitted some kind of wheezing bleat as its neck loosened and dangled.
That did it. Not exactly as I recalled but at least now it was certainly dead. I reached into my Levis for the same Opinal knife I used to puncture the french Lapin. Admiring its finely curved wooden handle, I extended the blade with some difficulty and noticed it had since lost its tip. I searched for the jugular. The fur was thick. I couldn’t pierce it. Its thick coat was impenetrable. It was getting cold outside. Three or four of my victim’s friends rustled through some leaves a few trees over.
I’d been vainly attempting to bleed bunny a good ten minutes when I remembered how the farmer used to cut the gall bladder out as well. Or some such organ. A small blue sack. The marijuana having worn off, I also remembered the city council story I was supposed to be writing and decided the best thing to do was to put my prey in the freezer for the time being.
Fresh game in one hand, I slid open my front door, clomped across my little cabin floor to the freezer and lay bunny between the frozen peas and bag of ice.
I poured myself a second cup of coffee and sat down at my desk. What the hell had I been doing? I chuckled to myself a little maniacally. Crazy. That was crazy. What was I thinking? It had seemed so much easier in France. It really did.
A neighbor appeared. Young thespian Brian Fidler. He needed a little milk. As I got him some, he politely asked me how work was going. All right, I nodded, looking up at the freezer, not wanting to mention my kill yet.
A half hour or more passed and I gathered some more wood for the stove. “Northern life is good,” I thought, as I stoked my little fire.
That’s when I heard it. The dull thud. No, couldn’t be. A weak scratching. Another thud, followed by a thump, thump. Holy shit. That fucking bunny. There’s no way. I stared at the freezer. Stunned. Thump. Thump. I cautiously approached and slowly cracked the freezer’s seal. Two big round brown eyes looked up at me. The head was still cocked to one side. A great and strange relief swept over me. I hadn’t killed it. The fucking rabbit was alive.
Sheepishly I picked it up by the scruff of its battered neck and carefully placed it outside my front door. It didn’t hop away, just sat there confused, concussed. Two of its friends hopped up, twitching about encouragingly.
Finally, after a minute or two, my undead freezer bunny took a wobbly three-legged hop toward them. One of its hind legs paralyzed and its head now appeared permanently twisted to one side, but it nibbled some grass, apparently unfazed by its near death experience. Fucking rabbits. Domesticated feral bunnies. I guess it was just their year.