Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strange are the ways of the Universe...


There was a pile of bills on the floor that Josh walked past every day. The old days of tidy stacks and organized files had first given way to two blue plastic bins, one for pay now, one for later. Then he just started dropping all the mail on the floor.

The first year he’d been out of work he’d called every one of his creditors religiously: apologizing, explaining, vowing minimum payments at the very least. Every so often he’d actually cried on the phone, not out of any sense of drama, but because he was so damn humiliated.

“This isn’t me, this isn’t how my life is!” he sobbed. “I’m an upstanding citizen, a bill paying machine – my credit’s been perfect for years!”

And also for that first year the voices on the other end of the phone had sympathized with him. Mrs. So and So at Mastercard had gushed, “Don’t worry; we’ll work with you to get through this difficult time.”

Rex down at Silver’s Gym had assured him that his work-outs wouldn’t be curtailed. “You need to keep yourself in shape; exercise is a great antidote for stress.”

Ms. Jones at Allied insurance had set up a payment plan for all his insurance premiums. “One small payment every month will keep those policies in place. We wouldn’t want to have them lapse now, would we. You need the peace of mind that being covered brings.”

Now, well into his third year of joblessness, those sympathetic voices had been replaced by the irate and frankly hostile ones of the collection agency employees. Any pretence of polite conversations had disappeared along with his salary, savings, job security, self-confidence, or giving a shit.

His depression seemed to multiply in direct correlation to the sky-rocketing percentage rates on his over-due credit cards. Too many days he had to foist himself out of bed to face the interminable day. Insomnia and lack of appetite dogged him until the afternoon he sat down outside on his miniscule patch of green grass contemplating the least painful method of ending his life when the rabbit hopped over his bare foot. Whoa.

Josh straightened his bowed back and stared at the glossy black rabbit. It was distinctly not a native species.

“Oh boy, I’ve lost it,” he said. “Hallucinating in my own back yard. Could be too many missed meals.” He sighed and added, “If this thing is a sign from God, with that color, it can’t be good.”

The rabbit lifted its face from the dandelion it’d been eating and wriggled his pink nose at Josh but said nothing.

“No comment, huh?” Josh said as the rabbit hopped to his left to reach the next yellow weed. He nibbled five or six of the spiny leaves before munching the flower down in several neat bites. Then he licked his right front paw and cleaned his face, catlike.

Josh watched the rabbit eat three more dandelions while making a slow half circle around him. He had to shift his weight and scootch his butt to keep the rabbit in view, but it didn’t seem bothered by his movements or proximity.

“How strange you are, fella.” Josh told the rabbit. “Just showing up here out of the blue. I keep expecting you to disappear in a plink of Disney sparkles like Tinkerbell. But if you’re not going to disappear, you need a name. How’s Ralph sound to you?”

The rabbit looked up at Josh when he said ‘Ralph’ and Josh could have sworn he nodded. Ralph made several more hops nibbling away at the weeds and completed a circle around the man.
“You know, I might have a carrot in my refrigerator. You may like it better than the weeds.” Josh levered himself up off the grass as Ralph lay down to wait. “Be right back.” Josh told him and headed for the back door.

While Josh was inside, the rabbit pulled a tiny silver cell phone out of a pocket in his chest fur and flipped it open. “This one might take less time than we thought,” he said. “We may be able to move the schedule up.” He listened for a moment and then said, “It’s going well. He’s gone to get me a carrot; he was smiling when he left.” Another listen and then “I have to say I’m not crazy about the name this one picked. -- Ralph. -- Okay, no laughing. – Yeah, well, I’ll listen to him call me that and even eat the carrot no matter how old it is as long as it does the job.”

“By the way Boss, we might want to re-think the fur color for the next one. Black isn’t getting it, but the pink nose works. He’s definitely not thinking about suicide anymore.”


Anonymous said...

Very Cute! I like!

XV said...

OMG, Chris I just love this, and yes the gos may want to rethink the colour of the bunny, but in the end he made me smile too. I have a very large orange cat who I believe serves the same purpose. I may not get out of bed for myself everyday, but Mr. G needs his crunchies. And while I may never answer a phone call without checking and recognizing the caller ID, I know that I at least have that much of a place in the world.